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Monday, October 25, 2010

Oregon's Malheur NF Travel Plan: Will it close roads also?


The forest service (FS) continues to enact its Travel Management Plan (published in 2005 directing all National Forests to designate a system of roads, trails and areas for motorized vehicle use) that includes closing roads now used by hunters, off road enthusiasts, hikers, and RVers seeking boondocking campsites.

The plan for the 1.7 million acre Malheur National Forest in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon will be discussed at an open house where the FS will explain the proposal. Dates of the meetings are:

DATE: November 3, 2010
TIME: 6-8 pm
LOCATION: Harney County Community Center
484 North Broadway
Burns, Oregon

DATE: November 4, 2010
TIME: 6-8 PM
LOCATION: Forest Service Office
431 Patterson Bridge Road
John Day, Oregon

If you've never been to the Malheur, the diverse and beautiful scenery of the forest includes high desert grasslands, sage and juniper, pine, fir and other tree species, and the hidden gems of alpine lakes and meadows. Elevations vary from about 4000 feet to the 9038 foot top of Strawberry Mountain. The Strawberry Mountain range extends east to west through the center of the Forest.

The Malheur currently has about 6,000 miles of roads and trails available for motorized vehicle use. In accordance with the Travel Rule, the Malheur would manage motorized travel outside of these existing designated routes. The proposal would not close existing designated routes open for motorized use, but would eliminate unregulated cross country travel on the Forest. Motor vehicle use for dispersed camping would be allowed within 300 feet of existing designated roads.

You will have to contact the FS to find out exactly which roads they define as "existing designated routes" and what they call "unregulated cross country travel." Remember that those are their definitions, and you may not agree that your favorite boondocking spot is along one of the "unregulated cross country travel" roads.

Following the project decision roads, trails, and areas will be open to motorized travel as designated on the Motor Vehicle Use Map that will be provided to the public free of charge and updated annually.

You can get on the Malheur's mailing list for future information by phoning 541-575-3000 or emailing them at: malheur_public_information@fs.fed.us

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