As long as I'm diving in on things access related, here's my comment letter to the first request from the Ok-Wenn regarding travel management...
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Travel Management Plan for the Forest. It is important for all stakeholders to have input into a document that will affect how they use the Forest for years to come. Economic, recreational, and lifestyle impacts all need to be taken into account. Past management decisions have had major impacts on how the Forest is used, to the detriment of some major contributors to the local economy, such as timber production. I will leave that to those more qualified. My concerns are the affect the plan may have on the recreation industry and those who use the Forest for their chosen forms of recreation.
Motorized recreation has been a major part of Forest use for several generations, and a major contributor to the stability of the local economy. Those who come to the area spend thousands of dollars on lodging, food, fuel, and vehicle parts and accessories. This use has, over the years, contributed greatly to the recreational growth around the Forest, and is one of the more outstanding facets of life here. This should be considered one of the legitimate, planned uses of the Forest.
A number of things in the plan need to be addressed that could, in the long run, adversely affect those of us who choose to use a 4x4, ATV, or motorcycle. Following are my comments on a few items of concern.
Level 1 Roads – Many of these roads need more review as the provide connectivity in the system or do, in fact, have high recreational value. I would urge they be considered for management as trail in many cases.
Level 2 Roads – These roads can, and often do, constitute the backbone of any OHV trail network, and provide non-street legal vehicles access to other system trails, and recreational use for larger 4x4 vehicles.
Level 3 Roads – These should be mixed vehicle use to provide connectivity to all portions of a trail system, and are also key to larger vehicles being able to access trails.
Water Buffers – This is vague in its wording. A large number of our trails run along water courses, and cross in many places. I believe more clarification is in order here. The fear is that this could be used to close trails and disrupt how we use our trails. There are methods to mitigate any crossing issues, and these need to be looked into in more depth. More work is needed here.
Manastash Trail – Now that The Nature Conservancy owns land above Cle Elum that includes part of the Manastash Trail, there are concerns over what their plans are, and how they will affect our ability to ride the trail. This needs to be addressed to the satisfaction of all involved.
Involvement of local officials – I have been seeing, in my conversations with other OHV users in other areas, some lack of consideration where local government bodies are concerned. These will be some of the most affected by any decisions made, and their input is critical to how the plan comes together.
In closing, let me say I look forward to seeing the progress on this project, and will be watching along with many others. It is my hope that all sides will be included on equal footing, and comments weighed on their merits.
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