Archive | April, 2012

Federal report states Wilderness areas help contribute to beetle epidemic


April 27, 2012

Action Alert:Support the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in its efforts to protect your freedom to ride!

A U.S. Forest Service (USFS) report identifies Wilderness areas and roadless areas as significant obstacles to controlling the bark beetle epidemic.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) would like you to be aware of a USFS report entitled Review of the Forest Service Response: The Bark Beetle Outbreak in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming issued by the Rocky Mountain Region and Rocky Mountain Research Station at the request of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

To view the report, click here.

The report cited several factors that helped set the stage for a large-scale bark beetle outbreak. One factor cited was the use of Wilderness designations. Specifically: “Limited accessibility of terrain (only 25% of the outbreak area was accessible due to steep slopes, lack of existing roads, and land use designations such as Wilderness that precluded treatments needed to reduce susceptibility to insects and disease).”

And the report further stated: “In general, mechanized treatments are prohibited in designated wilderness areas. The Arapaho, Roosevelt, White River, and Routt National Forests in Colorado have a combined total of over one million acres of wilderness; the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming has more than 78 thousand acres. A large portion of these wilderness acres have been impacted by the current bark beetle outbreak.”

Most troubling, the report states that the bark beetle outbreaks will lead to more intense fires for an “indeterminate amount of time following attack.”

The AMA encourages all riders to utilize this report because it indicates that a Wilderness designation has a negative effect on the overall forest health. Vast areas of America’s public lands are already designated federal Wilderness, and the AMA urges careful scrutiny and consideration of all current and future Wilderness proposals.

A special thanks goes to the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition for bringing this report to the attention of the AMA.

If you are not an AMA member and care about what is affecting riders today, please join the AMA to help protect the rights of motorcyclists. More members means more clout against interests looking to end motorcycling, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to






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Notice of Appeal, Turkey Springs Trail Management


April 24, 2012


Appeal Deciding Officer
Mark Stiles- Forest Supervisor
15 Burnett Court
Durango CO 80301


RE: Part 215 Notice of Appeal, Turkey Springs Trail Management Record of Decision

Pagosa District, US Forest Service, San Juan National Forest.
Dear Appeal Deciding Officer:
Please accept this correspondence as the Notice of Appeal under 36 C.F.R. Part 215 from the Decision Notice(“DN”) and Finding of No Significant Impact (“FONSI”) and Final Environmental Assessment (“EA”) from the Turkey Springs Trail Management Plan for the Pagosa Springs District of the San Juan National Forest (collectively, the “Decision”), dated March 16, 2012.
This appeal is presented on behalf of the Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) and the Colorado Off -High way Vehicle Coalition,(COHVCO).  These 2 organizations represent the majority of off highway vehicle users in the state of Colorado.  The TPA and COHVCO thru their memberships have been active in the San Juan NF for the past 25 years. Both organizations have a long and current history of working with the USFS on all OHV recreation issues.  The TPA and COHVCO are both currently involved with intervening action in support to USFS on going law suits.

The comments below are submitted in addition to the comments submitted by the San Juan Trail Riders (SJTR).  It appears to the TPA and COHVCO that the past 24 months of work by the SJTR were not considered by the Pagosa District Ranger in his final record of decision.  In fact it appears to us that the SJTR membership, the 24 months of work, coordinated by the district ranger were not considered in the final ROD.  In addition it appears the final ROD represents a plan that does not meet the expectations conveyed by the Forests Service to the SJTR during their 24 month of work.  The Organizations believe that the seasonal closure of the single track motorcycle trails for the benefit of other user groups is arbitrary and not supported by science.  These seasonal closures must be reviewed and amended to provide a plan that conforms with current science and the purpose and intent of the planning.
While the Organizations have concerns regarding the decision and related documents, the Organizations were thrilled to see that the decision accurately reflected and implemented the roadless rule.  Often the Roadless Rule is the basis for significant erroneous closures of routes and trails.

