Forest road to safety




Mi-Wuk Village residents may soon have a new road out of town.

All they need is a blessing from the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, a vote on which is scheduled for today's board meeting.

The U.S. Forest Service, with funds appropriated by the Tuolumne County Resource Advisory Committee, is improving a dirt road 3N70, or Long Barn-Sugar Pine Road connecting to Long Barn and Sugar Pine through Stanislaus National Forest.

The 2-mile track is just part of a 35-mile, $100,000 road improvement project that the RAC chose to fund last year.

RAC is a group of Tuolumne County residents with various interests in the forest, such as cattle grazing allotments, environmental concerns and logging. RAC distributes federal funds earmarked for national forest improvement projects. Many of the projects chosen last year addressed fire protection, such as forest thinning efforts around neighborhoods in Mi-Wuk Village.

The road improvements will give firefighters easier access into the area in emergencies, and will give residents an alternate escape route to Highway 108.

"The ingress and egress is an issue," said Ginger Armstrong, past chairwoman of RAC. "Either the people are coming out and firefighters can't get in, or vice versa."

The rest of the 35 miles are scattered through the forest, Armstrong said, but are concentrated around neighborhoods like Ponderosa Hills or Mount Provo.

While workers won't pave the road from Mi-Wuk Village to Sugar Pine, they will clear vegetation, recondition and grade the route. Culverts and catch basins will be cleaned and rocks will fill low spots and holes in the road, Armstrong said. When finished, vehicles other than the biggest four-wheel-drives could traverse it.

Although RAC funds will pay for the repairs, the road is cared for by Tuolumne County, not the Forest Service. Therefore, county supervisors must give an official "OK" before work can begin.

In a memo dated July 28, Peter Rei, the county director of public works, advised the board to take it on.

The Union Democrat
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