Archive | January, 2014

Western Snowy Range Travel Management

pdficon_large.gif January 29, 2014

Brush Creek/Hayden RD
Att: Brian Waugh
PO Box 249
Saratoga WY 82331

RE: Western Snowy Range Travel Management

Dear Mr. Waugh;

Please accept this correspondence as the comments of the above Organizations in regarding the proposed travel management process for the western portions of the Snowy Range. The Organizations would like to the thank the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District for this opportunity to provide input at this early time of the planning process. While the planning area is technically outside the Colorado political boundaries, the planning area provides an important riding opportunity for many of our members, and as such is an important resource for the Organizations. As such the Organizations are requesting to be included in any further planning that occurs in response to the scoping letter.

The Organizations believe a brief description of each Organization will assist in understanding of these comments. COHVCO is a grassroots advocacy organization representing the approximately 200,000 registered OHVs in Colorado seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all OHV recreationists in the protection and promotion of 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 is a 100 percent volunteer organization whose intention is to be a viable partner, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding. 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 land access to trail riding.

It is the Organizations understanding that many of our local members are contacting the Ranger District in response to the scoping request to identify important trails and opportunities. The Organizations are not attempting to provide a summary of these trails and their importance but rather the Organizations would like to provide updates on several wildlife issues and research on user conflicts for use in the planning process moving forward.

1. Management standards for wildlife.

The Organizations would like to start with a summary of recent research into the effectiveness of travel management in addressing wildlife concerns, as the Rocky Mountain Research Station is now releasing their preliminary analysis of data obtained after implementing travel plans throughout the region. The Research Station’s findings are as follows:

“Actions such as limiting grazing or closing OHV trails have historically been some of the primary tools used by land managers in southern Nevada to reduce the effects of anthropogenic stressors on species of conservation concern…. Too often research jumps immediately to mitigation strategies without first determining what specific factors pose the greatest threats and are the most important to mitigate. In addition, the evaluation of potential threats typically focuses upon the usual anthropogenic suspects (e.g. OHVs, livestock grazing, invasive species, and climate change) without first carefully considering which factors are most likely to pose the greatest threats. Finally, fundamental science associated with the life history characteristics and habitat requirements of species typically receives the least attention, even though these topics are where research programs should actually start.”1

Dispersed motorized recreation’s possible impact on elk, deer and numerous other herd animals has been extensively studied by the National Park Service in addressing winter usage of Yellowstone Park. The Organizations believe these analyses are completely relevant to any analysis of dispersed motorized recreation in the planning area and provide further support for the work of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. If there were an impact to elk and deer, the ongoing research in Yellowstone Park would have noted this impact. These analyses have repeatedly found:

“Based on these population-level results, we suggest that the debate regarding effects of human winter recreation on wildlife in Yellowstone is largely a social issue as opposed to a wildlife management issue. Effects of winter disturbances on ungulates from motorized and non-motorized uses more likely accrue at the individual animal level (e.g., temporary displacements and acute increases in heart rate or energy expenditures) than at the population scale. A general tolerance of wildlife to human activities is suggested because of the association between locations of large wintering ungulate herds and winter recreation. Habituation to human activities likely reduces the chance for chronic stress or abandonment of critical wintering habitats that could have significant effects at the population level, especially when these activities are relatively predictable.”2

It is the Organizations long standing position that wildlife management is a valid and proper use of public lands and best available science should be supported, but too often these wildlife management issues are lost in the discussions or used as a surrogate for other issues. While designated trails and seasonal closures are effective at mitigating site specific issues for wildlife, these tools are not effective for management of many other issues such as the impact of the mountain pine beetle on habitat quality. The Organizations believe any travel management planning action is merely one tool the planners tool box, and that use of any tool should not occur without addressing how the tool relates to the primary threats to any species. Often travel management tools are poorly suited to address the primary threats to species.

2. Recent changes in Lynx management must be incorporated in the west snowies plan.

A review of the current Medicine Bow NF RMP reveals that extensive analysis of lynx related issues has occurred on the planning area.3 The large scale overlap of lynx habitat areas to the planning area forces the Organizations to believe lynx management may be an issue moving forward. Lynx management is an issue that there have been signifcant recent developments in research and agency planning mandates. As a result of these new management changes a copy of these planning documents have been included with these comments for your reference.

