GRANTS PASS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to decommission up to 20 miles of roads and about the same amount of trails this year along the Hellgate recreation section of the Rogue River.

GRANTS PASS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to decommission up to 20 miles of roads and about the same amount of trails this year along the Hellgate recreation section of the Rogue River.

The work would be done as part of the Rogue River Corridor Restoration Project that begins at White Horse Park where the Applegate River pours into the Rogue. The project reaches downstream some 20 river miles to the mouth of Grave Creek in the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River Corridor.

"The main intent is decommissioning roads and trails within the river corridor, all within about a quarter mile of the river," said Tony Kerwin, an environmental planner with the BLM'S Medford District.

He said the paths targeted mainly are old spur roads, old roads that are no longer used and trails created by hikers and other users.

"There are no firm numbers at this point — we are doing an inventory out there," Kerwin said. "We're looking at from 15 to 20 miles of old roads and about the same amount of unauthorized trails that are causing resource degradation."

However, access to the popular stretch of river would remain when the erosion-causing roads and trails are removed, he stressed. Some of the roads will be converted to formal hiking trails.

In addition to the road and trail removal, other work would include improvements at recreation sites such as Ennis Riffle and Rocky Riffle and restoring the riparian area in some sections, he said.

"There has been some damage in areas where we are trying to keep recreation activity from expanding," he said, referring to unauthorized recreational sites carved out by overuse.

"This is a project that has been in the works for a long time, something we've wanted to do for a number of years," he said.

The BLM will hold a public presentation on the project beginning at 6:15 p.m. March 17 at North Valley High School, 9741 Monument Drive, Merlin. Agency employees will be available to answer questions until about 8 p.m.

The Rogue was one of the original eight rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The designation includes 84 miles of the river, beginning seven miles west of Grants Pass and continuing downstream to the mouth of Lobster Creek about 11 miles east of Gold Beach.

For additional information on the project, see www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/rogue.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.