Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:03 am Post subject: Forest Service Road Travel Plan Updates - News
This is a general topic that will cover news regarding the Forest Services effort to update road plans throughout the United States. This is incredibly important for off-roaders to be involved in. If your favorite trail doesn't make the list, it will be closed.
Please take the time to review and comment on trails in your area.
NATIONAL RECREATION GROUP SAYS ELDORADO NATIONAL FOREST COMMENT EXTENSION MUST INCLUDE SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS
OAKLEY, CA - In an email on August 24, a national forest in the Sierra Nevada stated they would extend the public comment period by 45 days of a controversial planning process that proposed to close over 75% of historic roads and trails in a popular recreation area. The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national recreation group, is urging the agency to take advantage of the additional time to issue supplemental environmental analysis to address substantive procedural problems and fatal flaws in the Forest's current planning documents.
BRC believes the Eldorado National Forest's Draft Environmental Impact Statement has misinterpreted direction in various agency documents including its Forest Plan, the National Travel Management Rule, Roadless Area management and a federal court order to create a perfect storm of "regulatory gridlock."
Over the last few weeks, thousands of concerned forest users, recreationists and government officials have voiced their opposition to the Eldorado's proposal to restrict vehicle access to most hunter camps, close historic jeep roads and prohibit vehicle use on about 75% of their National Forest System Roads and Trails.
Don Amador, the Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "I think it is important for elected officials, local users and sportsmen to make a formal request to the agency to allow for a viable alternative that fully develops a pro-recreation alternative with quality dispersed camping opportunities and a substantive route network that reflects public access needs to the forest. We intend to spend the coming weeks demonstrating to the agency and influential officials that logic demands, and the law can allow, exactly such a plan."
"Local trail users and hunters should also submit site-specific comments about important spur roads, campsites, and trails that have been and will continue to be important for their recreational activities," Amador concludes.
# # #
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. www.sharetrails.org
Off-road mapping program takes on a sense of urgency
By Deb Acord, Special to the Rocky
August 13, 2007
Many off-road fans in Colorado are involved in an extensive program to map and identify their favorite roads and trails.
In November 2005, the U.S. Forest Service introduced a regulation for recreational motor-vehicle use in national forests and grasslands. The "travel-management policy" requires every road, trail and area open to motor vehicles to be identified and designated on a map. The process, expected to take four years, is occurring in all 155 national forests and 20 grasslands. When the process is complete, each unit will publish a motor-vehicle-use map.
There's a sense of urgency among those who drive off-road.
"If we don't identify these roads, we could lose them," off-road fan Peter Belsky said.
Once the roads and trails are identified and mapped, motor-vehicle use off the roads and outside the areas will be banned.
Belsky's group, the DU Off-Road Club, is a member of the Colorado Off Highway Coalition (COHVCO), an off-road vehicle advocacy group that is working with the Forest Service to help provide data for the maps.
For information on the coalition's mapping program, go to the coalition's Web site tiger.cohvco.org.
By Greg Bluestine, Associated Press Writer
MOUNTAINTOWN, Ga. — There once was a barrier at the entrance to this corner of the Mountaintown Roadless Area, a red-and-white metal fence that blocked all-terrain vehicles from accessing the rugged trail beyond.
It's been down for years now, and the terrain behind it has been turned into a playground for ATV riders. A sharp dip meant to deter drivers is muddy and flattened, and large stretches of the path are worn by tire tracks, with a grassy strip down the middle that looks a lot like a forest median.
There's even a faint splotch of paint on a tree to mark the entrance to the illegal trails.
"In one section, they were running the trail so much, hikers were following the ATV trail rather than the official trail," said George Owen, who oversaw the hiking trail's construction in the 1980s. "They want to run anywhere they want."
Renegade ATV trails are regarded as one of the biggest threats to pristine wildlife by foresters, but many struggle with how to actually put an end to the abuses.
In Mountaintown, a patch of forest in northwest Georgia, the traditional defenses against ATVs haven't worked.
Tank traps, the bumpy dips meant to deter drivers, have been turned to playpens. Strategically placed branches or timber has been shorn by machete-wielding drivers. Gates and barriers have been quickly destroyed. And rangers complain there's too few patrolling officers to be much of a deterrent.
"We've got eight officers — that's almost a million acres we're covering," sighed Stewart Delugach, the patrol captain of the sprawling Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which includes Mountaintown. "There's no way they can be everywhere at once."
Some environmentalists are encouraging more drastic steps.
A report released earlier this summer by Wildlands CPR, a Montana-based group that aims to stop off-road vehicle abuse, encourages stiffer patrols, tougher penalties and electronic monitoring to deter ATV drivers. It also suggests encouraging more self-policing by closing the legal off-road areas hit by repeat offenders.
"Everyone has a right to access our public lands, but no one has the right to abuse these lands or ruin the experience of others enjoying America's great outdoors," said Jason Kiely, one of the group's leaders.
ATVs and other off-road vehicles had almost unfettered access to federal lands until 1972, when President Nixon issued an executive order that required agency heads to develop regulations. President Carter expanded it five years later to allow agencies to ban ATVs and other off-road vehicles on trails if they're damaging the forests.
Since then, illegal trails have exploded. Rangers say that thousands of miles of trails now crisscross federal forestland. Many are disused logging trails, but in some cases ATV drivers armed with axes, machetes and other tools carve out their own paths.
The U.S. Forest Service has tried to sate the demand by setting aside vast tracts of land for ATV use, but they're often seeing those areas turned into a hub for more illegal trails.
