The WWNF is following procedures for collection of recreation fees

The Wallowa Whitman is proposing a fee for all boats (motorized and non-motorized) using the Wild and Scenic Snake River. They will be meeting with boaters this summer including at least two meetings in Boise.

The WWNF is following procedures for collection of recreation fees according to the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act which was signed into law in 2004, as well as applicable regulations and policy. Here’s a link to the Forest Service website which has several pages of information, including the text of the law:

The Wallowa Whitman National Forest is proposing implementing a non-commercial Special Recreation Permit fee as outlined in REA §803 (h): “SPECIAL RECREATION PERMIT FEE.—The Secretary may issue a special recreation permit, and charge a special recreation permit fee in connection with the issuance of the permit, for specialized recreation uses of Federal recreational lands and waters, such as group activities, recreation events, motorized recreational vehicle use.”

Per our policy in Forest Service Handbook 2309.13 Chapter 30, a recreation fee management plan must be prepared for noncommercial special recreation permits, which the WWNF has done. The fee management plan describes:
a. The rationale for the special recreation permit (why is the activity “specialized recreation”);
b. The activities and location for which the special recreation permit is required;
c. The specialized services or enhanced management associated with the sites or areas for which the special recreation permit is required; and
d. How the special recreation permit fees will be spent.

After the plan is prepared it is approved by our Regional and Headquarters offices (this happened for the WWNF plan on November 19, 2015) and goes out for a public comment period. I don’t believe the WWNF has started the public comment period but I’m checking with the Region/Forest to find out. Following the comment period the Forest will review all comments and modify their final proposal, if needed. The Forest, Region and our Washington Office will review and sign off on the final proposal before presenting the it before their Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (which for them is the John Day – Snake Resource Advisory Committee) which must review and approve before the fee plan can be implemented.

As for NEPA, issuing a permit for activities that are already occurring where the only effect is social or economic does not trigger NEPA. If there are proposed physical changes on the ground associated with the program some level of NEPA may be required. The WWNF would be the best source of information on whether their proposal has elements that would require NEPA.

I know that’s a lot of information! I hope it helps answer your questions, and feel free to contact us anytime – or contact the Forest directly – if you have further needs.

Take care,

Dave Neely
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Forest Service
Washington Office

Caring for the land and serving people

Congressman McClintock Comments on Priorities and Missions of the Forest Service and the President’s FY2017 Budget Proposal

March 23, 2016- Congressman McClintock is the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee. The subcommittee held a hearing on March 22, 2016 on “Examining the Spending Priorities and Missions of the Forest Service in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal.” Witnesses included U.S. Forest Chief Thomas Tidwell. Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement at the hearing:

Chairman’s Opening Statement
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
House Natural Resources Committee
March 22, 2016

Today the Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets to review the President’s proposed budget for the U.S. Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2017.

We meet at a time of crisis for our national forests. They are dying.

In my district that comprises the Sierra Nevada, more than 1,000 square miles of forest have been destroyed by catastrophic wild fire in the last three years. Those acres not destroyed by fire are now falling victim to disease and pestilence. It is estimated that 85 percent of the pine tree stock in the Sierra National Forest is dead or dying.

Forty years ago, Congress began imposing volumes of highly restrictive environmental laws with the promise they would improve the environmental health of our forests. Those laws, and the regulations and litigation that followed them, has made active management of the forests virtually impossible. The harvest of excess timber out of those forests has plummeted by 80 percent in the intervening years.

California’s national forests are now choked with an average of 266 trees per acre on a landscape that historically sustained 20 to 100 trees per acre. In the lower elevations of the Tahoe Basin, we have four times the normal density of vegetation.

The Forest Service itself estimates 40 million dead trees on federal lands in California last year, with an additional 29 million dying.

Trees that once had room to grow healthy and strong now fight for their lives against other trees fighting for the same ground. With that stage set, the drought pushed us past a tipping point.

After 40 years of these laws imposed with the specific promise to improve the environmental health of our forests, I believe we are entitled to ask, “How is the environmental health of our forests doing?”

