Final OHV trail proposal a good compromise
It is often said that you can't please everyone.
With any issue where people take passionate stances on both sides, it is virtually impossible to make a decision that will satisfy every person with stake in the game.
The recent signature of a final decision on a local ATV trail system developed by Ochoco National Forest serves as the latest example in Crook County. Following several years of developing and retooling the proposed trail system and fielding objections from both sides — and having to virtually start from scratch after the Bailey Butte Fire of 2014 scorched the landscape — forest leader proudly proclaimed last week that the final decision was signed.
The final plan comes across as perhaps the best compromise that the Ochoco staff could reach. ATV enthusiasts receive a new trail system to make up for the access to roads and trails the a Forest Service travel management rule took away nearly a decade earlier, and conservation organizations saw a reduction in the amount of miles proposed. Prior trail system options called for as many as 158 miles.
But the Ochoco staff can't please everybody and it didn't take long for that truth to become apparent. Within days of signing the final decision, Oregon Wild and the Sierra Club both filed a suit against the decision out of concern that the trail system, as proposed, would cause damage to the forest environment.
These types of complaints are not exactly new as environmental organizations filed objections to the trail system last year, and three years ago before a wildfire forced the forest staff to start over on project.
Forest leaders have also become familiar with complaints from the opposite side of the spectrum, with motorsports enthusiasts objecting to proposed trail system plans because they don't provide enough miles of trails.
So far, ATV groups have not fought back against the final decision. Hopefully that will go unchanged because at this point, they are taking the approach we would like to see from each side.
We know the trail system proposal isn't perfect. But it's hard to imagine the push and pull for miles ending without the Ochoco staff opening the forest up to unlimited miles or bagging ATV trail use on the forest altogether. And since neither extreme is palatable and neither scenario will ever happen, it is time that to accept the final proposal as a suitable compromise.
The Ochoco staff spent years on this and reviewed numerous complaints from both sides of the fence and after sifting through all of the data and opinions — and no doubt complying with directives from higher up Forest Service chain of command — this is what they have decided works best.
It's not perfect, and it doesn't please everybody. But it is time to step back and put the compromise into action.