The agency now lists this type of "unmanaged recreation" as one of the greatest threats to the federal forests. They say the renegade drivers disrupt wildlife, expose terrain to invasive species, and endanger hikers and others who use the trails legally.
"If the general public decides they're going to ride their ATVs across the forest, there's nothing anyone can do about it," said Mitch Cohen, a spokesman with the Forest Service.
"If the people don't see the damage they're causing and don't value they're national resources enough, there's no amount of law enforcement we can put out there to stop it."
In Georgia, the foresters and environmentalists trying to stop ATV drivers are sort of like forensic scientists, collecting clues to decipher as they navigate trails. In one spot, an ATV driver had forged a sidespur and marked it with white paint. Later, after hearing the faint hum of a vehicle in the distance, volunteer David Govus leaned over a muddy patch, snapped off a twig and dipped it into the middle of a stretch of ATV tracks.
"It's pretty fresh," he said. "Maybe we'll run up on them."
It was wishful thinking. On foot, the environmentalists didn't stand a chance.
"You're always going to have renegades," said Georgia ForestWatch director Wayne Jenkins, exasperated. "You hope it's not going to become a culture. We can't all do whatever the hell we want, when we want."
BLM Presents Logandale Trails Management Plan For Public Comment
By Rachel Brandes
for Moapa Valley Progress
OVERTON, Nevada (STPNS) -- The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), last month, released its draft Management Plan for the Logandale Trails Recreation Area. The Plan is open to public comment through Friday, July 27.
The document seeks to establish a plan whereby the Logandale Trails area can be better maintained and more closely monitored for recreational use while, at the same time, preserving the natural and cultural resources in the area, said BLM officials.
“As the region has grown in population the use of areas like Logandale Trails has increased drastically,” said Robert Wandel, Project Manager at the BLM Las Vegas Field Office. “The BLM is simply not structured to take on such a large stewardship program like this and do what needs to be done.”
And so, the Plan proposes to turn over much of the management of Logandale Trails to a non-profit organization. This organization would handle day-to-day management and monitoring issues in partnership with, and under the direction of, the BLM. It would act as an umbrella organization for other groups or individuals whose main missions may not necessarily be the management of Logandale Trails but who have an interest in seeing the area properly managed and maintained.
“Under this plan, we would select a non-profit and enter a formal agreement with them,” Wandell said. “The BLM would supply some funding for the system and the non-profit would, presumably, be able to raise additional funds to maintain the facility. The organization could also mobilize a volunteer force to help in monitoring and maintaining the area.”
Elise McAllister, Administrator of the local Partners in Conservation group, is in support of this stewardship concept. “I personally think that the concept of non-agency people managing the area should be applauded,” McAllister said. “The public land should be managed more by the users and less by the agencies.”
McAllister said that Partners In Conservation (PIC) would be interested in being considered for this management role when the time comes. With a non-profit status, a strong advisory board, a proven history of mobilizing volunteer forces and of writing grants for funding, PIC would seem a good fit for the position. What’s more, it would keep strong local representation in the management of the area.
“The Logandale Trails area is an important area for the Moapa Valley community,” said McAllister. “There is still a strong traditional feeling of community ownership for that area and a long tradition of local use. It is important, whatever happens, that local people have a say in how it is managed.”
Wandel also recognizes the importance and benefits of maintaining local involvement in the process. But he points out that, in selecting the non-profit group, the BLM would be required by federal regulation to publish the request for interested parties nationally. He admits that there may be many groups interested in taking on the role.
“If PIC were interested in the role, they would have to compete with other organizations from throughout the state and possibly beyond,” Wandell said. “But in the end, with all things considered, an organization of locals would definitely have the edge in the selection process. And our work with PIC has always been very positive and constructive.”
In addition, the plan proposes to divide the trails system into eleven separate zones which would accommodate specific recreational activities. The objective, according to the Management Plan document, is to identify issues specific to each zone. The 58 acre sand dune area will continue to be open. A 1,393 acre rock crawling area would be designated; as well as an equestrian area comprising 6,846 acres. A 2,650 acre mountain biking zone would be designated as well as hiking and climbing areas comprising 1,661 acres. The Buffington Pockets area would continue to be closed for motorized use. Also closed would be the 365 acre Logan Wash area, and the 568 acre South Fork area. The remaining 32,000 acres would be designated for ATV, OHV and motorcycle use - but will be monitored closely as a ‘designated trails only’area.
The Plan also proposes to manage the area by setting very specific limits of acceptable change. This concept would set limits on the amount of overall use that the area receives. The Plan document states that “there should be an 80% probability that not more than 10-20 individuals will be encountered per day during the primary use season.” On its face, this would place limits on the amount of permitted tour and large event activity that would be allowed in the Logandale Trails area.
“I get requests constantly for new business in the Logandale Trails area,” Wandel said.
Many of these requests involve tour companies proposing to bring groups of 100 or more people into the area, Wandell said.
“We want to have the ability to say that we are managing the Logandale Trails area for a different type of experience than that,” Wandell continued. “We would like to give the area this ‘remote’ designation in its Plan so that we will be able to say that these types of business proposals are unacceptable to the management plan. Then the Plan will be the justification for saying no and we are placed on more solid legal footing for doing so.”
The Plan proposes a second access point to the Trails system to be developed at the end of Perkins Street in Overton Wash. It is hoped that this secondary access will presumably alleviate some of the traffic at the Logandale access point.