The Organizations would like to summarize many of the changes to recreationally related management standards that are provided in this document:

  • Recreational usage of lynx habitat is a second level threat and not likely to have substantial effects on the lynx or its habitat. Previous theory and management analysis had placed a much higher level of concern on recreational usage of lynx habitat;4
  • Lynx have been known to incorporate smaller ski resorts within their home ranges, but may not utilize the large resorts. Dispersed motorized recreational usage certainly does not create impacts that can be equated to even a small ski area; 5
  • Road and trail density does not impact the quality of an area as lynx habitat;6
  • There is no information to suggest that trails have a negative impact on lynx; 7
  • Snow compaction from winter recreational activity is not likely to change the competitive advantage of the lynx and other predators;8
  • Snow compaction in the Southern Rocky Mountain region is frequently a result of natural process and not recreational usage; 9
  • Winter recreational usage of lynx habitat should only be “considered” in planning and should not be precluded given the minimal threat this usage poses to the lynx; and 10
  • Failing to manage habitat areas to mitigate impacts of poor forest health issues, such as the spruce and mtn pine beetle, is a major concern in lynx habitat for a long duration.11

Given the signifcantly lower levels of concern for possible impacts to lynx habitat from recreational usage of lynx habitat, the Organizations beleive this should be an issue of minimal concern moving forward in planning in the West Snowy Range area.

3. Water quality is very good in the planning area.

The Organizations are very concerned with possible water quality issues that may be involved with any trail. Our members are multiple use recreational users and often are active hunters and fisherman and truly apprecaite a quality and healthy forest. As such, the following comments are made to support the effectiveness of mitigation measures on the various routes, such as hardening, culverts and other activities. It appears that the encampment river watershed area is very healthy and is not being significantly impacted by recreational activities in the area.

In addition to the Proposal area not being a Wateshed of concern under the existing LRMP, the USGS has prepared a water quality analysis for the encampment river, which is immedaitely adjacent to the planning area. Much of the USGS data was acquired before designated trail system, if there was a water quality issue as a result of OHV recreation in the area the Organizations must believe it would have been apparent in this report.

4a. User conflicts often cannot be resolved with travel management.

User conflict is another issue that often is significantly involved in travel planning and proper analysis of this issue is critical to insure that an accurate basis for the conflict has been determined and that the proper management tools are being applied to remedy the basis of the conflict. User conflict is often a very localized event and expansion of this local management issue to a landscape level issue fails to address the true nature of the conflict. Research indicates that landscape level socially based user conflicts can only be resolved with education of users and this option must be addressed if user conflicts become a significant issue.

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. This position is completely arbitrary as user conflict, especially personal user conflicts often exist between users in the same general category and often occur regardless of the method of transport used to get to the area.

The Organizations believe that after a brief summary of research into user conflict, the difference in the using travel management as the primary tool to address user conflict and best available science on the issue will be clear. Researchers have specifically identified that properly determining the basis for or type of 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.” 12

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.”13

It is significant to note that Mr. Norling’s study, cited above, was specifically created to determine why travel management closures 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 decisions addressing 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 travel management planners must learn from this failure and move forward with effective management rather than fall victim to the same mistakes again. As such this issue has been brought forward in scoping to avoid confusion later in planning.

4b. NVUM analysis indicates user conflicts are a minimal concern in the Routt National Forest.

The Organizations also must address the high quality nature of recreational experiences that are currently provided to visitors to the Routt National Forest as found in NVUM analysis. A complete copy of the Round 2 NVUM analysis has been provided with these comments for your reference. The high quality recreational opportunities on the Routt NF have been extensively analyzed in the USFS NVUM process, which yields the following conclusions:

commentswestsnowies_5.png 14

The Organizations will note that providing a 94% rating of somewhat or very satisfied response from any user groups is impressive. The Organizations believe preserving these high levels of satisfaction is an important factor to be preserved in the proposal and directly rebuts any claims of user dissatisfaction with recreational opportunities. These issues are clearly a very minimal planning concern and should be managed as such.

NVUM analysis further finds that those using developed and GFS sites are often less satisfied with the levels of access to these sites. NVUM analysis states the conclusions on this issue as follows:



The Organizations believe addressing the perception of access as an issue when using these facilities must be a priority in any planning for the western portion of the Snowy Range area.

The Organizations would like to note that often poor conditions of roads and signage is a major concern for forest users. The Organizations believe addressing these concerns in the proposal area is a significant issue to be addressed in the proposal area moving forward. The NVUM analysis provides the following summary of these concerns:




The Organizations believe that any planning that is undertaken in the Western Snowy Range area must address a preliminary question of what are the concerns of users in the area and how does the planning assist in resolving these concerns. As noted above maintaining the current levels of access and opportunity is a significant concern for users moving forward and closures will not help resolve concerns for limited access of users.

5. Expanded funding for roads and trails is now available

In several locations in the scoping notice, there are concerns raised about the limited funding available for maintenance of roads and trails in the proposal area. The Organizations completely understand this concern and impacts to recreational opportunities and management that can result from limited budgets. These Ranger District level budgetary concerns in Wyoming can now be partially addressed through the newly created OHV grant program that has been developed by the Wyoming State Trails Committee, which is designed to assist in offsetting exactly these types of funding issues with money from both the Recreational Trails program and OHV registrations in the State.