Decision Notice and FONSI
The Purpose and Need states on page 1 that there is a “perceived lack of adequate opportunities for certain recreation activities and user groups.”  In reading this statement, one is left to assume which user group perceives a lack of adequate recreation opportunities.  Motorized, mechanized and non-motorized recreationists have all sought, at various times and locations, additional recreation opportunities.  This type of subjectivity has no basis in a document that, by law, is to be supported by site-specific and science-based analyses as required by the NEPA.  Because this statement is made in the Purpose and Need of the DN, one is left to conclude that this “perceived lack of adequate opportunities” was, in part, the basis for the decision made by the Deciding Official.  Referring to a perceived lack of recreation opportunities as one purpose of the EA and DN without any further analysis is a violation of NEPA.
The Purpose and Need states on page 1 that, “The need for this project is to address recreation opportunities and existing problems, including … (a) proliferation of user-created routes, (and) user group conflicts….”   In reviewing the DN and EA/FONSI, there is no site-specific analysis or documentation of either a proliferation of user created routes or of user group conflicts. While user conflicts may have been cited during the comment period, it is widely known that some non-motorized trail users are extremely intolerant of other users and experience “conflict” if they simply hear a motorized vehicle in the distance. While this intolerance for other users defines these users and their purpose, it is not acceptable and should not be used as a basis for the decision that was made. Because a proliferation of trail and user conflicts are not documented in the site-specific EA/FONSI, one is led to believe that they are also “perceived”  and using these criteria as a basis for the NEPA decision is, again, both arbitrary and capricious. 
The Purpose and Need of the analysis on page 1 indicates that, “The need for this project is to address…a perceived lack of adequate opportunities for certain recreation and user groups…”  Given a review of the decision and comments provided, this lack of adequate opportunities for certain recreation and user groups are, perhaps among others, single-track motorized users.  On page 4 of the DN, it states that, “…there is currently only one trail on the Pagosa District covering 8.1 miles, that is designated for single-track motorized use.  In contrast, there are over 370 miles of trails on the Pagosa District that are closed to motorized use and available exclusively for non-motorized recreation.” 
With the addition of only 13.6 miles of single-track motorized trails to the transportation system, this decision does not meet the Purpose and Need of providing adequate opportunities as outlined in the DN.

Additionally, there exist numerous viable alternatives that were not properly considered by the decisionmaker as required by NEPA.  These alternatives would have included designation of substantially more single track motorized trail mileage and other decision elements as offered in our comments.

Seasonal Wildlife Closures
On page 3 of the DN, the District Ranger states that “all new single track motorized trails will have seasonal closure dates of September 1 through June 14 annually to provide for wildlife security during spring fawning and calving periods, and to provide for non-motorized recreation opportunities during the fall season.”  There is inadequate documentation of the need for the asserted enhanced wildlife security, nor is there documentation of any other wildlife-based justification for the trail restrictions.  Nowhere in the EA/FONSI or DN is there any demand or socio-economic analysis to support the seasonal closure of motorized trails so that non-motorized users can have additional opportunities.  Even the DN acknowledges that the conflicts cited are potential conflicts.

As noted in the Environmental Assessment for the decision, there is a serious imbalance of usage:

“Much of the District is inaccessible to mountain bikes either by virtue of terrain limitations or through the mechanized travel prohibitions associated with formal Wilderness and special area designations: over 30 percent of the District has such a designation.”

In addition, there are thousands of acres of wilderness and secure fawning and calving areas and hundreds of mile of non-motorized trails available to wildlife and non-motorized users on a year-round basis.  A lack of any site-specific analysis to support closing these trails to motorized recreation in favor of non-motorized recreation leads one to conclude that this decision is both arbitrary and capricious.  In addition, there is simply no scientific analysis or justification provided for the selected closing date of September 1.  
In addition to the lack of a demand analysis, there is no explanation, scientific or otherwise, why other types of human disturbance are allowed on these trails when the additional stated purpose of the seasonal closure is to, “provide for wildlife security during spring fawning and calving periods.”  The seasonal closure of motorized trails without a scientific basis violates the very premise of NEPA.

User Conflicts

Throughout the decision and EA, ongoing user conflicts are identified as the basis for routing of trails and seasonal closures.  While user conflicts are a VERY valid concern in planning, it appears that the proposition may not be relevant in the Plan.  The EA notes:

“While these instances of recreation conflicts have been noted by users of the analysis area, outreach efforts have also revealed that such instances are fairly isolated and have not detracted considerably from the experiences of the majority of users of this area. In recent years, partnerships have been formed between several advocacy clubs (most notably the local ATV, horseback, and mountain biking clubs) to promote shared use and care of the trails in this area. Additionally, comments were provided during the scoping period for this project praising the degree of cooperation among the different groups and a  general lack of contentiousness that has been perceived to be occurring between user groups on other Forests and Districts.”

