Forest Service Chief Accepts Wasatch-Cache Plan

Forest Service Chief Accepts Wasatch-Cache Plan

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- After two years pondering appeals, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth has upheld the Wasatch-Cache National Forest plan.

Both snowmobilers and cross-country skiers who wanted more space for their pursuits were turned down.

"It was as predictable as the sun going down and coming up every day," said Dick Carter, head of the High Uintas Preservation Council.

"We didn't expect anything out of this appeal. The only upside of the decision for the conservationists is that the motorheads and the guys who were calling for increases in logging, their appeals were rejected even more flatly than ours. We felt good about that."

The plan sets out what parts of the forest will be used for skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, logging, grazing and everything else.

It was the first revision of the plan in 15 years and was designed to meet surging demands for recreation and environmental protection. Regional Forester Jack Troyer approved it in 2003 and it has been in effect for two years.

Appeals from environmental groups, snowmobile groups and several individuals were filed immediately. Bosworth's decision to deny all the appeals was announced last week.

His decision not to grant any of the appeals didn't make anyone happy and left some feeling that he hadn't done his job.

Carter said Bosworth's decision was made without any meaningful discussion with the groups that appealed.

"The really complicated issues that were raised on appeal by ourselves and others were just dismissed," Carter said.

Curtis Kennedy, spokesman for the Utah Snowmobile Association, was unhappy that the plan excludes snowmobiles from a large part of the Tony Grove area of Cache County.

He said leaving that decision alone creates the possibility for more conflict and even safety hazards.

"Snowmobilers during the winter would need to come down through that closed area if they got into a weather-related problem," Kennedy said. "So it just makes it a tenuous situation, there were other areas that could have been considered and weren't.

Dan Schroeder of the Ogden chapter of the Sierra Club said Bosworth created a conflict over whether the Shoshone Trail system in Box Elder and Cache counties even exists.

The trail, more than 400 miles of roads catering to all-terrain vehicle use, is not formally set down in the plan. But Schroeder appealed it as the trail exists on the ground and in local planning and management documents.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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