I feel there needs to be some balance to the comments regarding the Salmon-Challis National Forest travel plan as well the revision of the forest plan. I have not been negatively impacted by the travel plan and believe it represents all recreational users very well. On the other hand I have been denied access to private property multiple times during hunting season. Custer County is very fortunate to have abundant public lands which we all use all the time for recreation, hunting, fishing, firewood gathering and events like the River of No Return endurance run. If you think otherwise then go live somewhere that lacks public land and you’ll see what I mean.

In reference to the so called “let it burn” policy I’d like to remind folks that the majority of fires are suppressed on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The vast majority of wildfires are controlled when they are small and do not become large incidents. This is not an easy task in difficult terrain with all the factors we have to create large fire. I don’t think this needs an explanation. Take a walk in the mountains and think about how receptive our fuels are to burning when lighting strikes. The concept of a fuel break does not always offer positive results. They have been used often on this forest with mixed results. When a firebrand is lofted miles ahead of the fire front a break offers little deterrence to spread.

Take some time and visit an area that has burned and educate yourselves on the positive aspects fire offers. There is a reason hunters search out recently burned areas to hunt. The dense forests offer little food for wildlife. The new browse in burned areas provides an ample food source. I’d suggest you walk up the West Fork of the Yankee Fork which burned during the Potato Fire in 2006. The antelope bitterbrush, willow, aspen, and new lodgepole pine are thriving. The bleak picture painted by some is as though the forest is changed forever. This is simply not true and wildfires will continue long after we’ve all moved on.

Bill Blount


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