Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Stalled plan is back on track

By Lisa McGee

THE SHOSHONE NATIONAL FOREST IS RESTARTING THE PROCESS of revising its management plan, and will hold a series of public meetings in late February and early March to discuss the revision.

As many readers know, the Shoshone’s forest plan revision has been on hold for a while.

The process originally began in 2005 but the U.S. Forest Service conducted that work under rules that are no longer valid.

So the agency is starting over, while attempting to incorporate some of the work and public comments it previously received.

Safeguarding important landscapes

The Forest Service is now beginning a new round of meetings to discuss this plan revision, this time working under legally sound regulations.

There is a new forest supervisor and a new forest planner heading up the work. The plan, when final, will guide the management of the forest for the next 15 to 20 years.

It is important to note that the Bureau of Land Management is also concurrently revising its two management plans for public lands in the Wind River Basin and the Bighorn Basin.

So folks who participate in all of these plan revisions are helping set the stage for 20 years worth of management of the Shoshone National Forest, its margins, its surrounding landscapes to the east, and the gateway to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

There are currently two drilling proposals pending on the Shoshone National Forest outside of the towns of Clark and Dubois.

These projects have drawn criticism as they are located on land prized for high quality wildlife habitat and backcountry recreation. The Forest Service has responded that these areas were made available for leasing in the last forest plan—and as a result of oil and gas lease sales the companies now have valid interests in developing the leases.

Each time a plan is revised the public has the opportunity to tell the Forest Service how we’d like our lands to be managed.

Making areas on the Shoshone unavailable for future oil and gas leasing is something the Wyoming Outdoor Council has identified as a priority.

If lands can be safeguarded in the plan, we won’t face controversial lease sales and unpopular drilling proposals in the future.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming Shoshone National Forest meetings (all times 6–8 p.m.):

  • Monday, February 28, Big Horn Federal, 1701 Stampede Avenue, Cody, Wyoming
  • Tuesday, March 1, Headwaters Art and Convention Center, 20 Stalnaker, Dubois, Wyoming
  • Wednesday, March 2, Monarch Hall at the Pronghorn Lodge, 150 East Main, Lander, Wyoming
  • Thursday, March 3, Big Horn Federal, 643 Broadway, Thermopolis, Wyoming

In its official announcement, the Forest Service said it plans to present information at these meetings about the revision process, the timeline for completing the revised plan, and how the agency studies the social and economic effects of its decisions.

According to the agency, new forest supervisor Joe Alexander, local district rangers, and members of the planning team will be available to answer questions.

The public is also welcome to attend and observe a meeting of the government cooperators from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, March 3, at the Big Horn Federal meeting room in Thermopolis.

At the end of the meeting there will be time for the public to make statements and ask questions.

Forest plan revision information is available on the Shoshone National Forest’s website or at any Shoshone National Forest office in Cody, Dubois, and Lander.

Contact: Lisa McGee, national forests and parks program director, Wyoming Outdoor Council, lisa@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org.

West Edge