The Saratoga Sun -

USFS releases draft travel management plan

Open house sparsely attended, public input period open until Sept. 6

 


The U.S. Forest Service

(USFS) has released a draft

travel management plan for

the Medicine Bow National

forest, and will be seeking

public input about the draft

plan until September 6.

Issuing the draft plan

moves the USFS closer to

putting to bed a contentious

debate that began about 18

months ago with the release

of a proposed action. Under

that action, the USFS outlined

roads it was considering

closing, decommissioning, or

of which it was considering

changing designation.

“We knew there would be

some parts of it that would

draw a lot of attention, Melanie

Fullman, District Ranger

for the Brush Creek/Hayden

Ranger District. “That is just

a part of the public process.”

Fullman said the USFS

received over 250 comments

from members of the public,

and used those comments

to make alterations to the

original proposal. As a result,

there are now three alternatives

that the USFS may

consider.

No Action Alternative

The first option is the “No

Action Alternative.” If accepted,

that proposal would

result in no changes to the

designation of roads within

the forest, meaning there

would be 516 miles of roads

of various designation within

the forest.

Modified Proposed Action

The second option is the

Modified Proposed Action.

This proposal took the original

proposed action from

18 months ago and made

modifications based on public

comments. Should that

proposal be accepted, there

would be only 351 miles of

road of various designations

in the forest.

Less Roads Alternative

The third option is the

“Less Roads Alternative.”

Under this plan, there would

be 324 miles of roads of various

designation open in the

forest.

Bits and Pieces

Fullman stressed however

that the final picture may

be different than any of the

three plans. Deciding which

roads to close or reclassify

are the left to the ranger’s

discretion, allowing flexibility

in planning.

“I can pick bits and pieces

from each proposal,” Fullman

said.

The Forest Service made

more than 50 changes to the

original proposal because of

public comments received,

Fullman said, adding that

many people were opposed

to closing some roads, but

others proposed closing even

more roads than originally

proposed.

USFS will accept public comments

on the revised proposals

until Sept. 6, Fullman said.

At that point, the USFS will

review any comments received

and will issue a draft decision

along with a final analysis.

At that point, there will be

a 45-day period where those

who have filed comments in

the past will be able to object

to the draft plan.

The USFS held three open

house meetings to discuss

the draft plan with members

of the public. Friday, an open

house was held at the Platte

Valley Community Center

between 6-8 p.m.

While the Saratoga meeting

was sparsely attended

by members of the public,

Fullman urged anyone with

questions to issue comments

during the comment period.

Information, including

maps, about the three

proposals is available at

http://www.fs.usda.gov/

project/?project=40299

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