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Outdoor Alliance and a coalition of major groups comment on the Proposed Action for Washington's Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

2011-09-30 / Tom Flynn

On September 28, Outdoor Alliance partnered with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the Mountaineers, El Sendero Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Club, Washington Trails Association and the Pacific Northwest office of the Wilderness Society to provide comments on the Proposed Action for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The breadth of this coalition demonstrates the importance of this Forest to the recreation and conservation community. Containing superlative human powered recreation resources close to a major regional population center, this forest not only serves residents of the Pacific Northwest, but also draws visitors from across the nation and overseas. 

The coalition argues that while the Proposed Action shows admirable commitment to high quality recreation, more efforts must be made to ensure a quality recreation experience that is socially sustainable.

First, the Forest Service must gather better information about where recreation occurs. As we all know, human powered recreation happens at specific places and at specific times—on powder days, when the rivers are running, and when the crags and trails are dry. The more is known about how the forest is used, the better the Forest Plan can meet the needs of the human powered community.

Second, the toolkit of land management designations must be expanded. As it stands now, there is no one category of land designation that protects quality experiences for both mountain bikers and backcountry skiers. The coalition recommends the addition of a four-season, non-motorized management designation, as well as the expansion of the existing Backcountry designation.

These steps, combined with more complete information about Special Interest Areas and more access infrastructure aimed at increasing the experiences available to a wider range of recreational users, will lead to a Forest Plan that adequately supports and manages recreation.

The Proposed Action is only the first step in a long process of Forest Plan revision, and this coalition looks forward to working with the Forest Service to craft a sustainable, precedent setting Plan.

Please read the entire comments here.

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