Author Topic: It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.  (Read 2827 times)

Offline Pantheus

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It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.
« on: April 01, 2008, 11:08:31 AM »
ELDORADO FOREST RELEASES LONG-AWAITED TRAVEL PLAN

PLACERVILLE, CA (April 1) - The Eldorado National Forest has released its Travel Management Plan, which is one of the first final decision documents promulgated in California under the Forest Service's Travel Management Rule. The new decision, signed by Forest Supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo on March 31, follows a tumultuous history of planning, controversy and litigation. Upon signing the Record of Decision, the Forest met with numerous stakeholder interests, including recreation groups and representatives from the state OHV program, to review its designation of approximately 1,847 miles of roads and trails for motorized vehicle use.

The designation represents a significant reduction to the historic public route network of 2,342 miles of National Forest System Roads and Trails and over 500 miles of user-created routes. However, the mileage in this alternative (modified B) represents an increase of about 300 miles as compared to the preferred Alternative D in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The added routes apparently came as a result of the agency listening to thousands of site-specific comments submitted by OHV enthusiasts and other users who spoke about important modifications to provide trail connectivity, sites for dispersed camping, and to provide for an enjoyable and sustainable route network.

Supervisor Villalvazo stressed at the meeting that this base route network is a beginning and a foundation for future travel planning on the Forest. He also made a commitment to a volunteer trail program and to work with the recreation community to provide a quality recreational experience on the Forest. Villalvazo specifically noted that his office would continue to work with El Dorado County in developing a master plan for the world-famous Rubicon 4WD Trail.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, observed, "There is certainly frustration by the OHV community regarding the significant reduction from routes historically used and maintained by the Forest. However, we recognize the thankless position of current personnel who inherited a regulatory 'perfect storm' fraught with misinterpretation of rules, regulations and the court order."

"This product is far from perfect, but many users will appreciate the agency's effort to provide for meaningful trail mileage, to reduce the wet weather closure period, and to commit to working with the OHV community and other publics on the implementation and improvement of the plan," Amador concluded.

Due to the various appeal and administrative time-lines associated with this project, implementation of the decision will likely not occur until January 2009.

The recreation groups at the meeting included Friends of the Rubicon, California Enduro Riders Association, American Motorcyclist Association District 36, El Dorado Equestrian Trails Foundation, California Off Road Vehicle Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, and the BlueRibbon Coalition, all of whom have been active in the administrative process and prior litigation addressing Eldorado travel management.

# # #

Here's the spreadsheet document
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 01:20:31 PM by Pantheus »
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Offline Pantheus

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Re: It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2008, 08:19:58 AM »
Here's the Sacramento Bee article (SacBee being very anti-OHV,  left leaning usually)

Off-roaders lose 1,000 miles of trail in new Eldorado plan

By Matt Weiser - mweiser@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, April 2, 2008

http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/829734.html

Off-road enthusiasts will have about 1,000 fewer miles of trails to motor
across in the Eldorado National Forest next year.

The Eldorado covers nearly 790,000 acres on the southern flank of Lake
Tahoe.

It is one of the most heavily used national forests in America and has seen
growing conflict over off-road vehicles in areas also used by hikers and
other non-motorized visitors.

Forest managers Tuesday designated an official network of off-road vehicle
routes within the forest in hopes of minimizing conflicts and protecting the
environment. The action comes after a three-year planning process, triggered
by a lawsuit filed by environmentalists in 2002.

The Eldorado plan helped launch a national effort to manage off-roading in
federal forests. All U.S. forests are now required to complete such plans.
The Eldorado plan is the first for the huge Sierra Nevada region.

Getting there was contentious. More than 6,000 people posted comments during
the off-road mapping process.

"What people will have out there is a system of routes they know they can
ride on," said forest spokesman Frank Mosbacher. "It does enhance the
conservation of the forest environment. It increases the likelihood you'll
have more quiet recreation."

The plan appears to be a mixed bag for both environmentalists and off-road
enthusiasts.

Off-roaders will have access to 1,847 miles of roads and trails throughout
the forest, compared with 2,868 previously. Closures include 526 miles of
trails carved out by users.

That's 1,021 fewer miles for motorized vehicles. But it's not as bad as an
option considered earlier, which would have closed 300 more miles. The
chosen plan contains the fewest closed miles of the options reviewed.

"I think they tried to find a balance," said Don Amador, Western
representative for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a leading off-roaders group.
"I hope we can get to a point where both the off-roaders and environmental
community can support the plan and get some good trail projects, as well as
some restoration."

Other forest visitors are glad to see more separation of uses. Hikers,
horseback riders, skiers and other visitors can still use routes being
closed to vehicles.

Environmental groups praise a rule within the plan that closes all
off-roading routes between January and March to reduce erosion and trail
damage.

Another new rule forbids parking more than one car-length off any designated
route. Previously, off-roaders could drive off-trail to a campsite. Now
they'll have to park and carry in gear.

Critics think the winter closure should be longer than three months and
would rather see more roads closed.

"We think there's still too many routes," said Karen Schambach of the Center
for Sierra Nevada Conservation, which filed the lawsuit. "If you look at the
maps, it still looks like a bowl of spaghetti. But it's a start."

