Don’t let Forest Service restrict motorized access

In the next few months, we anticipate the release of the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision (BMFPR). This revision by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is a rewrite of the 1990 Forest Plan that currently sets policy for management of our lands administered by the USFS in Eastern Oregon.

The revision will cover all three national forests (Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur) and calls for a monumental shift in how Eastern Oregonians enjoy our mountains and access natural resources we have utilized for over 150 years. That shift will take place in adoption of a “closed unless open” forest model.

This new model will adopt motorized access restrictions known as “designated routes” and “closed cross country travel.”

When adopted, Eastern Oregonians will no longer be allowed to access natural resources via a motorized means if they are not within a “designated route.”

You will not be allowed to retrieve your big game with an ATV “off a road” and if your private property isn’t on a “designated route” you will have to request permission from the USFS to access it. These are but a couple of examples.

Any motorized use off a designated route could lead to a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 1 year in jail.

To be clear, the BMFPR does not itself close the forest, as that will happen through the Travel Management Plan. But, the BMFPR will allow the USFS to change current policy cutting off “cross country travel,” then justifying travel management plans restricting motorized access to public lands.

Please, participate in the upcoming objection process and let the USFS know these restrictions are unacceptable, and you, as a resident of the area, expect your public lands to remain open to full multiple use, not to the segregated system currently being proposed.

John D. George

Bates

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