But McAllister has concerns about an access being designated at Overton Wash. “People use the Overton Wash area as a main target shooting area and without addressing and dealing with that conflict, people will get hurt,” McAllister said. She also cites reports that the trail into the system at that point is abnormally difficult to navigate and, therefore, may need some additional development to be a viable access point.
The Plan makes no mention of dealing with dust issues for the residential neighbors at either the Logandale or proposed Overton access routes. With increased traffic into the system, this has, in recent years, become a major issue for the residents along Pioneer Street in Logandale.
“I know at the public meetings (held last fall), this was an issue of great concern to many,” McAllister said. “It is upsetting to me personally to have heard those concerns voiced in public meetings and yet to not have them addressed in the management documents.”
But Wandel pointed that dust control and other similar operational issues are addressed indirectly in the Plan through the selection of a non-profit steward for the area. “In many ways, a non-profit organization could more quickly and easily resolve those issues than the BLM could,” Wandel said.
Wandel said that a non-profit steward would be able to contract this type of job out faster and, possibly at a lower cost, than the federal agency could do. Meanwhile, the BLM would participate by allocating funds to be used by the steward for dust control. In addition, the non-profit could raise additional money through grants and other fundraising sources for these types of operational needs.
“In the end, it has the potential for working better for all concerned,” Wandel said.
Off-road vehicles could be limited in Utah wilderness
By Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A new federal land-use plan for the redrock country around Moab in southeastern Utah would close more than 3,000 miles of rugged trails to motorized vehicles, angering off-road groups.
Conservationists counter that too much of the land is laced with trails carved by all-terrain vehicles and needs more protection.
A map prepared by the Bureau of Land Management of every road and trail open to motorized traffic in the district looks like a spaghetti bowl, said Liz Thomas, a staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
A full 98 percent of the land south of Interstate 70 in the BLM's Moab field district is within a mile of a road or motorized trail, she said.
The draft plan also calls for closing 1.5 million acres of land to unrestricted cross-country travel, though some motorized trails would remain open in the areas.
"It is simply not acceptable to have unlimited, indiscriminate cross-country travel," acting BLM Field Manager Shelley Smith said.
Off-roading won't be as satisfying, said Steve Jackson, acting director of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, which promotes motorized travel across public lands.
Jackson said his group recognized the need to update a land-use plan last adopted in 1985, before all-terrain vehicle use exploded. But it doesn't want the BLM to sacrifice too many motorized trails.
The draft plan also calls for wild and scenic river status for 10 segments of the Green, Dolores and Colorado rivers in the district.
Thomas said an option preferred by the plan to manage 47,000 acres as potential wilderness is a small fraction of the 266,000 acres protected by the Clinton administration.
BLM officials emphasize that the draft plan is just being introduced for public comment and is subject to revision after a series of public hearings.
They will be held in Moab, Monticello, Salt Lake City, and in Grand Junction, Colo., in late September and early October.
Redrock management: Environmentalists, OHV fans and energy firms likely on collision course
By Patty Henetz
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:08/29/2007 06:29:02 AM MDT
The southern Utah redrock country around Moab is getting a new land management plan, the first in 22 years - a timespan that has seen escalating polarization among wilderness advocates, off-road vehicle enthusiasts and energy development companies.
The Bureau of Land Management last week released its draft resource management plan for 1.8 million acres of federal lands in Grand County and northern San Juan County. At its heart are questions of how to manage all federal land uses to minimize conflict in a region world-renowned for its beauty.
Already, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is vowing legal action based on what will happen to wilderness-quality lands and cultural resources such as ancient rock art. And while off-road vehicle enthusiasts haven't yet waved the lawsuit flag publicly, they do claim the draft plan proposes to close too much land to motorized travel.
But BLM officials say that while they have laid out a "preferred alternative," the public needs to understand that the document is just a draft.
"This document is not making decisions," said Shelley Smith, acting field manager for the BLM in Moab. "In the final [plan], we can pick from any alternative.
Four years in the making, the resource management plan draft analysis includes such topics as recreation, motorized travel, mineral development, land with wilderness characteristics, wilderness study areas, fire management, wildlife, livestock grazing and special land qualities. It also proposes that 10 segments of the Green, Dolores and Colorado rivers be given wild and scenic designation and outlines the preferred land use for oil and gas leasing.
The plan was last updated in 1985 - before the boom in OHV use, before federal directives to speed oil and gas development, before designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which though in a different region helped stimulate tourism to Utah's southern desert.
That it has taken so long for the revisions will contribute to the public's reaction - shock, even - said Steve Jackson, acting director of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, which promotes off-highway motorized travel on public land.
"We certainly recognize the need to update the management plan," he said
But the preferred alternative would mean "we're going to lose anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 [miles] of existing routes," Jackson said.
The preferred alternative also would close about 1.5 million acres to unrestricted cross-country travel. Though there would be trails and roads open on the same number of acres, off-roading won't be as satisfying, Jackson said.
On the other side of that issue are conservation groups such as SUWA, whose representatives are appalled at the amount of access the preferred alternative would provide to off-highway vehicles.
Liz Thomas, SUWA's attorney in the Moab area, said her organization analyzed geographic information system modeling and mapping compiled by Grand County and found that 98 percent of BLM land in the Moab field office area below Interstate 70 is less than a mile from a road or trail open to motorized travel. The same analysis showed that 91 percent of the land lay within one-half mile of an OHV trail or a road.
