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Alpine County, Forest Service sign agreement

by Sharon Carter

For the first time in their histories, Alpine County and the U.S. Forest Service have signed an agreement to work together and keep the lines of communication open between them.

The agreement for coordinated land planning between Alpine County and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Carson Ranger District was finalized at the Alpine County Board of Supervisors’ February meeting.

“We will be kept informed about things like gating and closing roads, winter recreation uses on the forest and land trades,” Herman Zellmer, chairman of the Alpine board, said Wednesday. “And we’ll have some input regarding them.”

In particular, Zellmer said, mixed use-type issues like that of Forestdale Road, on Highway 88 near Red Lake, would be addressed before things got too far out of hand.

Two groups, the Sierra Club and Friends of Hope Valley, are appealing a recent Forest Service decision which mixes winter recreation uses in the Forestdale area – the decision allows snowmobiles on one side of the road and keeps the other side for non-motorized uses like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The environmental groups want the entire area restricted to non-motorized uses.

– Job’s Peak trailhead. Another concern, Zellmer said, is the new Job’s Peak trailhead which will access the Faye-Luther Canyon area.

“The trailhead is in Nevada along Foothill Road, but most of the canyon is in Alpine County,” Zellmer said. “We want to make sure we get a good deal for the public – and if it will be available to horseback travel and how clean up will be enforced with regard to back country users.”

Zellmer said since there have also been several changes in local administration in the Carson-Bridgeport District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Alpine County wants to make sure the relationship and communications continue.

“We like to be aware of things that affect us before they happen – and since 95 percent of the county is public land, what the Forest Service does concerns us,” Zellmer said.

– Coordinate efforts. Forest Planner Dave Loomis of the Carson Ranger District office in Carson City said the idea is for forest planners and county officials to work together to determine areas where different uses can or should occur.

“The (Humboldt-Toiyabe) forest planning project we’re doing encompasses a lot,” Loomis said. “Things like the Carson River watershed and recreation management – how snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and equestrian areas will be managed. We want to identify areas where we can have horseback use, and backpacking, where there can be livestock grazing, and where we want wildlife and watershed protection.”

Loomis said the Forest Service’s mission is to provide for and manage a “whole gamut” of uses.

“We’ll also be working out a structure for doing land trades,” Loomis said. “There’s a lot of common ground between our mission and what Alpine County would like to see – forest health and fire protection are other areas of joint concern.”

Loomis said Alpine County and Forest Service officials plan to hold joint public workshops on a regular basis and will share information and resources.