OHV plan to become public

June 27, 2002 12:00 am

By CHRIS BATEMAN

The Stanislaus National Forest Saturday will take another crack at easing tensions between off-roaders and residents of an Arnold-area tract who have complained repeatedly about noise and dust.

At 9 a.m. forest officials will unveil an "Interim Action Plan" for the area at the Calaveras Ranger Station, on Highway 4 in Hathaway Pines.

The plan's cornerstone is banning off-highway vehicles (OHVs) from Forest Road 5N95Y, a dirt track running along the western edge of Lake Mont Pines subdivision southwest of Arnold.

But while dirt bikes, Quad Runners and the like would be prohibited, the two-mile road would remain open to street-legal vehicles.

Lake Mont residents may not be pleased.

"I'll wait until I hear all the details before I make up my mind, but I'm skeptical," said Judith Spencer, whose home is 200 feet from 5N95Y and who is an active member of CORE (Commitment to Our Recreation Environment), a community organization opposing OHV use near subdivisions.

OHV users are likely to oppose the ban for different reasons.

"We really are against any closure," said Del Albright, a member of the Hathaway Pines-based Partners in Recreation. "We're preparing comments right now."

Contention is nothing new on the Interface Recreation Trails Area, an 8,600-acre swath of Forest Service lands west of Hathaway Pines, Lake Mont and Meadowmont. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on management of the area has been pending for five years.

The action plan to be reviewed Saturday would not be a final solution. It would remain in force only until a final decision is made, perhaps months from now.

Other parts of the plan:

• Road 5N95Y would be treated with Mag Chloride, dust-control chemical, and watered at least weekly.

• Signs would warn that OHVs are banned on the road and that the area is residential. Violators would be cited.

• New OHV routes created since recent logging operations in the Interface in will be closed and blocked off.