Maps of OHV trails in the Labyrinth Canyon area "look like a spaghetti bowl," Thomas said. Trails are in Hunter Canyon, Ten Mile Canyon, on the ridge above Arches National Park, down stream beds and in river bottoms - "places that are pretty spectacular," she said.
Thomas also pointed out that while the BLM during the Clinton administration identified 266,000 acres outside of wilderness or wilderness study areas as having wilderness qualities, the preferred alternative proposed to manage just 47,000 acres as wilderness-quality. That's an 82 percent cut in the agency's own inventory, she said.
Smith pointed out that the resource plan draft includes an alternative that would keep all 266,000 acres, and reiterated that the preferred alternative wouldn't necessarily be the final choice. As for OHV cross-country access, "it is simply not acceptable to have unlimited, indiscriminate cross-country travel," she said.
The public plays a major part in BLM decision-making, Smith said. Information has been available during the scoping period, in mailings, on CDs and the Internet, where the agency has posted all its background documents, including mineral reports, wilderness characteristic inventories, range and road maps and trail analyses. "We invite people to dig into that data and see for themselves," Smith said.
Southern Utah’s red rock country is a beloved landscape. Too bad it’s loved by various suitors, all with very different ideas of how the rugged landscape around Moab should be managed. The dilemma falls on the Bureau of Land Management, in the midst of drafting a new management plan for the region for the first time in 22 years.
The saber rattling has begun now that the BLM has released its draft plan. Environmentalists are threatening lawsuits over land it says deserves more protection. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts are upset about roads that would be closed. As usual, the BLM finds itself stuck in the middle.
“It is simply not acceptable to have unlimited, indiscriminate cross-country travel,” LIz Smith, of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, tells the Salt Lake Tribune.
She argues nearly all the land south of Interstate 70 lies just a half-mile from an ORV trail, and one area is so tangled with trails, it “looks like a spaghetti bowl.”
The motor-inclined, like the Utah Shared Access Alliance, say the plan threatens to take away some 3,000 to 4,000 miles of existing trails.
The Interior Department is getting ready to weigh in against a plan to pump massive amounts of water out of rural Nevada and into Las Vegas jacuzzis—even though the state water engineer has ruled that some arguments will be off limits during a two-week debate.
Don’t try to argue Vegas doesn’t need it. Don’t try to say Vegas could be a little thriftier with its water. Nevermind saying Vegas is already big enough. Those topics are off the table, the Associated Press reports.
The hearings are over a $2 billion plan to pipe billions of gallons of water into Sin City, over the objections of farmers and ranchers, not to mention several Interior agencies: the BLM, Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Casino executives, union representatives and developers warn without it, the whole state could see an economic downturn.
In Pinedale, Wyo., officials are worried energy development has been too much, too fast. It’s not just about the pressure of drill rigs. It’s the population boom that comes with the energy boom.
Elected officials weighed in on the BLM’s resource management plan for some 1 million acres around the area, home to the massive Jonah and Pinedale Anticline fields. They’re asking the BLM to consider impacts on traffic, schools and police, The Casper Star Tribune reports.
“We urge BLM to slow down, or at least more evenly pace energy development to allow affected towns, such as Pinedale, to adequately plan for infrastructure capacities, increased traffic, to allow market forces to increase the amount of housing available, allow our school systems to plan for a greater population and the myriad of other effects to our community from a rapid population influx,” they wrote.
Crime is up, they say. So are housing prices. Traffic’s a drag. And just try to find a mechanic.
Published on Sunday, August 26, 2007.
Last modified on 8/26/2007 at 2:46 am
ORV regulations coming in Black Hills
By Gazette News Services
RAPID CITY, S.D. - The U.S. Forest Service is preparing to unveil its first proposal to regulate off-road vehicle use in the Black Hills National Forest, located in southwest South Dakota and northeast Wyoming.
The measure would restrict all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles to certain areas in order to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
The Forest Service has taken input from the public, off-roading clubs and conservationists.
"Five years ago we basically didn't have anything close to the numbers of ATVs and dirt bikes and off-road machines that we do today," said Tom Willems, a spokesman for the Forest Service.
The Forest Service will take public comment on the plan in September and expects to make a final decision in 2008.
Off-road trails system roll-out in a week
By Bill Harlan, Journal staff
A map of a proposed off-roading trail system for Black Hills National Forest, plus new rules to go with it, will be unveiled on Monday, Sept. 10.
“We’ll have a series of public meetings, and people can comment over the next 60 days,” Black Hills National Forest supervisor Craig Bobzien said Saturday.
Bobzien emphasized that the new “Motorized Vehicle Use Map” and the new rules were only proposals.
After a 60-day public comment period, Bobzien said, the Forest Service will revise the trail system and the rules, then submit another version for public comment.
“We’ve been pretty centrist in our proposal,” he said. “Some people will want more regulation, and some people will want less.”
The biggest change in the rules will reverse the current policy that allows off-roading anywhere except where specifically prohibited. The new rules, which could be in effect by the end of next year, will ban off-roading everywhere except where specifically allowed.
That change follows a national guideline from Forest Service headquarters in Washington.
The Forest Service, the Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board and a governor’s task force have held public meetings over the past three years to get comments and suggestions on new rules and especially on off-roading routes, trailheads and areas where off-roading should be banned.
Over the past few months, Forest Service specialists have been consolidating those comments into a system of trails that will run the length of the Black Hills.
The local unveilings of the map and rules will be in four public meetings from Monday through Thursday, Sept. 10-13. (See the box.)
