SFWDA commissioned study: the facts about Tellico OHV trail system (1 Viewer)

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SFWDA has been silent for a long time. The leadership has not risen up to respond to the detractors who say that we are not doing anything, and we are taking $$$ and not producing any return. Well, now you are going to see the results of our efforts.

SFWDA used some of those funds to CONTRACT with an engineering firm to do REAL SCIENCE and determine the FACTS about the water quality in the Tellico watershed.

This study was paid for by SFWDA. No, retract that....it was paid for by YOU if you are a member of SFWDA or supported the Rescue Tellico efforts, or attended an SFWDA event.

We believe that we have the science -- the FACTS -- to prove that the OHV Area is NOT damaging the watershed. We have the chemistry and the biology and the micro-organism counts and the turbidity levels. The executive summary of this study can be seen below.

We also obtained, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) an internal report done by the Trails Unlimited group (a bunch of respected USFS employees who are the pre-eminent experts on OHV trail science and operation) which made extensive recommendations for keeping the OHV Area open, but which the regional USFS appears to have ignored.

Here's the link:
http://www.sfwda.org/trails/tellico/study09/

The files are large. The main body of the document will be the part of most interest to the general public. The Trails Unlimited report is in Appendix E.

Executive summary of the study:

A. Tellico is a valuable resource to the local community and to regional and national OHV users. Unique site obstacles that draw notoriety across the nation include Slickrock, Helicopter Pad, Guardrail, Schoolbus and Rock Garden. Historically, trail users have contributed significantly to the local economy including lodging (hotels, campgrounds and cabins), restaurants, grocery stores, repair facilities, and other businesses. Users also support trail operations though payment of daily and yearly user fees.

B. Streams are healthy and have excellent water quality per North Carolina standards and are capable of sustaining viable, reproducing native trout populations. Degradation of water quality and aquatic habitat in Upper Tellico is non-existent. Stream channels are very stable and aptly convey stream flows without streambed erosion. Historic clear-cutting of land in Upper Tellico has contributed more to the off-site sediment transport than the trail system.

C. The current deteriorated trail conditions are largely the result of too many years of neglected maintenance by the USFS due to budget constraints. However, the trails and site obstacles are repairable and very much maintainable/sustainable after repair. We concur with the USFS Trails Unlimited conclusion that closure of any of the trails is neither warranted nor recommended. Costs of needed repairs total approximately $2.2 million. Annual cost of Operation and Maintenance (O&M) after repairs totals approximately $100,000 per year.​
Kudos to the Rescue Tellico team, and all the others who have been working quietly and effectively on this project for months.

This Friday (02/27/09) we will know what the FS wants to do with the OHV Area. As soon as we know, we will post the information, and the 30 day public comment period will begin.
 

TeddyBoy

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Just in case you guys dont read all of it:

"After careful consideration of the environmental effects of the alternatives as presented in the EA, my preferred alternative is Alternative C, which closes the OHV System. Alternative C would maintain over 10 miles of existing Forest system roads (currently also OHV trails), open year-round or seasonally, to provide public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation uses. Trail 1 (FS Road 420-1) would be paved and kept open as a through route for highway-legal vehicles."

Marisue Hilliard
Forest Supervisor
 
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Well I am glad I made it atleat once to Tellico before the Forest Nazi took it froom us. I will be writing and emails them.
 

TeddyBoy

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per the meetintg last night

Letters Sent to:

National Forests in North Carolina
Attn: Candace Wyman
160 A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801,


Must be received within 30 days of the release of the EA which makes it March 28 i believe.
 
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Ted,

Thanks for your personal words of encouragement. Here is my letter.
March 2, 2009

National Forests in North Carolina
Attn: Candace Wyman
160 A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Subject: Tellico Closure

Dear Forest Supervisor Candace

I am relatively new to off-road vehicle recreation as it has been something I have wanted to do since the early 1990’s. I heard many of my friends talk fondly of club/family weekend trips to various “old logging road/dirt roads/forest service area” destinations to enjoy “off-roading”. Unfortunately, pharmacy school and financial commitments got in the way until 2008 when I finally joined the GA Cruisers in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been on several trips and have truly enjoyed learning how to safely travel off road; respect the environment and maintain trails at the same time.
Recently, I’ve learned that the off road community, i.e. outdoor recreation enthusiasts and environmental causes seem to be at odds. This difference in opinion is something our mountain biking club faced when we helped build and maintain mountain bike trails throughout the Metro Atlanta area. Initially, we had our share of objectors who on occasion tried to block our trail building initiatives in the name of environmental concerns; however we were able to come to an agreement to provide financial support, volunteer trail maintenance support and ultimately provide much needed mountain biking recreation opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy.

I learned of Tellico and its issues prior to joining this group and hoped to one day traverse one of the great “Mecca’s” of OHV area(s) with my family and friends.
However, the recent decision for closure of the Tellico OHV area has put this goal in jeopardy and is very disappointing to myself as well as my family. It was very difficult to explain the decision to my eight year old stepson (Joseph) as you could see the heartbreak in his eyes and questions that followed because he looked so forward to going to Tellico this year. This is something that is so important to me because I always remember my father taking me four wheel drive and hiking treks to Stahl Peak in Montana to see where he worked for the forest service maintaining trails and as a lookout for fires during the summers in the 1940s.

I read in detail the RECOMMENDED TRAIL SYSTEM REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE PLAN for the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System
by Caliber Engineering Consultants, LLC commissioned by the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association with a research scientist background and nowhere do you read of any environmentally significant impacts to the water quality, rather you read rational recommendations to reroute some trails and mitigate drainage issues that may potentially cause runoff if left unchecked. Although the recommendations may not be ideal for everyone, I think the report provides a “blueprint” for action by those most affected by the decision to “step up” and make necessary changes. It also should be mentioned that each time a club member travels to Tellico; he/she contributes over $400 to the local economy, which in these difficult economic times cannot be overlooked.


I share the same concerns as other club members throughout the Southeast related to continued closing(s) of OHV area(s) across the southern United States that at some point in time, will leave no areas left to provide OHV recreation opportunities. As such, I request two things from you; 1) please reconsider your decision and 2) please give us (the off-road community and supporters) an opportunity to manage the area from a “grass roots” effort and allow us to utilize our individual talents, skills and financial support to make Tellico work for off road vehicle community and the community at large.

Sincerely,

Andrew M. Howe, PharmD



PS: I have enclosed a picture of my father during one of the summers he served with the Forest Service.
StahlPeak1942 copy2.jpg
 
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That's great.

However, Candace Wyman is not the Forest Supervisor. She is the "Upper Tellico Project Coordinator".

The letter will still count and is a good one. Thanks!
 

TeddyBoy

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Per Downhill Dave, Good job Dave, thanks!!!!!

As mentioned at our general meeting, one thing that we can do to help same Tellico is to contact our Ga. Senators. These are the men that were elected to the Federal level to serve the state of Georgia and it's citizens. THEY WORK FOR US.........

Sen. Johnny Isakson
phone: 770-661-0999
email: isakson.senate.gov/contactcfm

On his website click on "Constituent services" then click "Help with Federal agencies" (USFS is part of the Dept. of Agriculture)

Sen. Saxby Chambliss
Atl: phone 770-763-9090
DC phone 800-234-4208

Use this Email Link : OR this Email link

Hopefully I have provided their sites correctly. If not, Google "Georgia Senators" and that will give you all the info you will need to solicit their help. WE MUST DO THIS ASAP OR WE WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOSING TELLICO.
Downhill Dave, Secretary Ga. Cruisers
 
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This should help you guys get a letter written.

Pirate4x4.com Land Use - Letter Generator
All,
The EA report includes some comments regarding receiving canned letters and input in the past. My interpretation of these comments was that FS (the report authors) viewed these types of comments to be of lesser value than other comments. I consider this to reflect biased attitudes on their part, but it is also a road sign for us. Please take the time to edit and tailor your letter to reflect you as a unique individual.

Thanks (off soap box)
 
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You are correct, Larry. The Forest Service lumps all form letters into one pile and counts them as one letter...because they all say the same thing.
 
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That letter was a helpful start, but I wanted to make it more personal. I highlighted a few things in my letter

1) personal point of view of why it was important to me to keep Tellico open
2) Address the good the OHV community does by teaching how to approach sport from a "forest Friendly" point of view
3) address the key takeaways from the Caliber Engineering report as a blueprint for action
4) request the opportunity to co-manage the trails with all of our expertise.
Perhaps adding a scanned picture may help as well.

Another thought is to create some key bullet points for all to consider when writing a letter and let everyone go from there.

You are correct, Larry. The Forest Service lumps all form letters into one pile and counts them as one letter...because they all say the same thing.
 
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TeddyBoy

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All,
The EA report includes some comments regarding receiving canned letters and input in the past. My interpretation of these comments was that FS (the report authors) viewed these types of comments to be of lesser value than other comments. I consider this to reflect biased attitudes on their part, but it is also a road sign for us. Please take the time to edit and tailor your letter to reflect you as a unique individual.

Thanks (off soap box)
Click on the link and read! It is not a form letter as it gives a field for the body of the letter which allows you to write in your own comments. It is simply a tool that lays out the format of the letter in order to make the job a little more convenient for those who would not normally take the time. It also provides potential talking points that are intended to be put in your own words and not meant to be copied and pasted.

I quote:
"In this type of circumstance, form letters DO NOT WORK. You need to write a personal letter arguing for Tellico to remain open with reasons. The Forest Service MUST read and respond to each and every letter because of the NEPA process. You letter WILL be read!

PLEASE take 5 minutes to write a letter to the forest service. Since we cannot submit form letters, we have listed "talking points" for you to address in your letter. Please do not cut and paste them, write them in your own words"
 
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