While management of user conflicts appears to target OHV usage in the decision, the Organizations note that user conflicts often exist outside motorized recreation, such as between skiers and snowboarders, heli-skiers and back country skiers, hunters and non-hunters, hunters and other hunters, hikers and bikers, runners and dog walkers on urban trails, and hikers and farmers.   Despite the ongoing nature of these conflicts, motorized recreation on public lands is the only area for which closure has been asserted to be properly be the first method for remedying perceived conflicts.

The Forest Service is required to utilize best available science in the development of travel plans.  Researchers have specifically identified that properly determining the basis for user conflict is critical to determining the proper method for managing this conflict. Scientific analysis defines the division of conflicts as follows:  

“For interpersonal conflict to occur, the physical presence or behavior of an individual or a group of recreationists must interfere with the goals of another individual or group….Social values conflict, on the other hand, can occur between groups who do not share the same norms (Ruddell&Gramann, 1994) and/or values (Saremba& Gill, 1991), independent of the physical presence or actual contact between the groups……When the conflict stems from interpersonal conflict, zoning incompatible users into different locations of the resource is an effective strategy.  When the source of conflict is differences in values, however, zoning is not likely to be very effective. In the Mt. Evans study (Vaske et al., 1995), for example, physically separating hunters from nonhunters did not resolve the conflict in social values expressed by the nonhunting group. Just knowing that people hunt in the area resulted in the perception of conflict. For these types of situations, efforts designed to educate and inform the different visiting publics about the reasons underlying management actions may be more effective in reducing conflict.”

Other researchers have distinguished types of user conflicts based on a goals interference distinction, described as follows:

“The travel management planning process did not directly assess the prevalence of on-site conflict between non-motorized groups accessing and using the yurts and adjacent motorized users…..The common definition of recreation conflict for an individual assumes that people recreate in order to achieve certain goals, and defines conflict as “goal interference attributed to another’s behavior” (Jacob & Schreyer, 1980, p. 369). Therefore, conflict as goal interference is not an objective state, but is an individual’s appraisal of past and future social contacts that influences either direct or indirect conflict. It is important to note that the absence of recreational goal attainment alone is insufficient to denote the presence of conflict. The perceived source of this goal interference must be identified as other individuals.”

It is significant to note that Mr. Norling’s study, cited above, was specifically created to determine why travel management had not resolved user conflicts for winter users of a group of yurts on the Wasache-Cache National forest. As noted in Mr. Norling’s study, the travel management in the areas surrounding the yurts failed to distinguish why the conflict was occurring and this failure prevented the land managers from effectively resolving the conflict. 

The Organizations believe that understanding why the travel management plan was unable to resolve socially based user conflicts on the Wasache-Cache National Forest is critical in the CRVO planning process.  Properly understanding the issue to be resolved will ensure that the same errors that occurred on the Wasache-Cache are not implemented again to address problems they simply cannot resolve. 

The EA relies on documents that accurately address these user conflict issues but the decision fails to head the warnings of these works and relevant social sciences.  The EA specifically provides:

“The greatest potential impact involves disruptions to hunters and hunting experiences, especially in areas that currently receive little to no motorized use but are known to be used by big game hunters (primarily the Devil Mountain, Horse Mountain, Horse Creek, and Elk Creek areas). As is well documented, the presence of motorized vehicles and users in forest environments can detract from the experiences of non-motorized users during encounters, including hunters (Yankoviak 2005 and Moore 1994). It can be reasonably anticipated that, because hunters would be exposed to greater levels of motorized use as a result of this alternative (both by virtue of the new trails being designated and the overall increase in motorized use predicted), some measure of impact to hunting experiences and opportunities is probable relating to the sounds of motorized vehicles, the potential effects on game presence in certain areas, and direct encounters with motorized users.”

 The Organizations agree that the Yankoviak paper does discuss various user conflicts and wildlife disturbances.   The Organizations have to note that the clearly stated conclusions of the Yankoviak paper agree with the social science determinations noted above as the paper concludes:

“In terms of meeting the needs of a wide variety of recreationists, it is important for managers to evaluate ORV opportunities at a larger geographic scale. If nothing else, the relative availabilities of motorized and non-motorized opportunities in one forest may extend to other areas…… Consequently, ORV planning should be done across jurisdictional boundaries within a defined geographic area. At the very least, such arrangements would discourage situations where decisions made for the benefit of one party have equally harmful consequences for another (as, for example, when the closure of one area to ORVs aggravates the loading on another area). If nothing else, local Forest Service officials should be cognizant of how user-friendly the travel management plans are, as the average visitor is not going to be as familiar with regional, forest, or district boundaries as are Forest Service personnel. As things now stand, management plans too often seem to rely too heavily on boundaries that visitors are unlikely to be able to recognize.”

