Forest travel plan out soon
Proposal tries to balance motorist needs, resource protection
I am always pleased to see the public getting involved in matters affecting their community, and even more so when that passion surrounds the use, management and enjoyment of our national forests.
In the next couple of weeks we will publish the long anticipated Record of Decision for Travel Management on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
The most important question raised in regard to this decision was “what is the appropriate amount of motor vehicle-based recreation, in relation to natural resource protection needs across the forest?”
The new travel management plan strikes a balance between providing motor vehicle-based recreation opportunities in areas of high interest to the public and reducing damaging effects to natural resources in areas of concern.
I recognize that development of the new travel management plan has been a long process involving many people with varying perspectives.
We received a wide range of comments –-- some people advocated for the majority of roads being open to motor vehicle use, while others wanted the majority closed.
Many people expressed the desire to provide continued access for camping, driving to enjoy the scenery, and hunting.
Many also expressed a desire to protect the forest’s waters, wildlife, and beauty for themselves and future generations.
We all agree the forest offers wonderful opportunities, both motorized and non-motorized, which need to be managed in a responsible way.
There will be changes in the way people access the forest as a result of the new travel management plan.
We want to help people understand what those changes are and how they will affect you.
Our focus will be on public education regarding the new plan. In particular, motor vehicle use maps will be developed showing all the motorized roads and trails available for recreational use across the forest.
These maps will be available free of charge at U.S. Forest Service Ranger District offices, as well as other locations in our communities. We expect these maps to be available by June.
I want to specifically thank all the people who provided comments regarding the proposed travel management plan and alternatives considered along the way.
Your input was invaluable in helping to develop the final decision.
I also know that many individuals, groups, and organizations have offered to assist in implementing the new plan.
I appreciate your ongoing interest in ensuring the success of this plan and stewardship of our national forests.
Monica Schwalbach is supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.