Posts tagged: forest roads
PUBLIC LANDS — Several Idaho mining claim owners have sued the federal government, joining a push to expand motorized access in the West’s backcountry using a Civil War-era law governing travel across public lands, according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Boise, argues the U.S. Forest Service illegally restricted use of four roads in Idaho County.
It’s similar to Utah lawsuits that were partially resolved this year when the federal government unlocked three gates, allowed all-terrain vehicles into the state’s western desert.
The Idaho County case was brought by 13 people with mining claims reached via roads extending deep into the Nez Perce National Forest.
The lawsuit contends federal Forest Service officials outstripped their authority by barring motorized access on roads used for more than a century for mining and recreation.
Click “continue reading” for the expanded version of the AP story with more details and context.
PUBLIC LANDS — The South Sherman Road (FSR 2020000) has suffered an impassible washout on the west or upper end of the road, the Colville National Forest reports today.
The temporary closure will be from milepost 11.65 to milepost 11.85 (just off of U.S. Highway 20 near the top close to Sherman Pass between Kettle Falls and Republic).
Access to Barnaby Buttes Trailhead and the South Fork of Sherman Creek is still possible from the lower access point on Highway 20. Forest crews are anticipating being able to repair the washout this summer.
Info: Three Rivers Ranger District, (509) 738-7700.
PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Forest Service has completed a 2.25 mile reroute of Forest Road 1935000 (Middle Branch of LeClerc Creek) north of Newport and east of the Pend Oreille River as part of a larger road relocation and restoration project to benefit water quality and fish habitat.
The re-routed section of road begins near the new bridge crossing of the Middle Branch of LeClerc Creek and has been relocated away from the bottom of the drainage in order to improve the riparian and stream habitat. The old section of road is currently being decommissioned and is no longer open to motor vehicle use. The decommissioning of the 2.6 miles of road along Middle Branch LeClerc Creek includes the removal of fish passage barriers at 4 locations, restoring the stream channel at each of those four stream crossings as well as floodplain re-establishment and re-contouring the road.
Read on for funding sources and details.
PUBLIC LANDS — “We were sitting pretty good a couple of weeks ago, but there's been marked increase in field dryness,” said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forest public affairs officer, getting word out that potential for forest fires have changed remarkably in just the past week.
“Monitoring stations in the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, near St. Maries and in the Selkirks are registering in the top 3 percent of dryness ever recorded.”
Forest Service plans for annual fall controlled burns to improve wildlife habitat and clear out forest understory to reduce fire danger next year are on hold until conditions are less volatile, he said.
“Even if it wasn't so dry in the Panhandle, the smoke that's moved into the region would be enough to put off our controlled burning plans because of air quality requirements,” he said.
“At least the smoke is a good reminder that there are fires all around us. We haven't had any significant fires, but we're not out of the woods yet.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Shrinking budgets at national forests are putting the squeeze on native fisheries.
Cutbacks in maintaning mountain roads have left a backlog of work totalling more than $1 billion in the national forests of Washington and Oregon alone, the Forest Service officials report.
The result is erosion, clogged culverts, road blowouts, blocked fish passage, and spawning areas smothered in silt.
Northwest Public Radio has an excellent report on the situation.
NATIONAL FORESTS — Crews have reopened all the primary roads on the Colville National Forest since a July 20 storm leveled trees on roughly 4,000 acres of the 1.1 million-acre forest. Most of the damage was on the Republic Ranger District.
Some of the seconary roads and trails are still plugged with trees that were toppled by the storm — or weakened so much that they're still falling.
Crews have cleared all secondary roads listed as “open” on the Colville National Forest Interactive Motor Interactive Vehicle Use Map, said Franklin Pemberton, forest spokesman. If a road was useable this summer before the storm but not officially designated as “open” to motorized use, crews will not be dispatched to cut out the blowdowns, he said.
“While all roads that were passible prior to the storm event have been cleared of down trees, it is important to note that there are roads that were washed out do to storm activity prior to this event that have not been repaired,” he said.
A list of those roads can be found on the Colville National Forest Web site under Conditions: Road Report.
All trailheads are open, but trails can still have trees down across them and potentially weakened trees that could come down. More trees have fallen on some trails that have been cut out, he said.
“If you're a mountain biker or equestrian headed out on the trails, you should bring a saw,” he said.
Ten Mile Campground south of Republic (see photos above) remains closed and the Empire Lake dispersed campsites are also closed.
Updates: Republic Ranger District Office, (509) 775-7400.
PUBLIC LANDS — Road damage has forced the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District to restrict access on Forest Service Road 209 (Little River Road) between milepost 21 and 22, near Picnic Creek (about 2 miles north of Honeysuckle Campground).
The road has sustained excessive water damage from runoff and is not passable at this site, said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman.
“We realize that this will affect people recreating on the forest, but the safety of the public is of the utmost importance at this time,” says Dan Scaife, Acting District Ranger.
Forest Service Road 209 is also currently inaccessible from the direction of Fernan Saddle due to snow on the roadway.
Other road closures in effect due to soft roadbeds and extensive road damage are:
Info: Silver Valley office (208) 783-2363, and Fernan Office (208) 664-2318.
NATIONAL FORESTS — One road is closing for repairs while another is opening on the Colville National Forest.
Hanlon Cutoff Road (1935115) near Sullivan Lake will be closed starting Monday through Oct. 3. The culvert work is targeted near the intersection of the Hanlon Cutoff Road and the south end of the Harvey Creek Road (FSR 1935000) at mile marker 25.2.
Access to Hanlon Mountain and Diamond City via the Dry Canyon Road (County Road 3503) will not be effected.
Info: Sullivan Lake Ranger District, (509) 446-7500.
Rogers Mountain Road (7000500) temporary closure north of Colville will be lifted on weekends starting next week. The road has been closed to all vehicle traffic seven days a week since June 1, to allow for helicopter logging.
The Road will remain closed to the public on weekdays.
Info: Three Rivers Ranger District, (509) 738-7700.