CTR ACTION ALERT
(Your Action Required by May 17th, 2010)
The Coconino National Forest is seeking comments on their Travel Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The Forest Service (FS) is asking for your input during a 60-day public review and comment period, which will end on May 17, 2010. The DEIS, maps and other information is available http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/projects/tmr/proposed-action.shtml
The CNF his home to just under 200 miles of epic single track and ATV trails. Sadly, the agency is planning to close all but 25 miles.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Please send a quick email to the Coconino. Use the comment suggestion below. Cut and paste is okay, but try to add a bit of personal information.
STEP 1: Open your email program and start a draft email. Address the email to:
Put “CNF Travel Comments” in the Subject Line.
STEP 2: Use the comments below as a guideline for comments in your email.
Cut and paste is okay, but try to make your comment letter as personal as possible.
STEP 3: Take just a minute to add a bit about where you live, where you like to ride
and how much trail-based recreation means to you. Be certain to include your
name and address. A return email address is NOT sufficient! (“anonymous” emails
are often discarded).
EXTRA CREDIT: If you can add any personal testimony about your experiences enjoying this spectacular area, please take a minute to add that to your email.
Then click “Send” and you’re done!
Note that Secret Trail is not included as “Motorized Trail – Single-track” on the Coconino National Forest Travel Management Rule Proposed Action June 2007, Map 1 (http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/projects/tmr/tmr-graphics/pa-and-maps/pa-map-1.jpg).
My family and I use off-highway vehicles (OHV) for access and recreation on National Forests and other public lands. OHV recreation is a legitimate use of National Forests and is highly valued by a significant percentage of the public. I am outraged that you have stubbornly refused to even consider more than 25 miles of motorized trails in your travel plan.
The key flaw in the planning effort was that the agency chose to “focus on changes to the existing transportation system” (DEIS page 5). This means you will only consider making changes to routes that are “classified,” or can otherwise be defined as part of the “existing transportation system.”
On page 4 of the DEIS, you admit that there many other motorized routes being used by Forest visitors. “There are 124 miles of motorized trail on the CNF, only 25 of which are part of the system. The remaining 99 miles are unauthorized, and there are additional unauthorized trails of unknown total mileage that have not been inventoried.” These trails are currently legal for use today and many of them have been identified by the Coconino Trail Riders, a key stakeholder group, as highly valued by Forest visitors. Many of these trails would make logical additions to the classified trail system. But because they do not meet your bureaucratically constructed definition of the “existing transportation system,” these trails cannot even be considered in your planning process.
Limiting the process to the existing “system” might seem logical given the relatively large number of roads existing on the ground and the limited resources available to conduct planning. But roads are not trails, and they cannot provide the same recreational opportunities. OHV users pointed this out in earlier comments. By stubbornly refusing to find a way to consider the other existing trails you have limited the amount of motorized trails across all Alternatives to an arbitrary and capricious 25 miles. Doing so has resulted in a situation where all of your Alternatives fail to meet the purpose and need of your travel planning project.
On page 3 of your DEIS you appear to acknowledge this key flaw: “Following the implementation of TMR, the forest will be undertaking a forest wide motorized trail planning effort to evaluate additional opportunities for designation of trails for motorized travel. Further analysis of such trails will include public involvement under NEPA, thereby allowing further input and a more focused proposal for motorized trails on the CNF.”
While I appreciate you acknowledging a forest wide planning effort evaluating additional motorized trails is needed, simply stating such in the DEIS is not sufficient. I request that your Final EIS and your Record of Decision more clearly state the need for additional trails and provide clear direction for timely planning efforts that will meet that need in the foreseeable future. Also, such planning does not need to be undertaken at a “forest wide” level, and your Final EIS and Record of Decision should allow District level planning to occur. I also request that the Final EIS and Record of Decision postpone the closure of any of the 124 miles of existing trails until future planning efforts bring new trails on to the system.