Flathead NF Skews Forest Plan Revision Process, Deceives Collaborative Group

Please consider the following memo from Keith Hammer, Chair of the Swan View Coalition, an update and addition to the previous post, “Another invite-only collaborative leads to unprofessional Forest Service conduct.”

The Flathead National Forest has front-loaded its Forest Plan Revision process to reduce wildlife security while increasing motorized access and logging, playing favorites of folks willing to go along with it!

After telling its newly convened Forest Planning collaborative to use its draft 2006 Plan revision as a starting point, the Flathead has now instead distributed a Modified 2006 revision to the collaborative.

The modifications most importantly would:

1. Abandon Forest Plan Amendment 19 and its securing of grizzly bear habitat through limits on roads and motorized vehicles.

2. Greatly expand the “suitable timber base” where commercial logging is scheduled, partly by logging in areas previously set aside as grizzly bear “security core” under Amendment 19.

3. Retain and expand already extensive snowmobile areas established by Forest Plan Amendment 24, while not proposing to reduce snowmobile areas to protect grizzly bear denning, wolverine and lynx.

To make matters worse, the Flathead is playing favorites to the Whitefish Range Partnership collaborative, which has already largely agreed with the Flathead’s modifications for the North Fork Flathead.

Click here to read our letter to local newspaper editors, which includes links to a couple news articles demonstrating the Flathead’s unacceptable favoritism and skewing of the Forest Planning process.

We’re working hard to insure your voice can be heard during the Flathead Forest Plan revision process and will advise you of specific points when your comments will be most useful.

Meanwhile you can track or join the revision process at the Flathead National Forest’s web site and at Meridian Institute, the contractor the Flathead has hired to attempt to sidestep certain requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (the Forest Service cannot ask for collective advice during meetings that it controls, so it hires a contractor to control the meetings).

4 Comments

  1. Nah, that’s not what happened.
    For those interested, I’ve been at all the field trips and meetings so far, but like Keith was emphatically NOT invited to the collaborative he’s grouching about here. My take is posted at:
    http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/no_done_deal/37031/
    Yes, Headwaters Montana (a Montana Wilderness Association spinoff) and NPCA tried to front-load the process with a stacked deck of collaborators, but they probably won’t succeed. In fact, I’ll bet right now the final outcome will upset Keith even more. And then he can sue, I suppose.

    • Dave, I’m confused about what, specifically you are referring to when you said, “Nah, that’s not what happened.”

      Are you saying that this statement from Keith Hammer is incorrect?

      After telling its newly convened Forest Planning collaborative to use its draft 2006 Plan revision as a starting point, the Flathead has now instead distributed a Modified 2006 revision to the collaborative.

      • First, even the evil modified revision is still a “starting point.”
        Second, A-19 was based on about 5000 data points and was grossly flawed even tho it was “best available” at the time. Now there are a couple of million data points per year and lots of assumptions that will change.
        Third, folks want the suitable base expanded, they’re sick of even “protected” stuff burning.
        And that last part where Mr. Hammer says “We’re working hard to insure your voice can be heard ” is false on two counts. We is Keith, and he’s working hard to ensure his voice is heard, or at least that was the case at the last meeting, and the meeting before, and and and.
        As for the FACA violations — how so?

  2. Meanwhile you can track or join the revision process at the Flathead National Forest’s web site and at Meridian Institute, the contractor the Flathead has hired to attempt to sidestep certain requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (the Forest Service cannot ask for collective advice during meetings that it controls, so it hires a contractor to control the meetings).

    This is interesting, if true. According to FACA, financial control of a group (in this case, FS paying Meridian Institute) may still be considered control of a group.

    Seems like they are walking a fine line between FACA compliance and somewhere else.

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