SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Open Letter: Road Closure Comments to USFS
By Bev Davies


January 31, 2008

Linda Pulliam
Ketchikan/Misty Fiords Ranger District
3031 Tongass Ave
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901

Dear Linda,

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.

Once closed, however, the roads are not accessible for even non-motorized use in that the trees and thick underbrush quickly grow back and by removing the culverts and bridges, and consequent erosion that can occur, convenient passage by foot or bicycle is moot and by anyone less-than-an-athlete, impossible. Even the bears and other wildlife favor the roads. Believe me, it is much nicer to see that bear on a nicely groomed road from a distance than behind the next bush. It doesn't make economic sense to arbitrarily decide to keep only 100 miles of road open when there may be more than that in very good condition to be used for generations to come by all of us.

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.


Bev Davies
Ketchikan, AK

Cc Editor, Ketchikan Daily News and Sitnews

Received January 31, 2008 - Published January 31, 2008


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