Comment on Chainsaw use:

Friends of Seven Devils…begining the discussion:

We at the Friends of Seven Devils believe it is time to begin the rational discussion about the limited use of chainsaws in the wilderness………….AND………..we would like your comments……..PRO and CON.

Why?  is this discussion necessary?

I was talking with someone a short time ago and that person said it would require an act of Congress to change the Wilderness Act to allow the use of chainsaws in wilderness areas.  That just isn’t so,  the Wilderness Act already has provisions for allowing motorized equipment (including chainsaws) for administrative purposes and allows the Forest Supervisors to make that decision.

 

Another individual said that if we allowed the use of chainsaws, then we’d have to allow the use of bicycles.  Again, another misconception about he Wilderness Act.  As stated above, the use of motorized equipment for administrative use is provided in the Act, but use of bicycles for recreation is not….therefore, to allow bicycle use for recreational purposes, Congressional action would be necessary.

 

Do we at Friends of the Seven Devils want indiscriminate use of chainsaws in the Wilderness?  Absolutely not….however, we do believe that limited use, say that one week of the year, would/could be acceptable to most people, providing a much needed boost to the agencies to maintain trails.

 

So, let’s begin the discussion.  Is  limited chainsaw use in the wilderness acceptable to you?

Forest Service Policy-Exceptions

Following is a section of the Forest Service policy statement:

2326.1 – Conditions Under Which Use May Be Approved Allow the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport only for: 1. Emergencies where the situation involves an inescapable urgency and temporary need for speed beyond that available by primitive means. Categories include fire suppression, health and safety, law enforcement involving serious crime or fugitive pursuit, removal of deceased persons, and aircraft accident investigations. 2. Aircraft or motorboat use established before the area was designated as wilderness by the Act of 1964 or subsequent wilderness legislation. 3. Exploration and development of valid existing mineral rights (FSM 2323.7). 4. Access to surrounded State and private lands and valid occupancies (FSM 2326.13). 5. To meet minimum needs for protection and administration of the area as wilderness, only as follows: a. A delivery or application problem necessary to meet wilderness objectives cannot be resolved within reason through the use of nonmotorized methods. b. An essential activity is impossible to accomplish by nonmotorized means because of such factors as time or season limitations, safety, or other material restrictions. WO AMENDMENT 2300-2007-1 EFFECTIVE DATE: 01/22/2007 DURATION: This amendment is effective until superseded or removed. 2320 Page 54 of 55 FSM 2300 – RECREATION, WILDERNESS, AND RELATED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT CHAPTER 2320 – WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT c. A necessary and continuing program was established around the use of motorized equipment before the unit became a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, and the continued use of motorized equipment is essential to continuation of the program. d. Removal of aircraft wreckage when nonmotorized methods are unsuitable. Specify, for each wilderness, the places and circumstances in which motorized equipment, mechanical transport, or aircraft are necessary for protection and administration of the wilderness and its resources in the forest plan. The Line Officer approving the use of motorized equipment, aircraft, or mechanical transport shall specify what uses of that equipment are suitable and will have the least lasting impact to the wilderness resource. Schedule use of this equipment to minimize impact on wilderness visitors.

As stated in other blogs, the Forest Service Policy clearly allows use of chainsaws by exception.    Wally Kimball

 

 

 

The Wilderness Act-Exceptions

The following  excerpt is from a BLM website:BLM Wilderness Management Manual

B. Prohibited Uses

1. Introduction Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act lists uses and activities that are specifically prohibited in wilderness: “Except as specifically provided for in this Act, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” The BLM will also consider legal requirements of other applicable laws. See also section 1.6.B.3.d.iv of this manual.

2. The Prohibited Uses There are ten developments and uses that are referred to in the Act as “Prohibited Uses” and are also known as “the Section 4(c) prohibitions.” Definitions and discussion of each prohibited use are provided below. a. commercial enterprise. Any use or activity undertaken for the purpose of the sale of products or services, for the generation of funds or revenue, or for the promotion of a product, individual, or business, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit, including any use or activity where an entry or participation fee is charged. The Wilderness Act allows some commercial services to be permitted “to the extent necessary … for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area” (Section 4(d)(6)). Section 1.6.C.4 of this manual provides additional information on authorized commercial uses in wilderness. “Commercial enterprise” includes, but is not limited to: mining, timber harvesting, and geothermal leasing. b. permanent roads. Routes used by motor vehicles or mechanical transport over an indefinite period of time. “Permanent roads” do not include cherry-stemmed routes (see Glossary), which are outside the wilderness boundary. Permanent roads must be associated with a valid existing right (as noted in 1.6.B.3.b), or explicitly identified in the legislation designating a particular wilderness. Permanent roads will be removed (or allowed to restore naturally, if that would be less harmful to overall wilderness character) if the valid existing right or other permitted use is retired or otherwise ends. The definition of permanent roads for the purposes of wilderness management is not necessarily the same as the definition of “road” in the context of BLM transportation planning or the BLM Manual 6340—Management of BLM Wilderness 1-13 BLM MANUAL Rel. No. 6-135 7/13/2012 “wilderness inventory road” definition used in Manual 6310-Inventory for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics. c. temporary roads. Routes used by motor vehicles or mechanical transport over a finite period of time. Temporary roads may only be allowed in wilderness areas if they are associated with a valid existing right (as noted in 1.6.B.3.b), necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of the Wilderness Act (as noted in 1.6.B.3.c), including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area, allowed under a special provision of Section 4(d) of the Act, or explicitly identified in the legislation designating a particular wilderness. The definition of temporary roads for the purposes of wilderness management is not necessarily the same as the definition of “road” in the context of BLM transportation planning or the “wilderness inventory road” definition used in Manual 6310-Inventory for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics. d. motor vehicles. Any means of transportation over land, snow, or ice that is powered by a motor, engine, or other non-living power source. “Motor vehicles” include, but are not limited to: trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Use of motor vehicles may only be allowed in wilderness areas if it is associated with a valid existing right (as noted in 1.6.B.3.b), if necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of the Wilderness Act (as noted in 1.6.B.3.c), including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area, allowed under a special provision of Section 4(d) of the Act, or explicitly identified in the legislation designating a particular wilderness. e. motorized equipment. Any machine that applies force by transferring energy from a motor, engine, or other non-living power source. “Motorized equipment” includes, but is not limited to: chainsaws, power drills, suction dredges, and generators. The prohibited power sources include, but are not limited to: internal combustion engines, batteries, wind, solar, and hydro-power. “Motorized equipment” does not include machines where no force is applied (electronics), or small personal equipment where the force is negligible (such as watches, electric shavers, or flashlights). Use of motorized equipment may only be allowed in wilderness areas if it is associated with a valid existing right (as noted in 1.6.B.3.b), if necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of the Wilderness Act (as noted in 1.6.B.3.c), including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area, allowed under a special provision of Section 4(d) of the Act, or explicitly identified in the legislation designating a particular wilderness’.  END:

