Forest Service work on Dodge Summit trail questioned
To the Editor:
Once again, I must question why? We have a new (old historic roadway) in the Yaak Valley. The once main route into Yaak Valley called the Dodge Summit Road. Over the last couple years a project was developed to open the old roadway as a scenic old roadway, for non-motorized use.
Lincoln County, some environmental groups and the Forest Service worked together on this project.
Every fall I enjoyed hiking the old roadway to hunt for grouse and marvel at the beautiful old rock roadbed and unique route that was once the lifeline to the Yaak Valley, that I now call home.
Deadfall and small live trees and vegetation were encroaching on the old roadway, making it difficult for travel except on foot.
I also like to ride horseback and wanted to see the deadfall cut back to allow for horse or bike use. I was happy to hear of the project, and responded by writing comments to the Forest Service to voice my concerns.
The main concern was having proper outhouse facilities at the trail head. Historic roadway or trail brings a greater usage and I felt an outhouse was a must.
I hiked the roadway upon completion of the removal of old culverts and machine work to repair water problem areas and was shocked at the disruption of the old roadbed. I phoned the Forest Service and spoke directly to the district ranger to voice my shock. I was assured the Forest Service hydrologist worked closely with those on the project and only treated water problem areas that needed treatment.
Now, I hike the entire length of the 5-mile old roadway a year later to find 90 percent of the old roadway totally tore up. All existing established vegetation ripped out and piled on the bottom side, I presume to help hold erosion!
Silt and murky water at every stream crossing, where culverts had been removed and major road and soil disturbance work done. And this is a normal spring rain year and extreme low snow run off year.
Someone actually went to school to learn to rip out alder willow on the low side of a roadway, and replant new alder in the center of a tore up road surface.
Water bars, that take two to three steps down then back up are placed at 48 water bars I counted on the first mile of trail.
Any horse person would know horses don't hinge in the middle and most will try to cross this sort of obstacle by lunging. Very dangerous for both horse and rider.
It will take years for what has been done to return to a pleasant sight and the old historic roadway has mostly been destroyed.
The very few short little spots of old roadway with windfall cut out are truly a sight for sore eyes.
I would like to remind all Lincoln County our Forest Service is near to presenting us with a new forest plan proposal - attend meeting and voice your personal opinion.