The Wyoming OHV grant program just completed its second grant cycle and awarded almost $1 million dollars in grants for projects such as the one proposed. The Organizations would hope these resources would allow more trails in the proposal area to remain open and would encourage any proposals for the area to be developed to address this additional funding. More information on this program is available on the Wyoming State Trails grants website, which is

6. Conclusion

The Organizations welcome this opportunity to provide input on the Western Snowy Range travel plan. As previously noted many of our members and clubs are preparing route specific comments, and our comments are submitted to be a resource in moving forward with the management of this area. The Organizations believe there are minimal wildlife, water and user conflicts in the area along with new funding programs which provide a realistic opportunity for maintaining current levels of usage and satisfaction to recreational users of the area.

If you would like a copy of any of the reports relied on in these comments or have questions please feel free to contact Scott Jones at 508 Ashford Drive, Longmont CO 80504. His phone is (518)281-5810.


Scott Jones, Esq.
COHVCO Co-Chairman
CSA Vice President

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trails Preservation Alliance

John F. Lane
COHVCO Co-Chairman & President


1 Chambers, Jeanne C.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Raish, Carol B., eds. 2013. The Southern Nevada Agency Partnership Science and Research Synthesis: Science to support land management in Southern Nevada Executive Summary. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRSGTR- 304. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 79 p. at pg 38.

2 US Park Service; White and Davis; Wildlife response to motorized recreation in the Yellowstone Park; 2005 annual report; at pg 15.

3See, Map I-2 of the RMP

4 2013 LCAS at pg 94.

5 2013 LCAS at pg 83.

6 2013 LCAS at pg 95.

7 2013 LCAS at pg 84.

8 2013 LCAS at pg 83.

9 2013 LCAS at pg 26.

10 2013 LCAS at pg 94.

11 2013 LCAS at pg 91.

12 Carothers, P., Vaske, J. J., & Donnelly, M. P. (2001). Social values versus interpersonal conflict among hikers and mountain biker; Journal of Leisure Sciences, 23(1) at pg 58.

13 Norling et al; Conflict attributed to snowmobiles in a sample of backcountry, non-motorized yurt users in the Wasatch –Cache National Forest; Utah State University; 2009 at pg 3.

14 See, Routt National Forest NVUM research Round 2 at pg 31 (hereinafter referred to as NVUM research).

15 NVUM research at pg 32.

16 NVUM research at pg 35.


Continue Reading

The Trail of Knowledge


pdficon_large.gif January 20, 2014

The Trail of Knowledge
The Colorado 600

Dirtrider Magazine
(Reprinted with permission)

Story By Adam Booth
Photos By Adam Booth And Rob Watt

Having never ridden in the single-track famous state of Colorado, I was told—not asked—to attend this year’s Colorado 600. Like a kid heading off to college, I loaded the 2014 Beta 450 RS in the Dirt Rider Dodge and began a 16-hour drive to further my off-road education and, of course, to pop some sweet wheelies.

The TPA (Trails Preservation Alliance), with help from the Texas Sidewinders MC, puts on the Trails Awareness Symposium (TAS) Colorado 600 trail ride. This isn’t just an awesome multiday frolic through the amazing Rocky Mountains; there is a much deeper purpose behind this gathering of hard-core dirt bike riders. It’s like the coolest college class ever! The Colorado 600 is an avenue to educate off-road riders on serious issues impacting motorized recreation and was created to enable riders to better assist OHV recreation groups in protecting access to public lands. As you may well know, our right to ride public lands is constantly under attack, and while it might seem at times a hopeless fight, the TPA, along with other groups like COHVCO (Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition) are putting forth heroic efforts, winning battles in an effort to win the war.

The Trails Preservation Alliance is an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting trail riding. It is a grassroots 501c3 organization that works tirelessly to protect trail access for OHV enthusiasts. The TPA organization isn’t paid for any of their work; it is all done via volunteers. They keep a close eye on current events and are constantly engaged in legal battles against those who want to shut down riding areas. They work hard to raise awareness and educate riders in the preservation of off-road riding. The TPA also wants to engage riders who aren’t doing anything (or don’t know how) toward preserving the sport they love.

The TPA spends between $75,000 and $100,000 a year trying to save our sport. This consists of legal actions and paying subject matter experts to help respond to the Forest Service/BLM travel plans and regulations. They donate to many motorcycle clubs in Colorado, trail crews to help maintain routes, and to state and federal organizations that are trying to work with the TPA. They have also helped form and start 10 clubs in the state in the past four years. Every year there is less public area available to ride, and kids learning to ride need organizations like the TPA and COHVCO to fight for their right to use public land for recreation. It is scary how fanatical many environmental groups are when it comes to denying and taking away access to OHV recreation of any kind on public lands designated for OHV use. While the TPA is dedicated to the preservation of single-track trails, COHVCO is a much broader group focused on sustaining the right for all motorized vehicles to use and enjoy off-road areas of Colorado.

