“Pack and saddle stock outfitters have been operating in the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Areas, the Sawtooth Backcountry, and most of the Methow Valley Ranger District for decades, “said Michael Liu, District Ranger for the Methow Valley Ranger District. “They have been operating under one-year permits for the past several years while we completed this analysis. It was important to analyze the effects of this use and to consider how to best manage the commercial use while protecting important resource values. We also needed to reconcile some inconsistencies in past direction.”
“There is more work to be done, but completing the Final Environmental Impact Statement was an important milestone in being able to move ahead with a Record of Decision and issuing ten-year permits,” he said.
Each year, the pack and saddle outfitter-guide businesses provide assistance to many groups and individuals wishing to experience the backcountry and wilderness. With their unique set of skills, equipment and expertise, pack and saddle stock outfitters serve a needed niche; making forests accessible to individuals who may need assistance to access it or those who do not have the knowledge or experience to do so on their own.
Public review and comment on the Draft version of this document, released in August of 2010, led to several changes in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Noticeable changes include revised visitor numbers, development of Alternative 4, and an additional Forest Plan amendment in certain alternatives.
Based on her review of the analysis displayed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, Forest Supervisor Heath anticipates making a decision on Pack and Saddle Stock Outfitter Guide Special Use Permit Issuance in late March, 2013.
For additional information about the project, please contact Jennifer Zbyszewski, Recreation and Wilderness Program Manager at 509-996-4021. The document is available for download from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website atwww.fs.usda.gov/goto/okawen/projects.