Archive | December, 2018

Trails Preservation Alliance 2018 End of Year Report

2018 TPA End of Year Report

This End of Year Report provides an overview of the TPA’s 2018 activities, significant accomplishments and events. For a more detailed review, please visit our “News” tab on the TPA website (http://www.coloradotpa.org). This has been a challenging year for TPA and its partners to continue to keep access to public lands open and available for multiple-use recreation, especially off-road motorcycles and OHVs. However, 2018 has also been an exciting year with the TPA’s Colorado 600 and several accomplishments that we know will help maintain our freedom to recreate on public lands.

2018 Success Stories

TPA begins 2018 with a new Board of Directors – Early in 2018 the TPA designated a new Board of Directors composed of:
Ned Suesse
Dennis Larratt
Jason Elliot
Scott Bright
Don Riggle

2018 Colorado 600 (http://www.colorado600.org)
This year’s event once again brought riders to South Fork, CO, in mid September for a week of trail and adventure riding. Former AMA National Motocross Champion and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Broc Glover attended this year and provided his insightful and entertaining remarks and to the annual banquet gathering. Also attending this year’s 600 was Chad de Alva, a writer and photographer for Upshift Online magazine. You can check out Chad’s excellent article at https://www.upshiftonline.com in the magazine’s October issue.

The TPA and every Colorado 600 participant over the past 10 years owes the Texas Sidewinders Motorcycle Club a huge “THANKS” for its decade-long support of the TPA and specifically the Colorado 600. Members of the Sidewinders have selflessly volunteered to lead, organize and perform all of the many tasks, duties and responsibilities it takes to put on a first class event like the Colorado 600.

To see a video from the 2018 Colorado 600, visit: https://www.coloradotpa.org/2018/12/01/colorado-600-video/

Partners in the Outdoors Conference with Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Presented by CPW, the annual Partners in the Outdoors Conference brings together stakeholders engaged in the future of Colorado’s conservation and recreational opportunities. The conference provides a platform to network, collaborate, and create initiatives that connect coalitions of organizations, agencies, schools, businesses, and communities. TPA representatives attended the conference in 2017 and was one of the only organizations advocating for multi-use and motorized recreation at the conference. In 2018, the TPA was selected to increase its participation and support of motorized recreation by leading one of the conference’s “break out” sessions. The TPA’s session was titled “Management of Multiple-use Recreation on Public Lands”.

New efforts to increase motorized recreational opportunities on Colorado’s West Slope
The TPA has engaged David Lykke to be the TPA’s Representative for Western Colorado and partner on the ground with the BLM, local clubs and other organizations in the Grand Junction area. Due in large part to Lykke’s efforts, the Grand Junction BLM Field Office has been supportive of TPA’s request for the development of additional motorized single-track trails. The BLM is on task to plan and construct one new route per year and is making positive progress to accomplish this goal. In 2018, the BLM opened a 3-mile section of new technical single-track just to the south of Grand Junction. This is very close to town and conveniently ties into an 8-mile section of trail built about nine years ago. The BLM is also finishing construction of a 15-mile section of trail that connects to a larger 60-mile loop to the north of the Grand Junction valley. With a $1000 donation from the TPA and an additional $900 from two local motorcycle clubs, the BLM trail crew has almost completed the trail and is expected to open in early 2019. Project planning is similarly underway for another single-track trail south of Grand Junction and is expected to be open to motorcycle riders in 2020.

Finally, TPA has been providing advice and expertise as the Grand Junction airport expands and encroaches on existing OHV recreation areas. To mitigate the loss of OHV opportunities immediately adjacent to the airport, the expansion project is directly paying for OHV facility improvements next to the old MX track. The project and improvements will include gravel parking areas, fencing, toilets and overall track improvements.

TPA partners with Back Country Discovery Routes
Over the past year, TPA has solidified a teaming relationship and partnership with the Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR), a non- profit organization (ridebdr.com). Similar to TPA, the BDR’s mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual- sport and adventure motorcycles. Through education, advocacy, and promotion of responsible motorcycle travel, BDR seeks to preserve backcountry motorcycling opportunities for generations to come. Since the two organizations have complementary missions, the TPA and BDR have formed a joint partnership to save the sport for all off-road motorcycle riding for future generations.

Legal Issues

TPA & Partners file Lawsuit
The TPA, San Juan Trail Riders, and the Public Access Preservation Association (PAPA) jointly filed a lawsuit in September challenging the Forest Service’s Rico/West Dolores Travel Management Project Decision in the San Juan National Forest. The three partners filing the lawsuit have long enjoyed motorcycle access along prized single-track trails within the Project area. The USFS’ Decision would roughly close 30 percent of the trails, and impose seasonal restrictions eliminating motorcycle use between Nov. 1 and May 31 each year. The case was filed in federal court for the U.S. District of Colorado, bringing claims under the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, various regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act. The trails at issue are found in an area along the Dolores River, generally between Durango and Telluride in southwestern Colorado. The case is in its early stages, and will likely proceed into 2019 under the Court’s Administrative Procedure docket. For more information, be sure to visit TPA’s website at: https://www.coloradotpa.org/2018/09/18/trail- riders-bring-suit-challenging-rico-west-dolores-plan/

Legislative Issues

Continental Divide Wilderness/Gunnison Public Lands/ San Juan Wilderness Proposals
The TPA along with the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) provided extensive comments to all elected officials involved in these discussions addressing concerns about existing protections of multiple usage in proposed Wilderness and the proximity of new boundaries to existing trails. In addition to these formal comments, a huge public response was received opposing each of these Proposals. The Proposals continue to languish and our efforts and comments on the San Juan and Continental Divide avoided designation of these proposed Wilderness areas.

