The US Forest Service is proposing to increase guiding and outfitting use days 153 percent on our public lands found within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The comment deadline is December 18th.
Montana BHA is not anti-public land and water guiding or outfitting. On the contrary, we feel that, done appropriately, public land and water guiding and outfitting provides a valuable service to public land owners and can create new and strengthen existing public land and water advocates. It can also help ascribe a tangible value to specific tracts of wild, undeveloped lands in ways that the nebulous outdoor recreation economy sometimes fails to achieve.
However, all use - especially commercial use - of our publicly owned lands and waters deserves careful analysis and a clear public process to identify, when, where, and what specifically is being allowed or proposed, so we can better gauge the impacts of this use. This includes impacts to the resource, first and foremost, but also the impacts to other user groups.
In our opinion, we feel the USFS fails to follow their own Assessment of Need, and that the proposed action to increase the current guiding and outfitting use days from 13,175 per year to 33,416 annually is too broad and lacks specifics and therefore makes the impacts inscrutable. We also believe that the rationale provided for the proposed action is wholly insufficient and appears anecdotal. For these reasons, we’ve asked that the USFS adopt Alternative 1: No Action.
While Montana BHA can’t confidently speak to the particulars on behalf of our members and supporters, we want to flag that the USFS is looking for specific, drainage-by-drainage feedback on where you, personally, want to see more (or less) commercial use within the B-D National Forest, and why.
View and comment on the Outfitter and Guide Project Revised Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) here. The deadline is December 18th.