USFS Road Closure Meetings? One's Tuesday in Issaquah!
This came across a climbing coalition group:
Climbers need to turn out for a series of public meetings where they will be asked to identify roads that should be kept open on the Mount Baker Snoqualmie Forest.
The Forest Service is undertaking a process to plan for possible decommissioning or closure of up to 75% of the forest roads. We don't believe that they can keep all of the current roads open but this would be a HUGE loss of access.
The Clear Creek road serving Darrington, and the Bedal Creek road for the west face of Sloan Peak are examples of roads that could be lost.
Tuesday July 23 at 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Issaquah Main Fire Station
Tuesday August 6 at 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Enumclaw Public Library
Friday August 21 at 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Darrington Public Library
Tuesday September 10 at 5:30pm to 8:00 pm
Bellingham Public Library
Tuesday September 24 at 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Monroe Public Library
Wednesday October 9 at 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Everett Public Library
Not sue how this would apply to bikes but to lose Clear Creek road would be suck for climbers. That's some top quality climbing up there. Pay attention if you like to hike!
There's more info some where on the WTA site.
There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.
So AC and I attended the meeting today in Issaquah, and here's the low down.
USFS believes that Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS) will have to curtail road maintenance in the coming years to the point where they can probably maintain only about 1/4 of the existing inventory. Here is the basis for this premise.
The meetings they are holding are the first wave of public input in trying to figure out:
- What are the consequences of closing the forest roads?
- How should USFS go about determining which ones to be closed and which to remain open?
- What are the strategies USFS should consider in order to deal with this situation effectively?
Closure could mean a wide ranging things, from simply being gated/tank trapped at the ends and not maintained to decommissioning the whole thing and turned into trail like Hansen Creek or become unusable altogether.
If all you do is mountain bike, this could potentially be a boon - in a decade or two, we may have hundreds of miles of abandoned-forest-roads-turned-semi-single track to ride without any traffic to worry about.
But if you enjoy other activities in MBS, like camping with family, backpacking, climbing, etc., then it could mean that you can't get to the trailheads / campgrounds unless you hike miles on the abandoned forest roads first, kinda like what's happened to DMG on Middle Fork.
This is really a very early stage of this process and there will be plenty more opportunities for everyone to express their opinions and concerns. Given our federal government's current state of affairs, it is probably safe to assume that budget situation will get worse as years go by.
Biggest contingent at the Issaquah meeting was motorized users, mainly jeepers. WTA was obviously there and so were the climbers. No other MTBers that I noticed. If you want to voice your opinion without having to go to one of the meetings, start by completing their online survey:
Sustainable Roads Public Engagement Process V3 Survey
More data they can collect from wide ranging public stakeholders, the better analysis they can conduct and produce.
Thank you so much for going, Bruiser and AC!
There were a ton of road closures being proposed right as I was leaving north Idaho, and you're right, it was mostly hikers that were being hurt by the closures, but that's also huge tourist dollars for the area.
I'd point out the obvious to Glenn & Co. that this would be a huge common cause with WTA and the climbing community too, but obviously we'd expect change in their attitude about other recreational communities.
(The Sierra Club is a lost cause as far as I'm concerned, they're back to trying to ban fixed climbing anchors in a number of places. I mean sheesh!)
And I took the survey, but dang they wanted way too much detail on some stuff.
That's a great graph as it visually represents a big middle finger to tax payers. However, like all graphs they can be manipulated for the presenters own benefit. I'd like to see that graph prepared to include the previous 10yrs including 1996 thru 2006. I think we'd get a better picture of the budgets over that time span. It'd also be interested to see a graph of the maintenance expenditures over the same time span. If I'm not mistaken weren't there some major weather events that put a beat-down on forest service roads during that budget spike in 2007/8? The answer to the major increase is more than just the cost of fuel.
Not sure what kind of data you expect to see, but I doubt it would provide any relevant data points for apple to apple comparison. Two reasons for this:
Originally Posted by Eerie
- Current forest road infrastructure was build over many years with timber money for timber harvesting purposes. It is highly unlikely that we will ever return to the level of activities seen in decades past, and therefore, it is very unlikely for the road maintenance budget to increase.
- Roads are like many other things built by humans - if you don't do minimum maintenance on a regular basis, the rate of deterioration from deferred maintenance tends to accelerate exponentially as years go by. Therefore, there will come a point of no return if budget level allows less than minimal maintenance on all roads for enough years.
Not sure what is being implied here, but the spikes are for 2008 and 2009, not 07/08, and it was partly because of the stimulus spending, particularly 2009. Remember the "shovel-ready" road projects? Again, not likely to repeat.
If I'm not mistaken weren't there some major weather events that put a beat-down on forest service roads during that budget spike in 2007/8? The answer to the major increase is more than just the cost of fuel.
USFS Road Closure Meetings? One's Tuesday in Issaquah!
Closing roads should be no prob for hikers. It makes longer hikes. Rides too for that matter.
Originally Posted by Dave_schuldt
It is a problem--it converts many day hikes into multi-day backpack trips and adds another day or two onto existing backpacking trips. It does make some day hikes untenable for most except the hard-core hikers and some backpacking trips longer than a weekend outing. Take a look at hiking up to Dutch Miller Gap up the Middle Fork Snoqualmie or Green Mountain and Image Lake up the Suiattle River for examples. While I like those two river roads in particular for bike rides to quiet solitude, there has clearly been a loss of use in the campgrounds that used to be accessible deep into the wilderness in both of those places, which used to be car accessible. The Suiattle has been inaccessible since 2003's big flood and further damaged by the one in 2006 when the Forest Service was getting ready to repair it. It now is about 10 miles (one way) of hiking to get to the Sulphur Creek CG at the old end of the road.
Originally Posted by ACree
It also then adds even more day hiking mobs to the places that *are* accessible, such as the Mountain Loop Highway and everything along I-90 and Hwy 2.
At best, you can call it a "new normal" but it certainly changes a lot of hiking trails from well-maintained day hikes into multi-day, less well-maintained trails, backpacking trips.
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