As of Thursday, June 16, 2016
WENATCHEE The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest announced the release of the Draft Environmental Assessment for Motorized Travel Management.
The draft assessment became available to the public yesterday and will be open for review and comment until July 8.
The 2005 Travel Management Rule requires each National Forest to designate roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicles.
The rule also closes the forest to cross country use to prevent resource damage.
The United States Department of Agriculture states that travel management planning is necessary because of growing recreation use and changes in the types of motorized recreation on the forest.
Districts have noticed an increase during the past several years in the number of user built trails occurring in places where resource damage is caused.
The Preferred Alternative in the assessment strikes a balance that continues to provide motorized access to National Forest System roads and trails, while sustaining the health of National Forest lands and resources, including soil, water quality and wildlife habitat.
“Motorized recreation and access is important. The Preferred Alternative continues to provide access to motorized users on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest,” Forest Supervisor Mike Williams said.
He added, “The Preferred Alternative “B” in the Draft EA looks specifically at adopting our existing system of motorized roads and trails.”
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, stakeholders and the public have been involved in the travel management process for nearly 10 years.
“We appreciate all of the effort by stakeholders and the public in the process so far,” Williams said.
There will be five open houses across the state that will answer questions about the Draft Environmental Assessment and the process for commenting.
Each open house will be 90 minutes from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Yakima will have the open house June 20 at Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Drive.
For more information on the assessment or to see the list of locations with open houses visit the United States Department of Agriculture website.