Forest road closures big topic at Ore. town hall

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BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) -- Many of the scores of people who showed up for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's town hall meeting in Baker City, Ore., wanted to talk about the Forest Service plan to bar most motor vehicles from about 3,600 miles of roads in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Some had questions or concerns, some were plainly unhappy.

Baker City Mayor Dennis Dorrah described the plan as "a horrible, horrible thing." He told Merkley on Monday that road closures would make it impossible for irrigation officials to reach diversion dams. He says the Forest Service has told him he has standing to file an appeal and plans to do so.

Officials hope that closing the designated roads will help preserve habitat for wildlife and fish. The plan is due to take effect in June.

The Baker City Herald reported (http://bit.ly/IhzTu7 ) that Rozanne Shanks told the Oregon Democrat she's frustrated because access to her rural subdivision appears sharply curtailed.

Merkley says he's worried about how the Forest Service will enforce the plan.

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Information from: Baker City Herald, http://www.bakercityherald.com/