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Packed house offered chance at creating three quad trails

About 75 local residents, many apparently holding an avid interest in the future of off-road-vehicle (ORV) trails on Olympic National Forest (ONF) lands, packed the state Department of Natural Resources meeting room on Monday evening, Aug. 29.

The point of discussion was the possible creation of three trails that riders of quads and other ORVs could ride in what is known as the Calawah Watershed within the ONF to the east and northeast of Forks.

Trails were shown marked on maps at the meeting in three specific areas within the Calawah Watershed: Bonidu Creek, Boot Hill & Broken Arrow/Pistol Creek and Hunger Ridge. It was announced that ONF employees are walking the proposed trails and recording GPS coordinates, as well as surveying the area for signs of run off into creeks and other environmental concerns.

It was announced that a state-funded NOVA gas-tax generated grant worth tens of thousands of dollars has been awarded to the ONF through its West End offices. The grant will aid in helping to develop the trails. ONF’s Molly Erickson wrote the grant.

Forks-based, Pacific District Ranger Dean Millett encouraged the community interested in ORV to get organized and form a 501-3c type non-profit to help the ONF in working towards a goal of having the three trails established.

City of Forks Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck told of the evolution of the plan over the past 1.5 years, and how initially there was no hope for creating ORV trails in the national forest section.

A group Fleck said he was part of that in 2009 began the process and more recently “a door opened all of a sudden” that may allow the creation of the trails.

The meeting is expected to be the first of several. Question and answer sessions were held in between presentations made by the ONF, and note cards were handed out to solicit information from the community.

The ORV trails would likely run what ONF officials termed Maintenance Level 1 roads, that is former forest roads that are now closed and considered surplus.

The next steps to be taken include environmental monitoring and considerations, route design and checking the possible trail locations through National Environmental Policy Act guidelines and regulations.

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