Limited club immunity legislation passage in Colorado
Additional protection for clubs performing public stewardship projects was obtained in Colorado, which will hopefully reduce
insurance costs to these clubs and allowed OHV grant funds to flow to these clubs more quickly. This legislation passed the entire Colorado Legislature with only two “no” votes.

County Road Safety legislation undergoes significant revisions prior to passage in Colorado
Legislation had been proposed that would have given local communities wide authority to require safety equipment for OHVs used on local community roads, some of which was prohibited by the manufacturer. The legislation was amended to require only manufacturer approved safety equipment.

Endangered Species Act Reform efforts
The OHV community has been working with both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Western Governors Association to reform the Endangered Species Act and related regulations to make this act both more efficient in protecting species and to avoid unintended impacts to many activities, including trails.

Fire Borrowing fix with US Forest Service
The motorized community worked with a large number of partners to address how the USFS funds firefighting efforts. Agreed upon language was adopted and should be in the 2020 budget. We are optimistic that this should expand or at least slow the decline of recreation budgets.

Exclusionary Corridors for Continental Divide Scenic Trail
Wilderness advocates and others continue to push for motorized exclusionary corridors around trails identified under the National Trails System Act. The corridors are proposed for National Forests such as the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison, Rio Grande, Santa Fe and many others in California, as well. A California forest recently returned a successful appeal on a winter travel plan regarding designations of exclusionary corridors around the Pacific Crest Trail.

Renewed calls for larger identifiable license numbers on all vehicles
In an effort very similar to one proposed by Responsible Trails America a few years ago, several groups opposed to motorized recreation again were pressing for larger registration stickers and full-sized license plates on OHVs. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted this down as a result of TPA’s efforts

Miscellaneous Legislative Actions in 2018:

  • TPA supported federal legislative efforts to withdraw several Wilderness Study Area (WSA) designations on several important OHV accessible areas in Colorado
  • Supported reauthorization/renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Detailed involvement in a variety of recreational legislative pieces, such as Recreation Not Red Tape Act, GO Act, Endangered Species Act Reform and many others
  • Extensive input and discussion with National leadership on the fire borrowing fix, which changes how the USFS funds fire fighting and hopefully will expand funding to the agency as 56 percent of the USFS budget was used for fire fighting in 2017;
  • Active participation in ongoing efforts to allow OHV recreation around Bears Ears National Monument in Utah

Other Activities

TPA Affiliated Clubs fight to maintain motorized access
The Tomichi Trail Riders and Gunnison Valley OHV Alliance of Trailriders (The GOATs) have both been participating and representing motorized trail riding in the Gunnison Public Land Initiative (GPLI). The GPLI has been less than supportive toward motorized recreation and is working to stymie future trails and reasonable expansions of motorized recreational opportunities in the Gunnison area.

Similarly, in the Durango and southwest corner of the state, the San Juan Trail Riders, along with the Public Access Preservation Association (PAPA) are both representing motorized trail riders to ensure fair and equitable access and recreational opportunities are considered and included in the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act.

TPA continues to support PPORA
The Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) is a collaboration of businesses, nonprofits, land management entities, and individuals who recognize the value of the Pikes Peak region’s incredible natural and recreation assets. The TPA was a founding member of the PPORA and continues to participate in PPORA functions, often with the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association and provides advice and expertise on multiple-use recreation and campaigns for increased opportunities for motorized recreation in the Pikes Peak area.

Colorado Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Council
Three years ago, the TPA was selected to be one of the founding members of the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Council. Of the 29 members on the Governor’s Council, the TPA is the only member that is associated with any type of motorized/OHV recreation. The TPA has assumed this responsibility to help educate and remind other Council members that multiple-use and diverse forms of outdoor recreation all benefit from the efforts and funding provided by the CPW OHV Registration and Grant program. The TPA is also actively supporting a registration or “use fee” for mountain bikes in Colorado similar to the existing CPW OHV Registration program.

RGNF Forest Plan Revision
The Rio Grande National Forest is currently revising its 1996 forest plan. The forest plan is the overarching document that guides all management decisions and activities on the entire Rio Grande National Forest, including activities such as wildfire management, grazing, timber production, recreation, wildlife management, and firewood cutting. The recently finalized 2012 Planning Rule for all national forests governs this Revision process. The Rio Grande is the first forest in the Rocky Mountain Region to undertake this effort. The TPA has been a stakeholder and participant in the Forest Plan revision since the project began. The TPA, partnering with COHVCO, has been the principal advocate for multiple-use and motorized recreation and has been routinely providing review and input to the Forest Plan revision process to ensure recreational opportunities are maintained and hopefully increased for off-road motorcycles, OHVs and other forms of motorized recreation.

