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Plan revamps forest access
  Forest Service seeking input on off-road proposal

   H&N Staff Writer

     Nearly 6,800 miles of roads and one 80-mile parcel of land in western Klamath County will be available to offroad vehicles in the Fremont-Winema National Forests under a proposed travel management plan released by the U.S. Forest Service.

   A map of the plan, released Wednesday, is the first step in efforts to limit cross-country travel through the 2.3-million acre forest. Under the proposal, people would be able to drive to campsites on either side of many roads for a given distance, but won’t be able to drive throughout the forest. Hunters will not be able to retrieve their   kills with off-road vehicles.

   Thousands of miles of other trails and roads that have been used for years would be off limits.

   “It’s a huge challenge for the agency to change the mindset of people,” said Robert Wetherell, the Fremont-Winema’s map project leader.

   Still accessible

   Klamath County Commissioner John Elliott said he was pleasantly surprised by the proposed map and was glad to see that access would still be available in much of the Fremont-Winema.

   “For the average person   , it will be as accessible as it has been,” he said.

   But Lake County Commissioner Ken Kestner, an OHV (off-highway vehicle) enthusiast, said the proposal goes beyond its intended scope and places an unfair burden on those using the forest.

   “It may have unintentional consequences later,” he said.  

   The Fremont-Winema has about 12,500 miles of designated roads and trails maintained by the Forest Service. There’s an additional 400 miles of user-created trails and roads.

   National mandate

   Federal forest officials have worked since 2005 on a national mandate to restrict motorized access within the forest as federally owned public lands across the country began to show damage from increased motorized travel.  

   Once a f i na l map is complete, likely by March 2010, users will be responsible for knowing what trails and roads are open to use. Those found on unauthorized roads and trails would be cited.

   Marvin Schanck, a member of the Klamath Basin OHV Club, said the first phase of restrictions would be unaccept-        He believes the Fremont-Winema doesn’t suffer from overuse.

   Still, he said the Forest Service has said it will work with off-road motorists in the second phase to incorporate more user-created roads and create new trail systems to benefit enthusiasts.

   “They’ve got their work cut out for them,” he said.  

Proposed travel restrictions on the Fremont-Winema
Following is a rundown of how motorized travel will be impacted in the Fremont-Winema National Forests by a proposed travel management plan:

   Users will be responsible for knowing what roads and trails are open and closed. They will need to have a map showing the area openings and closures, as well as a map for navigation   purposes because road closures will not be posted in the forest.

   No cross-country travel (traveling offroad) will be permitted anywhere in the forest except for an 80-acre parcel at Fourmile Quarry. Hunters will not be allowed to retrieve kills by taking vehicles off-road.

   6,202 miles of roads will be open to use by all vehicles.* Many of these will allow dispersed camping within 300 feet of the road on either side. Campers will only be able to establish a single path between their campsite and the road.

   380 miles of roads for highway legal vehicles only.

   8.5 miles of trails open to vehicles no wider than 50 inches.  

   5,472 miles of roads considered maintenance level 1 will be closed to public use.

   400 miles of usercreated trails and roads will be closed to public use.

   * Though these roads will be open to all vehicles, federal forest officials say the conditions of the roads may not be appropriate for all vehicles.



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