Class Starts at 8am
Each morning of the Colorado 600 begins with a group breakfast and a guest speaker, educating participants on what they can do to help. Every morning I hopped on the Beta 450 RS with more ammo to help keep riding areas open. Because not all dirt bike riders crave the same terrain, the Colorado 600 offers up many rides per day depending on skill level. Knowledgeable guides lead mellow scenic rides or brutal 115-mile AA all-day singletrack adventures. I had the pleasure of riding a couple of days with Colorado hero Scott Bright (just a week before he left to race the 2013 ISDE) and a few days with Dakar racer and Colorado local Ned Suesse, who works closely with Don Riggle and the TPA on land-access issues. The long miles, rainy weather, and extreme altitudes had me exhausted at the end of each day—but completely satisfied and happy I was “forced” to attend the event. At this point I’m not sure who from Dirt Rider will be at next year’s Colorado 600, but it might all come down to an arm-wrestling match among DR staffers. If you don’t think OHV is important to those who don’t participate, think about this: OHV recreation is a billiondollar- a-year industry in Colorado, providing thousands of jobs and stimulating the state and local economies. Southern Colorado towns, hit hard by wildfires in 2013, understand the value of off-road recreation, since many are depending on it to carry them through the non-ski seasons of the year. As a result, most are incredibly supportive of land access. The Colorado 600 donates $6,000 to the local area around the event, and it also donates money to surrounding communities. All that before the 75 event participants roll in to buy food, hotel rooms, gas, and supplies from the local town. On the TPA webpage is an economic update for 2012 available for download showing the dollars that those who participate in OHV shell out to enjoy what they love. I recommend checking it out, as it can be used as a great example to cities and areas that might not realize the value in OHV recreation.

A Note From The Boss
“The TPA gets a lot of requests for various types of support, from money to responses to Forest Service/BLM planning documents, etc. What the TPA tries to do is make the work that the TPA has done in Colorado available to other states. If you go to the TPA webpage and news section, you can see just about all items that we are working on. One example of work in other states is the work in Arizona. The TPA was requested to respond to a FS travel management plan in the Phoenix area. We did this at the request of several Arizona riders who come to the C600.

“In New Mexico, we do more work, since we share several Forest Service districts and BLM areas that are in both states. We are also a major supporter financially to NMOHVA. New Mexico has a good organization but not the membership or the financial resources the TPA has, so the TPA makes a large donation to NMOHVA every year to help with their work. If New Mexico is successful in recreation issues, we all benefit.

“The most out-of-state support we do is with the Ride With Respect organization in Moab, Utah. This organization does more work with a handful of members than any organization I know. The hard work and dedication of the RWR crew has saved many miles of motorized routes in Utah and is also responsible for the creation of several new trail systems in the Moab area. On top of this, Colorado riders go to Moab in countless numbers during the winter months. The TPA has accepted the responsibility and challenge to make sustainable donations to RWR, and I think the TPA is their major financial supporter. It really concerns the TPA that riders from all over the US go to Moab to ride and then just leave, making no donations to the organization that is providing their recreation. This type of attitude on the part of riders will not sustain the sport. If anyone thinks the Forest Service and BLM are going to give us adequate areas for recreation, they are wrong. We need to save Utah recreation areas, and we need to work together to maintain all of the great trails that we have around the country.”  -Don Riggle, President, TPA

Want to help? Join or start a club and get to know your local federal land manger. Work with them as much as possible and try to be a positive partner to the operation. If that can’t work, then take the approach that public lands are for the public, which means getting active politically.

Support your local club, the statewide organization, and also the AMA. Having local clubs work with their associated Forest Service/BLM land officials goes a long way. You, the rider, are the only one who can save your sport. Young riders need good examples, and that example has to come from parents. Every type of rider, off-road, motocross, or dual-sport, needs to join the AMA. The AMA is our voice in Washington, DC, and the frustrating part of our fight as off-road riders is the lack of membership. It’s hard to believe, but the AMA has only has 230,000 members, a strong contrast to the millions of people in America who ride motorcycles. If the AMA had a few million members, the voice would be much louder. The AMA has five lobbyists fighting for motorcyclists’ rights in Washington, DC, which seems fine and dandy until you find out the anti-OHV groups that would like to see access to public lands denied have 60 lobbyists working in Washington, DC, to make sure you don’t enjoy riding your dirt bike. In order to protect our rights, we need numbers, and in the grand scheme of things, 230,000 members isn’t much. Whether you like the AMA or not (some don’t), it is the only one in Washington fighting for your rights on two wheels both on and off-road. If you live in or near Colorado, you need to join COHVCO and the TPA. If you live states away, find a club near you and maybe look into starting your own local club.

