At the Hayden Lake Watershed Association’s Annual Meeting in August, the Association’s President, Geoff Harvey, shared an update on the Honey Badger Project (HBP). Central to his presentation were the Association’s concerns for the inflow of sediment to Hayden Lake from Forest Service Road 437. To help illustrate the point, the HLWID and HLWA collaboratively produced a video to provide viewers a virtual experience of the lower Hayden Creek Road. Visitors are not likely to encounter this experience in person.
The health of any lake is directly dependent on the health of its watershed. Hayden Lake has a relatively healthy watershed managed for private and national forest timber, public access and recreation, and preservation and protection of this priceless natural resource.
The Watershed is traversed by a network of access roads that are required to accomplish the objectives of forest management. This video gives you a unique experience of one of the roads in the Hayden Lake Watershed, Forest Service Road 437, also called the Lower Hayden Creek Road. This road runs from near the mouth of the creek where it empties into the lake, about a mile and a half up into the watershed to where it intersects with an important forest thoroughfare, the Ohio Match Road. Along this stretch, 437 crosses private land and enters Forest Service land. It cuts across steep north-facing slopes. It runs parallel to Hayden Creek and, in some places, crosses the creek’s floodplain.
You may have passed this way on your forest adventures. And you may have noted the dry ruts and potholes as you bounced along. That’s what it’s like most of the time. But when it rains, the story changes…
Take a ride along FSR 437 in the middle of a spring downpour.
In the video, you can witness the water running off the road and sediment cascading into the creek below. This experience is at the heart of the Association’s objection to the Honey Badger Project. They recognize the need for the plan’s prescribed forest treatments and see the need to do more. The Association feels strongly that the Honey Badger Project needs to include restoring the Lower Hayden Creek corridor in its water-quality objective. Since the HBP sets the strategic long-range plans for the Forest Service’s actions in the watershed, if restoration is not included in the plan, it will be too difficult to raise it to the level of action through other means.
The Association has drafted an action plan that proposes decommissioning Lower Hayden Creek Road. A short road construction connecting FSR 206A to an existing service road would replace the disrupted access. The Association’s proposal also specifies repairs to the forest floor in heavily damaged, barren, mud-bogging areas and calls for a cost-share agreement to manage the shooting area. The next step is for the Forest Service to respond to this action plan.
What can you do?
Though the comment period has passed, the Forest Service is eager to engage the public throughout the project’s life. Here are ways that you can raise your awareness and others’:
- Share the Lower Hayden Creek Roach YouTube video
- Read an overview of the Honey Badger Project from the Hayden Lake Watershed’s perspective.
- Learn how the USFS plans to accomplish all of the project objectives and sign up for updates.
- Stay abreast of the Hayden Lake Watershed Association’s project-related work.