By Bev Davies
January 31, 2008
Thank you for the opportunity to make comments regarding the USFS administrative decision to close 200 miles of the 300 miles of logging roads in the Ketchikan area leaving only 100 miles open to high clearance vehicles and OHV's (off-highway vehicles). Why 200 miles and who made that decision, why not 50, 25 or none? Ketchikan is a unique community with a population of 13,000 taxpayers and another 900,000 plus frequenting in the summer months. Being on an island with no bridge or road access to any other community, and very few roads in the developed area of Ketchikan, these logging roads represent a much needed outlet for hiking, hunting, berry picking, bark gathering, mountain biking, motorcycling, ATV use, jogging, bird watching, bear viewing, picture taking, lake and stream fishing, access to beaches and ridges to view the vistas of this beautiful state, by both locals and visitors alike.
In addition to the bear-viewing
floatplane tours already occurring there is an untapped opportunity
for entrepreneurs to develop other tours for our 900,000 cruise
ship visitors utilizing these roads. How better to access, and
show off, the Tongass National Forest, often labeled "the
crown jewel" in the national forest system as quoted in
a recent AP newspaper article, than by road? I understand there
are budget constraints and a limited amount for road maintenance.
But I also understand it cost millions of dollars to build these
roads and only a fraction of that to maintain them. It will
also cost a lot of money to close them by removing culverts and
bridges, re-seeding, etc. Once closed, it has been said, some
may be re-opened in the future. It seems that it would be more
cost effective to not close those that are currently in good
condition and just maintain them. I recommend an on-site survey
be made (an ATV trip by a USFS employee or 2) of all the roads
in question, have another public hearing, and decide from there.
For example, most, if not all the roads in the Traitors Cove/Marguerite
Bay area are in excellent condition since they were recently
groomed for a timber sale. These roads are used extensively
especially since there is a very nice dock and ramp (thank you!)
there and the bear viewing platform (again, thank you!). A
dock isn't necessary to access other roads in our area. More
people have landing craft now and others can moor their boat
and dinghy in for non-motorized use.
We have been asked to comment on which roads we individually want open. Does that mean that if someone wants "this one" you don't get your favorite? According to the colored map available at the USFS (3031 Tongass Ave.) the "mainline" roads in the Traitor's Cove/Marguerite Bay, Carroll Inlet, Shoal Cove, Shelter Cove, Fire Cove, and Shrimp Bay may stay open with all their spur roads closing. In order for any other road to be slated as open some of these mainline roads have to close as per the USFS to maintain their 100 miles of open road quota. For example, if any of the roads in upper Carroll Inlet (all currently colored red for closing) are to be open then a corresponding amount needs to close of the above mentioned. This should not be a government versus us issue. Let's work together to keep our roads open, especially those that are in good condition, and not be restricted to an administrative decision of 100 miles "and that's the way it is" edict with only a 30-day public comment period that ends very soon: February 16, 2008.
Cc Editor, Ketchikan Daily
News and Sitnews
Received January 31, 2008 - Published January 31, 2008
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