If all this information makes your blood boil, congrats, you are with the rest of the off-road community! You should be mad, you should be frustrated, and you should worry about the future of off-road riding on public land. The first step is to join groups in your area of the country that work toward saving the areas you love to ride. Also, join the AMA and convince your friends to join. Additionally, when you go riding in an area away from home, buy your gas, food, and supplies in the area you ride, and support the local groups who keep the area open year-round.

The Colorado 600 is an amazing event, and every rider in attendance leaves with a stronger grasp on the troubles that face OHV recreation access, both at local levels and nation wide. If the other attendees from the event are like me, they bench race with friends and are more passionate than ever about educating riding buddies and getting them fired up to protect what they love. It’s hard to start off each day hearing the future of land access is under attack, but the truth and information needs to be heard. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, either. If you have an interest in participating in the Colorado 600, go to But don’t wait too long; the event is limited to just 75 riders. There are several other events in Colorado for 2014 that support the TPA’s mission. The TPA’s website and Facebook page provide info on these events, and it would serve us all well to take a second to appreciate the immense amount of work being put forth to protect what you love. As I said before, the current situation will probably make you mad, and when it does I suggest that you load up your bike, pack your gear, and go ride—it will clear your head, make you smile, and remind you of what we are fighting for.

To learn more about The Trails Preservation Alliance, Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, and the American Motorcyclist Association, visit,, and

To participate in the Colorado 600, your bike must be street legal in Colorado, have a 100-mile gas range, and meet the 96-dBA sound test.

Event Sponsors:
Dunlop Tire
Tucker Rocky/MSR
Motion Pro
Spider Grips
Texas Sidewinders Motorcycle Club
Slavens Racing
BRP Products

Continue Reading

Issues at a Glance

pdficon_large.gif January 15, 2014

Issues at a glance

This section is designed to highlight various issues where CSA, COHVCO and TPA and their partners and local clubs are defending public access to public lands.  This glance at the issues is not an exhaustive list of the issues we are involved with, but rather is highlighting issues of statewide importance or interest. (Download the PDF to see this: We have identified the user groups most directly impacted by each issue with a logo next to each issue.)

1. New Lynx management documents have been published that clearly state trail usage and snow compaction are not an issue in lynx habitat- NEW
CSA,COHVCO and many other groups have been very concerned about the failure of many federal land managers to address recreational activity in lynx habitat with  best available science.  Best available science has specifically concluded  almost all recreational activity has no impact on lynx that might be in the area.  Many land managers continued to manage based on out of date management documents, where there was theoretical concerns about recreational usage.   The issuance of new management document supersede previous document avoids these types of issues in the future by clearly stating roads and trails in habitat are not a major factor for the lynx and that most snow compaction in the Southern Rockies is the result of natural processes rather than recreational usage. These documents clearly state that only major ski areas may impact lynx behavior and provide extensive analysis that weighs heavily against any claim of Wilderness areas being a benefit for the lynx. 
CSA,COHVCO and TPA have partnered to provide a copy of these documents to every office that currently has a draft plan being developed or are areas where lynx management has been an issue previously. 
2. The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently determined there should be no changes in forest management as the result of a wolverine in the planning area. 

This planning initiative addresses the management of millions of acres throughout the western United States and all areas above 10k feet in Colorado. The Organizations have been heavily involved in stakeholder discussions with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife regarding best available science for the management of the Wolverine.  As a result of these stakeholder meetings, best available science was clearly reflected in the recent US FWS listing decision as the decision clearly stated there should be no management changes on public lands as a result of the Wolverine.  This is a major win as modeled habitat for the Wolverine in Colorado was any areas over 10,000 ft.  and at one point closures to motorized access were seen as necessary in all these areas. This determination  was a major step forward in protecting motorized access from misguided wolverine management standards. 
3. The proposed expansion of parking facilities on Rabbit Ears Pass is moving forward
The Hahns Peak Bears Ears Ranger District has moved forward with scoping on several site specific proposals for the expansion of parking areas on the Rabbit Ears Pass area outside Steamboat Springs Colorado. Parking is very limited in the area for winter usage causing a wide range of management and safety issues for users.   This limited parking also limits access for motorized usage of the area that is consistently identified as one of the best snowmobile locations in the western United States. This project has been vigorously supported by the local clubs who have brought a wide range of information and resources to the table to allow for resolution of this issue. 
4. Dillon Ranger District allows construction of over 20 miles of new single track motorcycle trail outside Silverthorne.

The Dillon Ranger District on the White River National Forest issued a FONSI permitting the construction of 21 miles of new single track motorcycle trail outside Silverthorne Colorado.   This decision is the result of years of work and partnership between the local club and agency personnel.  This trail network will provide a motorized single track opportunity in an area where these opportunities area  very limited currently. 
5.  COHVCO and partners succeeded in obtaining passage of legislation allowing the titling of off-highway and over the snow  vehicles in the state of Colorado.

