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Meeting today on uses of forest

Posted: May 31, 2012 2:30 a.m.
Updated: May 31, 2012 2:30 a.m.

The following mapped areas are being considered for federal wilderness designation: Fish Canyon, Salt Creek, Tule, Sespe-Frazier and Red Mountain.

 

Santa Clarita Valley residents who love to explore Angeles National Forest — and who want to give their two cents on how the land should be used — are invited to attend a meeting at an Acton ranger station today.

The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service is evaluating national forest areas throughout Southern California to see if they should be designated wilderness, according to Angeles National Forest staff.

The areas near the Santa Clarita Valley under consideration include Fish Canyon, Salt Creek, Tule, Sespe-Frazier and Red Mountain.

These areas are already considered inventoried roadless areas — meaning road-building and timber harvesting is limited but other types of development and recreation are still allowed, including bicycling, said Justin Seastrand, environmental coordinator for Angeles National Forest.

If those areas were designated wilderness, motorized vehicles and mechanical transport — including bicycles — would not be allowed, and most types of permits — including mining — would not be allowed, Seastrand said.

Congress is the only authority allowed to designate wilderness areas, although the Forest Service can make recommendations, Seastrand said. Although the rules are similar for all wilderness areas, Congress can make changes and allow certain types of activities in individual wilderness areas.

“Congress can kind of tweak the rules any way they want,” Seastrand said.

Most of the inventoried roadless areas near the Santa Clarita Valley receive few human visitors now, often due to a lack of trails in the area and rugged terrain, according to the Southern California National Forests Land Management Plan Amendment, which provides details of a number of suggested wilderness areas.

A large portion of each roadless area near the SCV is being considered for wilderness designation, Seastrand said.
Comments received from Thursday’s meeting will be used to determine which areas should be designated wilderness, Seastrand said. The public comment period ends June 30, and the updated plan should be out some time before next year.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel of the local Community Hiking Club is encouraging residents who enjoy hiking and outdoor recreation to comment on the plans. She is hoping for more wilderness designations than suggested, including Condor Peak near Tujunga and areas near the recent Magic Mountain Wilderness designation passed in 2009.
“We appreciate (the Forest Service’s) recent recommendations and are very excited to see some new forest recommendations becoming protected with wilderness and wild-and-scenic designations,” Erskine-Hellrigel said in an email.


To submit a written comment on the proposed wilderness areas, send emails to socal_nf_lmp_amendment@fs.fed.us or mail letters to William Metz, forest supervisor, Cleveland National Forest, 10845 Rancho Bernardo Road Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127–2107, ATTN: LMP Amendment.

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