Policy Update – August 2022
In this month’s policy update, we share news on the Sawtooth Huts in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s winter travel plan, and Congress expectations post-Inflation Reduction Act.
Photo by Adam Clark (@acpictures)
From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (8/31/2022)
Upon writing this, August isn’t over quite yet, so technically this policy update is on time (not that I think anybody is on the edge of their seats waiting for my monthly policy updates).
David and I have both been on the road a bunch this month and while it’s great to see people and work with partners in person instead of on zoom, it does mean the computer work falls behind a bit.
So, here are the policy highlights from this month!
The Sawtooth National Forest is drafting an Outfitter and Guide management plan (OGMP) for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Outfitter and Guide Management Plans are not my normal ball of wax, but our Ketchum-based grassroots group Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance of Idaho asked us to help them speak up for the Sawtooth huts. The OGMP will set how many nights the Sawtooth huts are available for the public to rent each winter, and many local skiers are concerned that the Forest Service is seeking to curtail use of the huts despite there being no evidence of negative impacts from hut use on the environment, wildlife, or other uses. Comments were due August 31.
Kaniksu Winter Travel Plan
The Idaho-Panhandle National Forest is accepting comments on their Proposed Action for a winter travel plan that will cover the north zone of the forest (Sandpoint north to the Canadian border).
The Proposed Action is based on a recommendation developed by the North Idaho Working Group, a collaborative on which I am one of two non-motorized recreation representatives. Wildlife habitat, particularly for caribou and grizzly bears, are the driving issues in this travel plan but the future of backcountry skiing in the Selkirk Mountains (the US portion of the range) is at stake as well.
Public comments on the Proposed Action are due by September 15.
The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant action the US Congress has taken for the climate to-date, and we’re pretty excited about it. However, we’re seriously concerned about what comes next.
If you’ve been following the news at all you’ve probably heard how Senator Manchin’s support for the bill was secured through a deal assuring him of a future bill to address “permitting streamlining”. We’re gearing up to make sure this permitting bill doesn’t undercut NEPA, put the environment and BIPOC communities at risk, or cancel out many of the climate wins in the Inflation Reduction Act. Stay tuned!
Enjoy the final days of summer. It’ll be snowing before we know it!