The draft environmental assessment for the Bonners Ferry, Priest Lake, and Sandpoint Ranger Districts in Idaho has been released and open for public comment. The area covers over 1 million acres of land divided into 10 analysis areas. Approximately 1/4 of the project area will be closed year round to off route OSV use with the proposed action. Send a comment to the U.S. Forest Service by April 27, 2023 to stand up for OSV access in Idaho.
“The Forest Service has a responsibility to provide reasonable motorized access to the forest and allow for over-snow vehicle use when there is adequate snow, while promoting the safety of all users, minimizing conflicts among the various uses, and
providing for the protection of forest resources.” The current alternatives looks to reduce mileage of routes, dates when accessible, and off-route travel which does not provide reasonable motorized access. Prioritizing non-motorized users and reducing access in the name of protecting wildlife and habitat is not based on science.
The plan includes 450 miles of groomed trails and grooming will only occur on routes where the lowest elevation has 18 inches of snow. Typically, dates of use as found in this EA are arbitrary and impose unreasonable restrictions. Another issue with the plan is the recommended Wilderness in lime green in the map below. These areas would completely restrict any form of OSV use within their boundaries.
Future timber harvest and vegetation treatments could effect mileage of groomed and ungroomed trails according to the EA however, the USFS should ensure that any treatments should not effect long term or permanent access.
I’m sure after years of getting input from the area snowmobile clubs and cooperating with them, the current administration is all but throwing this all out the window. What we had for years that worked is gone with the wind.