OHV Route Threatens Hunting and Fishing

Steve Ellis Supervisor Wallowa-Whitman National Forest P.O. Box 907 Baker City, OR 97814 Dear Supervisor Ellis: The above named sportsmen’s conservation groups, representing thousands of avid hunters and anglers from across the state, are very concerned about the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest proposal to build an Off Highway Vehicle route in the Sled Springs unit. As you know, the ODFW Sled Springs unit is one of the most popular deer hunting units in the state with 1,925 centerfire rifle tags issued out of 2,477 1st choice applications in 2006. It is also very popular with archery hunters. Mud Creek and nearby streams also harbor important populations of redband trout and steelhead. And Oregon, like many western states, benefits economically from the investments of the sporting community. An annual economic windfall of $970 million from hunters and anglers helps to sustain local and predominantly rural economies and is completely renewable. We’d like to maintain this tradition and know that more roads are not good for fish and wildlife. With over 4,000 miles of open roads in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest there are ample opportunities for Off Highway Vehicle use. Off Highway Vehicle use helps fulfill the Forest Service’s multiple use mandate but we believe the location of this proposed trail is ill-conceived. With increased OHV use nationwide the number of violations and abuse of our public lands has increased. Many of us can cite instances where our stalks have been ruined and pack strings have been spooked by OHVs. Every forest and range in the west has been negatively impacted by OHV abuse which has caused serious damage to our public lands heritage. In most instances, the violators go unpunished because OSP and the USFS do not have enough officers to police what we have. Adding an OHV system in sensitive habitat will not help fish or wildlife. The game and fish biologists with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the Nez Perce Tribe have concerns that big game populations such as mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk and wild fish populations could be seriously harmed by this proposal. We urge that the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest adopt a “No Action” alternative and move this project to a region within the forest that is not as biologically sensitive for fish and game species. Sincerely, Mike Beagle Pacific NW Field Coordinator Public Lands Initiative-Trout Unlimited Norman Ritchie Executive Director Association of Northwest Steelheaders Jim Martin Conservation Director Berkley Conservation Institute-Pure Fishing Company Bill Bakke Executive Director Native Fish Society Kelly Smith Board Member Oregon Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Tony Brauner President Oregon Council-Federation of Fly Fishers TomWolf Chairman Oregon Council-Trout Unlimited Dawn Olsen President Oregon Division-Izaak Walton League of America Matt Little Western Region Representative National Wildlife Federation