BlueRibbon Coalition BRC: IDAHO Forest Roads Safety Review Available for Public Comment

Discussion in 'Land Use News' started by BlueRibbon Coalition, Jan 26, 2011.

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    Date: 01/26/2011
    BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!
    ACTION ITEM REQUESTED

    IDAHO Forest Roads Safety Review Available for Public Comment
    Dear BRC Alert Subscriber,
    The US Forest Service in Idaho has announced they are reviewing forest roads across the state regarding the issue of safety of OHV use on "mixed use" roads. Mixed use is a term used to describe roads that allow "unlicensed" vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs or off-highway motorcycles along with "street legal" cars and trucks.
    Approximately 18 months ago, the agency expressed the concern that a state law allowing "unlicensed" vehicles on unpaved roads created a safety issue. In response to those concerns, the OHV community in Idaho is currently working on a comprehensive bill in the state legislature focused on effective safety training and enforcement. Idaho Law 49-302 (11) I.C already requires that unlicensed operators are required to be supervised by an adult. We are not completely clear on why the agency is undertaking this effort instead of waiting for the outcome of the legislative endeavor.
    Of course, safety is a major concern. Signing, speed limits and other efforts address only part of the solution, which is why BRC has supported the legislative effort. But our members are also concerned because the USFS is considering closing roads to OHV use where "no other reasonable and effective safety measures can be implemented." A quick review of the roads at issue raises the concern that potential closures will eliminate "loops," make some areas inaccessible and "cut to pieces" the current route system.
    BRC is asking our members to review the information and identify roads that present a legitimate safety concern, but also identify roads that are necessary for access and are especially critical for making "loops." If you are familiar with the specific roads, please also suggest potential safety mitigations, such as speed limits, brush removal for improved visibility, warning signs, speed bumps or other minor engineering changes.
    The Regional Forester has set February 22, 2011, as a deadline, which is unfortunate, as most, if not all, of the roads at issue are inaccessible, and it is impossible to look at them. We will attempt to extend the deadline, but we aren't holding our breath, so please do your best to comment.
    As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.
    Thanks in advance for your effort.

    Brian Hawthorne
    Public Lands Policy Director
    BlueRibbon Coalition
    208-237-1008 ext 102
    Idaho Forest Roads Safety Review Available for Public Comment
    National Forests across Idaho are undertaking a review of their road systems and identifying sections of road that may require additional safety measures and are seeking public comments. The review was prompted by changes to Idaho State law.
    In 2009, Idaho Senate Bill 1098 modified the Idaho Code with respect to off-highway vehicle (OHV) licensing requirements. While responsible OHV recreation is welcome on National Forest System roads, this new law exempts unlicensed OHV operators (including underage operators less than 16 years old) from licensing requirements. As a result, national forests in Idaho are undertaking a motorized mixed use* safety review of the current road system, with unlicensed OHV operators in mind, and identifying sections of road that may require additional safety measures.
    *Motorized Mixed Use is defined as designation of a National Forest System road for use by both highway legal and non-highway legal motor vehicles.
    With thousands of miles of National Forest roads and trails open to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) in Idaho, there is a risk to OHV operators on roads that also receive heavy travel from highway vehicles and commercial trucks. Road segments with such "mixed use" are referred to as "Roads of Concern" (ROC). Trails designated for OHV use are unaffected by Senate Bill 1098.
    The National Forests are accepting comments related to these Roads of Concern, specifically what safety concerns you might have on any of the identified roads and your suggestions for making these roads safer.
    Maps have been published on each National Forest website for downloading and viewing. The eight National Forests across Idaho contain more than 7,700 miles of roads open to OHVs and highway vehicles and 2,500 miles of road that are being evaluated.
    Potential safety mitigations for these roads range from reduced speed limits, brush removal for improved visibility, warning signs, speed bumps or other minor engineering changes. "In cases where risks are unacceptable, OHV use may be restricted. However, for each Road of Concern, restricting OHV use will be considered as a last resort when no other reasonable and effective safety measures can be implemented," said Intermountain Regional Forester Harv Forsgren.
    Throughout the winter and spring of 2011, each National Forest in Idaho will work closely with agency partners and members of the public to improve public safety plans for National Forest System roads. Public input will be used to help identify where, and what types of safety improvements will be made for each of the Roads of Concern. By summer 2011, the first safety mitigation measures will be in place.
    Comments will be accepted from now until February 22, 2011. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to each National Forest through its website or the United States Postal Service. (See Forest websites below)
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Boise National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to: comments-intermtn-boise@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Caribou-Targhee National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to: lballard@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Clearwater National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to comments-northern-clearwater@fs.fed.us.
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Idaho Panhandle National Forests website here
    Comments can be emailed to comments-northern-idpanhandle@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    Mail comments to:
    IPNF Forest Road Safety Review
    ATTN: Greg Hetzler
    3815 N. Schreiber Way
    Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Nez Perce National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to comments-northern-nezperce@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Payette National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to comments-intermtn-payette@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    Mail comments to:
    Jake Strohmeyer, Staff Officer
    Payette National Forest Headquarters
    800 W. Lakeside Ave
    McCall, ID 83638
    Letters may also be hand delivered between 8:00-4:30, Monday-Friday, excluding federal holidays. Our fax number is 208-634-0744. Please address your faxes to Mr. Strohmeyer. Mr. Strohmeyer's phone number is 634-0703.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Salmon-Challis National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to kfuellenbach@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Sawtooth National Forest website here
    Comments can be emailed to comments-intermtn-sawtooth@fs.fed.us
    Please include "Roads of Concern" in the subject line.
    Mail comments to:
    Sawtooth National Forest
    Attn: Roads of Concern
    2647 Kimberly Road E.
    Twin Falls, Idaho 83301




    The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org
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