Open houses set for draft wilderness management plan

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Challis Field Office (CFO) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Salmon-Challis National Forest (SCNF) are developing a draft plan for the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak (JMJP) Wilderness and are soliciting public comments. The agencies were given a three-year period beginning in 2015 to complete the plans. The JMJP Wilderness is the easternmost of the three wilderness areas created under Congressman Mike Simpson’s legislation.

“The Wilderness Act provides a mandate to each agency to preserve wilderness character,” said Mary D’Aversa, BLM Idaho Falls district manager. “We use the parameters identified in the Act in conjunction with the legislation language creating the wilderness, public input and agency policy to craft a plan to meet Congress’s intent.” D’Aversa explained that public input provides a critical nexus, which results help achieve the best management choices for these lands.

The BLM and USFS are offering several public meetings during the scoping period:

February 23: Mackay, Idaho, at the American Legion Hall (92 South Main St.) from 5 to 7 p.m.

February 27: Virtual Webinar accessible at https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/r3wfcti6c7y/ from 2 to 4 p.m.

February 27: Challis, Idaho, at the Forest Service Office (311 N. US Hwy 93) from 5 to 7 p.m.

March 2: Ketchum, Idaho, at the Ketchum Community Library (415 Spruce Avenue) from 5 to 7 p.m.

Those interested in commenting during this preliminary scoping period may respond in one of the following ways by March 17, 2017:

• Send an email to: comments-intermtn-salmon-challis-middlefork@fs.fed.us; or

• Send a hardcopy letter to BLM, Challis Field Office, 1151 Blue Mountain Road, Challis, Idaho 83226.

Following the scoping period, the USFS and BLM will revise the Wilderness Management Plan based on public input and begin developing an environmental assessment. Subsequently, the revised plan and environmental assessment will be provided to the public for additional comment, anticipated for late fall 2017.

To access the draft plan, or for more information on the planning process, the wilderness areas and interactive maps, please visit the interagency project website at http://arcg.is/2j9GNu4

On August 7, 2015, Congressman Mike Simpson’s legislation creating three new wilderness areas totaling 275,665 acres in the heart of Central Idaho was signed into law.

Since the JMJP area includes BLM and USFS-managed lands, the plan will be developed jointly. The two other wilderness areas, Hemingway-Boulders and White Clouds, fall almost entirely within the Sawtooth National Forest and its Sawtooth National Recreation Area and will be managed under a separate plan developed by the Sawtooth National Forest.

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