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Letter to the Ranger: TWIG Mtg - closures
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Pamela R
Date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM
Subject: Fw: WWW Mail: TWIG Mtg - closures
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Davidson, Irene L -FS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Pamela R
Cc: "Jenkins, Douglas S -FS" <email@example.com>; "Leisy, Jeff -FS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>; "Beidl, Jacqueline A -FS" <email@example.com>; "Ranger, Susan M -FS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:27 AM
Subject: RE: WWW Mail: TWIG Mtg - closures
Well I thought I would try to answer some of your questions since I have been unable to contact you by phone.
My goal has been all along to work with the user community on input related to Travel Management Planning. The Forest Service is analyzing our motorized roads and trails through a Forestwide Travel Management Plan. The process is not a District specific plan. It does analyze closures as well as additional trails across the Forest.
I also have to be honest that in the future there may be trail closures (as well as roads). Budgets and trail maintenance issues will require that we look at just what we have and how we can manage it. I am hoping that by having conversations early and often the Public will be able to participate in our environmental analysis well informed.
See my responses following your questions below.
I am in of the office most of this week and if you would still like to have a conversation give me a call.
[TD] Irene Davidson, District Ranger
Naches Ranger District
Okanogan Wenatchee NF
(509) 653-1415 office
(509) 834-9958 cell[/TD]
From: Pamela R
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2012 12:22 PM
To: O'Connor, Daniel -FS
Subject: WWW Mail: TWIG Mtg - closures
January 2, 2012
Irene Davidson, District Ranger
10237 US Hwy 12
Naches, WA 98937
Dear Ms. Davidson,
I am writing you out of concern of what I have been told of closures in the Naches Ranger District to the tune of 10% of the trails each year for the follow 10 years as supposedly reported in the TWIG Meeting in October/November. This number keeps coming up and is out of context. It is NOT a goal for the Naches Ranger District. While trail closure may occur on the District, there is not an amount that has been stated specifically. I have addressed this at least twice at TWIG meetings.
The purpose is to allow you to see/feel from an outdoor user. Not sure what you are asking here...I do use the TWIG to get feedback from users.
From what I understand you have formed a committee of users of the TWIG attendee’s to represent the groups to accomplish these closures that will benefit all users groups.
I have created a subcommittee to address some very specific topics.
1. To increase the understanding of upcoming Forest Service initiatives
Minimum Roads Analysis
Trail Management Objectives
2. Support and understanding of the capabilities of the District to manage recreational activities in the future
District Budget Outlook
Grants and Partnerships
Prioritization of Trail Maintenance
3. Understanding of Forest Service policy and procedures
Travel Planning Policy
As a resident of the local community, as well as an employee of an established business on Chinook Pass I am concerned for my employment as recreation will considerably decrease. I would guess that well over 200 other employees of the various businesses would say the same.
I am also a member of the Shindig Wheelers 4x4 Club from Region 4 of the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association (PNW4WDA). This association is going on 52 years strong to help protect land, conversation or resources & Treading Lightly before it was its own org. We have gone through many phases of land use as members throughout the years. We ran trails before there were Rangers in the forest. We have logged many hours of projects in & outside of our 4x4’s from trail building & maintenance to constructing a wheelchair ramp for a senior citizen’s home. We just completed the 40th Anniversary of Operation Shore Patrol as Proclaimed by the Washington State Governor which is the only proclaimed clean-up in the state.
I personally am the Coordinator for the Clean Up called Pick Up A Mountain. We have asked for the past 3 years of its existence in the Naches Ranger District to receive support from the USFS but only to be seriously hounded this year to turn in volunteer hours in order for the USFS to receive grant dollars. Needless to say, I did not wish to support those rangers needs and wants but complied as I am a pro-user. When closures like this come up for review, I feel duped for a lack of words.
I do not believe any member of the sub-committee is a member of the PNW4WDA representing the 4x4 population.
