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Siskiyou Board wants stronger letters on national forest travel plans

Siskiyou County is attempting to join with a number of other counties in a dispute with the United States Forest Service over Travel Management Plans in the Shasta-Trinity and Klamath national forests.

Wanting more outrage and more “punch,” the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors are looking to send a message to United States Forest Service (USFS) Regional Forester Randy Moore on the new travel plans for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Klamath National Forest.

The county’s concerns, reiterated in draft letters to Moore and Congressman Wally Herger, center on the elimination of cross-country travel and the potential effects on dispersed camping, firewood cutting, mushroom gathering, game retrieval and other forest activities.

With vehicular travel limited to areas within 30 feet from roadways, the letters state that the county believes that people unable to walk long distances will be barred from camping outside of designated campgrounds and other activities. Included in the list of concerns are closure of roads and their elimination from USFS maps – expressing the concern that more people will lose their way and require rescue if they find themselves on unmapped, unmarked roads.

The county filed appeals of both forests’ travel management plans, both of which were denied by the USFS.
Requesting that the USFS coordinate its travel plans with the county and other stakeholders, the draft letters state, “Siskiyou County believes that improved communication and genuine coordination between the U.S. Forest Service and the County and users should be among our collective goals.

“Siskiyou County believes that a collaborative process that includes mandated coordination would lay the foundation for a long-term partnership among the County, the Forest Service, and other stakeholders would be preferable to the current situation which only serves to re-establish existing barriers and create new obstacles among the parties.”

Siskiyou County resident Mike Adams spoke to the board at the meeting, urging the supervisors to not sign the letters until they “reflect the outrage of the community,” a sentiment echoed by Board Chair Jim Cook, who suggested that stronger language should be used, including a deadline for meeting the county’s demands under threat of lawsuit.

County Counsel Thomas Guarino told the board that he is working on a multi-county collaboration to respond to the travel management plans and feels that threatening a lawsuit within a specific timeline will reduce the chances of getting coordination.

“If you punch the agencies in the nose when you walk in, it will be hard to get dialogue,” Guarino said, noting that each letter does detail the county’s intention to file a suit if coordination does not occur.

With the desire to make the letters more forceful, the board continued the agenda item so that Guarino could include different language. District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong suggested that the letters include a reference to the decision in California Resources Agency v. United States Department of Agriculture, in which the court ruled that the USFS had failed to properly display in its Environmental Impact Statement the results of its coordination with the state.

Other proposed changes are expected to be submitted by Jan. 25 so Guarino can draft another letter before the board’s Feb. 1 meeting.

– David Smith can be reached at dsmith@siskiyoudaily.com

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