Help Hells Canyon

by Beth Wohlberg

Managers of Hells Canyon on the Oregon-Idaho border, the deepest river-cut canyon in the world, are hoping for more direction in dealing with increasing numbers of visitors, longstanding grazing and logging and a mandate to protect the area. Until June 20, the public can have a say in the future of the canyon by commenting on proposals for a new 10-year management plan.


The Forest Service will choose from five alternatives for the National Recreation Area, including two vastly different citizen alternatives, one placing a greater emphasis on ecosystem protection rather than human activity; and the second increasing logging and grazing.


Botanist Mary O'Brien, facilitator of the group that developed the Native Ecosystem Alternative, says, "We did not do a wish-list in this alternative. What we did is what is basic common sense about how you treat an ecosystem that is irreplaceable." The alternative preferred by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest incorporates parts of both citizen alternatives, says staffer Elaine Kohrman, but allows for greater agency flexibility in the future for grazing on vacant allotments, management of recreation and maintaining roads.


The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area draft environmental impact statement can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/hellscanyon/ or call 541/523-1206 for a copy. E-mail comments to thester@fs.fed.us or send comments to the U.S. Forest Service, Supervisor Karyn Wood, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, P. O. Box 907, Baker City, OR 97814.


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