By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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This information will be used in a road analysis that “could influence future proposals for access,” Forest Supervisor Reta Laford said.
Agency officials said there are no current proposals to cut millage from the forest’s 2,000-mile road network.
Decommissioning a road would require an in-depth, site-specific analysis with an environmental review and public comment period, said Dean Yoshina, who manages Olympic’s Hood Canal Ranger District.
“This is not a decision process,” Yoshina said.
“It’s more of a sensing, getting a feel of what roads people want to use or value.
“That will help us truly identify what’s important to folks.”
Olympic National Forest has launched a series of open houses — including one in Forks today and one in Quilcene next Wednesday, June 25 — for the public to share “where they go on the forest, what roads they use and what do they do there,” Laford told Clallam County commissioners Tuesday.
In addition to attending open houses, the public can provide comments at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-forestroads.
Comments will be taken until Aug. 31.
“The reason I’m asking for this input is not to spy on anybody, but in September 2015, I have to produce a report called a travel analysis report, and that report is to identify resource concerns and access fees,” Laford said.
“And access fees include both business access fees as well as recreational uses. So an important piece of the puzzle is how we use the forest.”
When asked Wednesday whether the travel analysis would result in future road closures, Laford said: “We’re not leaning one way or the other.
“We’re collecting information right now,” she said.
Information gleaned from the analysis, for example, could be used to distribute grant funds for certain uses in the forest, Laford said.
“We’re not making decisions out of this process,” she said.
Public feedback will help the forest “identify a financially sustainable road system that meets diverse access needs, minimizes environmental harm and is safe and dependable because it is scaled to available resources,” agency officials said.
“Your participation will help us understand your access needs,” Laford said in an Olympic National Forest statement.
“It would be particularly helpful to know what areas you use on the forest and what roads you use to get there.”
About a dozen people attended the first open house in Port Angeles on Tuesday.
An open house is planned in Forks today at 4 p.m. at the Olympic Natural Resources Center in the Hemlock Forest Conference Room, 1455 S. Forks Ave.
The next one will be in Quilcene from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. this coming Wednesday in Quilcene School’s multipurpose room, 294715 U.S. Highway 101.
The remaining open houses are:
■ July 17, Port Townsend — 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.
■ July 30, Quinault — 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Olympic National Forest’s Quinault Ranger Station, 363 S. Shore Road.
■ Aug. 19, Shelton — 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Shelton Civic Center, 525 Cota St.
■ Aug. 21, Aberdeen — 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Rotary Log Pavilion, 1401 Sargent Blvd.
■ Aug. 27, Olympia — 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Olympic National Forest’s supervisor’s office, 1835 Black Lake Blvd. S.W.
About 1,400 miles of Olympic National Forest’s road network are open to motorized vehicles. Most of the roads were built to support timber management from the 1950s to the 1990s.
As timber harvest declined over the past two decades, so too has funding for road maintenance, agency officials said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.