GMUG Forest Plan Revision
Similar to the RGNF Forest Plan Revision, the TPA and COHVCO are also partnered stakeholders and advocates for multiple-use and motorized recreation as the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests work to revise and update their Forest Plan. In 2006, the GMUG put a multi-year plan revision effort on hold until the Colorado Roadless Areas were defined and a final planning rule was established for the Forest Service. The GMUG’s prior planning effort was extensive, between February 2002 and November 2003 and the public comments were many. The GMUG Forest Planning team will use the previous work as a springboard for the current process incorporating new science, requirements and previous public input.

New Club is Making a Difference in Salida
The Central Colorado Mountain Riders (CCMR) is a non-profit 501(c)3 motorcycle club based out of Salida, CO. The club’s mission is to preserve, maintain and create motorized trail opportunities in the Central Colorado area through cooperation, education, etiquette and stewardship. Founded in 2016 with seed money from the TPA, CCMR has experienced many successes in its short existence. The club’s most notable accomplishment to date has been the “sign project” that aims to educate users on the nature of multiple-use trails and proper trail etiquette. These signs, first installed on Monarch Pass on the North end of the Monarch Crest Trail, will ultimately end up on all multiple-use trails within the Salida Ranger District.

New Club in Montrose gets rolling
Western Colorado Riders & Enthusiasts (WESTCORE) was established in the Montrose area of western Colorado. WESTCORE’s mission is to keep public lands accessible to all user groups in Western Colorado. Notable 2018 accomplishments include:

  • Club cleanup day on BLM lands with the collection of over 10,000 lbs. of trash.
  • Clearing over 400 trees and logs from multiple-use trails.
  • Signed a volunteer agreement and adopted trails with the USFS
  • Began planning with the USFS Ouray Ranger District to replace trail signs on multiple-use trails on the Uncompahgre Plateau, Lou Creek and Alpine Trail
  • Established a working relationship with the local power company to donate the use of a hydraulic dump trailer for club projects.
  • Check out WESTCORE’s website at www.westcore.co

Pike and San Isabel National Forest Public Motor Vehicle Use Environmental Impact Study (EIS)
The TPA in partnership with COHVCO continues to monitor the progress of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest Public Motor Vehicle Use Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The Draft EIS is expected to be completed in early 2019. The Draft EIS will be available for public review and comment, followed by a Draft Record of Decision, which will be subject to objections. The TPA previously prepared and submitted extensive comments for this project (https://www.coloradotpa.org/2016/09/07/pike-san-isabel- national-forest-travel-management-eis/). Over 30 percent of the existing multiple use trails and roads throughout the Pike and San Isabel National Forests are at risk of closure and lost to multiple- use and OHV use. It will be very important for all multiple-use/OHV users to review the draft EIS in detail and submit their individual comments. The TPA generally supports the proposed Alternative D with modifications.

OHV Workshops
The OHV community has completed two NOHVCC inspired Great Trails training workshops, one in Canon City/Royal Gorge area and one in Silverthorne, CO that brought OHV users and land management maintenance crews together to educate all parties on the best methods to build and maintain trails. Efforts are moving forward to conduct a third workshop to address strategic trails issues.

Economic Contributions from Motorized Recreation
The TPA is aware of a large conflict between the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) estimates and the new Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) documenting motorized recreational spending from all sources, including new research from the Department of Commerce (DoC). While the DoC recently identified motorized recreation as the largest spending category, with motorcycles and ATVs as the fastest growing segments of the recreation economy, OIA says that motorized recreation has declined by almost 50 percent over the last several years. The TPA, in partnership with COHVCO, is working to clarify this rather comical conflict, but anticipates this discrepancy will be hard to resolve.

Collaborative Meetings with Land Managers – TPA has been an active participant in:

  • Personal meetings in Washington, DC, with top USFS and BLM leadership on a wide range of motorized recreational issues including limited funding, reducing the “sue and settle” culture of litigation against the agencies on motorized issues; streamlining planning and limited trail access with expanding state and regional populations
  • Meetings with the new BLM state director to address the strength of registration/motorized funding program and needs of motorized users moving forward
  • Continuing to maintain and expand our Memorandum of Understanding with the BLM State Office
  • Meetings with individual Field Offices to address and improve motorized opportunities in that Field Office, such as the meeting with the Royal Gorge FO which was attended by more than 40 OHV users and established goals and objectives from motorized users for the FO
  • Meetings with the Regional Office of USFS on expansion of stewardship programs and motorized trail access throughout the state and implementation of the 2015 National Trails Stewardship Act requirements
  • Meetings with USFS Forest Supervisors both coordinated and individually to expand motorized opportunities on the Forests and specific projects such as Lefthand Canyon project in the Boulder Ranger District and the South Rampart Travel Management Plans on the Pikes Peak Ranger District
  • Providing advice to the State Trails Committee/ Program and guiding both motorized and non-motorized grant program funding
  • Providing detailed presentations and actively participating in panels on trails at annual Partners in Outdoors meetings with CPW, which is attended by more than 500 recreational leaders
  • Continuing active involvement in the CO-OP meetings with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The CO-OP convenes approximately two dozen leaders in the recreational community quarterly in order to create larger understanding of the motorized/OHV grant process and maintenance program and aligning support for state and federal legislation such as the Future Generations Act, which altered how CPW funded recreation and renewal of the Colorado Lottery, which provides significant funding for recreation in Colorado
  • Representing motorized recreation interests in the Forest Health Advisory Committee to allow for greater understanding of land management decisions and challenges that are faced by the recreational community due to poor forest health and how the exceptionally poor forest health relates to Wilderness Proposals
  • Continued involvement in Department of Commerce (DoC) efforts to develop detailed analysis of economic impacts from motorized recreation and understanding why there is such a difference between DoC and Outdoor Industry Association analysis.

