The 5.4-million-acre Chugach National Forest in southcentral Alaska, America’s most northerly national forest, is currently revising its outdated 2002 Land Management Plan. Covering an area the size of New Hampshire, stretching from the snowy peaks of Prince William Sound to the Kenai Peninsula, the Chugach features spectacular coastal mountains with some of the best and wildest backcountry terrain in the world. (See below for video and image gallery from our ambassador Luc Mehl!)
QUICK TAKE: The forest’s Draft Land Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzes the potential effects of four management alternatives. We prefer Alternative D.
What’s at Stake?
WILDERNESS: Within the boundaries of the Chugach lies the 1.9 million acre Nellie Juan-College Fjord Wilderness Study Area (WSA), created in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). A truly wild and roadless landscape that also includes the highest concentration of tidewater glaciers in North America, this area deserves the highest level of permanent protection in the new forest plan. Alternative D recommends full Wilderness designation for 97% of the Nellie Juan-College Fjord WSA!
ROADLESS PROTECTIONS: Given that state politicians are pursuing Rulemaking to carve out an exemption to the National Roadless Rule for Alaska, the Chugach should incorporate specific protections for lands comprised of Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs).
WINTER RECREATION OPPORTUNITY SPECTRUM (ROS): The draft plan does not include a winter-specific recreation opportunity spectrum. Instead, it has a broad hybrid category dubbed “semi-primitive non-motorized winter motorized allowed.” Given the differences in use, access, and setting during winter versus summer, and as winter motorized use is not appropriate everywhere on the forest, the revised plan should include separate ROS classifications for winter. This will also set the stage for winter travel planning, required under the 2015 Over-Snow Vehicle Rule, by helping the forest service better define where over-snow vehicle use is and is not suitable.
SUSTAINABLE RECREATION: We appreciate that the draft plan includes plan components and language related to recreation opportunities, settings, special uses, access, and scenery. However, these must be better integrated throughout the plan. A full complement of desired conditions and guidelines, including measurable objectives that link plan components to monitoring and adaptive management, is necessary for the plan to provide a clear path for sustainable recreation management into the future.
Alternative D Best Addresses These Concerns. Voice Your Support Now!
Support Alternative D for the way it addresses our primary concerns;
Support management and monitoring that keeps the Nellie Juan-College Fjord WSA in wilderness quality condition. The draft plan would manage this area based on its existing characteristics. In the limited areas where evidence of human use or impacts have occurred, the Forest Service should work to restore the Wilderness quality experience wherever possible.
Request that the Chugach include a winter-specific Recreation Opportunity Spectrum in the final plan.
How to Comment
A 90-day comment period began August 4, 2018 and closes on November 1. Comments may be submitted in any of the following ways:
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https://winterwildlands.org/wwa/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CGNF-3.jpg5371166Hilary Eisenhttps://winterwildlands.org/wwa/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Winter_Wildlands_Alliance_Logo.pngHilary Eisen2019-05-10 16:50:102019-05-14 12:26:53Speak up for quiet recreation and wild places on the Custer Gallatin
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