Forest Service to undertake road projects - May be completed in 2003 or 2004

The Daily Press

January 13th, 2003

Ashland, Wisconsin - A number of road projects are planned for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and may be completed this year or in 2004.

The work is funded in a variety of ways, depending on the type of project and available federal dollars, explained Dwayne Reppert, a supervisory civil engineering technician with the U.S. Forest Service.

Approximately 25 stream crossings are planned for reconstruction this year using the 10 Percent Program, Reppert said. Half are located on the Nicolet forest side and the other half are on the Chequamegon in the Great Divide Ranger District, located in portions of Ashland, Bayfield and Sawyer counties.

About half of the total number of crossings had been planned for completion last year, though fire needs in the West required reallocation of Forest Service funds and the Chequamegon-Nicolet projects were put on hold, Reppert explained.

According to Reppert, the 10 Percent Program is for road and trail improvements and is geared toward restoring watershed health and ecosystems, providing fish passage and improving water quality. The program's annual monies are collected from 10 percent of Forest Service timber sale receipts.

This year, part of $750,000 in earmarked 10 Percent Program funds will likely be used for road and trail improvements in the Chequamegon-Nicolet, including stream crossings and one possible trail relocation due to erosion and other environmental concerns, Reppert said.

Though the Public Forest Service Roads Program is still in its demonstration stage, meaning it is not yet a permanent forest program, it is funding the stabilization and resurfacing of Forest Road 236 in the Washburn Ranger District, which runs between US Highway 2 near Ino, to County Highway C near Mount Valhalla.

"It's a very highly used road," Reppert said.

As the road is 19 miles long, it's being improved in five-mile segments and will hopefully be finished next year, depending on funding, Reppert explained.

Last year, the Chequamegon-Nicolet received $85,000 in funds for PFSR program projects. Data show the Forest receiving $2.3 million for projects in fiscal year 2003.

The Forest Service's existing Forest Highways Program is paid out of the Federal Trust Fund through the Federal Lands Highways Program.

The Federal Lands Highways Program, funded by federal gas taxes, is used to pay for road improvements throughout the country on federal and native lands, such as national parks, reservations and refuges.

On the Chequamegon-Nicolet, the Forest Highways Program is used for maintenance of main forest arterials, Reppert said.

Funds are appropriated to the agency each year for maintenance of county roads that run through the forest. The forest received $15,000 for forest highways projects last fiscal year and will receive the same in fiscal year 2003.

Likely to be on the docket for improvement this year is County Highway W in Oconto County, on the Nicolet side of the forest, Reppert said.


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