To the Editor:
The Forest Service (FS) Travel Management Plan that will dictate forest road closures is looming on the horizon and urged by Regional Forester Casamassa. Let's look at some assumed theory and "best available science" such as is used by the FS to justify the massive closure of public land access.
The current Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) used to officially designate roads closed to motorized vehicles on the Malheur National Forest (MNF) lists 1,925 individual roads; approximately 90% are attributed to wildlife protection supposedly with consensus of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The most recent FS Road Management Inventory List contains approximately 13,640 roads; roughly 70% are determined maintenance level (ML) 1 and declared closed under a blanket statement by previous MNF supervisors Raaf and Beverlin; new FS projects "reclose" those and add still more by indiscriminately changing ML 2 roads to a ML 1 under random pretext. In response to my FOIA request, the FS retrieved 2,236 pages of archived environmental documents on projects as far back as 1990 to find roads that had escaped closure and are now included in a road closure contract awarded to Hanging Rock Excavation Construction Inc. Research of these antiquated projects shows numerous inaccuracies, which indicates that the contract is progressing under insufficient data.
FS Order 0604-030 (2003), signed by MNF supervisor Roger Williams, referencing 36 CFR 261.50, states no motorized vehicle is allowed on Forest Developed Roads or segments shown in Exhibit (A). Exceptions to law enforcers, firefighters or organized rescuers. One could theorize that an estimated 1,925 (CFR) to 13,640 (70% of the inventory) roads are only available to non-motorized traffic and more bicycle paths are being constructed with each project in current forest planning. Assuming each closed road averages 1 mile, that is over 13,000 miles of road set aside for no motorized access (bicycles, horses, hikers, etc.), closing access to public lands to the elderly, vets and all with disabilities requiring motorized assistance. Grant County definitely needs an ordinance to invoke government agencies to coordinate management of our county's public owned lands.