By Lyndsie Kiebert
Bonner County Commissioners are filing a letter of objection with the U.S. Forest Service after the agency announced no public access would be allowed following a road restoration project in Boundary County.
The Bog Creek Road Project is meant to provide “safe east-west access across the Selkirk Mountains for U.S. Border Patrol agents by repairing and maintaining portions of the Bog Creek Road,” according to the USFS.
When comments on the project were requested last summer, the USFS presented several alternatives keeping in mind the grizzly bear recovery habitat in the Bog Creek Road area.
The alternative that would have allowed public access — the one the BOCC supported in their July comment — was eliminated from the project decision because it didn’t “address the needs of the grizzly bear with respect to maintaining or improving habitat, and it poses the highest mortality risk of all alternatives.”
“The elimination of alternatives after the public comment period is nonsensical,” the BOCC’s objection letter reads. “Every single option presented to the public should have been ready for consideration.”
The BOCC must submit a letter of objection to the USFS in order to request participation in the objection resolution process.
“Bonner County was certainly not heard in this discussion,” the letter concludes. “This land should be available to the citizens of North Idaho. No single agency, nor single person, should be able to make this decision without appropriate input from the constituents that live, work and play in North Idaho.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to send the letter.
“They want to use your federal tax dollars — which are public funds — to build a road on public ground, and close it to the public,” said Commissioner Steve Bradshaw. “That’s your tax dollars hard at work.”
Learn more about the project at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41296.
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