The new rules will also be published in local newspapers, and the trail map and rules will be online. (Go to www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills and follow the links.)
In addition, copies of the maps and rules will be available for inspection at district ranger offices and libraries throughout the Black Hills.
Comments on the proposed rules must be received within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register, which will be Friday, Sept. 7, three days before the first public meeting in the Black Hills.
The Forest Service plans to release a “draft environmental impact statement” on the new rules by early next year. The “draft EIS” will be followed by another public comment period, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
When then-Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth announced nationwide changes in off-roading rules, his goal was to have them in place 2009. Bobzien said Saturday he expected the new rules for the Black Hills to be in place by December 2008.
Black Hills National Forest Travel Management Plan
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; Posted: 04:38 PM
Sep 11, 2007 --
SUMMARY: The Forest Service proposes to designate which routes (roads and trails) on federal lands administered by the Forest Service within the Black Hills National Forest are open to motorized travel. In so doing, the agency will comply with requirements of the Forest Service 2005 Travel Management Rule. Some areas were considered for cross-country travel designation, but no areas are included in this proposal. As a result of these travel management decisions, the Forest Service will produce a Motorized Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting those routes on the Black Hills National Forest that will remain open to motorized travel. The MVUM will be the primary tool used to determine compliance and enforcement with motorized vehicle use designations on the ground. Those existing routes and other user-created routes not designated open on the MVUM will be legally closed to motorized travel. The decisions on motorized travel do not include over-snow travel or existing winter-use recreation.
DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by November 9, 2007. The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be released in April 2008 and the final environmental impact statement is expected in September 2008.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Travel Management, Black Hills National Forest, 1019 North 5th Street, Custer, SD 57730. Electronic comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Travel Management" in the subject line. Comments must be readable in Microsoft Word, rich text or pdf formats.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Willems, Team Leader, at email@example.com or (605) 673-9200.
Purpose and Need for Action
The purpose and need for this action is to improve management of motorized vehicle use on National Forest System lands within the Black Hills National Forest in accordance with provisions of 36 CFR Parts 212, 251, 261, and 295 Travel Management; Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; Final Rule.
The proposed action is to designate selected roads and trails open to motorized travel (wheeled vehicles only) on lands administered by the Black Hills National Forest. Where it is appropriate and necessary, the designations will also set specific seasons of use and type of use for those roads and trails. In doing so, the Forest will comply with requirements of the Forest Service 2005 Travel Management Rule (36 CFR part 212). Some areas were considered for cross-country travel designation, but no areas are included in this proposal. As a result of these travel management decisions, the Black Hills National Forest will produce a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting those routes and areas on the Forest that will remain open to motorized travel. The MVUM will be the primary tool used to determine compliance and enforcement with motorized travel designations on the ground. Those existing Forest Service routes, as well as other user-created routes, not designated open on the MVUM will be legally closed to motorized travel.
In order to implement the proposed action, it would be necessary to amend some existing direction and terminology in the Revised Forest Plan for the Black Hills National Forest. These changes to Plan direction would be enduring changes and would apply to this decision and all subsequent project decisions unless and until further modified.
Proposed travel management-related changes to the 1997 Black Hills National Forest Revised Land and Resource Management Plan are based on elements of the travel management rule, public meeting comments, District and Core Travel Management Team recommendations, Forest Leadership Team decisions, and the Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board (NFAB), Travel Management Subcommittee, recommendations. The goal is to provide a transportation system that is within the Black Hills National Forest's ability to manage (operate and maintain) and provides a variety of users with a diverse experience while minimizing impacts to resources.
The proposed transportation system open to motorized travel under this proposal would be a total of 3,998 miles. This is a change of 298 miles from the existing condition of approximately 3,700 miles. New project decisions could change this system without amending the Forest Plan.
The proposed transportation system was developed with extensive public input over a period of three years and addresses a variety of concerns, including access to private lands within the National Forest boundary, funding, access to the Forest for motorized and non-motorized recreation, and roads under the jurisdiction of county, state, and other federal agencies. Specifically, this transportation system would allow for a balance between various recreational uses of the Forest. It would provide for various forms of reasonable motorized use on a designated system of routes.
The proposed transportation system is depicted in detail on the Black Hills National Forest Travel Management Plan Proposed Action map (Map) located on the Forest Web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/recreation/travel_management/ohv.shtml. Other existing routes not shown on this map would not be open to public motorized travel. New routes would not be created except by written decision of an authorized Forest Service official. Unauthorized new routes would not be approved for public motorized travel. If this proposal is selected for implementation, the information on this map would become the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) required by regulation and agency policy.
A proposed Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail system is a significant element of the total transportation system in this proposal. It would accommodate the desire for a mix of different motorized recreation uses by a variety of motorized vehicles including All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, and full-size off-road vehicles. The system would provide for a variety of different uses, including multi-scale looped routes, destination sites, and challenges such as rock crawling. This proposal follows the recommendation of the NFAB Travel Subcommittee.
This proposal is preparatory to a system of looped routes at several scales, with some dead-end routes leading to destination sites (such as cultural or special activity sites), or portal sites at municipal boundaries. Some of these loops are single-type use, but the majority are designated for mixed use. Mixed use is defined as use of a designated route by both highway legal and non-highway legal motor vehicles.
