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mattp

Minimum Roads Analysis

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Bump to top for the upcoming meetings:

 

21 August, 4:30-7pm

Darrington Community Center

 

10 September, 5:30-8pm

Bellingham Public Library

 

24 September, 1-3:30pm

Monroe Public Library

 

9 October, 5:30-8pm

Everett Public Library

 

 

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I don't think they're looking at closing any of the popular-paved avenues, rather, they are just looking to include these thoroughfares in the "total miles" that remain in their budget when this process is finished.

 

In the end, I'm not really sure how much weight these meetings will carry. MBSNF is doing a really good thing by getting ahead of the public-input requirement, but these meetings are not part of the NEPA process--which has yet to begin. I'll bet that groups like Audubon and NCCC are not going to stand for this round of unofficial scoping/public input being allowed to carry water in the final EA/EIS. Not sure how this will fly in 2015.

 

 

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I wonder how many roads could have been fixed with the money used to facilitate the meetings?

 

In all seriousness though, I thank folks for making my job easier by gathering a list of roads to advocate for. I plan to do a little more research and submit my comments via the web form.

 

We'll see how this turns out, but it isn't looking great for access for my young boys and future grandkids. It's a shame.

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No doubt, the access that we have enjoyed may not be available to your kids, Jason. And I think Fairweather is right at least to some extent in suggesting that any outcome of this current process may not directly control which roads end up being closed.

 

I believe climbers should do the following:

 

1. In this current process we should advocate for roads that serve climbing destinations and may not serve other interests. The Baker Lake road and the Mountain Loop Highway, or the main line N. Fork Sauk road, or whatever, are not going to be closed. The Clear Creek road or that serving Bedal Creek might be.

 

2. Help the Forest Service help us. Volunteer efforts like that being undertaken by the Darrington Area Friends for Public Use are excellent. We can help assure that culverts are kept clear or do other volunteer work but we can also report maintenance issues to the forest service so that - at least in some cases - they may do some quick work now to avoid big disaster later.

 

3. Work with our allies to generate support for public access. We are natural partners with whitewater folks, mtn bikers, hunters, and anybody else who enjoys their access to the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

 

4. Feed a national discussion. Fairweather notes that he is unsure "who" directed the Forest Service to undertake this identification of 75% of their roads for closure. I think it was the Forest Service who did so. But I also think that there should be broader discussion of this idea that it is a foregone conclusion that so many roads must be closed. I am sure that all or most of us would agree that there are a large number of roads that do not offer much public benefit and are not worth spending money to maintain, and I bet most of us would agree that there may be some that pose a threat to salmon habitat or are simply in the wrong place and present other problems such that they should be erased if possible. But I also believe that it may not be necessary or appropriate to close 75% of the roads on the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and perhaps not on other Forests I am not so familiar with.

 

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We'll see how this turns out, but it isn't looking great for access for my young boys and future grandkids. It's a shame.

 

You nailed it.

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The Washington Trails Association seems to have moderated their position on roads and access over the last five years or so. Where they once advocated the closing of the Dosewallips and the Suiattle roads, they have done an about-face and now support their repair. They may have purged the more radical members of their board who, at one time, were quite vocal and public about celebrating new washouts. No matter the reason, they may now be worth partnering with in some capacity. I visited their site just now, and I can't find a position statement on this new 75% plan. They do, however, have an outstanding 26-page mission statement on roads and access that is very well thought-out.

 

http://www.wta.org/action/road-access-to-trails

 

 

 

 

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I don't remember the Washington Trails Association being radically against access. The North Cascades Conservation Council certainly has been, and it was their newsletters that celebrated the road washouts a few years back and called for a campaign to block any repairs. It was the NCCC and Pilchuck Audubon who sued to block repair of the Suiattle road, and I think it was PA who tried to block repair of the Mountain Loop highway.

 

But things change. A lot of more mainstream environmental groups are talking about how it is important to let people go out and bond with nature. It is a question of balance. Probably none of them would advocate the position that I think you have taken, Fairweather, that we should maintain the status quo (or the status quo of about 15 years ago, perhaps). However, many of them may see value in supporting a push to at least keep most popular trailheads, kayak put-ins, and climbing access points open, and probably realize it is important to provide areas for even the dreaded motorized recreation groups. Hunting and fishing groups have been involved in conservation efforts for years, and I don't really know the status of any connection between horse packers and the broader politics.

 

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This is much bigger in terms of implications than the minimal outreach effort thus far. I only learned of this through an article in today's Seattle Times. This should be on everyone's radar, but apparently about half of the public events have already concluded. Pretty weak public outreach. If I understand correctly, every USFS administrative division should be undertaking a similar process right now as well. Around here, that would include Giffor Pinchot, and Olympic. Stuff I care about but visit less frequently in other states is at risk as well. I just looked at Olympic and couldn't determine if they are doing this. Has any organization or anyone created a central location for information to help us participate in any USFS division with facilities we may care about?

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Bump to top for the upcoming meetings:

 

10 September, 5:30-8pm

Bellingham Public Library

 

24 September, 1-3:30pm

Monroe Public Library

 

9 October, 5:30-8pm

Everett Public Library

If you plan on hitting one of these meetings (and you should!), be aware that space is limited. You can RSVP in advance here.

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Is there any benefit to showing up in person vs. submitting comments via the webform? i.e. weighted differently?

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They tell us the folks at Portland State University (I think that's where they are) will be counting the dots the same way, Jason. However, the opportunity to shake hands with people and ask questions both during the discussion part of the meetings and before or after is not there for the on-line survey posters.

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