Ochoco National Forest staff will compile a supplemental EIS

After facing two dozen objections to its Ochoco Summit Trail System, local forest staff members decided to revise the proposal to account for voiced concerns.

The trail system was initially proposed in 2009 after implementation of the Travel Management Rule on Ochoco National Forest caused the closure of many forest roads utilized by recreational vehicle enthusiasts. The final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the trail system were released this past March, but multiple objections prevented final approval of the proposal.

Objectors to the trail plan expressed their opposition during a June meeting, with some favoring more trails, particularly jeep trails, and others calling for less. In addition, private landowners said that the trail system would be located too close to their property.

The concerns prompted Forest Supervisor Kate Klein to reach out to objectors after the session.

“I asked them specifically if they would like to meet with me to see if we could resolve their objections,” she said, “if there would be something that we could do to adjust the proposal for them to withdraw their objection.”

Klein met with nine people and spent time with them on the land in question, talking about specific changes they would like to see.

“Based on their input, I decided that there would be some opportunities to make a better proposal,” she said. “But to do that, I would need to do a supplemental EIS (environmental impact statement).”

The supplemental document will not require Ochoco staff to scrap the initial proposal, but rather make changes to it in order to account for the concerns raised.

“I believe that our initial proposal was sound,” Klein said. “I think it was a good proposal, and it did not please everyone. I don’t think it can please everyone. It’s just that I think some folks made some suggestions that made a lot of sense to me that we did not analyze in the original proposal.”

Like the initial process, the supplemental EIS will take time to develop and will have to navigate the same channels. After issuing the new document, it will undergo a 30-day comment period. That input will then be addressed before forest staff issues a final EIS and Record of Decision. While there is no established timeline at this point, Klein estimated that the process will take about nine months to complete.

“We are interested in working with people as much as possible while still meeting what we consider part of our mission, which is to provide motorized off-road recreation in a legal fashion,” she said. “I hope to come out with a proposal that has more support from our constituents and is a better proposal in the end.”

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