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«for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest 10/08 DRAFT with- 3/31/2009 Updates to Wild and ...»

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DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest

for

Forest Plan Revision

Ashley National Forest

10/08 DRAFT with- 3/31/2009 Updates to

Wild and Scenic River Suitability and Inventoried Roadless Management

Forest Plan Revision Team

DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest

Table of Contents

Table of Contents __________________________________________________________________________2 Introduction ______________________________________________________________________________4 Summary of Ashley National Forest Evaluation __________________________________________________6 Readers’ Guide ____________________________________________________________________________8 Willow Creek Potential Wilderness No. 401009 _______________________________________10 White River Potential Wilderness No. 401018 _______________________________________13 Widdop Mountain Potential Wilderness No. 401020 _______________________________________16 Sheep Creek West Potential Wilderness No. 401101 _______________________________________19 Sheep Creek East Potential Wilderness No. 401102 _______________________________________22 Hideout Draw Potential Wilderness No. 401103 _____________________________________25 Bare Top Potential Wilderness No. 401104 _____________________________________28 Goslin Potential Wilderness No. 401105 ______________________________________32 Little Hole Potential Wilderness No. 401106 _____________________________________35 Roadshed Potential Wilderness No. 401107_____________________________________39 North Slope High Country Potential Wilderness No. 401108 ______________________________________43 South Slope High Country Potential Wilderness No. 401201 _____________________________________47 Dyer Mountain Potential Wilderness No. 401202 _____________________________________51 Grizzly Ridge Potential Wilderness No. 401203 _____________________________________54 Mount Lena Potential Wilderness No. 401204 _____________________________________58 Brush Creek Potential Wilderness No. 401205 _____________________________________62 Ashley Gorge Potential Wilderness No. 401206 ______________________________________65 Lower Dry Fork East Potential Wilderness No. 401207 _______________________________________69 Lower Dry Fork West Potential Wilderness No. 401208 _______________________________________72 Lower Whiterocks Potential Wilderness No. 401209_______________________________________76 High Uintas A Potential Wilderness No. 401301 ______________________________________80 High Uintas B Potential Wilderness No. 401301 ______________________________________84 High Uintas C Potential Wilderness No. 401301 ______________________________________89 Rhoades Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401302 ______________________________________94 Big Ridge Potential Wilderness No. 401303 ______________________________________97 Hells Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401304______________________________________ 100 Pole Creek Potential Wilderness No. 401305 ______________________________________ 103 Timber Canyon West Potential Wilderness No. 401401 ______________________________________ 106 Timber Canyon East Potential Wilderness No. 401402_______________________________________ 110 Indian Springs Potential Wilderness No. 401403 ______________________________________ 113 Mill Hollow Potential Wilderness No. 401404 _____________________________________ 116 Table of Contents 2 DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest First Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401405______________________________________ 119 Right Fork Indian Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401406 _____________________________________ 122 Cottonwood Potential Wilderness No. 401407 ___________________________________ 126 Sowers Canyon East Potential Wilderness No. 401408 ______________________________________ 129 Nutters Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401409 ______________________________________ 132 Alkali Canyon Potential Wilderness No. 401410 ______________________________________ 135 Potential Wilderness Evaluation Rating Criteria ________________________________________________ 138 References _____________________________________________________________________________ 143 Acronyms and Glossary ___________________________________________________________________ 145 Maps of 1983, 2000, and 2005 Inventories ____________________________________________________ 146

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DIRECTION FOR INVENTORY & EVALUTAION OF POTENTIAL WILDERNESS

Updated Processes for Inventory & Evaluation: In 2004 Forest Service Region 4 adopted a new protocol for mapping areas to study for wilderness suitability during forest planning. The criteria were more detailed than those found the Forest Service Handbook, and were more suited to using GIS tools to produce and adjust the maps as needed. The naming convention for the inventoried areas included a unique number and a place-named undeveloped area.

Additional changes to the evaluation process were outlined in the amended FSH 1909.12_70, dated January 31, 2007. The new handbook direction is consistent with the R4 mapping protocol for undeveloped areas. The handbook does, however, direct forest to use the term potential wilderness area in place of undeveloped area in inventories, evaluations, and reports.





Wilderness qualities to be evaluated (capability, availability, and need) did not change in the updated handbook. However, the factors for evaluating capability were revised. All three qualities are described with their respective evaluation factors below.

Capability is the degree to which the area contains the basic characteristics that make it suitable for wilderness. The amended FS Manual lists naturalness, undeveloped, outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, special features, and manageability as evaluation factors. The individual area reports substitute "natural integrity" for natural or naturalness, and "undeveloped character" for undeveloped.

Availability is the degree to which the area is available for wilderness designation, and is based on the demand for resource uses that are inconsistent with wilderness. For example, oil and gas development, timber harvest, and motorized recreational travel are inconsistent with wilderness as it is currently defined and lower the availability of an area. Requirements for documenting availability include a discussion of existing and planned activities by resource, and an evaluation of the degree to which the area is available based on potential for conflicts with other resource commitments.

Need is evaluated from a regional and national perspective. The evaluation considers the degree to which the area would contribute to the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). Potential ecological and recreational contributions are considered.

