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INDEX

BIG TREE BRINGS SMALL DOLLARS, DNR TELLS INDEX ABOUT REITER FOREST PLAN
January 23, 2010



(INDEX, WA) -- At the December Index town council meeting residents found out what the wood in a huge tree is worth on the open market these days: $125.

That’s the amount the town got on bid for large stack of wood from a big tree that was brought down, for safety reasons, in Doolittle Park November 21 under the watchful gaze of Bill Cross, Index Maintenance Supervisor.

Big tree, big wood, small dollars.

During public comments at the meeting, Sgt. Martin of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office said a program has been started in Gold Bar for taking back prescription drugs to cut down on chemicals going into the environment.

Martin said he’s also dealing with the issue of vehicles along Reiter Road, including an old snow machine and a camper.

Bill Wallace and Randy Kline of the Department of Natural Resources came to the meeting and presented information on the DNR Reiter Forest Plan (see Sky Valley Chronicle story 1/8/2010 under Index category titled “PUBLIC MEETING NEXT WEEK ON REITER FOREST PLAN.”)

Wallace and Kine said that although the public comment period had ended they would give the town another week to file comments.

The duo presented a concept map and handouts and provided a background briefing on the plan (at present the forest is temporarily closed so restoration work can begin.)

The restoration plan is funded by legislature and includes 10,000 acres.

Land use sustainability and suitability was looked at in the creation of the plan, with consideration for the town’s critical aquifer recharge area. The plan includes working with the town’s water manager, Kim Peterson on how to design use.

The current “concept map” of how the forest would be reoriented to accommodate a variety of user groups is a result of previous drafts presented to the town, and is now in the SEPA process.

DNR hopes to adopt the plan by the end of the calendar year and to implement it by next spring through various phases and funding availability.

Councilman Bob Hubbard asked about enforcement in the now closed forest, adding that motorcycle riders have been seen going into restricted areas due to the closure.

Hubbard asked if anyone controlled the activity and expressed his concerns about riders going down Reiter Road and through town.

Wallace said such activities will be controlled through education, engineering, and enforcement and the engineering phase will include building roads, barriers and directions so riders know where to go.

Enforcement will be done as necessary but it is limited at present, said Wallace, with only one person from DNR covering five counties.

Wallace said DNR has enjoyed a good partnership with the sheriff’s office and if necessary will seek additional funding for enforcement.

At present, he added, what is in place is similar to a city’s “block watch” with riders monitoring each other.

When asked how fast enforcement could respond when new trails are made in restricted areas, Wallace said they could respond quickly if it’s a matter of trespass.

He also said, regarding riders coming down Reiter Road, the County is working on an ordinance near Gold Bar Nature Trails that would allow riders to use the road for a short distance in order to access trails.

He said motorcycle riders coming all the way into Index are not part of that and riders shouldn’t be in town.

One council member asked if DNR would consider creating a trail to keep riders off the road, since right now there is no connecting trail, which is why riders are using the road. The council member pointed out that use of the road creates a safety hazard, because where the riders are connecting to the road there is a blind switchback.

CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER THE INDEX WATER SUPPLY

Council member Patrick Woods brought up the aquifer recharge area and wanted to know if the mapped out use area doesn’t work out and the water system is contaminated, what happens then? Will the town simply be stuck with the expense of dealing with polluted water?

The DNR’s Kline said the plan simply won’t allow access into that area but if the water system does become contaminate DNR would be responsible

Wallace said they would respond to problems and agreed DNR would be ultimately responsible and answerable to State laws that protects water systems.

He also said he intends to keep a good neighbor relationship with Index since the new forest use plan must be sustainable.

Council member Karen Sample expressed disappointment that the community’s only aquifer area is being crossed and used by motorized vehicles. She said she has seen increased ATV use in gated areas, with new trails being built already, due to the closure.

She wanted to know what would be done first before the area is reopened.

Kline said enforcement and funding for maintenance would have to be in place before anything is reopened.

Sample also mentioned continued work on Internet availability. The Iron Goat Network in Sultan used to service the town with high speed Internet access but pulled out when not enough town members signed up to make the service profitable for company.

Town officials are considering whether to wait two years until “black fiber” optic cable lines reaches the town, and then create an infrastructure, or create something now with a T1 line and then swap it out later.

The meeting minutes from December were approved January 4, 2010.

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