Monday, September 29, 2014

Divide Travel Plan and Programmatic Amendment for Big Game Security Public Comments Due

Comment Due October 6, 2014 (extended from Sept 29)
Subject line: Divide Travel Plan

Helena Hunters and Anglers Association offers the following points in developing your comment to the Divide Travel Plan.

Alternative 5 is unquestionably the best alternative for natural resource concerns. Water quality, soil and vegetation health, minimization of noxious weed spread, fish and wildlife habitats, would all be well served by Alternative 5, over and above the other Alternatives. The highlights include:
- The 300' rule that allows driving off of roads for camping only, would be reduced to 30' for vehicle parking, and if a camping trailer is involved, the allowance would be 70'.

- Dead-end and duplicative roads will be closed resulting in significant improvement for what has been severely reduced big game security and other wildlife habitats.

- Important wildlife winter range in the Priest Pass-Sweeney Creek area would be managed as such with designated driving routes yearlong - NO off-road use

- Integrity of travel management in adjoining Clancy-Unionville area will be assured through similar management on both sides of the Tenmile Divide. One concern is the proposal to open route 4009-A1 to vehicles 50" or less to motorized use. This route parallels, within 1/4 mile, another open motorized route, and goes through an elk calving/nursery area, so it should not be opened.
- Inventoried Roadless Areas would be properly treated as Roadless Areas through removal of motorized routes, with the exception of MTR-501 between Limburger Springs and the Little Blackfoot. Be aware that the east side of Nevada Mountain Roadless Area (Ogilvie-Deadman) is not included in this decision but it should ultimately receive travel management consideration that would be consistent with the adjoining Blackfoot winter travel plan to the west, and Alternative 5 of the Divide travel plan.
- Winter travel restrictions along the consolidated critically important Continental Divide wildlife movement corridor from Mullan Pass through MacDonald Pass and south to Bullion Park is a substantial improvement. This decision would join Sweeney Creek winter range with the Jericho Mountain and Black Mountain Roadless Areas which are known use areas and movement routes for lynx and wolverine, and provide likely movement for grizzly bears to the north and south and connecting eastward to the Elkhorn Mountains.

Please provide your own site specific examples.


A separate decision is being made regarding change of the existing Forest Plan Big Game Security Standard.

Helena Hunters and Anglers Association has submitted extensive comment regarding big game security. We feel strongly that any big game security standard must involve "cover." Alternative B, which is also out for comment, is a significant improvement over Alternative A that was described in the Divide Travel Plan DEIS. Provisions of Alternative B include:

- Hunting season dates of 9/1 - 12/1

- Vegetative cover is recognized as an important component of big game security - as compared to Alternative A, which does not even acknowledge cover needs.

- Alternative B recognizes that where security is limited, that concealment cover must be recognized and measures to retain or improve cover when possible will be taken.

- Security is defined as an area of at least 1000 acres least 1/2 mile from a motorized route open to the public between 9/1 and 12/1

- Intermittent Refuge Areas are defined as areas at least 250 acres in size but less than 1000 acres, also at least 1/2 mile from a motorized route open to the public between 9/1 and 12/1

While not ideal, Alternative B works with the existing landscape and seeks to improve cover where opportunities arise. The goal is at least 50% security within each Elk Herd Unit (EHU). None of the Elk Herd Units currently meet the 50% security goal, ranging from 0% security for the Quartz EHU to 30% security for the Little Blackfoot-Spotted Dog EHU. Travel plan Alternative 5, working in conjunction with big game security amendment Alternative B would enhance security over and above Alternatives 1, 2, 3, or 4 in four of the six EHUs within the Divide landscape.

Click on the link to the Divide Travel Plan. Scroll to the bottom and click on "Divide Travel Plan Comment page". Then toward the bottom of that page you will have several options including:

- Divide Travel Plan - Draft Updated Programmatic Plan Amendment (which is Alternative B for Big Game Security ---- plain language would be helpful!).

- Divide Travel PlanAlternative 5 Map - Open roads and trails

- Divide Travel PlanAlternative 5 Map - Overview of planning area roads and trails

- Divide Travel Plan - Alternative 5 Continental Divide National Scenic Trail Map

- Divide Travel Plan Alternative 5 Overview

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING. You can improve the Divide landscape and its natural function.

Helena Hunters & Anglers Association

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