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Proposal calls for road closures in Eyerly Fire area

   May 28, 2003 — Sisters Ranger District officials are seeking public comment about management of approximately 146 miles of roads where the Eyerly Fire burned 17,871 acres on the Deschutes National Forest last July.
   The Eyerly Project Roads Analysis document is now available for public dissemination and comment.
   The purpose of the proposed road management action is to provide a safe transportation system meeting forest user needs, reduce effects of existing road systems on water quality and fish habitat within the fire perimeter, and develop a transportation system addressing future access needs, budgets and environmental concerns.
   The project area is about 20 miles north of Sisters, east of Green Ridge and south of Lake Billy Chinook.
   The Eyerly Fire Road Management Project proposes removing 40.67 miles from the forest road system and allowing it to return to a natural state, in addition to restricting travel on 22.49 road miles to non-motorized use.
   The USDA Forest Service revised regulations for the management of national forest roads in January 2001, when it attempted to reflect changes in public demand and resource use.
   The agency then shifted emphasis from transportation development to requirements for science-based transportation analysis. The objective was to provide managers information to develop road systems that are safe, in balance with available funding, responsive to public needs and not a threat to ecological processes.
   A project interdisciplinary team that included engineers, scientists, and program specialists determined changes in the agency's road budget would affect its ability to maintain roads within the fire perimeter. More than 90 percent of road use there is related to recreation, unlike previous years when roads were predominately used for timber management.
   The project team determined that closing roads would reduce access to dispersed-activity areas; however, recreation seekers would be provided with a greater feeling of remoteness resulting from decreased encounters between motorized and non-motorized users.
   Finally, the team determined road closures would alleviate negative impacts to sensitive resources, including the spread of noxious weeds and the fragmentation of wildlife habitat. In contrast, closures could hinder crews involved in weed eradication or fire suppression.
   The Eyerly Project Roads Analysis document can be obtained by contacting the Sisters Ranger District, or can be viewed online at: www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/projects.
   Comments can be sent to Dave Owens, project leader, at (541) 416-6425 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ray Horgen, transportation planner, may also be contacted at (541) 549-7636 or P.O. Box 249 Sisters, OR 97759.
   Comments would be most useful if received by May 30.