Public suggestions sought on Northern Sierra forest plan | RecordCourier.com
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Public suggestions sought on Northern Sierra forest plan

by Sharon Carter

Saturday marks the close of the period for public comments and suggestions about when, where and how U.S. Forest Service planners should concentrate their efforts as they revise the 13-year-old Northern Sierra Plan which provides guidelines for managing the Sierra portion of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The idea is to amend the Northern Sierra Plan, which addresses local conditions, and dovetail it with the Forest Service’s large-scale Sierra Nevada Conservation Framework which encompasses the portions of the Humboldt-Toiyabe in the Sierra Nevada and the other 10 national forests in the mountain range.

At January’s Douglas County Planning Commission meeting, forest planner Dave Loomis of Carson City walked county officials and area residents through issues that have been raised to help direct future management of the national forests along the eastern slope of the Sierra, particularly along the Carson Front in Douglas.

The area Loomis must plan for encompasses 400,000 acres of forest lands that stretch from California’s Lassen and Sierra counties in the north to Alpine County in the south, and includes portions of Washoe and Douglas counties and Carson City in Nevada.

n Pressures on the forest. “We have to look at pressures from urban-wildland interfaces and of development on wildlife habitat, on fire protection and recreation issues,” Loomis said.

Loomis said most of the comments his office has received to date have related to recreation. Other concerns are timber management practices that maintain the health of the forest, asking Congress to designate the East Carson a “wild and scenic” river, analyzing and updating grazing allotments in the forest (some of which, Loomis said, are no longer economically feasible), managing the federal wilderness areas and protecting open space.

Other specific concerns mentioned involve trespassing by mountain bikers in federal wilderness areas where no vehicles are permitted, maintenance of old forest ecosystems and California spotted owl habitat and protecting the religious and cultural rights of the Washoe and Northern Paiute tribes.

“We may need to change some things, improve access and incorporate new trends in recreation and reduce conflicts of uses,” Loomis said.

n Water concerns. Ranch manager and Douglas County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said he also has concerns on an economic level about what would happen if irrigation upstream from the Carson Valley is cut back or stopped.

“Some of the water they use to irrigate the Silver King area and Faith, Hope and Charity valleys comes back into the Carson and gives us late season water,” Etchegoyhen said. “We kind of count on that water. So if they’re looking at things on the river, we’re interested.”

Gardnerville resident Phil Sullivan, who regularly horse packs into the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, said he, too, is concerned about upper Carson River irrigation, particularly in Bagley and Silver King valleys.

“I’d like to see grazing and livestock come back and the valleys green,” Sullivan said. “An incredible, picturesque historic area, the Dangberg Vaquero Camp with its old log cabins, has deteriorated from non-use over the years. It’s nobody’s fault. I’d like to see it purchased and restored – the weeds gone, ditches cleaned and the meadow green again. The more it stays in non-use, the farther backward it goes.”

Forest Service ecologist Jenny Scanland said Tuesday the Carson Ranger District has received a good response from area residents.

“We’ve gotten plenty of comments, but we’re still interested in learning more of peoples’ concerns,” Scanland said. “We’ll also still read and consider late comments. The idea here is to get down to local issues – to get down to the people on the ground.”

What: Deadline for written suggestions of issues to address in the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Sierra Plan Amendment’s environmental impact statement

Due: Saturday, Jan. 29, 1999

Where: U.S. Forest Service District Office, 1536 So. Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701, attn: Dave Loomis, Forest Planner; or send e-mail messages to nosateam/r4_h-t@fs.fed.us

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