The Okanogan County planning director has determined that opening an additional 597 miles of roads throughout the county to ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) would have no environmental impact. The final decision under the State Environmental Policy Act was made following input to the county on the proposal received from 40 individuals, agencies and organizations.

The county commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for June 16 about the ordinance, which would authorize ATVs that have had required safety upgrades to use the roads. All the roads have speed limits of 35 miles per hour (mph) or lower; some sections run for miles, while others are less than a mile.

The ordinance is still being drafted by the Okanogan County Department of Public Works, according to Perry Huston, the planning director. If approved, the new ordinance would replace two ordinances that were rescinded in March after two environmental organizations sued to require county officials to conduct the environmental review.

Those with standing can appeal the determination of nonsignificance on the environmental impacts of the proposal to Laleña Johns, clerk of the board of commissioners, to ljohns@co.okanogan.wa.us. The deadline for appeals is May 29.

The public hearing is on Monday, June 16, at 3 p.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room in Okanogan. People may provide up to three minutes of oral testimony and may submit written comments either at the hearing or before it, to ljohns@co.okanogan.wa.us.

For more information about the proposal, contact Huston at (509) 422-7218 or phuston@co.okanogan.wa.us.