The answer is damning. These laws and the ideologues who have administered them have not only destroyed local mountain economies that once thrived on the commercial activity of harvesting excess timber, they have devastated the forest environment.

Ironically, while the National Forests have been devastated, the private lands not subject to these policies are thriving. I have seen time and again in my own district – the private lands are properly thinned and maintained; they have proven resistant to forest fire; and when they have suffered damage, owners have quickly salvaged and replanted.

Inexplicably, at a time when the Forest Service has utterly failed to responsibly manage our forests, it seeks massive increases in funding to acquire still more forest land. That means transferring land from private hands, where it has been well managed, to the federal government that has spectacularly failed in its land management responsibilities.

The administration envisions expansion of Secure Rural Schools as a “tool to strengthen economic opportunities for rural communities.” Secure Rural Schools does not strengthen economic opportunities – rather it compensates rural communities for pennies on the dollar what they lost from the economic activities that these policies destroyed.

NFS management points out that fire suppression has become its greatest expense. The House addressed this last year in the Resilient Forests Act of 2015 that now languishes in the Senate.

The fact is fire expenses will grow every year until we restore sound forest management practices to our national forests and that in turn will require very different policies than those presented by the forest service today.

These laws not only prevent us from timely and economical removal of excess timber, they even prevent us from salvaging fire-killed timber and replanting. Millions of dead trees on thousands of square miles of the Sierra alone must be removed and the acreage replanted. Yet environmental restrictions make even salvage cost prohibitive.

Even without these laws, it will cost an estimated $1,600 per acre to remove dead wood and replant the acreage already destroyed. This is where our funds should be going – not to acquiring still more land to mismanage.

Removing commercially viable excess timber before it can burn should yield about $300 of direct federal revenues per acre per year if the forests were properly managed. If directed toward reclamation, we could have healthy forests again in a matter of years.

All that stands in the way is failed public policy. This congress stands to change that policy. And I would respectfully counsel this administration to lead, follow or get out of the way.
Source: Congressman Tom McClintock

URGENT – Legislative Development

A North Idaho legislator has introduced a bill, now known as HB437, that would divert 85% of the OHV sticker revenues away from IDPR and direct that those funds go to counties, as designated by the purchaser, for use at the county level on OHV-related programs.  If this bill passes, trail maintenance and related work would shift from IDPR to the counties, so we would no longer have the state trails program, or the state education program, and would instead have 44 different programs spread across the state working independent of one another.

The Idaho Recreation Council has decided to oppose this bill in order to preserve the IDPR-administered trail ranger, and education programs.

Listed below are the members who serve on the House Transportation and Defense Committee.  We need to let them know that we do not support the bill and why.

Please distribute to everyone, and if we can get clubs or associations to take a position that would be great.  We realize this is all moving quickly so that may not be possible.  If you are from North Idaho, and don’t support the bill, please share that at the beginning of your message.

We know we don’t have to say this but please be polite and respectful.  Most of the legislators have no understanding of how the program works, so this is our opportunity to explain it and why we support it.

Thanks for all you do!  Now get busy and send a message.

If you have any questions, let us know.

Transportation Committee:

Joe Palmer                                          Boise                     District 20

Paul Shepherd                           Riggins                  District 7

Rich Wills                                                  Glenns Ferry      District 23

Linden Bateman                           Idaho Falls           District 33

Terry Gestrin                                    Donnelly              District 8

Brandon Hixon                                    Caldwell               District 10

Clark Kauffman                               Filer                       District 25

Kelly Packer                                        McCammon       District 28

Rick Youngblood                     Nampa                 District 12

Patrick McDonald                      Boise                     District 15

Sage Dixon                                            Ponderay            District 1

Steven Harris                                       Meridian              District 33

James Holtzclaw                          Boise                     District 20

Jason Monks                                      Boise                     District 22

Phylis King                                                Boise                     District 18

Dan Rudolph                                   Lewiston              District 6

Melissa Wintrow                         Boise                     District 19