Schambach criticized one route that will allow vehicles on a narrow trail
into the scenic Rubicon River canyon.

Other routes, she said, will allow vehicles to cross meadows. She said these
decisions conflict with the forest's overall management plan.

Forest Service officials said the routes were retained because closure would
have eliminated nearly all off-road vehicle access to the high country.
Forest managers in Eldorado now must amend their land-use plan to allow for
these routes.

Mosbacher said the Eldorado off-road plan will evolve.

"This is a starting point. A beginning," he said. "We have our basic system
in place, and we will engage in monitoring and public involvement to
determine whether a route should be added or closed."

Winter closures could begin earlier, for instance, depending on conditions.
And Eldorado forest officials will issue new route maps each year to reflect
actual trail conditions.

One loophole is the world- famous Rubicon Trail, the trans-Sierra route
between Lake Tahoe and Georgetown. It lies within the Eldorado National
Forest, but is managed by El Dorado County. It is not governed by the
federal government's new off-road plan.

The county, however, suspended work on its management plan for the Rubicon
recently to contain costs during a budget crisis, said Jordan Postlewait,
the county's manager of airports, parks and grounds.

This means that vehicle use in the surrounding forest will now be more
carefully controlled, but the Rubicon Trail will remain largely unregulated.

Trail closures in the Eldorado will begin in 2009, allowing time for a
required 90-day appeal process and for the public to adjust to the closures.
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philbrook_lover

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Re: It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2008, 10:47:53 AM »
Immediately after my Audobon Society meeting tonight I am going to drive my Prius home and write a letter to the El Dororado forest and congratulate them on a great job.  Hope the Plumas and Lassen get on board too.   ;D
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 01:10:22 PM by philbrook_lover »

Offline Pantheus

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Re: It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2008, 11:18:59 AM »
Good on 'ya, Brooks   

That's the least you can do....

When you're done writing Eldo,  then this page has a check list of your next chores   ;D

http://www.sierraclubcalifornia.org/
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Offline Pantheus

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Re: It's appeal time in Eldorado N.F.
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2008, 06:02:26 PM »
Here's a pretty astute summary from "our" side of what has gone down so far in  Eldo.

So the Route Des process has been finalized...yet will continue to evolve. The El Dorado National Forest has selected "Alternative B-modified" http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/projects/route/index.shtml which is much better than the recommended "Alternative D" but still is a loss of 1021 miles of the OHV roads/trail in the entire El Dorado Nation Forest. Keep in mind that this from a total of 2868 miles that existed prior to the selection of alternative b-modified. Its a loss of 35% of the existing OHV trails.

And...all OHV roads and trails in the entire El Dorado National forest...yes all...will be closed from January to March (Still not sure if its March 31 or March 1) to reduce soil erosion. This decision is a big loss...in this writers opinion...its a loss because there is a perception that this is a "Starting point" and the closure period will grow over time.

What does all this mean. Well, we can say ya-hooo...we got a much more acceptable alternative than Alt D...or we can recognize that we just lost over 35 percent of the OHV roads and trails in the El Dorado. I'd say that was an ass whopping no matter how we look at it. But....But....yes it could have been worse.

The Rubicon is still accessible year round. But...it will see no funding from the county any time soon...RTMP is dead for now. The stub at Ellis Creek is gone, but 14N05 does remain down to the very end...good news. I think Iron Mtn will be closed in winter...depends on the counties maintenance decisions. I suspect winter wheeling, apart from the con, is a "remember when" type of thing. It really depends on how the FS enforces this.

There's a perception that the greens are mad at these results more than the OHV...meaning they aren't happy with the results more than us. They didn't get what they wanted...but neither did we and please don't forget how much was lost. This is a split the difference decision and that final decision did land further in our...the OHV direction...than most would have wagered on the last days.

So...what helped our cause. Well there were over 6000 responses to the Draft of the Route Des and many were OHV...likely the overwhelming majority. The protest...it may have helped. The efforts of all evolved over the last 2-3 years...FOTR, RTF, Friends of the Eldorado, Blue Ribbon, CORVA, etc... Don't over-look the fact...we can and do make a difference. Do we wish more was done...yes. Could more have been done...sure, but all in all we have to recognize that we are in the game. We affected the game...and it appears the FS listened to some degree.

We are in the Sac Bee today. Top of the front page...leading to page 16 with a picture of the protest...people with signs. Sorry...I'm tooting my own horn.

Details: Well...the FS has stated there will be a process for going forward. But, this is the foundation they will work from. Roads/Trails will be reviewable for future closure and opening. Karen Schambach of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy said, "Too many route remain open specifically routes into the Rubicon River Canyon." The FS response..."The routes were retained because the closure would have eliminated nearly all off-road vehicle access to the high country." The Rubicon Trail will remain open and largely unregulated. The FS will continue to enforce the park one vehicle length from the trail rule and we'll have to haul in gear.

The RTMP...or Rubicon Trail Master Plan has been shelved for financial/other reasons but also...in this writer's opinion...because the process over the last 3-4 years did not produce a plan with any cohesive consensus amongst the parties involved...or frankly anything a politician would attach their name to. But...yes...it is also about budgets at the county.

Please communicate this to anyone you think would want to hear it.
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