The proposed OHV trail system is depicted on the Map. Some roads and trails on this system are designated to accommodate more than one type of use. These mixed-use routes are designated on the Map. If this proposal is selected for implementation, the information on this map would become the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) required by regulation and agency policy. Only those routes shown on the MVUM would be authorized for motorized travel.
Under this proposal most of the route mileage would occur on existing Forest System routes currently open to motorized travel. However, this proposal also includes construction of short connector routes and designation of some currently unauthorized routes between existing Forest System routes.
It is our long-term goal to locate the majority of these designated routes away from communities and subdivisions. This would help reduce noise impacts to residents, as well as reduce the occurrence of single or privileged access by adjacent landowners. However, use on some routes would probably be audible to those living nearby.
Approximately 2,213 miles of Forest System roads would be designated for mixed-use, as "roads open to all vehicles," and considered part of the proposed OHV Trail System. Forest System roads not considered for mixed-use would be designated as "roads open to highway legal vehicles only." This would apply to approximately 1,075 miles of Forest Service roads that were not proposed to be part of the OHV Trail System.
This proposal would allow cross-country motorized game retrieval of legally harvested downed elk, within 300 feet from the centerline of specific designated routes, providing resource damage does not occur. Designated routes would be limited to only those routes located within management areas where off-route motorized travel is currently allowed by the Forest Plan. This includes and is limited to routes located within Management Areas 5.1, 5.1A, 5.3A, and 5.6. Game retrieval would not be allowed along routes located in management areas that do not currently allow off-route motorized travel, such as Wilderness, Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, Research Natural Areas, and Botanical Areas. The intent of this proposal would be to provide reasonable access to downed elk that are difficult to move long distances without motorized assistance. Motorized cross-country retrieval of deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, pronghorn, turkey, and other game animals would not be allowed under this proposal because these animals are small enough to retrieve without motorized assistance. This proposal is consistent with the recommendation of the NFAB Travel Subcommittee, the Rocky Mountain Region Consistency letter, 36CFR Part 212.51((b), and recommendations from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Designated routes off of which game retrieval would be allowed will be delineated on the MVUM.
This proposal would allow dispersed camping off designated routes, in certain areas, under certain conditions. In all cases where allowed, motorized vehicles would be restricted to within 100 feet for dispersed camping from the centerline of specific designated routes, using the most direct route to the camp site. This would allow for reasonable recreational use of the Forest while minimizing the potential for resource damage. This proposal follows the recommendation of the NFAB Travel Subcommittee. Designated routes along which dispersed camping would be allowed will be shown on the MVUM.
Under this proposal, off-road parking would be allowed along designated routes under certain conditions. Primary considerations in designating this policy were user safety and resource protection. Draft proposed FSM direction would allow parking off designated routes, not to exceed a distance of one vehicle length.
Public comments by other recreationists and private landowners during the past three years have identified excessive OHV sound as a major concern within the Forest. To adequately address these potential user conflicts in the future, a stationary sound limit of 96 dB(A) is proposed for OHVs operating on lands administered by the Black Hills National Forest. The Society of American Engineers (SAE) J1287 stationary sound test procedure will be used for determining compliance with OHV sound-level standards.
--This is a summary of a Federal Register article originally published on the page number listed below--
Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
Agency Personnel - Thursday, October 11, 8AM - 5PM
- Friday, October 12, 8AM - 1PM
Public - Saturday, October 13, 8AM - 5PM
- Sunday, October 14, 8AM - 3:30PM
The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, Region 5, is conducting a Motorized Route Designation Workshop in October for agency personnel and other stakeholders. The purpose of this workshop is to assist the Forest Service and other stakeholders in effective implementation of the USFS Travel Management Rule in their State. While the sessions on Thursday and Friday are designed primarily for Forest Service personnel and the sessions on Saturday and Sunday are designed primarily for the public, the sessions are open to all who want to attend and there is no charge. Other state and federal agency personnel are welcome and encouraged to attend both sessions. Continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 AM each day. Lunch and breaks will also be provided.
Please note this workshop addresses the Forest Service Travel Management Rule and route designation process and is not a Forest Service meeting to gather comments on any particular travel plan. Rather, this workshop will help you understand the process, how to best participate in the process and how to provide meaningful comments during the entire process.
Or you may visit www.nohvcc.organd click on the "Forest Service OHV Route Designation Workshops and Database" link to register.
The registration deadline is October 2, 2007. For questions about registration contact Ann Vance at 888-458-0131 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOHVCC has secured a limited number of rooms at the Lions Gate Hotel, 3410 Westover Street, McClellan, CA 95652, 916-643-6222 or toll free 866-866-7100. These rooms are on a first come basis at the rate of $84.00+ tax per night. Ask for the NOHVCC room block. Deadline for this rate is September 24, 2007. After that date, call for price and availability.
This national workshop series is sponsored by the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA). Coordination of the workshops is provided by the NOHVCC. Design of the workshop sessions was a collaborative effort by professional trail consultants, ARRA, MIC, SVIA, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA), and NOHVCC, with input from USFS trail managers.
The Agency Workshop objectives are:
To develop a better understanding of the needs and concerns of OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders in implementation of the USFS Travel Management Rule
To improve the quality and the sustainability of trails, trail systems and areas through the implementation process
To improve OHV enthusiast and other stakeholder input and support for the implementation process
To increase partnerships between the USFS, the OHV industry, OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders
To facilitate better communication between the USFS, OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders
OHV Enthusiasts and Other Stakeholders Workshop objectives are:
To develop an understanding of the FS Travel Management Rule
To help OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders become more active in route designation decisions
To help OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders understand how to improve the quality and sustainability of trails, trails systems and areas through the implementation process
To increase partnerships between the USFS, the OHV industry, OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders
To facilitate better communication between the USFS, OHV enthusiasts and other stakeholders
The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council is a non-profit educational foundation. For information regarding NOHVCC and its workshop programs visit its website at www.nohvcc.org.