The Organizations have to believe that the current decisions proposal for the resolution of possible user conflicts by closing only single track motorcycle trails for the benefit of hunters and wildlife directly contradicts the conclusions of the research that is relied on to justify these closures by relying on boundaries that may not be visible to forest users and relying on these boundaries to make land use decisions to the exclusion of certain users.


A 2005 National Survey on Recreation and Environment for the Forest Service’s National OHV Policy and Implementation team found that 26% of adults in Colorado participate in OHV recreation activities (NSRE 2005). The reason that some national use monitoring surveys in the national forests find declining levels of OHV use is because national forests continue to reduce and eliminate trails available for motorized use. Sales of OHV vehicles continue to rise while public lands available for motorized use continue to decline.
All told, the Turkey Springs decision and the above-outlined components indicate a failure to adequately evaluate motorized recreation demand and meaningfully consider a proper range of management options.

The Trails Preservation Alliance respectfully requests withdrawal of the Turkey Springs Trail Management decision to analyze the demand for and possible addition of single-track trail miles.  As has been proven in the past, our members and other members of the single-track motorized community will work in close cooperation with the Pagosa Ranger District to ensure responsible riding and trail sustainability.

The point of contact for this appeal is Don Riggle, Director of Operations, TPA,, and cell 719 338 4106
Don Riggle


 note:  download PDF for detailed references



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Letter to Colorado Legislators in reply to Backcountry Hunters letter


April 23, 2012

Senator Mark Udall
Senator Michael Bennet
Congressman Scott Tipton
Congressman Cory Gardner
Congresswoman Diana DeGette
Congressman Jared Polis
Congressman Ed Perlmutter
Congressman Mike Coffman
Congressman Doug Lamborn

Dear Members of the Colorado Legislative Delegation;

We are contacting your offices to reply to the correspondence from the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and other organizations dated February 25, 2012. This correspondence asserted a need for Congressional action to create a consistent set off highway vehicle (“OHV”) identification numbers. We have enclosed a copy of this correspondence (“the letter”) for your reference. We are compelled to address several issues critical to the discussion that are overlooked in the letter.

The first critical component overlooked in the letter is the law enforcement concerns identified are already effectively managed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (“CPW”) OHV registration program. Our Organizations have been vigorous supporters of this registration program since its inception, as responsible use of public lands is key for continued access to the world renown recreational activities that Colorado has provided. We believe that violation of the travel management rules is not responsible usage of public lands and should be investigated by law enforcement. The CPW OHV registration program was started in 1991 and each OHV used on either state or federal public lands must be annually registered with the CPW at a cost of $25.25 per vehicle. The CPW OHV registration program has provided almost $30,000,000 in grants to federal land management agencies and their partners for the maintenance and management of multiple use trails on public lands. The Colorado OHV registration has been identified as a model of its kind in OHV registration programs.

The letter also overlooks the issue that stickers issued by CPW already comply with federal laws for issuance of state OHV registrations. Each OHV is issued a 3×3 sticker of highly visible coloring from CPW with a vehicle specific identification number to be prominently displayed on designated locations on each OHV. These stickers provide the ID number in black block lettering on a white background with a high visibility color as the boundary. The color of the boundary changes annually and from State to State to allow for easy identification of registered vehicles. Simply identifying the common location for placement of these stickers significantly contributes to identification of violators.

The size of the OHV sticker issued by CPW is based on federal laws for such stickers and the need for efficiency in issuance of these stickers by state agencies. This uniformity of stickers also allows consistent placement of sticker across state boundaries. The registration decals issued by CPW for OHVs and snowmobiles are the same decals used for vessel registrations also issued by CPW. The US Coast Guard, by federal regulation, mandates the size of the state’s vessel registration validation decal. CPW registration stickers use the same registration certificates and validation decals for vessels, OHVs and snowmobiles and to cost effectively meet the US Coast Guard mandate. This allows law enforcement to consistently identify a single sticker, regardless of the type of vehicle, and streamlines enforcement.

