Objection to Colville National Forest’s San Poil project filed with Northeast Washington Forest Coalition

Objection to Colville National Forest’s San Poil project filed with Northeast Washington Forest Coalition

Conservation Northwest / Jul 27, 2020 / Columbia Highlands, Colville Wild, Forest Field Program, National Forests

The San Poil project on the Colville National Forest falls short on its forest and aquatic restoration objectives and threatens to reduce wilderness quality lands.

By Tiana Luke, Colville Forest Lead, Northeast Washington Forest Coalition Board Member

The San Poil project on the Colville National Forest near Republic, Washington, aims to restore the forest and aquatic habitat in the area, but it falls short in its goals. As part of the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition, we have filed an objection to the project.

While we have major concerns about the project’s efficacy in achieving its goals, we support the project’s goals to restore the forest and watersheds. We’ve been working with Northeast Washington Forest Coalition (NEWFC) as part of our Forest Field Program since 2004 to collaboratively promote science-based landscape-scale forest and watershed restoration.

The Bald Snow proposed Wilderness area. Photo: Eric Zamora

The San Poil project lies in the Kettle River Mountain Range. It contains some of the wildest parts in northeast Washington, such as the Thirteenmile and Cougar Roadless areas and the Baldsnow Recommended Wilderness area—landscapes we’ve been working to protect permanently as part of our Colville Wild Campaign. The Kettle River Range and San Poil project area is part of the Cascades to Rockies region—an important wildlife corridor for species such as Canada lynx, wolverines and mule deer.

NEWFC objected because of their dissatisfaction with the collaboration on this particular project. The maps provided to the public were not user-friendly and hampered NEWFC’s ability to field verify particular treatments and potential impacts.

Violation of NEWFC’s longstanding collaborative agreement to not operate in Inventoried Roadless Areas is of particular concern, especially if these treatments then preclude these acres from being included in the Wilderness Preservation System.

A map of roadless areas and wilderness-quality lands on the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington’s Columbia Highlands. Map: Amelia Tiedamann.
NEWFC members and Colville National Forest employees discuss the San Poil project. Photo: NEWFC

“While we like many aspects of the Sanpoil project, there are portions that go against our longstanding collaborative agreements. We look forward to working with the Colville National Forest to find resolutions,” said Matt Scott, NEWFC President and the Vaagen Brothers Lumber representative on the NEWFC Board.

NEWFC’s formal objection raises concerns that the project does not provide adequate public information, does not sufficiently trend towards landscape resiliency, misuses shaded fuel breaks in and adjacent to Inventoried Roadless Areas and Recommended Wilderness, insufficiently analyzes unauthorized road impacts and wildlife viability, and inadequately maintains scenic integrity near trails and within Inventoried Roadless Areas.

We support this formal objection and will be participating in the objection resolution process.

The objection process aims to find a resolution to public concerns without legal action. It’s the final step in the collaboration process when issues are not resolved before the final environmental assessment is released. We’ll be attending the objection meeting with our desired solutions in hand and an attitude to resolve our issues collaboratively.

Read MORE IN THIS PRESS RELEASE, or learn more about our work for permanent protections in northeast washington through our COLVILLE WILD CAMPAIGN.
The Thirteenmile Roadless Area in northeast Washington’s Kettle River Range. Photo: Eric Zamora