Groups say it’s time to speak up to save trails in state’s national forests
Wheeler News Service
Published Monday, September 10, 2007
Those who use roads and trails in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin are being urged to speak up.
The U.S. Forest Service is holding public hearings to help decide which roads and trails will go on a new map that’s required for every national forest by 2009.
It will be illegal to drive on roads which are not recognized. And the Wisconsin ATV Association is among those concerned about losing thousands of miles of less-established, less-popular trails those vehicles now use.
But Michael McFazden of the Governor’s State Trails Council says there are lots of other trails for ATV’s to use. And he fears that more official trails in the parks might scare away those who simply want peace and quiet.
Hunters, snowmobilers and others are also concerned about keeping their links open.
Jim Hong, Hayward ranger, says a formal map is needed to keep vehicles from damaging wetlands, animal habitat and plants.
The number of people seeking refuge or recreation on national forest land is increasing — with a growing portion of them getting there on off-highway vehicles such as dirt bikes, four wheelers and all-terrain vehicles.
Such motorized vehicle use has intensified a long-running and complicated debate over balancing public's right to use the forest and its protection.
The Stanislaus National Forest is preparing to release a proposal as soon as the beginning of next month that would designate certain trails for OHVs. In doing so, it would make off limits some of the existing trails riders use — ones the agency says are not on solid ground, are too steep and whose use could harm the forest in the area.
OHV use draws for those who enjoy the outdoors, and some say limits proposed on where they can take their hobby are too extreme.
Sonoran Jon Tonnesen has been riding a motorcycle off-road for years.
"It's just a real good way to go out and see some landscape," he said.
The routes he and others use have been in place for decades, he said.
But others worry about the vehicles' effect on water, soil and wildlife, such as goshawks that nest in certain areas of the forest.
"We want those species protected as a higher priority than a young guy my son's age being able to zoom straight up a hillside because it's boring to ride in the flats," said John Buckley, executive director of Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center.
There are also others with competing interests, such as horseback riders and hikers, who would rather not deal with the buzz of motors or flying dust.
The Forest Service is left to sift through the various viewpoints.
"The forest is finite in size, and we don't have an opportunity to make the forest larger and therefore recreational opportunity larger," said Sue Warren, route designation coordinator for the forest.
For more than two years, Stanislaus National Forest staff members have been working on a plan to designate certain routes for OHV use.
There have been more than a dozen public meetings on the topic, as forest administrators compiled information and opinions in drafting a document.
The Forest Service hopes to release the designated route document — what Warren called a "starting point" — as soon as Oct. 1. A 45-day public comment period will follow.
When the period concludes, environmental review and other alternatives are considered, a final decision on a trail plan is expected by the end of 2008.
The release of the document coincides with the conclusion of a survey to determine who is visiting the forest and what they are doing there.
The Stanislaus' survey — part of a nationwide effort — will end Sept. 30, and results should be available by the beginning of next year, Warren said.
Once it is finished, officials will be able to compare it with an initial survey they conducted in 2004.
The United States Department of Agriculture calls OHV use one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation — citing a rise from about $5 million in 1972 to $51 million in 2004. OHV riders make up 11 million visits to national forests annually, the department said.
Visitors are flocking to the Stanislaus National Forest as well, and a growing number of them are on OHVs, Warren said.
"If you asked any of my OHV managers — folks out on the ground dealing with the public — they will tell you there is an increase in use of these types of vehicles," she said.
It is a convenient way for the aging population to explore, she said.
"Lots of the trails that they travel go to scenic vistas, and that's the only way they can get there," she said.
But in forming the plan, other recreation as well as the environment comes into consideration, she said.
The effort has made Tonnesen wary. He said the environmental impact OHV use causes is exaggerated.
"They think you're just rooting around in the meadows — go everywhere you want — but all the routes that you ride, they're the same routes that have been designated since the '60s," he said.
The height of OHV popularity locally was actually in the 1970s, he said, and people have been riding the same trails every since. Most of the trails in the forest are old logging roads complete with trail markers and water bars.
Buckley disagreed, saying many trails run through meadows and have resulted in killing vegetation.
"The Forest Service has basically looked the other way and allowed OHV routes to be created day after day, month after month," he said.
Some of these go through wildlife breeding areas, cause erosion on hillsides or illegally go through creeks, he said. The Forest Service doesn't have the funding or staffing to stop it.
Tonnesen counters that more damage comes from livestock and hikers than OHV riders — who generally stick to established trails.
"It's like any sport, or anything you do, there's always going to be some idiot who rides his bicycle across the lawn at Sonora High, or somebody who hikes across somewhere they're not supposed to hike across," he said.
Those few exceptions are ruining it for everyone, he said.
Determining how to balance views like Tonnesen's and Buckley's in producing a plan that gives everyone opportunity to use their preferred mode of travel has been a challenge for forest officials, Warren said.
"It's a complex process with lots of roads and trails and data and information," she said. "I think the folks that ride on the forest want to protect the forest just as much as those who don't ride on the forest."
The state's Off Highway Vehicle Division has been working with forest officials to provide grant money for trail construction, improvement, decommission and law enforcement, forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said.