Forest/Field office/Collaborative Planning
TPA provided extensive comments on national efforts such as US Forest Service NEPA streamlining and the Council on Environmental Quality regarding our experiences with NEPA failures and the need to update the Wilderness Inventory process and Travel Management Orders from the 1970s.
TPA provided extensive comments on Rio Grande and GMUG NF in Colorado and Gila and Santa Fe NF in New Mexico on a wide range of issues including economics; Illegal nature of corridors around Continental Divide Trail; Economics; previous releases of lands for non- wilderness multiple use by Congress;
Provided extensive comments regarding the revision of the Endangered Species Act implementation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service;
Actively commented and monitored Gunnison Public Lands efforts which failed to address fire risks, significantly expanded Wilderness recommendations and failed to engage with most user groups;
Provided extensive comments opposing the Teton Public Lands efforts outside Jackson Hole, WY.

New Off-road Motorcycle Clubs
In addition to the two clubs mentioned before, the TPA also was able to assist in the forming of two new off road motorcycle clubs this year, one in Colorado and one in northern New Mexico.

  • In the Steamboat Springs area, Mountain Trails Access (MTA) was formed to assist in preserving riding in and around the Steamboat area.
  • The TPA also had the opportunity to assist with the establishment the Enchanted Circle Trails Alliance (ECTA), which will focus its advocacy efforts to protecting motorcycle trail riding opportunities in Northern New Mexico.

Major Projects for 2019

Following is a list of projects that will be the focus of the TPA, the Board of Directors and the TPA’s team of consultants moving forward in 2019. The list is not meant to be all-inclusive but represents the majority of significant efforts that are currently being funded, worked and tracked by the TPA. As new challenges emerge and develop, the TPA will mobilize and advise our local affiliated clubs and organizations to engage with their local land managers and task our consultants to research and prepare relevant documentation as directed by the Board of Directors.

  • 2019 TPA Winter Meeting – the TPA will be hosting the first annual Winter Strategic Planning Meeting for TPA associated clubs, and select individuals who help the TPA accomplish its mission. The goal of this first meeting will be to introduce organizations across the state, offer support from the TPA, and refine common goals and objectives for the coming year and beyond. The meeting will be held in Frisco, CO, on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. For more information visit the TOA’s website at: https://www.coloradotpa.org/news/.
  • Continue to pursue and support the litigation for the Rico/ West Dolores Travel Management Project Decision on the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest until an amicable solution has been developed and agreed upon.
  • Continue to monitor and participate in the Pike and San Isabel National Forest Public Motor Vehicle Use Environmental Impact Study (EIS) (aka PSI) to ensure that off-road motorcycle and OHV recreational opportunities are preserved, protected and expanded to meet the public’s needs for access and recreation.
  • Resume evaluation of different areas in Colorado for hosting the Colorado 600/Trails Awareness Symposium.
  • Continue the TPA’s participation and engagement in the Forest Plan revisions for the RGNF and GMUG.
  • Conduct an annual meeting for TPA affiliated off-road motorcycle clubs and organizations to share information and coordinate our collective efforts to preserve the sport of off-road motorcycle travel on public lands.
  • Continue to develop and build enhanced relationships with Federal and State land mangers throughout the State.
  • Seek to improve the TPA’s reputation and relationship with leaders and staff at the USFS’ Region 2 Headquarters in Denver.
  • The TPA in partnership with the SJTR and PAPA will pursue re-opening several historic motorcycle single-track trials in and around the Silverton area. The area containing these trails has recently come under the supervision of the Gunnison Field Office of the BLM after a transfer from the USFS.
  • Development of a State Motorized Action Plan – This project is in its infancy and would seek a series of meetings throughout the state to identify the needs and desires of the motorized community. This would be similar to efforts that BLM offices in several other states and would provide determinations of the meetings be reduced to actionable order signed by the DC office. The Forest Service has expressed significant interest in participating in these meetings as well.

Donations

During 2018 the TPA made donations to several motorcycle organizations that included:

WESTCORE (www.westcore.co)
Mountain Trails Access (MTNAXSS)
Motorized Trails Riders (MTA)
Ride with Respect (Utah) (https://www.ridewithrespect.org)
NMOHVA (https://www.nmohva.org)
COHVCO (https://cohvco.clubexpress.com)

Summary

The annual Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium has been our most significant fundraising activity over the years and will be held 8-13 September 2019 at the Monarch Mountain Lodge, 16 miles west of Salida, CO in 2019. The new venue at Monarch Mountain will provide many new and varied opportunities for single-track, Dual Sport and “Big Bike” riding and exploring. The 2019 KTM Adventure Rally returns to Colorado in 2018 and will immediately follow the 2018 Colorado 600 in Breckenridge.

The TPA appreciates our ongoing multi-year support agreement with KLIM (http://www.klim.com). Having the support of the #1 Off-Road apparel manufacturer has been a major endorsement of the TPA mission.

The TPA is also very grateful for the sustained generous support provided by Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (https://www.rockymountainatvmc.com) which continues to be a major financial supporter of our work.

We are also extremely thankful to our corporate sponsors: KTM, USA, Motion Pro, Centura, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires and our newest partner, Elite Motorsports in Loveland, CO. (https://www.elitektm.com).

The TPA encourages all of our friends and followers to support these businesses and manufacturers who help the TPA fight for your rights and work diligently to keep your motorized trails open and accessible.

The TPA could not survive without all of the donations provided by individuals, riders and other off-road businesses that have supported the TPA for the past 10 years!

The TPA continues to be a volunteer-led organization, placing the vast majority of our annual donations for direct use in saving our sport and recreational activities. The TPA Board of Directors thanks all of our supporters: individuals, corporations and clubs. Without their support and your donations, we could not enjoy all of the accomplishments that we have achieved thus far. The future will undoubtedly continue to demand our collective teamwork, vigilance, resolve and dedication, and donations.

Please contact us for suggestions concerning how you can help with the ongoing work TPA is pursuing on your behalf to save our sport in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Your TPA Board of Directors

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Rio Grande National Forest, Forest Plan Revision Comments

Dan Dallas
Forest Supervisor
Rio Grande National Forest 1803 W. Highway 160
Monte Vista, CO 81144

Rio Grande National Forest, Forest Plan Revision Comments

Dear Supervisor Dallas:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Trails Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”). The TPA is a volunteer organization created to be a viable partner to public lands managers, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding and multiple-use recreation. The TPA acts as an advocate for the sport and takes the necessary action to ensure that the USFS and BLM allocate a fair and equitable percentage of public lands access to diverse trail multi-use recreational opportunities. COHVCO is a grassroots advocacy organization representing approximately 170,000 registered off-highway vehicle (“OHV”), snowmobile and 4WD users in Colorado seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all motorized recreationists in the protection and promotion of multi-use and off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations. TPA and COHVCO are referred to collectively in this correspondence as “the Organizations”. The Organizations offer the following comments and suggestions regarding the ongoing Rio Grande National Forest Plan Revision and the associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Organizations have reviewed the most current versions of the Forest Plan Revision documents and have identified the following issues:

  • Draft Forest Plan, page 91, Table 12. Suitable activities for each management area. Management Areas 5 and 3.6 are open to Motorized Travel on designated routes, therefore the corresponding boxes in Table 12 need to be checked/annotated to reflect this suitability.Table 12 from Draft Forest Plan
  • Draft Forest Plan, page 84, Proposed Management Area 3.6-Upper Tier Colorado Roadless Area. Wording correctly recognizes motorized travel on designated routes within Roadless Areas as a recreational opportunity. Newly established Management Areas (MAs) 3.5 and 3.6 are Roadless Areas, thus it is critical that Forest Service wording remain consistent to identify motorized use’s place within these However, as described in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on page 274, there is misleading wording regarding motorized recreational opportunities within “Colorado Roadless Areas.” “Motorized vehicle use is currently limited to designated routes outside wilderness or Colorado roadless areas. Motorized use is also prohibited in some eligible wild, scenic, and recreational river segments and research natural areas.” Motorized use is indeed allowed on designated routes within Roadless Areas so the current wording is conflicting.
  • DEIS Alternative B. The Desired Summer Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) map is far too limiting for both the motorized community and land managers in terms of areas identified as Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized. The ROS Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized spectrum are areas for “non-motorized exploration” and are “managed for non-motorized use” according to Forest Service definition. The proposed Alternative B map has too many areas identified as Semi-Primitive Non- Motorized and the map is almost identical to the existing 1996 Forest Plan ROS map. If this map were to become final and approved, motorized trail opportunities will be fragmented. The new Forest Plan is supposed to be more flexible for land managers, the Alternative B map will not provide or allow for an increase in flexibility. Land managers seeking to utilize Adaptive Management after Monitoring will have their options limited by this map as depicted in Alternative B. Protecting management flexibility will be critical to accomplish Adaptive Management Alternative C, ROS map is much more reasonable and flexible and will enable implementing options such as designating new motorized trails to be less restrictive for land managers. Guidance maps are useful, but if they are not well thought out or drawn wrong, they will limit future management. Similar to Habitat Fragmentation, the Organizations and the public do not want to see Trail Fragmentation. If initial guidance is too restrictive; alternatives for utilizing Adaptive Management will remain limited and too restrictive. Forest Service guidance, which certainly has an intent is to provide well thought out trails systems, compels having loops, connectivity and the ability to disperse trail user pressure from areas like the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST). For example if most of the areas adjacent to the CDNST are in the ROS spectrum Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized this will limit future adaptive management flexibility and opportunities.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments. Together we hope to help develop a simpler, more useful and flexible Forest Plan for the RGNF that can be understood and embraced by the public.

 

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trails Preservation Alliance

Scott Jones, esq.
COHVCO Co-Chairman
CSA Vise President
Trails Preservation Alliance

 

cc         The RGNF Forest Planning Team (rgnf_forest_plan@fs.fed.us)

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Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District Muddy Pass/Sheephorn Project Comments

Rick Truex
Acting District Ranger
c/o Brett Crary, Forester
White River National Forest
P.O. Box 190
Minturn, CO, 81645

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District Muddy Pass/Sheephorn Project Comments

Dear Ranger Truex:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Trails Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”).   The TPA is a volunteer organization created to be a viable partner to public lands managers, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding and multiple-use recreation.  The TPA acts as an advocate for the sport and takes the necessary action to ensure that the USFS and BLM allocate a fair and equitable percentage of public lands access to diverse trail multi-use recreational opportunities. COHVCO is a grassroots advocacy organization representing approximately 170,000 registered off-highway vehicle (“OHV”), snowmobile and 4WD users in Colorado seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all motorized recreationists in the protection and promotion of multi-use and off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations.  TPA and COHVCO are referred to collectively in this correspondence as “the Organizations.”  The Organizations offer the following comments and suggestions regarding the enhancement of motorized recreational opportunities in the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District (EHCRD) and specific to the Muddy Pass/Sheephorn Project.  Page numbers refer to the White River National Forest, Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District’s, Notice of Proposed Action Muddy Pass/Sheephorn Project.

  1. (pg 3) “Benefits expected from the project include the maintenance and improvement of open forest system roads, the decommissioning of existing non-system roads.”  The Organizations request that instead of road decommissioning that those roads be considered for conversion to a Full-Size Multiple-use Trail or another motorized trail designation (e.g., Trail open to Motorcycles, or open to Vehicles 50” or less in width).   Additional information is provided below.
  2. (pg 8) “The Muddy Pass/Sheephorn analysis area contains approximately 37.30 miles of system roads that would be utilized for hauling activities (Table 2). In addition, there are approximately 27.74 miles of roads within the project analysis area that are identified in the 2012 Travel Management Plan Record of Decision to be closed to the public and or decommissioned. Of these roads, 24.87 miles are proposed for utilization as temporary haul roads, which would be decommissioned following use. The remaining 2.87 miles of road that are not proposed to be utilized as temporary haul roads could be closed while equipment is mobilized in the area.” The Organizations request that instead of road decommissioning that those roads be considered for conversion to a Full-Size Multiple-use Trail or another motorized trail designation (e.g., Trail open to Motorcycles, or open to Vehicles 50” or less in width).   Additional information is provided below.
  3.  (pg 13) “The White River National Forest Travel Management Plan (2011) designated a system of roads and trails forest-wide that addressed all modes of travel. The Muddy Pass/Sheephorn Project’s Proposed Action includes an amendment to the Travel Management Plan to designate 993.W1 as level II road open to all motorized wheeled use following the Motor Vehicle Use Map season of dates for the surrounding area (Map 6 of 9). Prior to the 2011 TMP, this route was used administratively but not available for public use. Motorized use of 993.W1 is authorized under an existing range permit for the placement of herder camps and weekly motorized vehicle supply trips. Together, range and recreation staff have tried to prohibit public motorized use of this permitted route, however, enforcement has proven ineffective and unmanageable due to its popularity. Designating 993.W1 for all motorized use, which includes non-motorized access, provides a desired recreation opportunity that people seek. This route serves as a destination overlook with outstanding scenic views. Physical barriers may be placed around the scenic overlook and along 993.W1 to prevent motorized recreation beyond the overlook. Winter management of the area would remain the same as shown on the winter Over the Snow Map.  The Organizations support the EHCRD’s efforts to open routes and provide additional opportunities for multiple-use/motorized recreation and the public’s access to the to the White River National Forest.
  4. Reference to the existing Seasonal Closure of the upper portion of the Muddy Pass Road (AKA Red Sandstone Rd or NFSR #700) that currently do not open each year until 21 June.  The Organizations request that alternative and other mitigation techniques be implemented in order to facilitate opening of this road prior to 21 June each year. Not allowing the use of the road until 21 June each year curtails any motorized recreation on this portion of the road until the first day of summer and precludes any early season travel. This closure also precludes motorized travel on USFS dirt/system roads between Hwy 131 and Vail until this road is open and accessible. (https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd514242.pdf)
  5. The Organizations would request that the EHCRD consider and embrace a more aggressive strategy of converting select National Forest System Roads (NFSR) and non-system roads to multiple-use/motorized trails. This strategy is a practical and a beneficial way of simultaneously meeting the requirements of designating a Minimum Road System (MRS), and at the same time providing a safer, more economical, more environmentally sound and more flexible motorized route/trail system for public recreational uses. The Organizations encourage and support the EHCRD’s decision to convert most any existing National Forest Service Road (NFSR) or sustainable non-system road to a Full-Size Multiple-use Trail or another trail designation (e.g., Trail open to Motorcycles, or open to Vehicles 50” or less in width).  The Organizations encourage the use of conversion techniques described in Chapter 17 of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council’s (NOHVCC) 2015 Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences publication
  6. Conversion of roads to trails in accordance with the methods and techniques described in Chapter 17 of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council’s (NOHVCC) 2015 Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences publication would allow the EHCRD staff to be much more flexible, creative and innovative in meeting the increasing desires, needs and demands of the public to provide high quality motorized recreational experiences. The spectrum of possibilities to make “trails” more desirable, interesting, challenging and fun is much broader with trails than with the stringent engineering requirements for “roads”.  The Organizations would also offer that meeting the mandatory NEPA requirements can be, and is often more straight forward and expedient when considering the modifications or improvements to trails than for roads.
  7. Financial Sustainability – Conversion of roads to multiple-use/motorized trails will make those routes eligible for Colorado Parks and Wildlife OHV grant funds (which can specifically be used for the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of OHV routes or multi-use trails that allow for motorized use and other activities). These conversions will thereby help reduce the direct financial burden and backlog to the EHCRD and can supplement funding with user-provided funds that were previously unavailable for these routes.  Conversion from roads to trails will also likely reduce the required maintenance level and reduce the necessary amount and backlog of funding.  By providing an adequate and varied inventory of routes and trails that fulfill the user’s spectrum of needs (today and the future) for variety, difficulty, destinations, challenge, terrain, and scenic opportunity will lead to improved management and compliance requiring less future expenditures on maintenance, signage, enforcement, etc. Finally, the lack of fiscal capacity by the USFS/EHCRD should not be criteria for or lead to closures and reductions in public recreational opportunities, closure of routes or elimination of public access to the EHCRD.
  8. The Organizations are aware that there may also be concern that conversion of roads to trails for motorized use in Colorado may cause apprehension that travel on converted routes would now invoke the requirement for a State/Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) OHV sticker for legal travel. The Organizations are very aware of, and in some cases are participating in statewide discussions to explore funding mechanisms and user fees to help supplement public land management agency operating budgets for activities beyond OHV use.  The Organizations contend that expanded implementation of user fees for public lands will become inevitable in the future.  That utilizing the highly successful CPW OHV sticker program for travel on motorized trails that have been converted from roads is reasonable and in agreement with the ongoing discussions to implement and expand user fees to activities other than OHV use, hunting, fishing, etc.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.  Together we hope to help develop an enhanced, sustainable system of motorized routes on the EHCRD, and at the same time help identify the minimum road system needed for safe and efficient travel and for the administration, utilization, and protection of EHCRD lands.

 

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trails Preservation Alliance

Scott Jones, esq.
COHVCO Co-Chairman
CSA Vise President
Trails Preservation Alliance

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Roads to Trails Conversion Rio Grande National Forest

Dan Dallas
Forest Supervisor
Rio Grande National Forest 1803 W. Highway 160
Monte Vista, CO 81144

Rio Grande National Forest, Forest Plan Revision and Travel Management Comments regarding the conversion of National Forest System Roads (NFSR) to Multiple Use Trails

Dear Supervisor Dallas:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Trails Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”). The TPA is a volunteer organization created to be a viable partner to public lands managers, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding and multiple-use recreation. The TPA acts as an advocate for the sport and takes the necessary action to ensure that the USFS and BLM allocate a fair and equitable percentage of public lands access to diverse trail multi-use recreational opportunities. COHVCO is a grassroots advocacy organization representing approximately 170,000 registered off-highway vehicle (“OHV”), snowmobile and 4WD users in Colorado seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all motorized recreationists in the protection and promotion of multi-use and off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations. TPA and COHVCO are referred to collectively in this correspondence as “the Organizations.” The Organizations offer the following comments and suggestions regarding the enhancement of motorized recreational opportunities in the RGNF.

The TPA & COHVCO generally support the USFS’ efforts and requirements to identify a minimum road system (MRS) that meets the future needs of the Forest along with the motorized and multiple-use recreation community for administration, utilization, and protection of National Forest System lands and resources, while providing safe and efficient travel and minimizing adverse environmental effects. The Organizations also acknowledge that the USFS must balance the need for agency and public access. By definition, a MRS must emphasizes a safe and environmentally sound transportation system consisting of routes recognized in the Infrastructure Application System (INFRA) along with urgent priorities identified during previously completed, forest-wide, Travel Analysis Process (aka TAP) and documented in the associated TAP report/documents. The Organizations thoughtfully support the designation of an MRS as long as the TAP report/documents are used to guide and advise the MRS process, and the outcome from the MRS process improves the motorized recreational system of routes on the forest.

The Organizations would request that during the Forest Plan Revision Process and subsequent Travel Management Process that the Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) reconsider and embrace a more aggressive strategy of converting select National Forest System Roads (NFSR) to motorized trails. This strategy is a practical and a beneficial way of simultaneously meeting the requirements of designating a MRS, and at the same time providing a safer, more economical, more environmentally sound and more flexible motorized route/trail system for public recreational uses. The Organizations would encourage and support the Forest’s decision to convert most any existing National Forest Service Road (NFSR) to a Full-Size Trail or another trail designation (e.g., Trail open to Motorcycles, or open to Vehicles 50” or less in width). The Organizations encourage the use of conversion techniques described in Chapter 17 of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council’s (NOHVCC) 2015 Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences publication.

In our analysis, the Organizations have identified the roads that are most suited for conversion to motorized trails. These are the mixed-use roads, maintained at a maintenance level 2 or in select cases level 1 (ML2, ML 1), with a Moderate or High Recreational benefit rating in the Road and Motorized Trail Benefit/Risk Matrix depicted in the 2015 TAP document. Historically, these are often the old Jeep or logging trails that have been in the forest for many decades. Some of these trails were intended to provide access to remote dispersed camping sites, and others provided access to scenic vistas, while others were intended simply as fun driving opportunities that created looped routes for public, motorized, off-road enjoyment. When they were officially added to the NFSR system, predominantly back in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, these routes were entered into the Roads database because at that time there was no official database/attribute for “full-size motorized trails”. Now with the requirement to designate a MRS, together we have the opportunity to correct a lingering discrepancy and record these Jeep trails as National Forest System Trails (NFSTs), where they rightly belong. The Organizations also support the consideration of designating select and appropriate maintenance level 1 (ML 1) roads as trails (e.g., coincident route) to enhance the network of recreational routes for motorized use.

