Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forest Service, Elko County at odds over roads

Despite the Elko County Commission's decision to withdraw its cooperation, Forest Service officials say they will continue to seek the county's input on a plan to identify some national forest roads as priorities and potentially close others. The commission voted 4-1 on Thursday to end its status as a formal cooperating agency in regard to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Travel Management Plan, citing concerns about road closures and what they viewed as a refusal of the Forest Service to adequately accept their input. Ed Monnig, supervisor of the forest, said that status signifies a "heightened interest" in an issue and formalizes an agency's "ability to be at the table as we do the analysis." But he said he didn't think it would have any real effect on the project. Commissioner Demar Dahl said the vote would "send a message to the Forest Service" that they don't agree with the decision to close roads. The Elko Daily Free Press reported that he said at Thursday's meeting that the Forest Service had "not one inch of give in their position" since the county entered the cooperating agency status. "They have a predetermined conclusion," Dahl said...San Jose Mercury News

Forest Supervisor Monnig is right. If the FS is already ignoring the county's concerns when they are an official cooperating agency, the withdrawal of the county will make no difference. Apparently the FS will ignore the county in either case and that's unfortunate.

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