November 19, 2015
Pike/San Isabel NF
Att: Erin Connelly, Forest Supervisor
2840 Kachina Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008
Re: Lawsuit Settlement
Dear Ms. Connelly:
The Trail Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) would like to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining sustainable multiple use recreational opportunities on the Pike/San Isabel (“PSI”) National Forest following the settlement of recent litigation challenging 500 miles of routes currently on the MVUM. The TPA has partnered with the Forest Service at significant cost in the defense of this and many other legal challenges to multiple use recreation on USFS lands. These legal proceedings have resulted in significant wins for multiple use recreation, as exemplified by the dismissal of general challenges to MVUMs on the Rico/Delores RD of the San Juan National Forest. TPA submits that the precedent from this precedent, mainly that scientifically defensible trails are legally defensible, must be a cornerstone of planning under the tight court mandated requirements of the PSI settlement.
TPA is aware that funding of many aspects of trail development and maintenance projects have been knotted on the PSI since this litigation was filed. Many districts have not undertaken short term maintenance for duration of lawsuit and other have stopped implementation of projects that have been approved by site specific analysis, such as the South Rampart Travel Plan, routes in and around the Hayman Burn/ Wildcat Canyon and Badger Flats areas. These are routes and projects that benefit all users. TPA vigorously asserts implementation of these decisions must move forward and ready to support any efforts to obtain necessary funding through the CPW OHV grant program.
TPA further supports any efforts to leverage the good management crews, funded by the CPW OHV grant program, that are in place on many districts of the PSI. TPA can verify that these crews are highly effective in addressing local resource issues and will be a major tool for land managers moving forward. These crews should be able to address any short term resource issues that might be present from the litigation and avoid the loss of long term opportunities due to short term resource or maintenance issues. A complete review of the projects for these crews next summer should be undertaken. TPA is very willing to assist in these efforts. TPA is further aware that multiple use trail based recreation is a significant positive year round economic benefit to many local economies in the PSI area such as Lake George, Deckers, Florissant, Hartsel and Woodland Park. TPA submits that maintaining current high quality recreational opportunities is a critical component to the basic stability of these communities and their ability to provide basic services necessary for these communities to move forward.
TPA would also like to address their experiences involving trail proposals outside the PSI, while the lawsuit has moved forward. There has become a belief that creating single use trails to benefit small user groups is the path forward. TPA submits single use trail development should be avoided and would note that many issues have come forward in development of these types of trails. Funding is often problematic as the only user group who has funding for trail development and long term sustainability is the motorized community, who is often sought to be excluded from these proposals. TPA vigorously supports the position that different types of trails provide different experiences to different users but also assert that each type of trail should be managed to remain open to the largest number of users and allow for the most funding long term. Bear Creek efforts have proven to be difficult to enforce as motorized organizations are one of the only ones supporting USFS interim closures. TPA vigorously supports USFS efforts to maintain motorized recreational access and avoid possible Greenback Cutthroat Trout habitat issues in the area. Building partnerships is critically important to move forward on the PSI and this cannot be done by excluding groups for the benefit of other groups.
TPA is also working toward combining many of the new trail management resources and updates to various scientific documents involving recreation, such as the new Lynx conservation assessment and strategy in the near future for your reference. TPA is aware that often awareness of some of these documents is exceptionally limited and hopes these resources allow for best available science to be relied on as PSI moved forward under the aggressive litigation deadlines. TPA would welcome a discussion of these opportunities and any other challenges that might be facing the PSI moving forward at your convenience. Please feel free to contact Don Riggle at 725 Palomar Lane, Colorado Springs, 80906, Cell (719) 338- 4106
Scott Jones, Esq.
TPA Authorized Representative
Director of Operations
Trail Preservation Alliance
CC: San Carlos; Pikes Peak; Salida; South Park; South Platte; Leadville RD