South Fork gate to be installed
Posted 13 February 2014 - 08:36 AM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:16 AM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:40 AM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:54 AM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 11:00 AM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 12:12 PM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 12:13 PM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:04 PM
Because it's cheaper and less paperwork to install a gate. They've already stated on more than one occasion that they are not funded to cover even half of the open land. Gee, I wish there was a pass that we could buy that would help fund land management in this state.
Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:35 PM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:38 PM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:49 PM
Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:52 PM
If you stay on S. Fork road you can go up even higher before hitting the groomed.
Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:37 PM
Edited by JeepinJunk, 14 February 2014 - 07:30 AM.
Posted 14 February 2014 - 10:55 AM
Posted 14 February 2014 - 09:53 PM
Posted 15 February 2014 - 09:57 AM
Posted 19 March 2014 - 01:39 PM
Posted 01 April 2014 - 04:01 PM
YAKIMA, Wash. — To drive the South Fork Ahtanum Road is to tour some of the state’s most scenic countryside, a land of rolling hills, babbling creeks and majestic evergreens.
The first 3 miles of that drive into the Ahtanum State Forest west of Tampico, however, is also an ugly testament to the behavior of some of its vilest visitors and is why the South Fork area is about to be gated and closed to the public.
The closure, scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday, won’t be permanent.
But, according to Ahtanum State Forest recreation manager Jeff Jones, it may take months to rehabilitate the areas damaged by indiscriminate “mudding,” illegal roads created over and through the creek and the dozens of 120-foot ponderosa pines either illegally felled for firewood or literally shot down by thousands of rifle rounds.
Jones said the South Fork portion of the state forest lost 33 live trees, most of them ponderosa pines, in December alone. Dozens more have gone down since. At least a dozen more bullet-riddled pines, many of them surrounding a campsite popular for teen beer parties, are already dead and enough of a hazard that they’ll have to be cut down before they fall down.
“It has,” Jones said, “been absolutely unbelievable.”
So, too, the amount of garbage that continually accrues along the South Fork Ahtanum (A1000) Road.
Along the first 3 miles of the dirt-and-gravel forest road beyond the pavement’s end, one can find numerous dumped carcasses, from dogs and cats to horses, including a relatively new one still bearing the dried blood from the bullet wound that killed it.
Nearly 5 tons of garbage have been removed from the South Fork over the past year and a half by volunteers and park staffers. Still, trash is everywhere — sometimes in obvious dump piles, sometimes simply a mosaic of broken glass and crushed or bullet-aerated beer cans, and punctuated by wide swaths of used toilet paper.
“This would have been the girls’ bathroom,” Jones said, shaking his head last week as he surveyed the array of soggy tissues next to a bucket behind a tree on the fringe of that oft-used beer-bash party site.
Yakima County Sheriff’s deputies responded the night of March 22 to a large gathering of teens and 20-somethings at the site, and while no arrests were made, investigators are now following up on reports of a possible sexual assault at the party.
That law enforcement officers were called to the South Fork Ahtanum is nothing new.
The area — state trust land managed by the Department of Natural Resources to generate revenue for public education — has a long and spotted history as a magnet for lawbreakers. Anyone can obtain free firewood permits to chop up any of the unending supply of downed trees in the area, yet many opt instead to illegally cut down live ones — or shoot them until they fall over.
The area is often used as a de facto receptacle not just for garbage, but for stolen cars, tires and other debris. Just last week a stolen car was brought to the Ahtanum Campground and stripped down for parts “right in the campground” and left behind, Jones said.
There are no groomed snowmobile trails in the South Fork like there are in the Middle Fork and North Fork. But even if there were, Jones said, snowmobilers would probably avoid the South Fork anyway because of the area’s reputation and the prospect of returning to a rig that had been broken into, vandalized or stolen.
Like many of the road systems in the 76,000-acre Ahtanum State Forest, the South Fork is popular with four-wheel drive groups — several representatives of which toured the area to assess the very issues Jones has been dealing with.
“We found the area where the party animals had been getting after it, of course,” said Earl Nettnin, regional director of the Pacific Northwest Four-Wheel Drive Association. “There was some debris, there was a stolen car that had been wrecked and left, and a couple of dead horses.”
But Nettnin said his understanding was that, historically, the dumping issue had been even worse at various times in the road’s history. That sentiment echoed those of Ron Rutherford, a local four-wheeling enthusiast and a volunteer active in mapping and maintenance projects on both state and National Forest road and trail systems.
Rutherford said the answer is more education and enforcement by both state officials and by law-abiding user groups willing to put more members in the field to dissuade the abuse.
“When you close that road, you’re just moving that problem to another spot,” Rutherford said. “We know it’s just the 5 percent who are the problem — and they’re either just going to go up the North Fork or go up the (nearby) Nasty Creek now.”
Jones also abhors the idea of having to gate the South Fork Ahtanum, which, as part of the Green Dot System, is a road typically open to public use.
“I hate gating roads. Hate it,” Jones said. “But this is public trust land. These lands are to be managed to support the schools, and so ultimately you have to protect these resources.
“The gate sends a pretty clear message that the DNR is not messing around. We’re serious about protecting these resources from abuse.
“If that means closing a gate, so be it.”
Posted 01 April 2014 - 04:52 PM
Posted 04 December 2014 - 05:54 PM
In closure of road, we all pay for acts of a few
Posted on December 4, 2014
Once again, an infantile few have fouled it up for the rest of us — and this time, perhaps for good.
Last March, the state Department of Natural Resources closed the South Fork Ahtanum, a road that offered access to the Ahtanum State Forest west of Tampico. The agency pretty much had no choice after destructive human “guests” used the area to wreak unspeakable destruction. At that time, at least a dozen trees had borne the brunt of hundreds, maybe thousands of gunshots, a legacy of target shooting; animal carcasses had been dropped here and there; the South Fork Ahtanum Creek had endured scores of vehicle tracks in a practice known as mudding; and trash was strewn all about the area.
The area opened up again last June after many of the wounded trees, on their way to dying because of the gunshots, were cut down. Volunteers removed 5 tons of trash from the area, while barrier rock was installed to keep vehicles out of the creek and other sensitive areas, and on the Green Dot roads. But enforcement is difficult, given the many isolated square miles in the area. The state forest’s recreation manager, Jeff Jones, warned at the time that the road’s gate could be closed again if the problems returned.
They did, and Jones says he has no choice but to follow through on his admonition. As of 8 a.m. next Wednesday, the gate to the South Fork Ahtanum Road will be shut for an indefinite period — perhaps permanently — thus denying recreational access to the vast majority of Yakima Valley residents who appreciate nature’s gifts and heed a basic code of acceptable conduct.
This decision has to be a disappointing one to the DNR, which built a parking area and spent about $10,000 on the spring cleaning. And it must be totally demoralizing for the citizen volunteers who did much of the heavy lifting for the cleanup. They included South Fork area residents Mike and Barbara Holford, who recruited many of the helpers; and organized groups such as the Jeeping Nomads, the Backcountry Horsemen of Central Washington and the Yakima chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.
Perhaps their work won’t go for naught; DNR says it will evaluate the damage to determine if the gate will be reopened, but that remains a big “if.” The decision to open hinges on another “if” — if those who caused the senseless damage would only learn to act like civilized human beings.
• Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.
Posted 04 December 2014 - 06:00 PM
Posted 04 December 2014 - 07:50 PM
Posted 23 December 2014 - 03:48 PM
Posted 23 December 2014 - 04:52 PM
According to Jeff, he does have trail cams up there.