There was a large mob like crowd agitated by several Douglas County politicians at a Public meeting opposing a 70+ mile road decommissioning proposal. This reminds me of the Gold Shovel movement in Nevada and Utah a few years back. Will their intimidation tactics succeed in stopping this proposal? What sort of precedent will that set?
This is why, WE NEED YOU ALL to send comments of support for this rare Restoration proposal in the Umpqua.
Below is a first hand account of the tumultuous proceedings and below that are the particulars for comments.
Tonight (Wednesday Dec. 1st) the Umpqua National Forest held a public meeting on the Steamboat Restoration Project. The proposed alternative will decommission 38 miles of drivable roads and another 34 miles of undrivable roads for a total of 72 miles of road decommissioning (as well as in-stream projects and road
The public meeting was held at the usual place, in a meeting room in the public library in Roseburg. But the crowd that came could not all fit - over 200 people showed up, mostly large-sized men with loud voices. There was also the right-wing state senator Bill Fisher, the super right-wing county commissioner Dan Van Slyke, the
just elected super super right-wing county commissioner Marilyn Kittleman.
The Forest Service started out by giving a presentation of why they are decommissioning roads -- LSR, Key Watershed, and virtually no money for road maintenance. They can only maintain 27% of existing roads. They did a good analysis of how many acres would have reduced fire protection and mitigated it by keeping some roads open for ATV for fire suppression only. There is another 4,800 miles of roads on the Umpqua NF they are not decommissioning. But the presenter was a young woman with a soft voice that sometimes had to talk over jeers and laughter.
The District Ranger, Carol Cushing, stepped in to counter shouts of "You have already made up your mind... You are leaving out the public... You have an attitude... This is public land, our land, let US make the decisions...". amid much applause.
Carol Cushing gave the floor to County Commissioner Van Slyke to address the crowd. He said he was most concerned with post-fire management. If we take out roads, "how are we going to get out there and cut down burned timber"? "Who owns this land?* The people of Douglas County own this land*". Very Loud Applause. (Later, it was quietly pointed out that most of this project is in Lane County).
Dan Van Slyke said "these roads were built with our blood. We don't want to decommission even little spur roads. All roads are important for the public to enjoy".
Commissioner Van Slyke then said the Northwest Forest Plan reasons for decommissioning roads were "subject to interpretation". "The decommissioning is supposed to improve water quality -- but a forest fire is far worse for water quality." He promised the crowd that these road would be needed "when the forest service got back to progressive forest management again".
He received a standing ovation when he finished.
Then the just elected (but not yet serving) county commissioner Marilyn Kittleman spoke. She said "These roads were put in when the county was rich. If we remove them we will never get be able to put them back".
Then the crowd were given an opportunity to speak in turn. They talked about the poor disabled people who can't walk and the horrible fire that will happen and the accidents where people will die because emergency personnel can't get to them.
Several people told the Forest Service personnel standing in the front of the room: "You people scare me"... "your a bunch of demagogs"...
Two people tried to speak for the project but one was laughed at and the other interrupted so loudly he couldn't be heard. As chaos periodically disrupted the meeting and the Forest Service could not control the outbursts, County Commissioner Dan Van Slyke stood by silently. Finally, someone asked him to intervene, so he said a word to quiet the crowd.
Penny Lind was one of the few who were able to speak up in favor of the project, but when she finished the crowd jeered at her and someone said that "we need to get rid of people like her because she's the one that is stopping all the logging." This reflected the tone -- it's hard to walk back to your car afterwards in the dark.
The Umpqua National Forest really needs to hear your support for their own proposal to decommission over 70 miles of un-needed roads in the Steamboat drainage. If we don't they will win. Then we and the salmonids lose.
Here are the particulars to comment:
IMPORTANT COMMENT DEADLINE: _ DECEMBER 15, 2004
*PLEASE* join Umpqua Watersheds in their support of the Umpqua National Forests, Oregon, Douglas and Lane counties.
*Steamboat Creek Restoration Project.*
Steamboat Creek Restoration Project area is a wildlife reserve area that provides drinking water to Umpqua communities, is an important regional recreation area and supports diverse old growth dependent wildlife.
The Project's admirable goals are to reduce road density (especially in riparian reserves), improve fish habitat, decrease erosion, and reduce the road maintenance funding shortfalls. The agency's preferred alterative (Alternative 2) would decommission 72.3 miles of roads - nearly half of those roads are already unusable.
It's important that the Forest Service hear from you before * DECEMBER 15* on this restoration project as opposition to it is being led by the local county commissioners who are opposed to any road decommissioning. The fear factor!
Anti-enviros want alternative 1, no action, that would continue to harm streams, wildlife activity and recreation opportunities.
*Tell the Forest Service to consider these comments for the Steamboat Creek Watershed Restoration Project *
• Steamboat Creek Watershed is important for water quality, recreation and wildlife
• The road decommissioning and stream restoration goals for this project are admirable.
• Alternative 3 which decommissions 80.5 miles of road, is the most beneficial to aquatic connectivity.
• Doing nothing would continue to degrade this important watershed through increased road failure.
• Road density post project is more than adequate for fire suppression and recreation in the watershed.
• Where appropriate, decommissioned roads should be converted to hiking trails.
• ATV trails converted from roads should be for fire suppression only.
Send your comments to:
Carol Cushing, District Ranger
North Umpqua Ranger District
Steamboat Creek Watershed Restoration ID Team
18782 North Umpqua Highway
Glide, OR 97443
To view the Environmental Assesment (EA) for this project go to:
http://www.umpqua-watersheds.org/ watches over this area and always needs our support!!