Subcommittee members are:
Chuck Hampton - Quad Squad
Ed Lisowski - Hiker
Faye Bradford - BackCountry Horsemen
Gerald Kobes - Hiker
Jason Westbrook - 4X4 Jeepers (PNWJeeps)
Jim Huffman - Dust Dodger's
Paula Heaverlo - Backcountry Horsemen
Wade Kabrich - All Wheelers Off Road Club
Miles McPhee - Winter Non-Motorized
I do not know how the committee members were chosen but feel you dropped the ball by not adding someone from this association. There are numerous people that are qualified or/and eager to jump on the volunteer wagon.
I asked for two volunteers per user group, no one in your organization volunteered.
In addition, how do these closures comply for people with disabilities to access the outdoors?
I am not discussing closure of any specific trails so am not sure how to answer this.
What is the plan for them to get to certain trails? N/A
Below are a few of the questions and concerns that come to mind. I would ask that you address these concerns. I am available to meet with you or have a phone conversation at your convenience.
Not in any particular order:
Is what I heard true? To what extent? Or not? See answer above.
Why was this committee formed? See answer above.
How the committee was formed by what reasoning? See answer above.
Will there be a comment process? The Travel Management Plan will have public comment opportunities. What I hope to accomplish is that TWIG members will be able to provide substantive comments to that environmental analysis.
How legal is this? Is What? Not sure what you are asking.
Are all user trails receiving the same amount of closures? N/A
Are/how business owners being notified? The Travel Management Plan Draft will be coming out in February and will have an opportunity for businesses to comment on it.
Mile to mile for all user trails? N/A
How are the multi-use trails being cut? N/A
How do you close a hiking trail? Not sure what answer you are looking for…how we post a trail closed or how we take the trail out of service?
What is the enforcement policy for these closures? If a trail closure is violated, a ticket can be issued which would include a fine.
As well as what are the fines? $50 for trail violations, $100 for motorized - if you choose to go to court and are found guilty, could be up to $5000 in fines or 6 months in jail.
How are you notifying users who do not know about TWIG? Not sure what you are referring to…if closures are proposed an environmental analysis would be completed and public notification would occur. We use newspaper releases and direct mailing as well as posting on our web site of activities we are proposing. At this time the only environmental analysis that is being completed is the Travel Management Plan.
Why, what happens to upcoming grants for volunteer hours if trails are closed? Not sure how to answer this…
What will happen to the grants pending? N/A
Will an USFS employee need to be present for all work parties? Yes and No. If a group has a lead individual that has the expertise for the maintenance that is being completed then no. But until we get any program up and running, I would say yes. Currently, I know that several user groups have work parties that we do not attend.
All work parties need to be done on weekdays or will USFS change their working schedule to accommodate? Most if not all of our Recreation staff work the weekends (including myself on all Holiday weekends) during the summer so not sure we would have problems with scheduling…more of a problem is our limited workforce if there were multiple work parties that we needed to assist.
Current damage usually occurs after USFS hours, will/how are enforcement change? The last two summers we have worked hard to flex our hours so that we have a presence throughout the day…of course we are not in a position to do enforcement at night.
What is the plan to open the closed FS roads that were damaged as a result of the May 2011 flood? We have applied for and received approval to request Federal dollars to do repairs on many of the damaged roads. We are currently working on the environmental analysis for several roads and will be starting some additional analysis starting in February. Repairs will begin this summer and probably conclude the summer of 2014.
Is there a plan for the Fire safety crews getting to those in need from those closed roads? Yes.
Are any further FS roads being closed? The Travel Management Plan is looking at potential closures of motorized roads and trails.
Is that part of the closures? Mile for mile? I am not sure how to answer this.
The Naches Ranger District will be doing the environmental analysis to continue the seasonal closure, for resource protection, on motorized trails. A project proposal letter will be going out to interested parties. If you interested in this proposal let me know and I can have a proposal sent to you.
Hope this helps!!