Meeting set over Tracy Ridge objections

A meeting has been scheduled regarding objections filed over the Allegheny National Forest’s decision to open up some trails at the Tracy Ridge Recreation Area.

Deputy Forest Supervisor Rich Hatfield said that the meeting is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Supervisor’s office in North Warren.

He said that the meeting is open to the public.

“Our Deputy Regional Forester will oversee the meeting,” Hatfield said. “It will be held via video conference.”

Back in July, Allegheny National Forest officials released a draft decision indicating their intent to open up 12.5 miles of trails at Tracy Ridge to mountain bikes.

Ten objections were filed objecting to the decision. Those objections go directly to the regional U.S. Forest Service office in Milwaukee and will go before an objection team.

Hatfield said in September that the objections focus on the suitability of Tracy Ridge for wilderness designation if bikes are permitted on the trails.

He outlined the process the officials will go through at the regional-level to address the objections.

“The objection team does not weigh in as to the wisdom of the proposal or the arguments raised by objectors; rather, they review the objections to determine whether the Forest followed agency policies and procedures in arriving at the draft decision to re-open some of the Tracy Ridge trails to bicycle use,” Hatfield explained. “The objection team won’t overturn the decision. They can give us the greenlight to move forward with the final decision or they can send us ‘directions.’ Direction could include a need to do more analysis in some area or look at another issue.”