Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is asking the U.S. Forest Service to consider converting some forest roads into trails in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Forest Service wants to cut maintenance costs. It maintains over 4,000 miles of trails. The agency’s in the process of crafting a new management plan.
Herrera Beutler held a public meeting in Stevenson Thursday with forest users — hikers, ATV users, horseback riders, hunters and others. Not only is there high demand for access to forest land, she said, but it may be cheaper than other alternatives.
“It’s almost cheaper to maintain the most costly roads, than it is to completely rip the road out,” she said. “We should really limit how many of these roads are decommissioned and talk about how we turn some of them into trails.”
The Forest Service is considering decommission plans for some of the roads for conservation reasons.
Herrera Beutler says she’ll present further proposals to the Forest Service soon, and wait for a response.
Public hearings on forest roads were held last year. A final plan is due in 2015.