Neighbors, forest officials discuss Kings Canyon road closures
Neighbors, federal employees and civic leaders hashed out a crude plan Wednesday evening for public participation in road closures on Forest Service land in Carson City’s Kings Canyon.
The debate centers on Kings Canyon and Clear Creek roads, west of C Hill, and the recent installation of gates to prevent vehicular traffic during the wet season.
The January closures came as a surprise to residents unaware that the land, formerly owned by a ranching family, had come under the control of the U.S. Forest Service as the result of a 1997 land swap.
Dave Gissen hosted the discussion at his Kings Canyon home in the hope that residents could express their opinions about Forest Service land management.
Workers from the Carson Ranger District, answering questions from residents, explained the agency’s motive for preserving the condition of the roads, which they believe are suffering from ruts, potholes and drainage problems.
“The road itself is a historic feature and some of this focus is on the road as a historic feature,” said Forest Service archeologist Terry Birk. He reassured the residents, saying, “But we need to address issues the public wants to address.”
Neighbors who have lived in the area for years and use the roads for recreational purposes asked for reassurance that they wouldn’t be shut out.
Richard Long, a 27-year Kings Canyon resident, argued that the closures are symptomatic of an attitude of less access to Forest Service land.
“I see all these road closures as the New York people in town wanting to close access to these roads,” he said. “The worst thing I’ve ever seen in this canyon was the floods that changed the topography of the canyon. It wasn’t the cars – it was the water coming down.”
Representatives from U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., as well as Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko, discussed options for a long-range plan for the closed areas.
Masayko suggested a closer dialogue between residents and the agency.
“You guys have 380,000 miles of roads and you don’t have enough money to maintain all these roads,” he told the Forest Service workers. “If we open up this process, a deal might be worked out” for area management. “Some of these roads might be important to the people of Carson City.”
Larry Randall, Forest Service acting recreation program manager, told neighbors that their concerns would be brought to the attention of Forest Service managers. Tom Baker, rural area director for Sen. Bryan, said he would meet with Forest Service officials to hash out a plan for the Kings Canyon area.