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TIGHT MONEY CUTS INTO ROADWORK

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Budget cuts and inflation costs have adversely affected conditions and maintenance of Fishlake National Forest roads during the past six years.

Most of the 30 percent of roads designed for automobiles are passable, but most require pickups or four-wheel-drive vehicles, says forest engineer Ted Fitzgerald.He said road maintenance budgets were cut several years ago because Congress felt there were too many roads in the national forests. Some were constructed by miners and timber interests many years ago.

But the Fishlake Forest may get $165,000 that would be earmarked to resurface paved roads in Monrovian Park, Beaver Canyon and Maple Grove. There is one drawback - the disbursement is subject to congressional approval.

The Fishlake Forest spent $260,000 on roads in 1987. By 1994 the budget has dropped to $172,000. Fitzgerald said costs for salaries and equipment have doubled in six years, further decreasing the money that can be spent for road maintenance.

Most of the 1994 budget is being spent for design, facilities and road supervision. Only $66,000 was allocated for construction, most of which is going toward inspections and repair of bridges.

Forest officials are identifying bridge hazards. The program provides for corrective measures or signs that indicate those that are not passable.

The Fishlake Forest has about 1,800 miles of roads. Some 500 miles have been closed and obliterated through a program that began in 1989.

Fitzgerald said there has been little improvement on existing forest roads, saying the situation is "not likely to change."

Road conditions on Bureau of Land Management-administered lands and in Sevier County are not as serious as those on the forest lands. Most of the roadwork on BLM lands is contracted and are in about as good condition as in the past, reported Sam Rowley of that agency's Richfield District.

Some of the county roads are on BLM land and are maintained by county funds and employees. One road on the Fishlake Forest in the Fish Lake and Seven Mile areas is also maintained by Sevier County.

The county budgeted $550,000 in the Class B program this year, little change from recent years.

About $700 per mile is budgeted for maintenance with Class B funds, reported Gaylen Rappleye, county road supervisor.

He said the county maintains some 700 miles of roads with that money.