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Public comment sought on road management project

The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public input on the scope of issues to be studied in an Environmental Assessment of a proposal to make changes to roads and motorized trails in the eastern portion of the Pagosa Ranger District.

The analysis area covers 246,790 acres of National Forest lands from Snowball Road and Burns Canyon on the west stretching to the South San Juan Wilderness boundary on the east. The analysis addresses only summer motorized use of roads and trails. The proposal calls for adding some roads to the system and closing others. Some roads proposed for closure would be re-designated as motorized trails. The goal is to reduce environmental impacts and maintenance costs, while offering adequate motorized access to the National Forest.

The public is being asked to comment on the proposed actions, which include the following:

• Opening one mile total of spur roads off of the Fall Creek, Snowball Creek, West Fork and Blanco River roads;

• Constructing one-third of a mile of road for agency use only off U.S. 84 across from the Kenney Flats Road;

• Returning to a natural condition segments of several currently closed dead-end spur roads, totaling 24 miles;

• Closing short segments at the ends of several currently open 4WD roads, totaling 14 miles;

• Converting six miles of the Willow Draw 4WD Road and the last 1/4 mile of the Wolf Creek 4WD Road to ATV use only;

• Converting one mile of a connector 4WD road between the Snowball and Jackson Mountain roads to ATV use only;

The analysis will not entail a comprehensive analysis of motorized trail opportunities within the area, but does propose changes to four motorized trails to better reflect their actual use and physical limitations, as follows:

• Eliminating motorized use on five miles of the Windy Pass and Coal Creek trails, which are too narrow for ATV use;

• Eliminating motorized use on a quarter-mile segment of the Navajo Peak Trail from the end of Price Lakes Road to the South San Juan Wilderness boundary;

• Converting six miles of the Treasure Mountain Trail, which is too narrow for ATVs, to a motorcycle trail.

Public comments should be submitted in writing by close of business Friday, March 4, 2011. Comments can be mailed to: San Juan National Forest, Attn: Becca Smith, P.O. Box 310 Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, or by e-mail at rsmith@fs.fed.us. Public comments will be used to identify issues and develop alternatives.

A map of the proposed project is available on the Web by going to: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/projects, and scrolling down to Roads-East Side Road Management, in the “Under Analysis” section.

A draft environmental assessment is expected to be available by June 2011, with a decision expected by September 2011.

For more information, contact Becca Smith at (970) 264-1521.