To the Editor:
Regardless of the numerous public meetings conducted by the Forest Service over the proposed forest plan and assurance that public opinion would be taken into consideration, it is obvious it was all smoke and mirrors.
If you go to the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision web page, you will see the heading: Forest Access for All, Keeping Public Lands Open to the Public. Steps are already being taken by the Malheur National Forest Service to close off public lands to ATV use in an apparent attempt to circumvent the Grant County Ordinance 2013-01, adopted May 22, 2013. The ordinance states “roads … customarily utilized unrestricted by Grant County residents” … “shall remain open as historically and customarily utilized” … “unless otherwise authorized for closure by the Grant County Court and Grant County Sheriff.”
Signs that state “Highway Legal Vehicles Only” have recently been posted at various area entries, such as the 3290 at Vance Creek. This sign erected by the Malheur National Forest attempts to restrict the use/access of a very large portion of the forest, targeting ATVs. Historically, this road and the areas it accesses have been used by other than “highway legal vehicles.”
I include myself and family in this usage.
Why close areas to vehicles such as ATVs, which cause less wear and tear on roads, but allow 4-wheel-drive pickups, etc.? The reasoning and legalities of such actions are in question.
More closures are put into effect at the starting of hunting season and more areas are cordoned off. If this is allowed to proceed, it will not stop until the rest of our land is closed off to us.
According to witnesses, there is a stack of these signs at the FS compound just waiting to be posted. Instead of working with the public, the Forest Service appears to be working against the people. This may be a good time to write a letter to those politicians who are courting your vote. Pick up your Eagle, the addresses are under “Where to Write” … or sit and complain until it is too late. You choice.