What to do with thousands of miles of forest roads?

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 20 at 6:54 PM

DARRINGTON, Wash. - The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest contains over 2,300 miles of roads, roads owned and operated by the Forest Service.  There are 600 plus miles in the Darrington Ranger District alone.

The Forest Service says it doesn't have the money to maintain the entire network, nor does it think all those roads should remain open, and it wants public input on what to do.

Many of the roads were cut through the forest decades ago to help loggers access trees. Hundreds of miles are in so-called "storage" grown over, no longer maintained and where vehicle access is blocked, but those roads could be put back into use.  Others have simply been allowed to return to their natural states.

While logging continues in many places, the Forest Service says most of that road mileage is now more likely to be involved with recreation - access for hikers, climbers, campers, fishers and people who just want to see the spectacular scenery.

 But Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie officials say in a world of shrinking budgets they have to make tougher choices.  The other issue is the environment.  To keep some of those roads open, culverts need to be widened for fish passage and mitigation taken to prevent the kinds of big rain events, like the ones hit in 2003 and 2006, from simply washing too much dirt downstream.  For example, the Mountan Loop Highway was breached by flooding in 2003 and did not reopened to full use until 2008, five years later.

If you would like to provide public input, the Forest Service wants to hear from you.

On Tuesday September 24 at the Monroe Public Library between 1:30 and 3:30, Forest Service officials and representatives from conservation and user groups will hold a public meeting.  Space is limited.

When: Sept. 24, 1-3:30 p.m.
Where: Monroe Public Library, 1070 Village Way, Monroe, 98272 
Who:  Forest Service, Washington Trails Association, Wilderness Society, other use groups.

You can also provide input online at http://mbssustainableroads.com/ and fill out a survey, or provide input via email at sustainableroads@gmail.com
 

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