BRC Comments Needed on Lakes Travel Management EA (1 Viewer)

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Date: 05/08/2008 BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!



Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Attention Colorado Recreationists!

The San Juan National Forest, Columbine Ranger District/Field Office is requesting comments on the Lakes Travel Management Environmental Assessment. The analysis area encompasses approximately 67,600 acres of National Forest system lands north of Durango and Bayfield. The pre-decisional Environmental Assessment (EA) is now available for a 30-day public comment period beginning May 8, 2008.

The proposal would designate roads, trails and areas open for motorized use and would institute regulations to allow certain recreational use while protecting other resource concerns. The action would prohibit cross-country motorized travel, and would designate what types of motorized vehicles may legally travel forest roads, trails, and areas. It would specify where dispersed camping and day use parking would be allowed, and would provide for closures on roads and trails based on seasonal conditions and/or wildlife concerns.

Written, hand-delivered, facsimile, electronic, and oral comments concerning this action will be accepted for 30 calendar days following the publication of a legal notice in the Durango Herald announcing the comment period for this project, which was published May 8, 2008.

Download the full EA and accompanying maps at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/projects/projects.shtml. For a hard copy of the documents, or for more information on the project, please contact Nancy Berry at 970-375-3304 or call the Columbine Ranger District at 970-884-2512.

Electronic copies can be obtained by sending an e-mail request to: chooley@fs.fed.us.

SUMMARY
The USDA Forest Service proposes to implement the 2005 Travel Management Rule through the designation of roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use by vehicle class and, if appropriate, by time of year within the Lakes Landscape. The project area encompasses 67,600 acres of National Forest system lands. It is located north of Durango and Bayfield on the Columbine Ranger District, San Juan National Forest, Archuleta, Hinsdale, and La Plata counties, Colorado.

This action is needed to provide a consistent national approach for motorized travel on National Forest system lands and to provide for motorized and non-motorized opportunities while protecting the biological resources. The proposal is designed to provide for appropriate motorized use yet eliminate cross-country motorized travel. It will provide for a sustainable system of roads, trails and areas and lessen the resource impacts from uncontrolled motorized travel. This analysis and decision will revise the current travel management, which allows for cross-country motorized travel by All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and motorcycles in some areas during the "summer" season. The action will not address over-the-snow winter travel.

ALTERNATIVES
In summary, the Forest Service evaluated the following alternatives in detail:

Alternative 1 - No Action
This alternative would allow for the existing travel management designations to remain in place; cross-country travel by ATVs and motorcycles in the existing "D" areas would continue to be permissible. Utilization of user-created routes and the proliferation of those routes would continue. This alternative would not address mixed use or off-road travel for dispersed camping. A motor vehicle use map (MVUM) would not be published. This alternative does not meet the requirements of the 2005 Travel Management Rule and cannot be chosen; it will be used as a basis for comparison of the alternatives.

Alternative 2 - Minimum Compliance with 2005 Travel Management Rule
This alternative would allow for existing travel management designations to remain in place except in areas where cross-country motorized travel is currently permitted. Cross-country motorized travel by ATVs and motorcycles in the existing "D" areas of the Lakes Landscape would no longer be allowed and all motorized travel would be restricted to existing open National Forest system roads and trails. No new motorized roads, trails or areas would be designated. The existing seasonal closure at Tuckerville would remain unchanged.

Alternative 3
This alternative would utilize many existing open Forest roads for all motorized vehicle use.
Some selected closed roads and user-created routes would be utilized to create loops and out-and-back trails for ATVs and motorcycles. Cross-country motorized travel by ATVs and motorcycles in the existing "D" areas of the Lakes Landscape would no longer be allowed, and all travel would be restricted to system roads and trails as designated under this analysis and decision. Road closures would be put into effect for all Forest roads to protect the road base from erosion and rutting during the wet seasons (December 1 - May 31).



The Forest roads, both system roads and user created routes, beyond Tuckerville would be closed to all motorized vehicle travel.

The spur roads (NFSR 597B, NFSR 597C and NFSR 597D) off the East Florida road (NFSR 597) would be closed to all motorized vehicle use.

The Forest road between Florida Campground and Transfer Park Campground and the roads within Transfer Park Campground would be closed to non-highway legal vehicles.

The East Vallecito road (NFSR 603) would be closed to non-highway legal vehicles.

Red Creek road (NFSR 599) would be graveled for approximately 1.1 mile a parking area would be constructed and the remaining 0.6 mile of this road would be closed to all motorized vehicle use.

All other existing open Forest roads in this landscape would remain open to all motorized vehicle use.

The Runlett trail (NFST 530) from milepost (MP) 0 to MP 3 would remain open to ATV and motorcycle use. The remaining segment from MP 3 to MP 5 would be closed to all motorized use.

Alternative 4
This alternative would be the same as Alternative 3 with the following changes:



Middle Mountain Road (NFRS 724) would remain open beyond Tuckerville to a parking area located approximately 0.1 mile from the Weminuche Wilderness boundary.

A requirement of this alternative would be monitoring of motorized designations in the Tuckerville area for a three-year period after the Decision. If users continue to use non-designated routes and create new routes above Tuckerville, a closure to all motorized vehicle use beyond Tuckerville would be put into effect.

The Runlett trail (NFST 530) would remain open and designated for ATV and motorcycle travel from MP 0 to the private property boundary, a distance of five miles (one-way).

Eight miles of single track trail would be designated in the future for motorcycles pending further design and re-construction.

A Closure Order would be put into effect for the area above the gate at Tuckerville from April 15th - June 15th annually to protect the naturally occurring herd of bighorn sheep during their lambing period.

The four routes above Tuckerville identified for decommissioning (Figure 8) would have the highest priority within this landscape as funds become available.

All Action Alternatives
The following items would occur under any of the action alternatives:
A Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use by vehicle type and by time of year (36 CFR 261.13) would be published; the designated road and trail system would be signed; closures of non-designated roads, trails and areas would be accomplished as money becomes available; mixed use analysis would be conducted; parking for the purpose of dispersed camping within 300 feet of a designated system road would continue to be allowed where such travel would not result in resource damage; and day use parking off of a designated route would be allowed within one vehicle length from the edge of designated roads.

Based upon the effects of the alternatives, the responsible official will decide what roads, trails and areas will be open to what type of motorized vehicles; what seasonal or wildlife closures would be implemented; and what distance motorized vehicles will be allowed to travel from forest roads for dispersed camping and day use parking. Also, the responsible official will determine routes for decommissioning, and the appropriate mitigation and monitoring measures to protect the resources while providing both motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities.

The responsible official may choose an alternative in its entirety, may modify an alternative, or may craft a decision merging specific components from different alternatives.

COMMENT PERIOD
Hand-delivered, facsimile, electronic, and oral comments concerning this action will be accepted until June 7, 2008.

Written comments may be mailed to: District Ranger, PO Box 439, Bayfield, CO 81122, or hand-delivered to the Columbine District Office at 367 Pearl Street in Bayfield. Comments may also be faxed to Attn: Camela Hooley, 970-884-2428.

Comments can be e-mailed to comments-rocky-mountain-san-juan-columbine@fs.fed.us. If comments are sent electronically, please submit them in plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Microsoft Word (.doc) format in a common font such as "Times." For electronically mailed comments, the sender should normally receive an automated acknowledgement from the agency as a confirmation of receipt. If the sender does not receive an automated acknowledgement receipt of comments, it is the sender's responsibility to ensure timely receipt by other means (36 CFR 215.6 (4) (iii)).

Oral comments must be provided in person at the Columbine District office during normal business hours or via telephone to either Nancy Berry at 970-375-3304 or Camela Hooley at 970-884-1414. It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit them by the close of the comment period.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.
Thanks in advance for your involvement,


Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

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