RENO — 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.
“We will continue to have a close working relationship with the county, particularly on this issue, sharing information with them on a timely basis and trying to gather as much current information that they have that will help us,” Monnig said.
“I know there was a concern on the county’s part that being designated as a cooperative agent might suggest they would somehow endorse the outcomes. But we intend to stay fully involved with the county and I think the county will stay fully involved,” he said.
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.
The Travel Management Plan is intended to identify and regulate road and trail usage while protecting natural resources on forest lands in the Mountain City, Jarbidge and Ruby Mountains districts.
It will include adjustments and deletions to the current road system, add user-created routes and prohibit motor vehicles on nondesignated routes, agency officials said.