Our analysis of the RGNF Forest-wide TAP has led the Organizations to conclude that roads designated in the TAP as:

  • High Benefit/Low Risk (Matrix Category 1) (893 miles/31%) roads are ideal roads as is, and for the most part should be kept as is, with very few conversions to trails.
  • The High Benefit/High Risk (Matrix Category 2) (639 miles/23%) roads have heightened resource risks that need some type of mitigation to satisfy the requirements of One of those mitigations that increases safety, reduces costs and better protects natural resources is the conversion to motorized trails.
  • The Low Benefit/Low Risk (Matrix Category 4) (1093 miles/39%) roads do not cause significant resource damage, and they do not have overall significant benefits, but the Matrix Category 4 roads with a High or Moderate Recreational Use Benefit rating should be considered for conversion to motorized trails.
  • The Low Benefit/High Risk (Matrix Category 3) (194 miles/7%) roads have undesirable resource risks that need some type of mitigation to satisfy the requirements of the MRS, and if they also have a Moderate or High Recreational Use benefit rating may justify the conversion to motorized trails.

Conversion of roads to trails in accordance with the methods and techniques described in Chapter 17 of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council’s (NOHVCC) 2015 Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences publication would allow the RGNF staff to be much more flexible, creative and innovative in meeting the increasing desires, needs and demands of the public to provide high quality motorized recreational experiences. The spectrum of possibilities to make “trails” more desirable, interesting, challenging and fun is much broader with trails than with the stringent engineering requirements for “roads”. The Organizations would also offer that meeting the mandatory NEPA requirements can be and is often more straight forward and expedient when considering the modifications or improvements to trails than for roads.

Financial Sustainability – Conversion of roads to multiple-use, motorized trails will make those routes eligible for Colorado Parks and Wildlife OHV grant funds (which can specifically be used for the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of OHV routes or multi-use trails that allow for motorized use and other activities). These conversions will thereby help reduce the direct financial burden and backlog to the RGNF and can supplement funding with user-provided funds that were previously unavailable for these routes. Conversion from roads to trails will also likely reduce the required maintenance level and reduce the necessary amount and backlog of funding. By providing an adequate and varied inventory of routes and trails that fulfill the user’s spectrum of needs (today and the future) for variety, difficulty, destinations, challenge, terrain, and scenic opportunity will lead to improved management and compliance requiring less future expenditures on maintenance, signage, enforcement, etc. Finally, the lack of fiscal capacity by the USFS/RGNF should not be criteria for or lead to closures and reductions in public recreational opportunities, closure of routes or elimination of public access to the RGNF. For these reasons, the Organizations do not agree or support the Actions That Respond to the Issues cited on page 37 of the TAP Report:

Insufficient resources for maintaining existing system roads – Action: Reduce the number of road miles that need to be maintained or reduce the maintenance level to reduce maintenance costs. Reducing road miles that need to be maintained by converting closed roads to motorized trails would increase trail maintenance costs and is not a recommended action to reduce maintenance costs. (pg. 37, Rio Grande National Forest Forest-wide Travel Analysis Process Report, October 2015)

The Organizations are aware that there may also be concern that conversion of roads to trails for motorized use in Colorado may cause apprehension that travel on converted routes would now invoke the requirement for a State/Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) OHV sticker for legal travel. The Organizations are very aware of, and in some cases are participating in statewide discussions to explore funding mechanisms and user fees to help supplement public land management agency operating budgets for activities beyond OHV use. The Organizations contend that expanded implementation of user fees for public lands will become inevitable in the future. That utilizing the highly successful CPW OHV sticker program for travel on motorized trails that have been converted from roads is reasonable and in agreement with the ongoing discussions to implement and expand user fees to activities other than OHV use, hunting, fishing, etc.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments. Together we hope to help develop an enhanced, sustainable system of motorized routes on the RGNF, and at the same time help identify the minimum road system needed for safe and efficient travel and for the administration, utilization and protection of RGNF lands.

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trails Preservation Alliance

Scott Jones, esq.
COHVCO Co-Chairman
CSA Vise President
Trails Preservation Alliance

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New Colorado 600 Video!

Watch the new Rocky Mountain ATV MC video about the Colorado 600!

From Rocky Mountain ATV MC:

The Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting responsible trail riding and keeping trails open. The TPA is an OHV advocate and works to ensure that the interests of off-road enthusiasts are fairly and appropriately represented to the USFS and BLM. The TPA is based out of Colorado but also fights for trail preservation in nearby states as well, including New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota.

The Colorado 600 is an annual symposium put on by the TPA to inform attendees about proper trail etiquette, updates on trail openings/closings, details regarding the USFS and BLM, and other riding-related topics. It also involves an extremely fun ride. We at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC are proud supporters of the TPA and have been fortunate to attend the Colorado 600 multiple times. Check out our Colorado 600 blog article to see what a great experience we’ve had with it in the past.

The TPA works hard so we all can continue to enjoy the trails, and that requires effort from numerous volunteers who are passionate about this sport. How you can you help? Get involved with your local club. Click the button above to find out more about the TPA and how you can support its mission through volunteering or donations. You can also email info@coloradotpa.org to contact the TPA directly about how you can get engaged.

Visit Rocky Mountain ATV MC – https://www.rockymountainatvmc.com/

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