USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

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USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 28, 2013 6:52 am

The U.S. Forest Service has issued its Environmental Assessment for Region 2, covering Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kansas. Caves are re-opened under certain conditions in this adaptive management plan:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5414178.pdf


Go to the link below and scroll down just a bit to links to each of the Forest Unit specific plans and info on the entire EA process:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/home/?cid=stelprdb5319926

The current closure order, with exemptions for NSS and CRF members, remains in effect until its expiration date in July. These exemptions are continued under the new plan.


Naturally, the Center for Biological Diversity has already issued a press release blasting the Forest Service for its decision and insulting cavers, too - par for the course:

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/white-nose-syndrome-03-27-2013.html
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Mar 28, 2013 9:59 am

This looks like really good news! Am I missing something?
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby Extremeophile » Mar 28, 2013 10:36 am

At first glance this seems to be exactly the balanced management approach we've been advocating in Colorado. It would have been great if this was the original plan in the summer of 2010, but better late than never. Assuming all the National Forest units adopt the proposed action this should restore most access for responsible cavers while still maintaining reasonable protection for bats against the human introduction of WNS and disturbance during sensitive activities such as swarming, maternity, and hibernation.

Thanks to Peter and the NSS for their help in getting this accomplished.
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby jharman2 » Mar 28, 2013 12:18 pm

Peter,

Any hopes a plan like this will be adopted here in the east?
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 28, 2013 3:17 pm

Andy - Nope. Don't think you're missing anything (except maybe being back in PR?). There is an appeal period, but will anyone appeal? If WNS does get within 250 miles, then we may expect a management response and new closures - at least for a while. That's my read of the EA and decisions at this point.

Derek - Appreciate the nod, but an even bigger one back at you for your perseverance on this over a multi-year period. Thanks, also to the Colorado cavers and the Colorado Cave Survey, and 2011 Convention staff and all who attended the Convention and demonstrated responsible caving and conservation practices to a nervous agency community. This has been a long and deliberate haul.

jharman - short answer, I don't know. However, if you look at the three-tiered decision tree, much of the East is WNS-saturated, so would classify as Tier 3. Under Tier 3, caves would re-open, with the focus being on conservation of remaining bats - e.g. avoidance of winter hibernacula, etc. The Virginia Region (VAR) of the NSS has written to the US Forest Service about Monongahela and Jefferson National Forests (both saturated) and asked they be re-opened. The also wrote to Region 9, which is a mixed region currently, with WNS spreading southward this winter. If Region 9 took a Region 2 approach, you would have different Forest Service units with difference decisions, based on the three-tiered system. You'd likely end up with some Tier 3 units and mostly Tier 2. I'd have to look at a map and calculate distances to see if there would be any Tier 1 areas in Region 9.
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby caverdan » Mar 29, 2013 8:00 am

Huge thanks to both Derek and Peter for their input and help in putting thing together. :clap: :kewl:
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Re: USFS Region 2 Reopens Caves Under EA Plan

Postby BrianC » Mar 29, 2013 10:00 am

Good news, at least in the initiative, will not hold my breath though!
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