All-terrain vehicles restricted to only some terrain
By Patrick O'Driscoll, USA TODAY
DENVER — The federal government is stepping up efforts to curb off-road-vehicle damage to national forests and other public lands by restricting all-terrain vehicles to assigned routes.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are drawing maps of roads, trails and tracks that can be used by off-road vehicles in forests and other federal land area. Off-road travel across open federal land — a popular pursuit for dirt bikers and four-wheelers — will be banned except in tracts set aside for that use, such as sand dunes and other specified motor recreation sites. Any unauthorized trails created by users over previous decades that don't make the cut also will close.
Decades of largely unregulated use on some public lands have torn up terrain, fouled streams and disrupted wildlife.
"We're not looking to exclude the (off-road) user group by any means," says Jaime Gardner of the federal Bureau of Land Management's Colorado office. "But we are going toward a management style of designated routes."
The two agencies manage about 705,000 square miles of federal land — about one-fifth of the USA. The BLM is the government's largest landlord, overseeing 258 million acres, mostly in the West. It manages more than 80,000 miles of roads and 16,000 miles of trails. BLM lands also contain "way more than that" in unofficial routes, spokesman David Quick says.
The Forest Service manages 193 million acres, with 287,000 miles of roads and 32,000 miles of trails open to motor traffic. The agency calculates that off-road vehicle users make more than 12 million visits a year to the 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. About 43 million Americans use ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-the-pavement motor vehicles for recreation, the Forest Service says.
Off-road vehicle users are cautious about the travel revisions. "Some areas, we're seeing a good, balanced system. Others, it's just a nightmare," says Brian Hawthorne of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national off-road group. A prime example, Hawthorne says, is California's Eldorado National Forest near Lake Tahoe. Its draft plan, under public review, would bar motorized vehicles from about 60% of routes where riders are allowed now.
"We're not insensitive to our impacts," Hawthorne says. "We want to minimize them as much as possible. But the vast majority of (off-road vehicle) owners, like any recreationists, are law-abiding."
The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, among other environmental groups, contend decades of uncontrolled off-road use show otherwise. "This is an opportunity to rein in that abuse," says Chris Kassar of the center, a Tucson-based alliance.
Kassar doubts the travel revisions will go far enough and questions whether budget-strapped agencies can police the revised routes. She notes that a Utah State University study in 2000 found half of ATV users who were surveyed prefer riding off established trails. "You cannot regulate desire," she says.
In July, a group of former land managers, Rangers for Responsible Recreation, said off-road vehicle abuse is the biggest threat to America's recreational lands. Last week, the Izaak Walton League of America released a survey of state fish and game managers blaming reckless off-road drivers for harm to wildlife, hunting and fishing.
“Dirt biking is not a crime,” read a blue and yellow sticker spread across Jeremy Kaus’ forehead.
Kaus of Whitewater was one of more than 100 people — almost all of them off-road-vehicle riders — who showed up Thursday night at a Moab Bureau of Land Management meeting in Grand Junction to send the agency one message: Don’t kick motorized vehicles off eastern Utah public lands.
“We feel somewhat threatened,” ATV-rider George Seely of Grand Junction said. He fears the BLM will soon close public land to ATVs near Rabbit Valley and Arches National Park, where Grand Valley off-roaders often ride, especially in winter.
As part of a proposed update to its management plan for public land in Utah’s Grand and northeast San Juan counties, the BLM proposed the closing of more than 339,000 acres to off-road-vehicle driving and confining ATVs to designated trails in other areas.
A public-comment period on the BLM’s plan ends Nov. 30, and a final decision is expected in mid 2008.
The BLM prefers the proposal over three alternates that could be chosen to govern management for its land, which surrounds Arches National Park and parts of Canyonlands National Park, and borders McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area in Colorado.
Seely said he fears the BLM will lock older Mesa County residents with disabilities out of their favorite backcountry areas by prohibiting motorized vehicles.
“It seems like every time one of these meetings comes up, we lose access,” said Clint Eddy of Grand Junction, who said he organizes the Moab Bronco Safari.
“Trails become more of a special interest,” he said, calling the Moab-area plan “very important.”
It’s important to Grand Junction BLM officials, too, because the new Moab plan could provide more consistency in how the Colorado River corridor, grazing allotments and trails are managed on both sides of the state line, said Paul Peck, manager of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which includes Rabbit Valley ATV trails that lead directly into Utah.
Rabbit Valley already has designated routes for ATVs, and if the Moab BLM’s preferred plan is approved, public lands just over the state line will have designated routes for motorized vehicles, too, Peck said.
Wayne McFetridge of Grand Junction said he went to Thursday’s meeting because he heard the BLM wanted to close “everything” to ATV use.
He said he’d like the BLM to keep Utah’s public lands completely open to off-road vehicles by not changing its new management scheme for the area.
“That land over there isn’t good for much else,” he said.
But Moab native Scott Braden, who works for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said the BLM needs to enact new restrictions on off-roaders because trails, wildlife habitat and other treasures in eastern Utah’s canyon country are being damaged by off-road vehicles.
Braden said he also is concerned the BLM may decide not to protect wilderness-quality land that is not already within a wilderness study area.
But off-roader Ron Kelley of Grand Junction said he doesn’t want people to “ramrod their goals down other people’s uses.”
“What is the point of having a lot of these areas wild and scenic rivers or wilderness?” he said. “Who’s going to use them from then on?”
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum