Arizona Trail Club Needs Your Help To Stop Massive Closures

May 8, 2008
Arizona trail club is asking for our support. Action Item included.

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Last week Ric and I received a call from Keith Greenwalt from the Coconino Trail Riders (CTR) out of scenic Flagstaff, Arizona. Arizona's Coconino National Forest has just released their Travel Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The comment deadline is May 17, 2010, and Keith wanted BRC to forward an important comment for our members to send in.

Keith and I were sort of reminiscing that it's been over 21/2 years since CTR sent us their first Action Alert on the Coconino NF Travel Plan. I remember that original alert. It told the outrageous story about how the 1.8 million acre Coconino NF would only consider 25 miles of motorized trails.

Since then CTR, BRC and other OHV groups have been working hard to convince the Coconino NF that 25 miles just isn't enough. You might be wondering, after 2 and 1/2 years, hundreds of emails, calls, meetings and field trips, if we have had any success at all? The answer is no. At least not in the agency's recently released DEIS.

The Coconino NF has stubbornly refused to consider designating any additional trails in the DEIS. The agency has, however, (finally) acknowledged that there might be a need for than 25 miles of motorized trails and promise they will conduct a forest-wide planning effort to address that need, but only AFTER all of the existing trails are closed.

CTR has an excellent working relationship with the agency. But the "close everything now and maybe we'll open more in the future" simply isn't an option. CTR would support closures, but only as a new trail plan comes online.

This puts the gang at CTR in an unenviable situation. They must hope beyond hope the agency is sincere about the promised comprehensive trail system, and they must gear up to challenge the decision to close existing trails, including litigation, if necessary.

For now, CTR and BRC are requesting our supporters send a single, very specific comment to the Coconino NF. We've pasted the comment below, along with step-by-step instructions.

Thank you in advance for taking action!
Brian Hawthorne
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


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 HERE.

The CNF is home to just under 200 miles of epic single track and ATV trails. Sadly, the agency is planning to close all but 25 miles.

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!


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 are 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 key stakeholder groups 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 can not 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 can not 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 direct that District level planning can and should 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.


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