The letter overlooks a second critical component of sticker size. OHV users frequently use their vehicle in multiple states, and each state requires purchase of a separate OHV sticker for use on public lands, both state and federal. OHV riders are more than willing to pay for a home state registration and out of state permits as the bulk of any state registration/permit money goes to on the ground management of resources for OHV use on public lands. If the registration stickers become significantly larger physically, it simply may not be possible to display each states sticker on the OHV, as many only have small body panels. The choice of paint and graphics on a vehicle is of significant importance to some riders, as they are willing to pay premiums for certain colors or graphics packages. Those with plated motor vehicles may also be unwilling to add additional large stickers to painted surfaces, as these are often difficult to remove and impair resale values at trade in.

As previously noted, each state issues OHV registration stickers with high visibility colors surrounding the identification number. The color of the boundary surrounding each sticker is a critical component of the sticker, as this allows law enforcement personnel to rapidly and easily distinguish between stickers issued by various states. This high visibility boundary also separates black and white identification numbers from other graphics on the OHV. Making these stickers significantly larger will force riders to chose what states stickers they are displaying to avoid overlap of stickers. This situation could force riders to buy a home state registration, only to then have to cover that sticker with another states they may chose to vacation in and then need to purchase a new registration in order to display a valid registration when returning home from vacation. This conflict will not encourage riders to buy OHV registrations.

The letter also fails to address the recently released conclusions from the Law Enforcement Pilot program conducted by CPW which found violations in only 1.5% of OHV riders that were contacted. The OHV law enforcement pilot program was created to address assertions of a compelling need to stop resource damage from OHV misuse at locations identified as violation “hotspots” by those seeking to limit public access to public lands. This program deployed additional trained professional law enforcement officers, funded by funds from the OHV registration funds, at these “hotspots” during heavy usage times to supplement existing law enforcement resources in these areas. As part of the pilot, the additional officers we required to keep logs of their contacts for reporting purposes.

The findings of this pilot clearly identify that these “hotspots” for OHV violations were anything but “hotspots”. Over last summer, officers involved in the pilot program contacted over 10,000 people of the 160,000 registered OHVs in Colorado, creating an astoundingly large sampling. This pilot program found that less than 5% of riders committed any violations. The overwhelming percentage of these violations were people not registering their OHV. Larger OHV numbers will not address people forgetting to register their OHV, they still will not remember. Only 1.5% of contacts involved activities where the officer found the activity serious enough to warrant the issuance of a citation. It should also be noted that this report never mentions the inability of any officer to identify the OHV riders due to a lack of ID number.

The CPW Law Enforcement pilot also contained a program almost identical to the theory discussed in the letter. The pilot program trained members of the general public to photograph various maintenance issues and violations that they encountered on the trails. Part of this training involved training each member of the public where the state issued ID numbers were displayed on each OHV. Reports from these layperson enforcement were then compiled and if there was a violation forwarded to various law enforcement agencies for further investigation. Over the course of the citizen patrols, a wide range of issues that were encountered, none of which involved the ability to identify violators. Given the lack of trouble identifying violators with existing identification numbers, training on where to look on the OHV for these numbers appears to play a role in public enforcement. This type of training does not require any federal action as these mechanisms are again in place through the CPW registration program.

While the letter creates what appears to be a valid discussion of the need for OHV registration numbers, the letter simply overlooks numerous issues critical to the discussion. When these critical components are addressed, we believe the need for the OHV registration numbers is seriously mitigated. These critical components clearly prove state registration programs are a cost effective method for the identification of violators in the backcountry. Given the number of serious threats that are facing the country, our organizations have to question the need for development of this legislation or national standard as the state registration program is an effective and efficient tool for addressing the concerns voiced in the letter.

Respectfully Submitted,

Scott Jones, Acting Chairman
Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition

Don Riggle, Chairman
Trail Preservation Alliance

Randall R. Miller, President
Colorado Snowmobile Association

Mish Clancey , President
Colorado Blizzards

note: original letter from BHA is attached at end of PDF






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Trail Creek Watershed


April 16, 2012

South Platte Ranger District
Trail Creek Road and Trail Work
19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465

RE: Trail Creek Watershed road and trail project

Dear Planning Staff;

Please accept this correspondence as the initial joint response to the above public notice of the open scoping period. This is a joint response from the Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) and the Colorado off highway Vehicle Coalition (CORVCO). For purposes of these comments, CORVCO and TPA will be collectively referred to as “The Organizations”. The Organizations represent the majority of the off road vehicle users in the state and have a long history of working with the USFS and BLM on off road recreation issues. The history and work of the TPA can be accessed at, COHVCO can be found at Our remarks are consolidated to allow the USFS to understand the severity of our concerns about the above public notice.

