From the December 2000 Idaho Observer:

Forest roads set for closure

by K.C. Mehaffey

Wenatchee World Staff writer

OKANOGAN -- The Wenatchee and Okanogan national forests may close 34 miles of roads next year to help protect fish and cut maintenance costs. The closures, announced Tuesday as part of an agreement between the Forest Service and the state Department of Ecology, are the first of many road closures expected in the next 15 years.

The closings include: 31 miles on Cub Creek in the Methow Valley Ranger District. The roads could be closed next spring.

About three miles off the White River Road west of Lake Wenatchee in the Leavenworth/Lake Wenatchee Ranger District will also be closed.

The district is still gathering public input before making a final decision. The three miles could be closed next month.

Local forest officials say these road closures were being considered long before Tuesday's agreement.

The pact ensures that the Forest Service must come up with plans for all its roads in the state over five years and implement those plans within 15 years.

Forest Service officials said they plan to work closely with the public to avoid protests over closing roads, like the one involving the Toats Coulee Road this fall.

Last month, Loomis residents camped out along a portion of South Fork Toats Coulee Road belonging to the state Department of Natural Resources and were successful in keeping the road open through this winter.

Some users of the Cub Creek roads slated for closure next spring say they're pleased the Forest Service first considered their needs.

“They've been very cooperative,” said Bev Schultz, secretary/treasurer of the Methow Valley Snowmobile Club. “They had a meeting with everybody and all of the roads we use, they agreed to keep open.”

Jennifer Zbyszewski, acting recreation staff for the Methow Valley Ranger District, said her agency sent letters to known users and posted roads under consideration for closure before making its decision.

“In some areas, there are just too many roads, and Cub Creek is a good example of that,” acting ranger John Rohrer said.

A spokesperson for the Leavenworth/Lake Wenatchee Ranger District said her agency has posted roads in the White River area, and expects to discuss plans with users in the coming months.

The White River Road needs major reconstruction in some areas, she said, but no portions of that road are being considered for closure.

Mary Getchell, Ecology's public affairs officer, said the Forest Service is among the primary contributors to water pollution in Washington, where old logging roads have been neglected for decades.


This is the second property rights story by Ms. Mehaffey we have published in three months. We thank her and her editors at the Wenatchee World for its accurate reporting of this issue.

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