This will provide proof of ownership for vehicles that can exceed $15,000 to purchase new and allow for better financing rates from dealers.   The issuance of a title will also allow better tracking of stolen OHVs in the state and better rates for those that choose to finance their new purchases.  This legislation will become effective in 2014. Our next step is to obtain use of some county roads with the creation of a voluntary license plate on OHVs.
6.  COHVCO and partners were able to insure that fines were not increased for a variety of OHV related issues with the reauthorization of house bill 1069.   

There was heavy pressure from those opposed to OHV use to increase minimum fines sometimes by hundreds of dollars for a variety of non-resource related issues.   As a result of COHVCO efforts these fines maintained consistency with other violations. 

7.  COHVCO and its partners obtained dismissal of the Rico/West Delores lawsuit seeking closure of grandfathered routes on any MVUM. 

Unfortunately, this decision has been appealed but we are optimistic that the trial court’s decision will be upheld.
8. Representative Tipton held federal hearings concerning the negative impacts of Wilderness designations on Forest Health.  

Senate hearings were also held with similar input received from the public. COHVCO hopes that these hearings highlight the negative impacts to the forests from Wilderness designations and allow for management that protects forest health and public motorized access to the proposal areas. 

1.  San Juan National Forest plan appealed- updated.

The SJ/TR Planning area is 1.8 million acres  and preferred alternative increases  designated areas unsuitable for motorized usage by 83%.  Trails in the unsuitable area are subject to a presumption of closure in the future.
This is the Forest Service component for the BLM Tres Rios Plan and as a result the TR appeal points are also applicable to this matter.  In addition to the economic analysis issues, the USFS fails to accurately apply the Colorado Roadless Rule managing under a single standard very similar to the upper tier standard, when most of the SJ/TR areas were specifically found to be unsuitable for upper tier designation in the Colorado Roadless Rule proceedings.  At no point is
there any discussion of why closure of roadless areas is warranted  or that motorized access is a protected characteristic of a roadless area or why the two standards of roadless areas were not reflected in the RMP.
The RMP further applies a designation of suitable or unsuitable for motorized use to the entire forest.  It is has been our experience that such black and white type designations do not work in recreation management as this is not a black and white issue.  Rather most recreation occurs in the gray area between absolute standards, making application of such a standard arbitrary at best.  
Suitability boundaries are also based on the position that all wildlife habitat is unsuitable for motorized usage.  This black and white suitability standard conflicts with numerous US Fish and Wildlife decisions that find endangered species habitat areas are suitable for motorized usage with the implementation of minimal restrictions.  This decision also fails to address the recent Wolverine listing decision that found there should be no change in forest management in wolverine habitat and that Sage Grouse listing decisions have repeatedly determined that recreational usage of habitat areas is not an issue.
In yet another troubling lack of analysis, the RMP repeatedly asserts that no trails would be closed due the RMP and all review will be done later as part of site specific review.  At other points the plan states it will close 25 miles of trail.  This is a problem by itself, which is compounded by the fact that no information or analysis is provided regarding where these trails are or why they are being closed.
2.Tres Rios BLM field office plan has been appealed.
The Organizations recently submitted an administrative appeal of the Tres Rios(“TR”) Field Plan Resource Plan and are optimistic about reversing this decision.  The appeal centered around the tragic undervaluation of recreation in the RMP.   Often TR conclusions on user group spending were 10-15% of the conclusions identified in the research that was asserted to be the sole basis of the conclusions. Developed campers are asserted to spend $46.11 while the research indicates developed campers spend ranges from $217 to $300 per day.
Winter motorized users were particularly hard hit in this erroneous analysis as cross country skiers and downhill skiers spend $208 per day while snowmobilers only $127 per day. These conclusions are asserted to be based on USFS work  that concludes downhill skiers and snowmobilers spend similar amounts and cross country skiers spend 40% less than those amounts. It is simply impossible to reconcile these types of conflicting conclusions.
In addition to undervaluing recreation, current management of numerous areas, including the Molas Pass Area were not accurately reflected in the RMP.  While the Molas Pass area has never been closed to motorized usage, the RMP asserts it is currently closed and all alternatives assert the area is to remain closed.  Hard to argue there is a hard look at a closure when the closure is not reflected. 
3.Winter Wildlands Litigation 