The 2008 Planning Rule requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) to determine areas the Forest would recommend for wilderness designation. The EIS process step can be completed during forest planning or at a later date as a legislative EIS, with Forest Plan recommendations considered preliminary.

The roadless area terminology is retained in this document where earlier inventories on adjacent forests are referenced. The term undeveloped area is used only in reference to the Ashley National Forest undeveloped area information packets which were released to the public in 2006. In all current information the potential wilderness area terminology is used.

THE INVENTORY, EVALUATION, AND PUBLIC COMMENT

Ashley National Forest potential wilderness area inventory: The 2004 Region 4 mapping protocol was used to develop boundaries for the inventory maps. Earlier roadless inventories were not used to identify the potential wilderness areas. The area boundaries and corresponding official numbers are the same as those shown in the 2006 undeveloped area information packets. After changes to Forest Service Handbook direction the boundaries were reviewed and found to be consistent with the criteria for mapping potential wilderness areas. As a result the areas have been carried forward as potential wilderness areas in this draft evaluation report.

Summary of Ashley National Forest Evaluation DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest Excluded Road Corridors: Many roads penetrate the interior of lands which are otherwise undeveloped on the Ashley National Forest. A 66 foot wide corridor (33 ft. from centerline) along each system road and a few selected routes was excluded from the potential wilderness areas during the mapping process.

These corridors are not part of the surrounding potential wilderness areas. In the 2006 draft information packets these roads were described as “cherry stem” roads. This document uses excluded road corridors to describe these features.

2006 information packets and public comments: Information packets for undeveloped areas of the Ashley National Forest were released to partners and the public in the summer and again in the fall of

2006. These packets included draft evaluations (ratings) for capability and availability. Public comments on the packets included general and specific comments about ratings and about recommending areas for wilderness. Some of the comments tied directly to rating factors. The comments were used to help complete the evaluation and this draft report.

Many of the comments discussed boundary adjustments and combining areas either to improve ratings or to recommend areas for wilderness. Boundaries were not adjusted for the inventory or evaluation.

However, the potential for boundary adjustments is noted in the manageability factor for wilderness capability. Boundary adjustments will be considered during development of management options, including any wilderness recommendations. Comments about boundaries will be used at that time.

A summary of the comments received is posted at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision Summary of updates: Changes in national direction, the draft report requirements, and public comments resulted in changes since the draft information packets were released. In summary Potential wilderness area has replaced undeveloped area in area names.

The draft information packets were compiled using manual direction for the evaluation of roadless or undeveloped areas; this draft report was compiled using manual direction for the potential wilderness evaluation report. The report has information for each of the evaluation factors for each wilderness quality (capability, availability, and need). The report summarizes the information from the project record, including the information packets. It focuses on key factors that influence the ratings. The information packets and other data sources are available in the project file for those wishing for more detailed look at the area information.

After further study and the addition of information brought forward in public comment, the capability and availability rating criteria were adjusted to consider the new information and to meet the updated handbook direction. Ratings of high, moderate, and low were assigned to evaluation factors for capability, availability, and need. The draft ratings for each potential wilderness area were then revised to meet the criteria. The evaluation qualities and factors are found in FSH 1909.12_Chapter

70. The rating criteria for the Ashley National Forest are included in this report on pages 138-142.

Summary of Ashley National Forest Evaluation The inventory includes 677,868 acres in 37 potential wilderness areas. The evaluation of potential wilderness resulted in nine areas totaling 335,361 acres with high wilderness capability, one area totaling 1,664 acres with high availability, and no areas with high need. The following table shows the acres and ratings for each area.

Summary of Ashley National Forest Evaluation DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest

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Summary of Ashley National Forest Evaluation DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest

–  –  –

The individual potential wilderness area evaluations are presented in numerical order.

The first three are part of larger areas which include lands on the Wasatch-Cache and Uinta National Forests. The rest of the number sequence start with areas in the northeast corner and generally loop through the Forest in a counter-clockwise direction, with the last area the furthest to the southeast.

The area is introduced with its name, number, acreage, and its roadless status in 1983.

DESCRIPTION

This section provides an overview and sets the context for the rest of the narrative. The area is introduced with a location and access description, including access on excluded road corridors (see explanation in previous section), and a vicinity map. Counties and nearby communities are included in the access description. Physical and biological characteristics, the surroundings, and the current uses are also described.

CAPABILITY

The natural integrity and undeveloped character descriptions focus on deviations which lower the capability from a high rating. For instance, non-native species, deviations, are described in natural integrity, but native species and communities are not described. Natural integrity (natural), undeveloped character (undeveloped), opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, special features, and manageability are the evaluation factors described for capability.

AVAILABILITY

The availability section describes existing and planned activities, uses, and commitments that may or may not affect availability. Evaluation factors (resources) considered are recreation, wildlife, water, livestock grazing, timber, minerals/oil and gas, heritage resources, land use authorizations, and other concerns.

NEED The need for wilderness is evaluated at the regional or national scale. The narrative describes ecological and recreational contributions the area would offer to the National Wilderness Preservation System. A public comment summary by area is also included in this section.

Readers’ Guide DRAFT Potential Wilderness Report for Forest Plan Revision Ashley National Forest

WILDERNESS EVALUATION SUMMARY



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