Let it be known to all Bitterrooters that the Ravalli County Off-Road User Association (RCORUA) is appealing the 3 Saddle Vegetation Management Project on the Bitterroot National Forest (BNF) northwest of Stevi.
The vegetation project includes a timber sale that’ll log beetle-ravaged trees, creating jobs and income for Valley workers. The appeal by RCORUA may delay, or stop, all this–forest work, jobs, income.
The project also includes important restoration work like prescribed burning and pre-commercial thinning that’ll reduce future fire risk. By obstructing this restoration work, the off-road association is putting our forest, communities, homes, and safety at risk.
The 3 Saddle Project decommissions 10.6 miles of logging roads that are in poor shape, causing excessive sediment into streams, hurting fisheries and fishing. The decommissioning is badly needed and is a miniscule part of the thousands of miles of roads on the BNF. It’s part of the overall project, and some road decommissioning was agreed upon by a diverse group of collaborating people that make up the BNF Restoration Committee. The decommissioned roads will continue to allow non-motorized access for fishing, hiking, hunting, and camping.
Apparently the main reason RCORUA appealed 3 Saddle is the road decommissioning. How shortsighted. They’re sacrificing jobs, public safety, fish habitat, and a healthier forest, all for selfish reasons. Selfishness has blinded the off-roaders from seeing the bigger picture. It’s a shame, especially when one of their leaders, Mike Jeffords, who sits on the Restoration Committee, agreed with the Committee as a whole to decommission and de-motorize some of the very roads that he and RCORUA now oppose. This tarnishes the association’s credibility and puts into question the forthrightness of their leadership.
How ironic that RCORUA is appealing 3 Saddle, not Friends of the Bitterroot, who always gets scapegoated in the media. How things change!