This issue involves litigation in Idaho brought by the Winter Wildlands Alliance attempts to mandate winter travel management for all national forests, limit open riding areas and to invalidate the winter provisions of the travel management rule.   Previous decisions from the Forest Service had ruled in favor of motorized users on this issue.   WWA appealed the Forest Service decision to Federal Court in Idaho. The trial court ruled in favor of WWA and required winter travel management for all forests and invalidated the winter portions of the travel management rule.  This decision is being appealed by the Idaho Snowmobile Association and its partners as the trial court decision is lacking factual and legal basis.  
CSA has been actively involved in administrative appeals prior to the Federal Court proceedings. As this litigation was brought in Idaho, CSA has partnered with the ISA to facilitate the defense of this matter.  This partnership has resulted in several large donations being made by CSA to the Idaho legal defense fund and any resources necessary being available to our Idaho partners.  
CSA is also aware of similar litigation in California regarding winter travel management and notes the parallels between the WWA litigation and the litigation in Colorado regarding MVUM route designations.   These are not isolated issues. 
4.Bear Creek Trail - 

This lawsuit was served on the Forest Service and Colorado Springs utilities by the Center for Biological Diversity and others regarding exclusion of trails in the vicinity of cutthroat trout habitat.  This suit sought a blanket exclusion of trails from areas adjacent to streams with cutthroat trout. COHVCO and TPA have intervened and making sure the best resolution for motorized recreation is obtained. Terms of settlement have been reached that would permit new trails to be created in the area and close the habitat area to all threats.  TPA and COHVCO are working to insure the closures are applied per the terms of the agreement with the submission of a notice of intent to sue if the terms of the settlement agreement are not complied with. 
5.Pike /San Isabel MVUM challenge-

The first suit was filed on January 31, 2011 by anti-access plaintiffs including The Wilderness Society, Quiet Use Coalition, Wildlands CPR, and 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 routes.  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.  This case is currently moving forward in the discovery phase of litigation. 
6. Rico/West DeLores-  

A second suit involving grandfathered routes on an MVUM was filed regarding the Rico West Dolores/alpine triangle area of the San Juan Forest brought by Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers seeking closure of 14 trails which have a long history of  motorized travel.  COHVCO, TPA, Blue Ribbon Coalition, the San Juan Trail Riders and the Public Access Preservation Association have intervened to defend this matter with the Forest Service.  The complaint was dismissed by the trial court and access was maintained.  The trial court’s decision has been appealed. 

1.Sage Grouse Habitat/Planning- Updated 

COHVCO is involved in numerous Grouse planning initiatives with Federal, State and local agencies.  The Greater Sage grouse plan proposal is currently out for comment.  There are several areas of concern that we have since the plan is based on an endangered species that no longer exists, models larger tracts of lands as habitat areas that have not been occupied for a long time, caps road construction and tries to manage under absolute limitation  for soil disturbance that will not work in areas where there are large tracts of private lands. Extensive comments were submitted on the proposed Resource Management Plan changes that were proposed by the BLM. 
Since the close of the comment period, an extension of time has been granted for CPW to submit a Colorado alternative.   COHVCO and its partners have been voicing our concerns and working with CPW to develop management that insures the Grouse is not listed and recreational opportunities are maintained.
2. Grand Junction BLM Resource Plan- 

The Grand Junction BLM office released a draft resource plan that proposed to close over 2,000 miles (60-70%) of routes in the office. The Organizations submitted extensive comments, participated in numerous meetings with BLM managers and federal, state and  local government officials to highlight the numerous critical flaws that are present in the plan. These flaws included a complete failure to accurately address economic impacts of trail usage, which BLM placed at 10-15% of the total value, employment and daily spending amounts determined in research from Federal, State and user group analysis.  
The plan also proposed a massive expansion of closures for cultural sites in violation of federal law and sought to automatically close any sites located in the future. Currently there are 50 sites on the National register of historic places in the planning area, the plan proposed to add almost 1,900 sites to the list.  The Organizations  do not believe these sites are suitable for inclusion on the national register, which is a defining criteria for closures of cultural areas. 
The RMP also sought to close all Wilderness study areas to motorized access despite  a long history of usage of the areas and a complete lack of NEPA analysis of the proposed changes. The RMP also failed to explain how management standards of ACEC areas would relate to the management concerns in the area.  This resulted in closures of these areas to motorized access despite the management issue simply having no relationship to motorized usage.  
3. Domingez-Escalante National Conservation Area (“DENCA”) Plan- 

Proposal closes 272 miles  (50%) of routes in the preferred alternative. The Organizations submitted extensive comments objecting to many phases of the plan.  Again there is a complete failure of economic analysis as the plan asserts that the average recreational user spends $16 per day. the RMP fails to address that Sage Grouse planning addressing recreational usage of the same area estimates the average recreational spend to be in the high $40 range per day and USFS data indicates $63.  Hard to balance uses when the review is that incorrect.  
The Organizations also opposed the fact that over 85% of the planning area would be seasonally closed for wildlife issues despite analysis that concludes the population is at or above targets for the area and current management is effective at mitigating impacts while maintaining access. Habitat areas many other species are proposed to be managed to prohibit motorized access despite best available science specifically concluding motorized usage is not a threat to the species. 
4. BLM management of agency inventoried Wilderness Study Areas-
BLM has issued new manual regarding the management of agency inventoried Wilderness Study areas, which was created without public comment or NEPA review and is being interpreted in a manner that requires exclusion of motorized usage from these areas, even when there is a long history of motorized usage. COHVCO is vigorously opposed to this interpretation and has obtained draft legislation for the release of the Molas Pass area in the Tres Rios Field Office and is working on the release of the North Sand Hills area on the Kremmling Field Office. This manual also impacted many management decisions in the Grand Junction Plan.
5. CPW Path Forward step of the merger of Colorado Parks and Div of Wildlife- NEW

