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home : current news : current news April 16, 2014


6/18/2013 1:19:00 PM
Forest Service proposes trail changes
By Craig Eisenbeis


The Forest Service has proposed several changes to current wilderness trail maintenance practices in the Sisters Ranger District. Largely due to limited resources and damage from wildfires, trail maintenance in some areas has been curtailed; and some trails have become impassable.

The proposed changes encompass a range of options that include resuming historical maintenance levels on some trails, reducing targeted maintenance on others, and decommissioning other trails entirely.

In the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, proposals include resuming maintenance at previous or reduced levels on the Jefferson Lake and Brush Creek Trails, which are 9.1 and 4.1 miles respectively. The plan, which was drafted last month, would also call for the 6.9-mile Sugar Pine Ridge and 4-mile Minto Lake Trails to be decommissioned entirely.

Lack of maintenance on the Jefferson Lake and Brush Creek Trails has resulted in heavier use for nearby trails such as those leading to Canyon Creek Meadows and Wasco Lake. The proposal notes "declining social conditions and/or opportunities for solitude..."

Maintenance of these trails has been so poor in recent years that hikers have become lost; and search-and-rescue cases have occasionally been necessary. In addition to fallen trees in the burned areas, extremely dense fire-generated shrubs, such as ceanothus and manzanita, have completely blocked access in some areas.

In the Mt. Washington Wilderness, the proposal also calls for the 4.8-mile Dry Creek Trail to be decommissioned. This trail has not been maintained since 2004, and the Forest Service report says that it has "no primary destination, loop options, or a connection to a greater trail system. Consequently, the trail receives very little visitor use." This trail lies midway between Mt. Washington and Cache Mountain. It follows Dry Creek and crosses Cache Creek.

Public comments on the proposals are due by next Monday, June 24. Complete details on the proposals may be obtained by contacting the Sisters Ranger District. Inquiries should be directed to Jonathan Erickson, Wilderness Trails Decommission Project Manager, P.O. Box 249, Sisters, OR 97759; 541-419-4609. Comments may also be delivered in person to the Forest Service office at the corner of Highway 20 and Pine Street. Email comments should be sent to: comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-sisters@fs.fed.us. Please put "Wilderness Trails" in the subject line of your email.

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