Policy Update – July 2023

In this month’s policy update, we share about our upcoming Grassroots Advocacy Conference and winter travel plan updates from the Kootenai and Kaniksu National Forests.

Photo Credit: Greg Rosenke (@greg.rosenke)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (7/31/2023)

It took a while for the mountains to melt and dry out here in Bozeman but it’s game-on now and (as usual) I’m trying to cram in too much into too little time. As we all do…

10th Biennial Grassroots Advocacy Conference

Meanwhile, on the work front, the whole Winter Wildlands Alliance team has been busy dialing in our upcoming Grassroots Advocacy Conference and registration is now live! Registration covers lodging for 3 nights (Th/Fri/Sat), all meals, and a (super fun) top-notch learning and networking opportunity! You can register online here: https://secure.everyaction.com/uVcQryaAUUWBkTwUeKNTqQ2.

Kootenai and Kaniksu National Forest Travel Plan Updates

On the policy front, the main focus this month has been in the northern Rockies. The Kootenai National Forest began the winter travel planning process with a scoping letter and preliminary proposed action for an Over-Snow Motorized Use Travel Plan and the Idaho-Panhandle National Forest published the Kaniksu Over-Snow Vehicle Travel Plan for final review and objection.

The Idaho-Panhandle did a pretty good job with the Kaniksu OSV Plan and we’re looking forward to working with the Kootenai as they develop an OSV plan as well. The two forests are neighbors and share a lot of similarities, including relatively new forest plans that set some clear boundaries around certain aspects of OSV management in respect to wildlands and wildlife habitat so I expect that the Kootenai’s OSV plan will follow a similar vein to the Kaniksu plan, at least in process.

Already, the Kootenai has put out a more detailed scoping notice than I’ve ever seen from a forest for a winter travel plan, including a commendable effort at demonstrating how they’ve applied the minimization criteria to the designations in the Proposed Action. While we (of course) will be recommending some changes to what the Kootenai has proposed and advocating that the Forest Service consider some additional issues in their analysis, it’s encouraging to be starting a new OSV planning process and not feeling like we’re starting on square one in terms of educating the Forest Service about their own processes and regulations.

Our hope that the time and effort invested in OSV planning in California over the past 8 years to get the Forest Service to establish a good template for this process is paying off!

For more information on the Kootenai and to sign on to our comment letter, click here.

For more information on the Kaniksu OSV plan, click here.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, and stay cool with dreams of skiing!