Six Rivers National Forest will hold a public workshop Wednesday to discuss a project in the Smith River National Recreation Area that will decommission some forest routes, close access to motorized vehicles on others, and add some previously unauthorized routes to the forest’s road system.
The workshop for the Smith River National Recreation Area Restoration and Motorized Travel Management Project will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Gasquet at Mountain Elementary School, 55 Azalea Lane.
To kick off the workshop, Forest Service officials will share the proposed project alternatives that were crafted in response to public comments submitted during the last scoping period. Maps showing the changes in the alternatives will also be available.
Christy Prescott, project team leader, said that the workshop is being offered before the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement in order to assess if the proposed alternatives adequately speak to the public’s complaints.
“Did we capture your concerns? Do you feel the comments in each alternative are being addressed?” Prescott said on Monday.
The workshop offers an opportunity to have an informal discussion about the project’s status outside of the National Environmental Policy Act process, the environmental analysis and public input process required for federal projects.
Those attending the workshop will also learn how to provide public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which could be released as early as this fall, Prescott said.
The travel management project has long been contentious in Del Norte County, on the grounds that the Forest Service is limiting access to public lands, possibly affecting law enforcement’s ability to maintain public safety and the public’s ability to recreate with off-road vehicles.
The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in June that recognized the county’s right-of-way over 20 mining roads within Six Rivers National Forest based on a federal law governing roads on public lands that lasted through 1976.
In June, Tyrone Kelley, Six Rivers National Forest’s forest supervisor, said the federal law only applies to roads that existed in 1866, when it was passed, which consisted of wagon and pack train trails and are not maintained by the Forest Service. The validation of those routes is a decision for a federal court, he said.