The original Forest Plan for the Okanogan National Forest was adopted in 1989. The Plan was designed to last 15 years. A new planning effort is now underway to develop a Forest Plan for the Okanogan/Wenatchee/Colville Forests. Find out more at:
Since the 1989 Okanogan Forest Plan, forest science has learned much about the dry forest types of Eastern Washington. These dry forests were managed by mother nature with frequent lightning caused fires. The fires , occurring every five to twenty-five years on average, consumed the ground fuels and kept the forests cleared of the heavy fuels which today cause severe forest fires. The goal of the new management guidelines is to treat forest fuels adjacent to farms, homes and communities; while restoring the large tree component of pre-harvested forests. Learn more from the following resources:
• Our Dry Forests – A Century of Change
• Strategy for Management of Dry Forest Vegetation:
Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests: April 2000.
• Forest Health Assessment for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. 2004. PNW Region USDA Forest Service
Roadless Areas: What will be the fate of those unroaded remoter parts of the backcountry forest, generally steep, rocky and difficult terrain, that have remained unroaded during the past 100 years of Forest Service taming of the national forest system lands?
Currently these remote areas serve as sanctuary for rare wildlife such as wolves, grizzly bears, lynx, wolverine, pine martin and goshawk - species that shy away from human contact. In the days before the settlement of the West, these animals were at home on the entire landscape. Now, cities and towns, farms and ranches, and managed forests and grasslands have been domesticated for human use. Truly wild North American legacy wildlife have very little land upon which to survive. Roadless areas and wilderness remain their only access to a home suitable for their wild instincts.
Okanogan County is one of those places that still afford wild rare wildlife a chance to live here. The Pasayten Wilderness of the North Cascades, the Salmo Priest Wilderness on the Washington/Idaho border are two anchors of wildness in our region. Straddled between these two wildlife refuges are blocks of roadless areas that contain wildlife habitat suitable for travel, rest, and some mating and rearing habitat. Most of these roadless areas are used by rare wildlife species, and therefore, contribute to their ability to survive in an otherwise domesticated landscape.
The fate of the roadless areas, then, is an important item for community discussion, and will be a focus of decision making in the adoption of the new Forest Plans.
A Schedule of
to Discuss Roadless Areas
• Potential Wilderness Areas (PWAs) discussion in Republic on Jackson Creek, Bodie, and Clackamas roadless areas in the Okanogan Highlands; and Bald Snow, Cougar Mtn., Profanity, and Thirteenmile roadless areas in the Kettle Range. Meeting at the Republic Elementary School, 30306 E Hwy 20, Republic, Nov 1, Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm.
Roadless Area Evaluation Reports prepared for:
• Find out more about the wild landscapes of the Okanogan/Columbia
• Effects of Recreation Routes on Wildlife Habitats. 2003. William L. Gaines, Peter H. Singleton, and Roger C. Ross.
Other Roadless Resources:
Other resources found in the Okanogan Highlands roadless areas are rare plants – Okanogan fame flower Talinum sediforme; Northern golden carpet Chrysosplenium tetrandum; and Velvet-leaved blueberry (low huckleberry) Vaccinium myrtilloides; Small northern bog orchid Platanthera obtusata.The presence of these plants rank the areas as high priority for permanent roadless designation.
Another important factor that USFS planners are considering is the desirability of including sites within the Okanogan Highlands in the national system of wilderness areas. The Okanogan Highlands are a unique landform in terms of geography, geology, topography and vegetation, and are underrepresented among protected landform types in the Pacific Northwest region.
Wilderness managers also rank the ability to see the night sky as an important resource. Our roadless areas offer the darkest of night skies to be found in the continental United States, so that the Milky Way, in its high complexity, is visible to the naked eye.