At an October meeting the Plumas County Board of Supervisors encouraged public works director Bob Perreault to move forward with his work on a county off-highway vehicle ordinance. The ordinance will clarify which county roads within Plumas and Lassen national forests are approved for recreational use.
Perreault said the ordinance would ensure county roads within the national forests in Plumas County were available for OHV and over-snow vehicle use when public works staff deemed it appropriate.
He told the board the action would maintain current availability of county roads on forestlands for motorized recreational activities from the county’s point of view and expand it from the Forest Service’s point of view.
“I think it’s great,” OHV user advocate Corky Lazzarino said when Eastern Plumas Supervisor Terry Swofford asked her to comment.
At press time the first reading of the ordinance was on the agenda for the Tuesday, Nov. 2, supervisors’ meeting.
At the October meeting, Perreault anticipated the second reading would be on the agenda for Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The director said the process began when the Plumas National Forest conducted a public workshop on its travel management project.
He said the Forest Service had many roads on a list to be decommissioned, partially because some county roads “were not available for OHV travel through the forest to get from what’s called a spur road to another spur road.”
Perreault said the Forest Service argued many roads were scattered fragments that only became contiguous if the county roads could be used as connectors.
Because the Forest Service interpreted those county roads as off limits for OHV, the spur roads were considered useless islands instead of part of a network.
Perreault said that wasn’t the view the county, California Highway Patrol or sheriff’s office held on the issue and the ordinance would clarify the matter for the Forest Service.
The public works engineers conducted in-house safety assessments on each roadway.
Quincy Supervisor Lori Simpson asked how roads in the national forests became designated as county roads.
“Historically, the roads were there before the forest,” Perreault said. He explained the area legally became a national forest in the early 1900s.
He said the ordinance was explained to the CHP, sheriff’s office and Forest Service and “All of the meetings with the different agencies were positive and were supportive in nature for this project to move forward.”
The director said OHV user groups had also been in close contact with the department.
Indian Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher said in his mind the next battle would be for historic roads that are not part of the county’s maintained system.
He said he would lobby the Forest Service to consider those usable by the public when the next draft of the travel management plan came out.
He and Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall agreed that for now, the county’s clarification would take away one excuse for Forest Service closure of some roads.
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