Friday, January 23, 2009

Budget Cuts and Forest Service Roads

As the new administration grapples with serious budget issues, one area they may want to look at is the Forest Service’s network of maintenance level (ML) 3 roads. I seem to remember a traffic survey done on the Lassen NF that showed only 10% of the vehicles traveling over ML3 roads were low passenger car-type vehicles. The other uses on those roads were high clearance vehicles (jeeps, pickups, etc.) that one often sees on ML 2 roads.

I think if Region 5 or the Washington Office of the Forest Service is looking to cut wasteful spending (and create more backcountry recreational OHV experiences) they should quit maintaining ML 3 roads for low clearance vehicles and reclassify them as ML 2 roads for use by high clearance vehicles and OHVs.

I have seen many ML 3 roads in Northern California and the Sierra where Mother Nature is reclaiming the road which often has a chip-seal (similar to asphalt pavement) in various states of deterioration. Woody debris may have fallen on the route and trees/brush may have grown over the sides of the road. Also rocks may have rolled out on the road bed or cut banks have slid onto the route.

While that may sound like a disaster to a city dweller. The local OHVer, hunter, and wood cutter enjoy the rugged nature of the “non-maintained” route which in many cases has deteriorated into a road that should be managed as a trail or at least be reclassified as a ML 2 road.

As you comment on various Forest Service travel management planning efforts currently underway nationwide – you may want to suggest that the agency review the usage of ML 3 roads by low clearance vehicles and if that use is low to undergo a serious effort to reclassify those ML 3 roads to a ML 2. I think that would help the agency meet its budget objectives while providing the public with more backcountry routes.

# # #

No comments:

Post a Comment