June 17, 2011
This is an excerpt, please download the pdf to read the entire document.
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Appeal Deciding Officer USDA
RE: Part 215 Notice of Appeal- White River NF Travel Management ROD/FEIS
Dear Appeal Deciding Officer:
Please accept this Notice of Appeal under 36 C.F.R. Part 215 from the Record of Decision Notice (“ROD”) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) for the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan (collectively, the “Decision”), dated March 17, 2011. This appeal is presented on behalf of the Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA), Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) and Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (RMEC). Individual and/or organizational members of the listed appellants may submit their own appeal(s) from the Decision. Appellants are also aware of and support the input and any appeals from other recreational access organizations including the Summit County Off Road Riders, Colorado Snowmobile Association and the BlueRibbon Coalition. This appeal and any such additional appeals must be independently evaluated and the agency must comply with applicable review procedures for all such appeals. Any communications regarding this appeal should be directed to Don Riggle, (719) 338-4106; firstname.lastname@example.org; Dennis Larratt, (720) 530-9974, email@example.com; and Paul Turcke at the above-listed contact information and firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would be remiss to ignore the positive aspects of the planning process and Decision. We appreciate the Forest’s willingness to consider at least some unauthorized routes for designation, we appreciate the general availability of Forest staff to consider input from the general public and Forest stakeholders, we appreciate the Forest’s recognition of past and necessary future cooperation involving nonfederal entities, volunteers and diverse user groups in implementing, maintaining and monitoring any effective recreation management program.
Our appeal mixes broad concepts and technical details. It is hopefully apparent that we are frustrated by an apparent attitude, at least among agency personnel in the formative stages of the planning process, to manage through elimination. Rather than evaluating diverse user preferences and attempting a proactive effort to meet demand, this Travel Plan process largely seems a defensive effort in which the Forest looks to safety, budget, the ever present handful of “conflict” users, and similar excuses to not only close/restrict use, but to physically eliminate routes. The extent of decommissioning discussed in the Plan is unprecedented. That the Forest would consider, let alone be so obviously committed to, eliminating this legacy of access is troubling. That the Forest would attempt to execute such a vast decommissioning campaign through the deficient procedural framework here adds to our concern. Appellants’ members primarily seek motorized recreation opportunities, and especially single and quality two-track motorcycle and ATV riding, along with historical full-size 4WD experience, but the implications of the decommissioning campaign extend far beyond the motorized access community. Decommissioning a route takes its use away from every Forest visitor and effectively seals the fate of all future visitors and agency managers/decisionmakers. None of this is consistent with the repeated references to the White River as a “crown jewel” of the Forest System. A crown jewel should be actively managed for diverse, quality recreation experiences. The Decision sends the message that “if we close it, they might go away.”
Some form of remand will be necessary to rectify the varied flaws in the Decision. We understand the travel management process is an ongoing and dynamic exercise. We also recognize the value in accomplishing some endpoint in the first TMR designation effort. We are deeply concerned that erring on the side of caution and closing routes in the interest of simply making a decision will effectively preclude meaningful consideration of reopening those or similar routes in the future. We are interested in working within and beyond the appeal process to balance these concepts and improve the White River travel plan. We identify various specific routes which we think should be the first priority toward such progress.
We are committed to working with, and as necessary, against, the Forest Service in order to fulfill the incredible opportunity we all possess on the White River. There are many reasons why it is and should be a “crown jewel” and recreation management success story. We ask that you create through this appeal decision a step forward in pursuit of that goal in order to address the steps sideways and backwards thus far in the process. We can all grow in our collective journey so long as we reach our destination.
note: This is an excerpt, please download the pdf (above) to read the entire document.
PO Box 38093
Colorado Springs, CO 80937