FOREST: Public denied access

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The Panhandle National Forest department has just designated electric bikes as “motorized vehicles.” This means that the forestry department has met their goal of completely blocking public access into the back country of our National Forests except by foot travel or horseback.

They have, however, designated a few token roads for ATV and dirt bike use. For all intents and purposes our national forest is being managed as a wilderness area, which only allows access by foot or horseback. Most people, especially seniors, won’t be able to hike far enough into the forest to experience the beauty of the back country and the majority of people don’t own horses.

So how are the people of North Idaho enjoying the “public access” into the national forests in North Idaho? The vast majority aren’t because the only access they have is to drive their “motorized vehicles” on the formally designated forestry roads above and away from the back country areas. I don’t recall any formal process by the forestry department to allow them to designate our forests as “wilderness area,” yet that is exactly how our national forests in the Panhandle of Idaho are being managed.

I would propose as a minimum that an electric bike permit process is established whereby seniors over 65 and people who have health/physical limitations can apply and be permitted to utilize electric bikes in our national forests on the closed as well as the open roads.

JAY MARTIN

Athol

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