Rejecting plan to close more roads

November 15, 2007 12:00 am

To the editor:

The message is the same: Record your favorite places on the national forest and comment on your uses. This holds no guarantee that your road or area will remain open. It's a craps shoot. I intend to submit this comment: "No more road closures!"

The proposed management package includes jargon dealing with an amendment to the forest plan. Now, Wallowa-Whitman roads are "open unless signed closed." The proposed amendment would state, "closed unless signed open." This is, without question, the most concerning detail in the entire package. Your forest experience would be regulated by a novel-sized book of rules, restrictions, green dots, red dots and seasonal closures. Add to this hunting seasons, fire seasons, spring thaw, big game birthing, and I wonder what will be left for the recreationist.

Big game habitat is garnering its share of rhetoric. In a paper created for the Baker Co. Travel Management Team, "Status of Elk and Elk Habitat," the word "damage" was used countless times. Are elk a nuisance? Depends on whether you are hunting them or you own alfalfa fields. One thing is certain, under current travel and hunting rules, Eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains harbor one of the largest free-roaming elk populations in the world. It's clear to me that the elk population is doing just fine and that additional restrictions to public access are grossly unnecessary.

The initial impact of constructing the roads has mended. Impacts to the forest were already in existence when the Forest Service decided to direct a management focus to recreationists. This is not merely an ATV issue. This is a closure issue, with full-sized vehicles in line to feel the greatest restrictive impact.

To the minority of East Oregonians that feel we need to compromise on this issue, my reply is this: We compromised enough! Take a drive through any public forested area in Northeastern Oregon and note the increasing number of ripped roads, tank traps and locked gates restricting public access to areas once enjoyed by the public. I'm not asking for it all. I just want what little is left.

Wanda Ballard

Baker City