Friday, January 18, 2013

PRESCOTT FOREST: Game and Fish opposes new wilderness acres

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is opposing the Prescott National Forest's preferred alternative in its new draft management plan, because the state agency doesn't want any more wilderness acres on the forest. The draft plan lists a preferred Alternative B featuring 43,400 new wilderness acres in eight areas, although Forest Supervisor Betty Mathews has stated that she technically has no preferred alternative because she is relatively new to the forest and wants to hear from the public. The Game and Fish letter says it prefers Alternative C because it includes no new wilderness areas and it has the greatest focus on improving wildlife habitat. Wilderness areas and other designations that restrict human uses of public lands have resulted in an "erosion of the department's ability to proactively manage wildlife," the letter says, and at the least result in costly hurdles to wildlife management actions. Examples in the letter of actions that can be complicated or prohibited in wilderness areas include aquatic habitat structures, wildlife cameras and mechanical brush thinning. The other government group opposing new wilderness was the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition, a consortium of Yavapai County, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, and the municipalities of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. The Upper Verde Coalition letter says it wants to work with the Forest Service on an Upper Verde watershed protection plan, and wilderness designations would make it hard to restore some areas. Machines are generally not allowed in wilderness areas...more

Makes you wonder why the NMG&F dept. is silent on this issue.  How about in your state?

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