Wallowa-Whitman road closures still on hold one year later

Actually, more than 6 years. Excerpt from an article in The Oregonian today:

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/03/wallowa-whitman_road_closures.html

LA GRANDE — The U.S. Forest Service was on the verge of banning vehicles from 4,000 miles of road in Oregon’s largest national forest last April when fierce opposition from locals ground the plan to a halt.
A year later, there’s been little progress replacing the controversial “Travel Management Plan” for Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, which took six years to prepare. Jodi Kramer, a spokeswoman, said federal foresters want to head back to the drawing board but have set no timeline.

The folks in eastern Oregon who don’t want any roads or “roads” closed are probably thinking that they have at least another 6 years of open access. Makes one wonder about why the planning process took so long, and why the agency scrapped all that work in the face of complaints that were heard loud and clear during that planning process.

I wrote about “travel management planning” on the Wallowa-Whitman and other forests around the nation in the June 2012 edition of The Forestry Source, here:

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/saf/forestrysource_201206/index.php

The photo is courtesy of Richard Cockle/The Oregonian.

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“We’ve always done travel management, so it’s not something new,” said Forest Service associate deputy chief James M. Peña. “But we’re putting more focus on travel management to be more comprehensive and certainly to be more inclusive in how we make these decisions.”

 The agency felt some urgency to tackle Subpart B [of the travel-management planning rule] before taking on the other subparts, not only to slow an epidemic of unauthorized cross-country travel, but also to identify which existing roads and trails are open to travel and to specify which type of vehicles may use them and when they may do so.

 “One of the important things we’re trying to do with Subpart B—showing where it’s okay to go with off-highway vehicles—was to stop the proliferation of unauthorized roads,” Peña said. “In many areas the terrain is such that anybody can just drive cross country, and if people follow that route enough times, then you have a rough road. It’s not designed or established for the purpose—it just happens to be there because folks could go there.”

 Once the designations are completed, the forests have a basis for identify a minimum road system and roads that were unneeded or too expensive to maintain.

FWIW, I was mighty disappointed when the Mt. Hood NF closed and ripped a road I and many others used for camping, hunting, etc. It didn’t seem to be causing, of the cause of, any environmental damage, except for the trash some campers left.

4 thoughts on “Wallowa-Whitman road closures still on hold one year later”

  1. No, I did not. As I recall, the public meetings were held in Portland and Hood River, an hour plus from my home a short walk from the forest boundary. No excuses — I could have gone, but didn’t.

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