by Lindy Steeves
On Saturday, July 13, the Open Roads Coalition (ORC) held a public meeting and barbecue in the Hines Park Pavilion.
Coalition leaders Stacy Davies and Dan Haak opened the event by stating the purpose and mission statement of the coalition: keeping public roads open to the public.
“We support public access on public roads,” Haak said.
Davies, Haak and others, felt a need for the ORC when members of the community noticed that important public access roads were being closed or inadequately maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other local government agencies.
“We all use public access roads in our lives. For work or recreation, and available usage is becoming less and less. We need to have access to use these roads,” Davies said.
Another purpose of the coalition, aside from preventing the closing of public access roads, is to hold local government agencies accountable for maintaining the roads. Without proper upkeep and maintenance, access is impossible.
“We’re done with wilderness,” Haak said.
The Harney County High Desert Wheelers were also in attendance to show their support and voice their concerns about the declining number of public roads available for recreational use.
Another goal of the meeting was to accurately map roads that hadn’t been documented by the coalition. Members of the public were encouraged to archive roads that they knew of and felt needed to be open. Travis Williams, who is in charge of road inventory and history for the coalition, assisted visitors in finding and marking undocumented roads.
Attendees were asked to leave their name and address so that they could be contacted with information about rising issues.
The coalition encouraged attendees to contact their local officials with their concerns and to keep in contact with them until a change is made.
The ORC plans to monitor public roads to ensure that the BLM, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife and other agencies maintain public access. They are looking for the support of those who use the roads to assist in keeping public access open. Those who have questions or wish to help should email OpenRoadsCoalition@gmail.com. The ORC also has a Facebook page.