Budgets tight on Forest land | SierraSun.com

Budgets tight on Forest land

Laura BrownSun News Service

NEVADA CITY Budget cuts have the Tahoe National Forest looking for help to maintain trails and facilities.A western Nevada County dirt bike club hired a septic company to pump out a pit toilet at a popular OHV staging area located on the Tahoe National Forest off Highway 20 Wednesday because the agency doesnt have the funds to do the work. Within the Yuba River Ranger District alone there are 12 to 15 toilets that need to be pumped and are at risk of being shut down, said Mary Furney of the Tahoe National Forest. There are another 60 toilets in other areas of the forest that need to be pumped at a price tag of $72,000 with no funding in sight.In the past, the Forest Service has relied on a state OHV green sticker licensing fund to pay for the maintenance of 19 toilets used by OHV riders in the forest. Green stickers are required to drive a motorcycle or quad on a public road and the state collects $3.6 million annually from the program.For the first time in more than 20 years, the Forest Service didn’t get the state money for facilities or trails maintenance but did get funding for law enforcement and restoration, said Bonnie Petitt, Forest Recreation Officer of the Tahoe National Forest. The forest is operating on a budget which has been cut by 20 percent this year. The trails budget, which covers such things as toilet pumping was slashed by 51 percent, Furney said. Volunteer help from organizations are invaluable, Furney said, and without them, many trails and services would have already closed.