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Forest road closures to impact recreational use

All-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles to see restrictions Jan. 1
  By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 7/26/09 
     Marvin Schanck drives in the woods nearly every weekend and often runs into others who don’t know of pending restrictions on motorized travel in the Fremont-Winema National Forests.

   Currently, those driving allterrain vehicles, snowmobiles and four-wheel drive vehicles can go on almost any road in the forest. On Jan. 1, most of those roads will close so the forest complies with national standards, and it will be up to users to know what’s open and what isn’t.

   Few informed

   “ It ’s goi ng t o be a hu ge impact and few people know about it,” said Schanck, a member of the Klamath Basin OHV Club and the Ridge Riders, a snowmobile enthusiast group.  

   The U.S. Forest Service at the Fremont-Winema is expected to release proposed routes to limit motorized use before the end of the summer, a first step in meeting the federal Final Travel Management Rule imposed on all national forests and lands. A f inal plan and map of acceptable routes will be in place by Jan. 1, 2010.

   Closures needed

   Forest officials say the closures are needed because of overuse, and even with the limitations, people can still visit any part of the forest, just not in a motorized vehicle.

   User groups, though, say the closures will place a large burden on the public while severely limiting where a number of   those who use the forests, from birders to hunters, can go.

   The Forest Service directed each national forest to designate roads, trails and areas open to motorized vehicle use in 2005. Karen Shimamoto, Fremont-Winema forest supervisor, says the travel management   rule is a reaction to overuse by motorized recreation, eroding the public lands.

   Currently, motorized travel is allowed on any road in the forest, unless an area is closed for a planning decision.

   “We were literally being overrun by people loving the land,”   Shimamoto said.

   The Fremont-Winema is particularly susceptible.

   Its number of roads is among the highest of any other national forest, a result of the forest’s role in the timber industry as well as the lack of designated wilderness areas.
Organization seeks to preserve access

   H&N Staff Writer

     Group mapping areas to keep for motorized access in the Basin  

   Forest users Marvin Schanck and Alan Caldwell, both members of the Klamath Basin OHV Club, have numerous concerns with the Forest Service’s efforts.

   Schanck has spent every weekend he can mapping areas to preserve for motorized use and presenting the data to the Forest Service. Caldwell said his organization wants to preserve motorized access near Hagelstein Park, Paisley and Rocky Point, but it looks like at least one of those areas may be closed off.

   “It doesn’t look like anything close to what we’ve had will be available,” he said.

   Mapping technology

   The Forest Service’s mapping technology is unwieldy, making it hard to share information with them, the enthusiasts say. And while the Forest Service said it would work with groups to improve access   over time, Schanck said motorized users must first endure a year of almost no access at all.

   The restrictions won’t impact just hunters, campers and those who enjoy riding ATVs, Schanck said, but mushroom pickers, wildlife photographers and birders.


   He and Caldwell say the new restrictions are being implemented nationwide because of problems in just a few national forests near major cities. There are those who use the Fremont-Winema who break the law, they said, such as riding in riparian areas, but the new restrictions will instead punish the majority of users who do follow the present rules and aren’t destructive.

   “It’s not like we’re going up and ripping up pristine land,” Caldwell said.  

   Unwelcome change

   Officials acknowledge that closing access to vehicles isn’t going to be welcomed by some, but the Forest Service is working closely with motorized vehicle advocacy groups to ensure areas they value remain available.  

   “We’re expecting some issues but this is the first round,” said Erica Hupp, spokeswoman for the Fremont-Winema.

   And Schanck said while he personally doesn’t like the restriction on motorized travel, he is optimistic that the Forest Service will follow through in meeting with enthusiasts and those using the forest to reopen more trails and roads to users.


Informing the public
     U.S. Forest Service officials want to make sure the public is aware of roads and trails closed to all-terrain vehicles as it works to limit motorized travel in the Fremont-Winema National Forests.

   The Forest Service will continue to have public meetings about its efforts and eventually release a map showing what areas, roads and trails are restricted. The next public meeting likely will be sometime this summer after officials release proposed routes.  

   But it is likely only a small percentage of users will ever make it to public meetings on the issue, officials and recreationists say, leaving many uninformed. Lack of a system of identifying restricted areas also will make it easy for users to mistakenly go in areas that are off-limits.

   “I’m really afraid a large group of people who use the forest won’t be able to track their position, if they even know to get the map,” said Marvin Schanck, a member of the Klamath Basin OHV Club and the Ridge Riders, a snowmobile enthusiast group.






















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