ORV recreation is a growing sport in Colorado, and actions to reduce existing areas to ORV recreation, will only result in over use of the remaining areas. As a result, the Organizations believe it is critical that ORV resources in this area do not drop below levels provided prior to the Hayman Fire. The TPA and CORVCO are willing to work with the FS on all issues in the “717” area.

Length of initial comment/scoping period

The Organizations had initial concern regarding the exceptionally short notice 14 day period provided in the initial scoping notice published in The Gazette. While 14 days is theoretically enough time to comment, actual notice of the comment period was not brought to our attention until hours before the technical comment end. While the Gazette is read by our members, the review is often less than complete when notices are reviewed. Please don’t interpret our members lack of interest in the notice as a lack of interest in the riding opportunities that were lost as a result of the fire.

Our concerns on this issue were mitigated by the fact that the District is willing to accept comments submitted after this comment period. Our concerns are further mitigated by our understanding that an additional 30 comment period is going to be provided for scoping in the near future. Our involvement in numerous Forest Service plans throughout the state, has highlighted one critical issue in the scoping process. If there is even the possibility that the public has not been aware of the project form the beginning, any closure, no matter how minimal will be viewed by certain groups as closing public lands to the public. This perception, no matter how incorrect it is or good the plan is overall, can be very hard to remove from any plan. Without true public comment and involvement in the planning process, a quality result simply cannot be developed.


As noted above, knowledge of the scoping period was somewhat limited. The Organizations learned of the comment period when a member of our Organizations forwarded his proposed comments to us for reference. We totally support the attached letter from Mr. William Alspach, his engineering expertise and detailed knowledge of the “717” area are such that the USFS should take notice of his recommendations for both the technical engineering aspects of the FS plan, and also for his comments on the proposed OHV closures and re routes. Instead of rewording the detailed remarks of Mr. Alspach, our comments are going to cover the real world ramifications of the proposed FS plan. The entire “717” area is a prime OHV recreation area for all types of OHV’s (ATV, Me, 4wd). It is heavily used by all, year round, and is a great positive economic factor to the local mountain communities.

The “717” was dealt a drastic destruction during the Hayman fire. (USFS personnel started). A significant portion of the area was destroyed and closed to OHV recreation. And the majority of it remains closed today. These closures only increased the recreation use on the remaining areas that were left open. Many meetings and discussions have taken place since the fire, about when will areas be re opened, trails rebuilt, etc. Most discussions on these topics ends up in a discussion about lack of resource of the FS to reopen to the original OHV recreation routes.

You combined this with the fact that the “717”, is a primary beneficiary of significant State Parks OHV funding, for both the maintenance of the area and also for the inventory of the area. And now you are proposing major closures of areas that have benefited from the OHV funding. Please keep in mind that we are the only recreation group that pays for our form of recreation. The Organizations both request that the FS provide detailed explanations of why this work is needed. We also request that NEP A be conducted for all closures, decommissioning actions and any re routes. You current plan and limited explanation of the proposed work is not acceptable.

Route specific concerns

The Organizations believe that most route specific concerns are addressed in Mr. Alspach’s correspondence. The Organizations are vigorously opposed to the fact that under the current preferred alternative of the plan, FSR366 will simply dead end north of Trail 717, rather than connect to Route 3. Both FSR 725 and 366 are closed without exploration of possible reroutes in the area to maintain this connectivity and loop opportunities. This is simply unacceptable and will create a trail that will be ripe for closure in future planning efforts since it is a dead end.

Conclusion & Recommendations

The Organizations look forward to partnering with the FS to maintain access to the recreational opportunities that were provided before the Hayman Fire. This access will be critical to quality recreational opportunities for all forest users. With this in mind, the Organizations propose the following:

1. No decomissioning, closures, reroutes in the “717” area be conducted until all original “717′ OHV recreation routes destroyed by the Hayman fire are returned to a standard that will allow complete OHV recreation access;

2. For any closures or existing OHV reroutes, that a mile for mile exchange be made, you close one mile of OHV routes, then the FS open up an equivalent mile of OHV routes;

3. FSR 366 must not be decommissioned in such a manner as to leave a dead end trail;

4. The FS should hold public meetings on this issue, and form an ad hoc committee of local OHV recreation personnel ( ATV, Me, 4wd) to work with the FS. This will allow public “buy in” and understanding of what issues the FS has and what actions can be taken other than closures of routes; and

5. Since State Park OHV funds have been spent in this area, no trails or roads that have benefited
from these funds should be closed.

