SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger is trying to reboot efforts to build a paved path in Sisters. He tells KBND he's been gathering feedback from area residents over the past several months. "In the time that I've been working on this, 1200 people have contacted me - people and groups. And, basically, 93% of those contacting me supported this concept and want this to move forward."
Unger is asking the Forest Service to conduct another environmental assessment on the idea. "I basically took what I heard, that was positive and what was negative, from the people who contacted me and put it in a letter that I then sent to Kristi Miller, the District Forest Ranger for the Sisters Forest. What I learned was that people support a paved path, and they would engage in the process if the Forest Service brought it up for a new environmental assessment." A new assessment would include a lot of public input and could take a couple of years. "They would handle that with a lot of public process, because that's what the federal government requires, and that's a good thing. They would look at all possibilities, listen to everybody and through that process, come come to a conclusion," he says.
The USFS conducted an environmental assessment several years ago, but stopped progress on the plan when public opposition grew. Currently there is no funding in the agency's budget for an assessment, so payment would need to be worked out.