[cdt-l] Fleecer Project (I-15 to A-P Wilderness)

Jim Wolf mail at cdtsociety.org
Tue Apr 24 11:48:30 CDT 2007

The Forest Service has issued a generally favorable decision on its 
CDNST Fleecer project in Montana. We had been especially critical of the 
agency's original preferred alternative for a number of reasons, but 
primarily because it would have perpetuated the walk along high-standard 
road for several miles on the southbound approach to Lower Seymour Lake. 
The Forest Service has now decided to defer any action for the segment 
west of the Mill Creek Road (Mule Ranch to Lower Seymour). We had raised 
"the possibility of enhancing the scenic attraction of a new route by 
locating it past Mount Evans and down to Storm Lake." The Forest 
Supervisor has now concluded that this alternative merits further 
analysis. Although such a route might be challenging from an engineering 
standpoint, we are pleased that it remains very much in the running. 
(See Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Segment, Section 1.)

The Forest Service has decided to proceed with the portion from I-15 to 
Mill Creek Road (Butte Segment, Sections 5 and 6). The main thrust of 
the action here is the construction of four miles of new nonmotorized 
trail from the Rocky Ridge Trailhead to Bull Ranch Road (Southern 
Montana, Part 2, Map 11). For the time being at least, the portion from 
Bull Ranch Road to Jerry Creek would continue to have some motorized 
traffic. (This needs to be monitored, but to the best of our knowledge 
the motorized traffic has been light. ) We had recommended that the 
Trail should follow the existing route from Jerry Creek to the Mill 
Creek Road via Hungry Hill, in preference to a more northern alternative 
that would have required excessive ups and downs. The decision  follows 
our recommendation.

The Forest Service "recognizes the need for water along the trail," but 
fails to address how this need will be met [between Rocky Ridge 
Trailhead and Jerry Creek] other than to make available information as 
to its location at the trailhead or other appropriate location along the 
trail. We had requested that the trail should be located so as to 
include a spring or creek (such as one that we identified).

While by and large this is a good decision, we are considering further 
discussions with the Forest Service with respect to:

    * The need to construct a nonmotorized route west of Bull Ranch Road
      if patterns of vehicle use are found to be inconsistent with the
      nature and purposes of the trail.
    * The proper classification (open vs. closed to motorized use) of
      any segment that was constructed as new trail as part of the CDNST
      - notably between Burnt Mountain and Jerry Creek. (As mentioned in
      the decision notice, "the National Trails Act does require that
      all new construction is non-motorized.")

The Environmental Assessment and project maps are accessible on the 
internet at http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/b-d/projects/index-cdnst-fleecer.shtml.

Jim Wolf

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