By MARTIN KIDSTON firstname.lastname@example.org
| Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 4:55 pm
THERMOPOLIS, Wyo. — Protecting wilderness and roadless areas while finding additional opportunities for off-highway-vehicle (OHV) users emerged as popular themes in public comments received by Shoshone National Forest officials.
Forest Supervisor Joe Alexander said the agency received nearly 800 public comments over the past month, primarily from Wyoming and Montana.
“It’s not a popularity contest,” Alexander said. “We don’t say that since we have 257 comments supporting more wilderness that we’re going to add more wilderness because only 152 people wrote in against it.
“It’s only to give you (cooperators) an idea on what the public is talking about — the public that you represent — and what’s on their mind.”
Alexander shared the comments with cooperating partners on Thursday in Thermopolis, where officials gathered to kick off a two-day planning session aimed at building the Shoshone’s new management plan.
Alexander said the agency received 786 comments since it opened the public comment phase last month. He reviewed the comments before Thursday’s meeting to get a sense of what the public was looking for in the new plan.
While the comments touch on a variety of issues, Alexander said, the Dunoir special management area, along with the Wood River, Franks Peak and Trout Creek proposed wilderness areas, generated the most public support.
“There were some things hit on a lot more than others, and there was a lot of discussion on wilderness,” Alexander said. “The Dunoir was far and away the most popular wilderness. There was discussion about maintaining roadless areas and not putting more motorized use in there, especially OHV use.”
At the same time, Alexander said, a number of comments also represented the OHV community, which has lobbied Park County commissioners for support over the past month.Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/public-s-top-forest-plan-topics-wilderness-ohv-use/article_21943f90-b3cf-57bc-939f-ee63bda7fb70.html#ixzz1lyDvOzYO