This Sunday, Sept. 1, is the deadline for people to fill out Shasta-Trinity Travel Analysis Input Forms, which are designed to help the Forest Service understand which roads are used most regularly and for what purposes.

This Sunday, Sept. 1, is the deadline for people to fill out Shasta-Trinity Travel Analysis Input Forms, which are designed to help the Forest Service understand which roads are used most regularly and for what purposes.

The Forest Service says it will use the information to make recommendations that “identify opportunities for change to make the road system more sustainable,” said District Ranger Donna Harmon, including timber sales, fuels reduction projects, watershed restoration projects or motorized recreation projects.

Some citizens have been expressing concern in recent weeks that it could lead to more forest road closures.

Forms are available at local ranger stations and the report is expected to be complete by January 2014.

The Analysis is also known as Subpart A of the 2005 Travel Management Rule. In 2012, Subpart B was finalized. It made a decision about which roads are part of the official Forest Service road system.

A number of “user created roads” were dropped from the system for a variety of reasons, for safety purposes or because they were never “officially recognized” by the Forest Service, said Harmon.

Vehicle use maps

This decision was captured in Motor Vehicle Use Maps, which are available free at ranger stations. The maps only show those roads which are legally open to motorized travel and serve as an “enforcement tool” for the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule.

The public is required to use the maps to determine if a road they are traveling on is open to motorized travel.

Some citizens have complained that the maps are difficult to use.

The policy also states that cars are not permitted to park more than one car length from the marked road for any purpose, including camping, game retrieval or woodcutting.

Violations are subject to a fine from $150 to $5,000 and/or six months imprisonment after a “transition period” of approximately one year, said Schirete Zick, who is in charge of public affairs for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The MVUMs were released in March.

Roads not featured on MVUMs are open to pedestrians, bicyclists or horseback riders. The closures only pertain to motorized vehicles.

What the information’s for

Harmon said the Forest Service is conducting the Subpart A Analysis so they can provide safe, reasonable access to the forest for management and for public enjoyment. They are also responsible for protecting the public’s “precious natural, historical and cultural resources” and for “focusing the limited public funds on the most important roads.”

Harmon said the current road system “exceeds our available funding resources,” but any further decommissioning of roads won’t be an immediate result of the Analysis.

“In and of itself, the Travel Analysis report does not make any immediate decisions,” said Harmon. “Subpart A will eventually include identification of the minimum road system as well, but this will require future NEPA analyses, likely done at a watershed scale.”

Harmon said identification of the “minimum road system” is a decision process that is expected to occur in the future and roads currently featured on the MVUMs “may be proposed for closure or decommissioning in that step.”

“Roads closed or decommissioned would not show on the MVUM published after those decisions become final,” Harmon said.

What they’re looking for

Harmon said the Forest Service will benefit most from “road by road specific knowledge” contributed by road users.

“Interested stakeholders have information that will result in a better recommendation,” Harmon said. “We need specific information about the uses on each road. Especially information important to people such as traditional plant gathering needs, or hunting and fishing access.”

The Forest Service is also looking for road problems relating to issues such as poaching, disturbance of cultural sites, severe erosion or safety problems.

For more info

To learn more about the Travel Management Rule or the Analysis, contact the Shasta-Trinity National Forest headquarters in Redding at (530) 226-2500.