Closing USFS Roads

Don Baccus dhogaza at
Wed Apr 15 13:21:39 EST 1998

In article <3534CD8A.59F at>,
Don Staples  <dstaples at> wrote:

>12000 acres scattered out over all the western states and some of the
>eastern states.  Seems to me that the road beds are the only hard, flat,
>access to a lot of the back country.  Access for fire, insect and
>disease control for the future is being destroyed because of very short
>term thinking on environmentalists part.  The USFS could benefit all by
>constructions of gates and closing the roads wtih no further action.

The problem is that the road beds generally aren't hard, flat, nor
really provide much access after years of no maintenance.  I drive
one poorly maintained road to do hawk work in the Mt. Hood 
National Forest, and in a few more years getting up there by car
isn't going to be possible by that route (there's a longer route
that gets maintenance dollars that will still be open).

Closing them is far cheaper than maintaining them.  Note, though, that
the road building moratorium takes funds allocated for building new
roads and spends at least a portion of those funds to reconstruct
and upgrade roads that WILL remain open.

So, the USFS is selectively picking and chosing roads to obliterate
and those to upgrade.  Many of those that will be obliterated
are undoubtably going to be spur roads that don't do much to improve
access anyway.  In case of fire, you could probably walk up many of
these unmaintained roads faster than you can get a rig up there since
you'll be forced to remove logs and boulders on the way.  

>Let nature take its course and save that money or put it where it will
>do some good.

Unmaintained roads have documented, negative effects, at least here
in rugged, rainy western Oregon where the roads add to sedimentation,
increase the risk of landslide, etc.  This is no environmentalist
wet dream but has been carefully documented by the USFS.

Instead of making foresters like Don Staples learn biology, we
should make them learn civil engineering...

- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at

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