Paved Path from Bend to Lava Lands Visitor Center Public Comment Period Opens  

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The Deschutes National Forest has released a draft environmental assessment on a proposed paved path from Knott Road to Lava Lands Visitor Center for a 30-day public comment period.

The proposed 6.1-mile paved path was developed in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). It would parallel U.S. Highway 97 from Knott Road to Lava Lands Visitor Center south of Bend. The Forest Service’s draft environmental assessment only analyzes the impacts from where the paved path crosses the National Forest boundary and goes south to Lava Lands, which is 4.1 miles of the proposed 6.1 miles. The proposed path would be built using funds from the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

The purpose of the paved path is to provide connections between high-use visitor attractions and recreation sites including the High Desert Museum, Lava Butte, Lava Lands Visitor Center, and the Deschutes River. The proposed paved path would also connect to the Sun Lava path, which was completed in 2014. That paved path connects Sunriver to Lava Lands Visitor Center.

The Forest Service’s environmental assessment can be accessed on the Deschutes National Forest project website at: fs.usda.gov/project. A copy of the environmental assessment is also available by contacting the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest at 541-383-5300 or reaching out to the project manager at cristina.peterson@usda.gov.

Beginning April 9 and for 30 days thereafter, public comments on the proposed project will be taken. Comments may be submitted electronically to comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bend-ftrock@usda.gov. People are asked to put “Paved Path” in the subject line of their email. Comments must be submitted as part of the actual email message, or as an attachment in Microsoft Word, rich text format (rtf) or portable document format (pdf) only. If using an electronic message, a scanned signature is one way to provide verification. E-mails submitted to e-mail addresses other than the one listed above, in other formats than those listed or containing viruses will be rejected.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by mail and sent to Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701. Hand-delivered comments are discouraged at this time.

Anyone wishing to obtain additional information on the project or to provide comments over the phone should contact Cristina Peterson at cristina.peterson@usda.gov or 541-383-4028.

The Oregon Department of Transportation also is providing an opportunity to review the project materials through a virtual open house, which will be online at the website: odotopenhouse.org/us97multiusetrailproject

Due to federal regulations, comments provided to ODOT are not a part of the Forest Service’s public comment process and any one who wants their comments to be considered as part of the environmental assessment process must also submit their comments to the Forest Service in the manner described previously.

fs.usda.gov

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