 

So my conclusion is this:

Please note the Wilderness Act does in fact allow the use of chain saws in the wilderness.

Please note that the BLM, USFS, and NPS, does in fact use chains saws in the wilderness.

I am interested in knowing if the above two items are not factual.

Wally

 

 

The Wilderness Problem

This blog post will be dedicated to the “problem”, that is, the difficulty, given the increased costs, and decreased budgets, for the “agencies” to properly maintain the wilderness trails for travel.  I will not attempt to describe the problem, instead, I will post links (and ask that you also feel free to post links and describe your experiences) that describe the lack of maintenance problem.

TROUBLE IN THE WILDERNESS:

  1.   This article I believe really sum it up:Trouble in Wilderness

2.  And here is another article, specifically about the Seven Devils, Hells Canyon                           Wilderness: Spokesman-Review

3.  The problem was described in a re-print of the Idaho Department of Parks and           Recreation summit on trail maintenance funding held in 2016 by stating:

U.S.D.A Forest Service National Backlog (FY12, Government Accounting Office Report, June, 2013)  158,000 total trail mileage

 Only 25% are considered to meet agency standards

 Backlog of maintenance needs estimated at $314 million.

And also as stated by Kent Wellner:

Kent Wellner, USDA Forest Service – Over the last five years, they have had a substantial cut in funding. They are looking for ways to make things work with less money.

Source is:  Idaho Dept. Parks and Recreation Summit

4)  An article in the “Observer” talking specifically about the Hells Canyon Recreation Area and the Wallowa-Whitman N.F.   LaGrande Observer, stating that the FS  “budgets have whittled away the ability of seasonal crews to clear more than a fraction of the trails”!

5) The Washington Trails Association posted a discussion about the latest legislation,

Wally

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Country Horsemen Of Oregon

One of my intermediate goals is to gather or associate the groups that advocate for the use of chain saws in wilderness, for two reasons:  1)  provide easy access to other groups 2)  to get a tally of sorts of the “pro” groups.  In that vein, if you know of advocacy groups, please comment on the blog and insert a link.

Please note, I will not automatically allow links to be posted, this is site dedicated to use of chain saws in wilderness and wish not to deviate from that theme.

Another group advocating for the use of chainsaws in the wilderness.

Back Country Horsemen of Oregon

The above site has it own blog so you can respond.

The above article was provided to me by Sustainable Trails and here is a link to their site:  Sustainable Trails Coalition.

Wally

 

 

Seven Devils North Loop

The Seven Devils Mountains within the Hells Canyon Wilderness is a special place to many people. It is a small wilderness with only two primary, remote access points, and, because of its remote location within Idaho, gets relatively little use.  If you find yourself in this wilderness, you might very well find yourself alone!

This site is not dedicated to the promotion of additional use of this wilderness, however, its use has surely increased over the years since  I first visited it many years ago.  It is being discovered.  But what I have found, is that the trail maintenance has become sub-standard over the years for many reasons.   And that lack of maintenance has been noted by the agencies involved and documented by various individuals.  I venture to guess the primary culprit is the increased cost of trail maintenance along with the decreased budget of the agencies that are charged with that maintenance.

But there may be an acceptable solution:

“Limited use of chainsaws within the wilderness” would provide a means to cut out the logs and brush clogging the trails at a much reduced cost AND at a rate much faster than using traditional (non-mechanized) tools, at little to no (some might argue less) environmental impact.

I/We, at the Friends of Seven Devils, Hells Canyon Wilderness, wish to advocate for the use of chainsaws and wish to begin that discussion, pro and con, to guage the public interest is such use of chainsaws.  And, it is the public, if interested, that should ultimately dictate the methods used to maintain trails within the wilderness.

This is a large and complex topic.  There is no one short, one line answer, and will require rational discussion to explore the various reasons and feeling both pro and con.  It is however, the time to begin that discussion.

Wally Kimball