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Tahoe National Forest Travel Plan Deadline

Monday, December 15, 2008
BRC's Action Alert subscribers already know that the Tahoe National Forest released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Motorized Travel Management for public review and comment. Kudos to California's OHV community for vigorously participating in this important travel plan.

That vigorous involvement is a good thing because, unfortunately, the Tahoe's draft plan is significantly flawed and needs to be changed.

The Tahoe National Forest is a recreation "crown jewel" in the West and is highly valued by the OHV community. We need your help in protecting this national treasure.

That is why we are asking all of our members and supporters to send a comment letter to the Tahoe before the December 26, 2008 deadline. Route-specific comments based on your personal experience are critically important if the FS is going to come out of this plan with an acceptable travel system. It is also important for your continued membership in local OHV clubs and organizations working to protect your trails. In addition, those clubs will play a key role in implementation of the final plan.

If you haven't already sent comments into the Tahoe, we've prepared some general comment suggestions, as well as a letter generator, for your convenience. Your comment letter will help us fix the problems with the Tahoe's draft plan. Please send your letter today!

SITUATION:

The Tahoe National Forest's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Motorized Travel Management is available for public review and comment. The Forest has developed seven alternatives for managing motor vehicle use on the Tahoe National Forest. Unfortunately, the Tahoe's draft plan (Preferred Alternative) is significantly flawed and needs to be changed.

LEARN MORE ON THE WEB:

Copies of all DEIS documents and maps are available on the Forest's website at:  http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/projects_plans/ohv_inv/DEIS_overview.shtml Please review the documents and maps closely and try to make your comments as site-specific as possible, preferably by referring to those specific roads or trails you have concerns with. It is important to remember this proposal is just a draft. Any route-specific comment is critical in refining this draft proposal prior to the final decision in March 2009.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

Recreationists need to make route-specific comments on the Travel Plan before December 26, 2008!
If you want, you can use BRC's letter generator, but please know that personal emails are much more effective! It has an easy interface for adding additional comments and sending your letter.

Old-fashioned snail mail is also effective. If you prefer you, can mail written comments, but please make sure they are postmarked by December 26, 2008. Mail written comments to: Travel Management Team, Tahoe National Forest, 631 Coyote Street, Nevada City, CA 95959.

It is essential that as many riders as possible send comments. This is not a voting process, but the strength of numbers can help amplify the issues raised. If they get 500 comments about Trail X you can bet they will at least look over their analysis of Trail X. Do not assume that your riding buddy's excellent comments will carry the day, or that someone else will do a better job than you. Everyone needs to help!

INSTRUCTIONS:

Be polite. Be Professional. Be on time. (The comment deadline is Friday, December 26, 2008)

1. Open your email program and begin an email to: 
tnf_rte_desig@fs.fed.us
2. In the Subject Line of your email, please put: "Travel Management DEIS"
3. It's always good to include a brief paragraph about how much you and your family enjoy motorized use on National Forest lands. Then use the comment suggestions below to write your email. Concise, personal, route-specific input is key, along with a proposed solution.

COMMENT SUGGESTIONS:

The off-highway vehicle community generally supports the "travel limited to designated roads, trails and areas" paradigm. What the OHV community does not support is being presented with a "range" of management alternatives, which all represent a significant reduction in OHV opportunity. Neither the letter nor spirit of the Travel Management Rule limits the Forest to an aggressive closure plan, yet the Tahoe's Alternatives offer little more than that.

I believe the Forest should develop a more access-friendly updated Alternative 5 or Alternative 6. The modified alternative should include keeping the Foresthill OHV Area open all year since it is an important key element in the statewide destination OHV area matrix.

Other topics that should be covered in a modified alternative include mixed use, dispersed camping, winter wheeled recreation, rainfall-based closures vs. forest-wide and lengthy seasonal closures, and designating more areas as open. Some lower elevation trails should be designated for use all year as well.

DESIGNATION OF USER ROUTES - At the public DEIS meetings, the agency related to the attendees that the Forest has approximately 1,400 miles of historic user routes with demonstrated easements or that do not cross private property. In Alternative 5, the agency only identifies 282.8 miles of user routes brought forth by OHV stakeholders to the Forest as important recreational opportunities. The agency has overlooked a significant number of said user routes and the number of motorized trails added to the National Forest Transportation System should be significantly higher in Alternative 5.

UPDATE AND REVISE ALTERNATIVE 5 (BRC Alternative) - I ask the Forest to update its version of Alternative 5, since it did not fully develop a number of key tenets in BRC's original proposal. Those elements include using rainfall-based closure criteria over seasonal closures at appropriate sites, designating at least the 282.8 miles - if not more - of user routes in Alternative 5, allowing winter wheeled use on important routes, and designating more "Open" areas.

FORESTHILL OHV AREA - I encourage the Forest to designate the Foresthill OHV Area as open all year and to use the rainfall-based closure criteria at other destination OHV areas, including Georgetown, Cow Mountain, and Stonyford. Area-specific rainfall-based closures are preferable where appropriate to time-based seasonal landscape level or forest-wide closures. Rainfall-based closures are appropriate and necessary management tools for OHV areas that are part of the California statewide "OHV destination area matrix." They are also appropriate prescriptions for lower elevation routes more closely associated with dispersed OHV recreational uses.

ADDITIONAL MIXED USE DESIGNATIONS - Designate Rattlesnake Road as mixed use. This is an important connector or corridor that provides OHV access in the Cisco Grove area. It is a vital element in providing safe and legal OHV access to the Forest. Local clubs and users may bring forth additional roads that should be designated as mixed use. I urge the agency to review Rattlesnake Road and other roads identified by public comment.

DESIGNATION OF EXPERT LEVEL MOTORCYCLE OR 4WD ROUTES - The agency should again review site-specific comments submitted by local interests regarding the inclusion of historic expert level (single or double black diamond) user motorcycle or 4WD routes, or conduct a specific workshop with user groups on this topic. I believe the agency may not appreciate said routes in a regional context where the Forest currently affords the public a unique, high quality and expert-level trail experience not found elsewhere in Region 5. The agency should continue to provide for some level of winter snow 4WD recreation. Such 4WD recreation is an important and historic use feature of the Forest. Designate the Fordyce Trail as open all year. Other key winter 4WD routes should be considered and designated as well, as identified by user input. 


Thank you in advance for your support,
Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

PS: Please forward this alert to your friends and family, especially if they ride on the Tahoe NF. Encourage them to subscribe to BRC's Action Alert list so they get the latest alerts and info on road and trail closures across the state.

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