Richard Cockle/The Oregonian Randy James, operator of an Enterprise ATV and motorcycle shop, and ex-logger Larry Cribbs of La Grande repair a damaged sign that takes issue with a forthcoming travel management plan expected to prohibit motorized vehicles on much of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
This article from the Oregonian is full of interesting observations.. travel management is a big workload in the FS administrative appeals department right now and there may be more controversy as implementation of the travel management rule moves forward. So I added a new blog category for travel management.
Anyway, here are a couple of observations of interest.
Once in place, the plan will require forest users to consult a free map before setting off, Christensen said. Roads designated off-limits won’t be gated or marked, but straying onto a closed road could mean a $5,000 fine, she said.
“It is going to be a change in mindset for people to learn that when you are on the national forest these are the rules you’ve got to play by,” Christensen said.
The following two statements appear to be a bit in conflict
On the Wallowa-Whitman, fewer than 1 percent of visitors ride OHVs, said Randy Rasmussen of Corvallis, spokesman for the American Hiking Society. While their numbers are few, more control and management of them would help establish the Wallowa-Whitman as a preferred destination for hikers, equestrians, bird watchers and hunters — the ” so-called “quiet recreationists,” he said.
People widely use Wallowa-Whitman forest roads for sightseeing, cruising on ATVs, hunting deer, elk, chukar partridges and grouse, gathering winter firewood, huckleberrying and picking mushrooms.
Unless there are people, who, when taken together, compose less than 1% of total visitors, but those individuals widely use the forest roads? It seems confusing.
This one was of particular interest to me, as recently I attended a meeting with interest groups where one of the major topics was to make sure that NEPA did not form an obstacle to collaboration in landscape scale planning efforts. But we did not talk about consultation specifically at our meeting.
Early in the process, the Forest Service and public enjoyed “wide open and constant communication,” he said, but that’s changed with the entry of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Excluding the public isn’t unusual when federal agencies meet, said Judy Wing , a Forest Service spokeswoman in Baker City. “Consultation is not a public process,” she said.
That may be, but as with clearance of rules, I think agencies with opinions should document them and provide for public comment and discussion on their opinions. Speaking as a scientist, I think it would be a great opportunity for real- world science education if the dialogue among scientists and practitioners in the different agencies could be made public. I think it would be hard to achieve the kind of collaboration we all would prefer when there are periodic information blackouts.
I thought it was interesting that while we were discussing the 78 acres of WUI fuel treatments in roadless on the Umpqua, the Denver Post published this article this morning.
In addition, regional foresters are planning to remove dead trees from another 33,224 acres the next year, he said.
One challenge facing contractors is getting rid of the cut trees. Timber mills in Montrose and the San Luis Valley and a pellet factory in Kremmling have been hard-pressed to pay loggers enough to make that tree-removal work profitable.
Forest Service contracting officials say they pay around $1,200 per acre for selective removal of dead trees.
As firefighters on Wednesday worked to shore up lines around the wildfire west of Fraser, Town Manager Jeff Durbin said he and other local leaders are looking to meet with Forest Service officials.
Federal land managers haven’t removed enough of the beetle-kill trees that pose threats, Durbin said.
“Wildfire mitigation is really important business,” and this week’s fire heightened concerns about intense fires spreading from federal land, he said.
“You could see, from town, the flames. It was frightening.”