6. We request a complete listing of all “non system” routes that are going to be closed with this planned action, and that they remain open until the entire pre fire OHV routes are reestablished. Please accept our comments. Any questions should be directed to the below, and will be disseminated as needed.

Thank you,
Don Riggle

note: see attached PDF for referenced letter from Mr. William Alspach






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Update on Colorado Access Lawsuits


April 6, 2012

There have been some developments in the Forest Service travel management suits winding their way through the U.S. District of Colorado and the Colorado State Parks Lawsuit.

Pike /San Isabel

The first suit was filed on January 31, 2011 by anti-access plaintiffs including The Wilderness Society, Quiet Use Coalition, Wildlands CPR, Center for Native Ecosystems and Great Old Broads for Wilderness regarding the Pike and San Isabel Forests.   COHVCO and TPA intervened with the Forest Service to defend this lawsuit which could impact every  MVUM that has grandfathered existing usages.  These defense expenses are being born solely by Colorado OHV advocacy groups.  This case seeks to remove any trails that predated NEPA and were grandfathered in the creation of PSI MVUMs. The exact impact of this suit is yet to be clarified but this suit could impact trails such as the Blanca Peak 4wd trail. 

The case was before Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane on March 20, 2011 over a dispute about the administrative record.  Plaintiffs moved to strike ten (10) documents from the administrative record, contending they were after-the-fact oral recounts from Forest Service personnel.  On March 30, 2012 Judge Kane issued an order agreeing with the plaintiffs and striking the documents, but stating that the Forest Service could file a motion before April 13, 2012 to have the materials considered via completion or supplementation of the record.  The first brief on the merits of the legal challenges to the Pike and San Isabel travel maps will be due 60 days after the administrative record issues are resolved.  So if the Forest Service does not file the motion to add the extra record materials the merits will be briefed starting in June, 2012.  If the Forest Service files the motion briefing will likely not occur until this fall.

Rico/West DeLores

While the second suit on the Rico West Dolores Area of the San Juan Forest was filed later it is moving at a much faster pace.  This case is being brought by Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and seeks closure of 14 trails which have long been open to motorized travel in the area known as the Alpine Triangle.  COHVCO, The Trails Preservation Alliance, Blue Ribbon Coalition, the San Juan Trail Riders and the Public Access Preservation Association and intervened to defend this matter with the Forest Service.  Notwithstanding this long history of motorized usage,  the plaintiff has moved for a preliminary injunction closing these trails before June 1, 2012.  The Forest Service will respond to the preliminary injunction motion on April 25th and OHV Intervenors COHVCO et al will respond on April 30th.  The plaintiffs will get a reply on May 14th and have asked for oral argument on their motion sometime in late May.  The motion for preliminary injunction has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger.

A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy and one which we intend to vigorously oppose.  To get an injunction CBHA must not only show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, but also that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction, and that the balance of hardships and public interest tip in favor of granting an injunction.  It is essential that the OHV and multiple use community provide strong support for the advocacy effort so that we can assist the Forest Service in successfully repelling this anti-access attack. 

State Parks Board

COHVCO was forced to sue the Colorado State Parks Board after there were numerous proposals to provide money paid for OHV registrations for grants that were outside the scope of authority of the State OHV statute.  The Trails Preservation Alliance  has partnered with COHVCO to split the significant costs of this suit.   These illegal uses included funding municipal law enforcement that could be used for a variety of  non-motorized activities and maintenance of non-motorized trails. During this process, several violations of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law occurred.  These violations were admitted by the State. The Judge unfortunately did not grasp details and seemed predisposed to let the agency off the hook

Despite the admission of the Open Meetings Law violations the District Court ruled against COHVCO on all issues.  This decision is being appealed and we hope for a better outcome at the appeals court level.  The Appeal brief in the appeal is not due till October.  The draft appeal documents have been reviewed and submitted to the Court- our outlook  is very optimistic for a ruling in our favor on this issue






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