Thank you for helping with our first sustainable roads meeting! It was a great success because of your participation and I am looking forward to the next sessions. Attached are the notes, courtesy of Kitty Craig with the Wilderness Society. I have attached a couple of photos—let me know if you want more for your websites. Our next meeting is right around the corner, July 9, at the Sedro-Woolley Mt. Baker Ranger District office. All volunteers please arrive an hour early, at 9 a.m.
Right now we only have nine RSVPs, so we are going to setup for a smaller session of two worktables with six participants at each, although we will have enough cadre volunteers to expand to four workgroups if we need to. Marlies Wierenga from Wildlands CPR is the co-host, but we are still looking for someone to co-host with her. Contact Kelly Sprute at 425-783-6050 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest roads are important to us all, so keep getting the word out, and have a happy Independence Day.
Public Affairs Officer
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Service
Sustainable Roads Workshop #1 – DRAFT Notes
Location: Seattle REI
June 29, 2013, 10:00AM-12:30PM
1. Opening Statement: Jennifer Eberlien, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Supervisor
Supervisor Eberlien opened the meeting, thanking the meeting sponsors: Pacific Crest Trail Association, Washington Off-road Vehicle Alliance, and Kim Brown. She outlined key principles for the meeting and the purpose of the Sustainable Roads outreach process. She emphasized the concepts of balancing use and resource protection, while also considering safety and access needs. She also emphasized that the forest will use the best data they have availabile to make decisions, and that they will add to that data every year. Finally, she recognized that everyone is here to participate out of love of the landscape and how they use it, and that these workshops are a way to get to know one another while getting to know the roads and how they are used.
2. Background Presentation: Mike Schlafmann, MBS Public Services Officer
Mike provided an introduction to the sustainable roads project and the development of a strategy for the road system that is ecologically sustainable, socially acceptable, and economically feasible. He acknowledged the challenge in exploring the trade-offs between the three domains and the important role the public plays in helping to define this complex context.
Mike provided an overview of why the MBS is developing this strategy. The main reason is the 2005 Travel Management Rule that directed agency to do two things: Subpart B, develop a Motor Vehicle Use Map; and Subpart A, create a sustainable roads report (what we’re doing right now). Mike clarified that Supbart A is not a decision – it is a report that informs future decisions, but is part of a strategy that will change over time. The other reason why the MBS is doing this is the condition of the road system: many of the roads on the system were built in the last 60 years for timber harvest, and not meant for long-term operation. The MBS currently has resources to maintain 25% of its road system; in 2013 they were able to maintain 628 miles. Funding trends are also significant: funding sources and appropriated dollars are declining – last year the forest roads budget was $688K; this year, it is $250K.
Mike then provided an overview of the public engagement process and timeline for the development and implementation of Subpart A.
• May-October 2013: Public engagement, ongoing analysis
• November 2013-December 2014: Compare and integrate results, develop strategy
• 2015 and beyond: Make strategic investments, NEPA, projects on the ground
One audience member asked if each forest in Washington state was having the same discussion. Mike shared that every national forest is engaged in this discussion, but each forest is taking a different approach.
3. Human Ecology Mapping: Lee Cerveny, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Lee provided an overview of human ecology mapping to familiarize the audience with the research approach. She talked about how maps and geospatial data can be used to show how people value the national forest landscape. By mapping important roads, trails, facilities, special management areas, and a number of other things, we can get a visual representation of what people care about.
Lee shared a recent example of a community mapping project on the Olympic Peninsula called the Latino Forest Harvester project where the Olympic National Forest and Department of Natural Resources gathered Latino harvesters to talk about important areas across the forest as well as safety issues. The result was a series of useful maps showing use and important resources.
Lee reviewed the goals of the day: (1) create social spatial data layer that captures public values, uses, and priorities; (2) analyze data, produce maps, showing public values for forest roads; (3) use data in sustainable road planning. Lee then provided a more detailed overview of the destination mapping exercise and various worksheets the audience need to complete.
4. Guided Group Discussion
Mike provided an overview of what tables would be cover during the guided group discussion exercise. Facilitators guided the audience through three major topics:
• Consequences of Reduced Road System
o What are the positive or negative effects or consequences of a reduced road system?
o How might a reduction of the national forest road system affect you, your community or the natural environment?
o What are your top three consequences?
• Roads Criteria Discussion: What criteria should be considered when decisionmakers analyze the roads system?
• Strategies and Opportunities
o What are ways the USFS, partner, community and other groups could work together?
o What opportunities and resources already exist?
o What are your top 3 strategies?
Each workgroup/table reported out at the close of the workshop, presenting 1 mapping observation, top 3 criteria, and top 3 strategies:
• Group A:
o There was a lot of variety of places where people wanted to go, lots of recreational users. Because of the variety of people, the consequences are quite broad. There is need for more public outreach to educate people on funding sources, consequences for wildlife, etc. There is a need to more clear terms, not “Forest service speak.”
• Group B:
o Consequences: overcrowding of places, reduction of day use areas, possible increase of usage conflicts (fewer roads, more people). Criteria: prioritize environmental concerns over convenience; geographic diversity of the system; destinations that cover different types and destinations (need lots of roads in lots of different areas). Strategies: prioritize maintenance standards by usage level; recommend “friends for public use” elsewhere; extend the life of roads by not decommissioning (lower standards instead).
• Group C
o We had many off-road advocates from the south end of the forest. Most of the dots were south of I-90; others were along the Mountain Loop Highway. The consequences were a lot of fun; the most important were: reduced access to the forest and reduced opportunities for activities. The criteria for judging were all across the board: the importance of the access and availability of maintenance by others (DNR, State Hwy, etc. – FS should look into partnerships with other entities). Strategies: strategy was to get more money; but we realize it is a no starter. Some other strategies could include: accessing resources from other agencies and entities; “adopt a road” concept came up (do things like volunteers are capable are doing – like WTA does for trail maintenance); and downgrading the maintenance level of roads (to maintain more at a lower standard).
• Group D
o Wide range of variety marked on maps. Top 3 consequences: less opportunity, less access, less support for wilderness, more traffic on fewer roads, fewer roads may equal more habitat. Prioritization criteria: economic impact for local communities, popular destinations, consider how many months a year the road is actually open (seasonality). Strategies: close roads that are not currently used for management; volunteer groups; more sustainable design.
Mike closed the meeting sharing that all the information recorded will be tabulated and available for everyone to see. He reminded the audience about the process and how the information will be used to inform the Sustainable Roads Report. He also highlighted the upcoming workshops, online questionnaire, and blogsite. He encouraged people to come to other workshops, share information with friends, and sponsor discussion groups to generate ideas. Jennifer also thanked participants for their time, energy, and conversation.
SUSTAINABLE ROADS MEETING
July 9, 10 AM-12:30 NOON
810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, Wash., 98241
Introduction, 10-10:30 a.m.
District Ranger Erin Uloft Welcome (10 min)
Background Mike Schlafmann (20 min)
Forest Roads Mapping, 10:30-11:15 a.m.
Break, 11:15-11:25 a.m.
Table Group Discussions, 11:25-12:15 noon
Consequences (15 min)
Criteria (20 min)
Strategies (15 min)
Closeout, 12:15-12:30 noon
Q & As