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Opinion: It’s Your National Forest by Greg Sanders

Monday, May 1st, 2017

A SusanvilleStuff Reader Opinion
submitted by Greg Sanders

All National Forests belong to you and if you live in Plumas, Shasta, Butte, Tehama or Lassen County, the Lassen National Forest holds a special meaning. It is in your backyard. You are lucky to have the US Forest Service to administer the LNF for you.  Or are you?  There is a FS Public meeting scheduled in the near future at which you can influence your ‘luck’.

Do you remember over 8 years ago the Forest Service said they were developing a motorized transportation plan for the LNF to help eliminate natural resource damage resulting from people driving cross country?  I decided not to attend their public meetings because I knew the FS would do the right thing.  I mean, how hard is it to develop a plan to stop cross country travel.

Apparently the FS had a different idea.  They decided their higher standard dirt and gravel roads in the LNF are ‘highways’.  They derived the idea from the California Vehicle Code, although the CVC definition of ‘Highway’ seems to exclude FS dirt and gravel roads.  The CVC definition of ‘Highway’ states:  “For purposes of this division, the term “highway” does not include fire trails, logging roads, service roads regardless of surface composition, or other roughly graded trails and roads upon which vehicular travel by the public is permitted.”

The CHP and the five counties mentioned above told the FS they disagreed with the FS decision.  The five counties allow unlicensed off-highway vehicles on their 319 miles of dirt and gravel roads through the LNF.  Still, the FS stuck to their interpretation that their 658 miles of higher standard dirt roads are ‘Highways.’

Using that definition, the FS restricts unlicensed OHVs from driving on Forest Service maintained unpaved roads.  Rather than admit a mistake, the FS is planning to spend thousands of your dollars to do a study on small sections of FS maintained roads, after which they might open a few miles of road (out of the 658 restricted miles), in small non-contiguous sections.

The Forest Supervisor has the authority to raise the restrictions on LNF ‘Highways’ without this expenditure; but, his decision comes with a risk. Even though he would be making a decision that is supported by common sense, favorable to the public and beneficial to the welfare of the counties surrounding the LNF, he would be making a decision that puts himself in an unfavorable standing with his superiors.  So what should he do, decide in favor of the communities he represents or decide in his own favor?

The FS public meeting addressing the LNF Five County Off-Highway Vehicle Plan is scheduled for May 22nd, 2017, 3pm-7pm, in the Forest Service Office at 2550 Riverside Drive, Susanville.  There is a second meeting scheduled May 23rd, 3pm-7pm, in Chico at the Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Avenue.  Please plan to attend, to hear and to be heard.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by guest authors and those providing opinions on SusanvilleStuff are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Couso Technology and Design, SusanvilleStuff or any of our employees. If you have an opinion you would like us to consider sharing with our readers please email us at jcouso@jeremycouso.com

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