COHVCO was concerned that recreational usage and activity, and more specifically the trails program, was not sufficiently addressed in the next step of the merger of Colorado Parks and the Division of Wildlife required under Colorado Law. COHVCO is optimistic that these issues can be resolved as  we have had positive responses to our initial concerns. 
6. Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal.

The Hidden Gems Campaign has now morphed to a new phase as Senator Udall is exploring Wilderness designations.  The most recent version of Hidden Gems is seeking to designate 235,000 acres for prime recreational lands as Wilderness.  Senator Udall is looking for public input regarding the proposal- especially the Pitkin county portions.  His office is looking at a range of options and is seeking input from all users.  Please contact his office to voice your concerns
Our basic concerns are the negative economic impacts from the proposed closures and the harmful impacts to forest health.  The harmful forest health impacts of Wilderness were specifically noted in a Forest Service report to the Senators office recently.  Representative Tipton has actively addressed basic forest health concerns in a series of House hearings throughout the country that specifically seek information on the negative impacts of Wilderness on forest health. Many of these same concerns were also voiced in Senate hearings in Colorado Springs with Senator Udall.  COHVCO hopes this new information provides a strong basis for opposing these Wilderness proposals.
7. San Juan Wilderness. 

While the recreational impacts of the San Juan Wilderness proposal are somewhat limited, COHVCO is very concerned about the forest health impacts of the proposal.  People do not want to recreate in a forest that is dead, which will significantly impact the economic benefits from recreational usage of adjacent areas.  We believe every possible step should be taken to avoid this situation and designation of these areas as Wilderness does not assist in resolving forest health concerns.
8. OHV permits on plated vehicles

Refer to State Parks website for details at

9. OHV registration number size increase. 

Various environmental groups  have pushed a proposal to increase the size of all registration numbers on all OHVs to the size of a car license plate based on alleged law enforcement concerns. This proposal is being vigorously opposed by COHVCO as it will not work on the ground and is not supported by any research.  This proposal is also opposed by the state and federal agencies due to concerns about costs and effectiveness. 
10. EPA proposal to increase ethanol in gasoline.

The EPA is attempting to increase minimum ethanol levels in all motor fuels from the current 10% amount to a 15% maximum.  While this seems like a minimal change, EPA testing indicates that small engines not designed for E15 fail almost immediately when it is used as a motor fuel.  In addition to the failure of the motor, damage that results from E15 being used is not covered by manufacturers warranties.  The motorized community is vigorously opposed to this change and we encourage you to contact your elected officials to voice your opposition as well. 

Continue Reading

2013 Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy


pdficon_large.gif January 7, 2014

The Organizations (COHVCO, Colorado TPA, Colorado Snowmobile Association) welcomed the release of the new interagency lynx biology team report yesterday, as this report added significant clarity to recent advances in research and supersedes the previous version of this document which was highly theoretical that has been heavily relied  on for recent federal lands planning in Colorado. 
Many of the management issues clarified directly impact motorized access to public lands and resolve theoretical questions that have existed since the release of the original lynx management documents.   Management clarity on issues includes:

  • Recreational usage of lynx habitat is a second level threat and not likely to have substantial effects on the lynx or its habitat. Previous theory and management analysis had placed a much higher level of concern on recreational usage of lynx habitat;
  • Failing to manage habitat areas to mitigate impacts of poor forest health issues, such as the spruce and mtn pine beetle, is a major concern in lynx habitat for a long duration;
  • Lynx have been known to incorporate smaller ski resorts within their home ranges, but may not utilize the large resorts.  Dispersed motorized recreational usage certainly does not create impacts that can be equated to even a small ski area;
  • Road and trail density does not impact the quality of an area as lynx habitat;
  • There is no information to suggest that trails have a negative impact on lynx;
  • Snow compaction from winter recreational activity is not likely to change the competitive advantage of the lynx and other predators;
  • Snow compaction in the Southern Rocky Mountain region is frequently a result of natural process and not recreational usage; and
  • Winter recreational usage of lynx habitat should only be “considered” in planning and should not be precluded given the minimal threat this usage poses to the lynx. 

The Organizations anticipate providing hard copies of the complete report to Colorado land managers in the near future.   A complete copy of the 2013 report is available here

Continue Reading