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LETTER: Fact vs. opinion

| October 14, 2022 1:00 AM

I would like to address some of the misinformation that Ron Wood stated in his letter to the News-Press (Sept. 23) about the access to public land via West Fork Pine Creek Road.

In his letter, he stated that four people said that I don't have the right to petition Shoshone County to validate the road in question, citing Idaho code 40-203a. The fact is, I do. Just because some people say that I don't, doesn't make it true.

The code reads: Any resident or property holder within a county or highway district system, including the state of Idaho or any of its subdivisions, or any agency of the federal government, may petition the board of county or highway district commissioners, whichever shall have jurisdiction of the highway system, to initiate public proceedings to validate a highway or public right-of-way, including those which furnish public access to state and federal public lands and waters, provided that the petitioner shall pay a reasonable fee as determined by the commissioners to cover the cost of the proceedings, or the commissioners may initiate validation proceedings on their own resolution if any of the following conditions exist: (goes on to list conditions for validation)

The statement that the road needs to be surveyed is incorrect. The road does not need to be surveyed again. It still follows the West fork of Pine Creek, which is part of the original description that is recorded with the county from 1909. Interestingly enough, Jerry Avery did have the road surveyed and recorded with Shoshone County on July 28, 1980.

The original road did have bridges incorporated with it. The county also has a record of paying Jerry Avery and others public funds to repair the bridges and the road in the past after flood damage. When the county decided to stop repairing the road and bridges for that section of WFPC creek crossing or “fords” were installed. Within the last couple of years, they have been inspected by Todd Higgins from the Idaho Department of Water Resources and Kajsa Eagle Van de Riet from the Coeur d'Alene Region Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. They both stated that the crossings are in good condition.

The statement that the 2007 BLM TMP establishes a non-motorized area is completely inaccurate. It specifically describes management for motorized full-sizing recreation of the area. For example:

Action RC-1.5.7 — Manage the Middle Fork Pine Creek Road as a motorized trail for “rock crawling” (extreme 4WD) activities. Only limited maintenance actions will be performed, and restrictions will be established when necessary for minimizing unacceptable resource damages (Page 53).

West fork Pine Creek Road is the road that allows direct access to the motorized recreational area of the Middle fork Pine Creek Road and is referenced on the 2007 BLM TMP map as a Federal Land Managed Highway.

As for the threat of environmental lawsuits, that is all it is — a threat. The documentation that is recorded by Shoshone County, BLM, Idaho Department of Water Resources and Idaho DEQ ensures that any attempt for a lawsuit will be fruitless.

Can an entity make such an attempt? Absolutely, but it is sure to fail and cost them dearly.

PAUL LOUTZENHISER

Coeur d’Alene

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