Archive | October, 2021

GMUG Details – TPA endorses Alternative C


The Grand Mesa Uncompahgre Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest released its Draft Forest Plan and Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) and your input is requested.  This Forest Plan provides a broad vision for the National Forest moving forward and will guide where motorized use is allowed and prohibited. The Forest Plan is similar to a city or county zoning plan on USFS land and the last time the GMUG did a Forest Plan was 38 years ago!

Establishing an accurate summary of current management on the forest has been a consistent problem in this DEIS and is a very concerning starting point.  Generally, this plan is confusing, often inaccurate, and lacks a factual basis on many issues, such as wildlife populations.

Quick Thoughts on the Plan

Alternative A – fails to accurately reflect current management.  This precludes our ability to even address possible impacts from management proposed in the other alternatives.  We are concerned that throughout the process accurately reflecting current management has been a problem.  Initial assertions from the USFS started with only 40% of the GMUG having recreational planning standards.  While the USFS has recognized that is incorrect recently, there has been no analysis of this change provided to the public.

Alternative B – USFS has listened to our preliminary input. Alternative B has added areas suitable for motorized uses both in summer and winter.  Alternative B also has a very small area of recommended wilderness.  Additionally, the Forest Plan protects motorized access to the Continental Divide Trail and areas around the trail.  ALT B still fails to recognize the need for future flexibility as there are serious concerns with the proposal to designate 700k acres of wildlife habitat, which often is not wildlife habitat, and then apply the draconian restriction of a route density of only one mile of trail per square mile.  Another problem with this alternative is that the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) guidance compartmentalizes numerous motorized routes with a Semi Primitive Non-Motorized surrounding them in an ROS category that would restrict future trail development or possible reroutes.

Alternative C – IS the best for motorized uses because It appears to be the closest thing to current management, is the most flexible with less zoning restrictions, and allows more active management of the forest in the event of natural forces (fire, floods, landslides, etc.) and recreation development. However, it needs modifications such as Wildlife management area trail densities that are consistent with best available science and that are justified based on wildlife population counts published by CPW, specific protection of any route that has been approved in site-specific travel management and that now would be in areas where motorized usage would not be allowed, and the addition of verbiage from Alternative B that protects motorized access to the Continental Divide Trail and areas around the trail.

Alternative D – Simply WAY too many and restrictions- increases roadless/wilderness on the forest from 50% to 77% (1.5 million acres to 2.3 million acres). This alternative is simply a non-starter for us given the crushing impacts it would have on recreational access.

Detailed Concerns on the Plan


  1. There simply needs to be more lands accessible for recreation on the GMUG to accommodate future demand.  While Alternative C moves in that general direction it fails to provide needed access.   Generally, we need flexibility in the plan and only C provides sufficient flexibility on all types of issues- fires, floods, landslides and recreation etc.  Recent super intense fires are going to become the norm and USFS now estimates that these areas could take hundreds of years to return to normal due to the combined effect of drought, beetle and then fire. Given the rapid evolution of this issue, flexibility is the only answer in the RMP. Short- and long-term impacts of these fires will be a major barrier to any activity on the GMUG.

 Current Management Confusion

  1. There has been asserted to be a massive erosion of historical access that has occurred without NEPA, based on a highly subjective inventory of the forest in the RMP.  This inventory is now presented as current management in Alt A despite all forest level travel efforts explicitly and clearly stating they are not changing current management decisions on the forest. We are unsure how changes of this scale have occurred. This is a management plan and should reflect management designations now and in the future.  These designations are critically important to long term motorized access. The following chart summarizes the unacceptable nature of these changes of the inventory
Summer ROS -Existing inventory Primitive Semi Primitive Non-motorized Semi Primitive Motorized Roadbed Natural Rural
1991 GMUG Supplement (1983 allocation) 217,900 816,800 1,265,200 619,200 33,000
Current management 435,000 1,338,400 767,800 415,300 9,000
% Change of Forest +7% +18% -18% -7% -.8%
% Change to Original +100% +64% -39% -33% -73%

2a. Even if inventories were management decisions, USFS asserts throughout the process that ROS designations are only present on 40% of forest.  This is utterly incorrect as 100% of the forest was given an ROS designation in the 1983 plan. ( pg. II-29). T hose designations were specifically carried forward in the 1992 RMP Timber Supplement (pg. 4 of the FEIS.) and all other decisions we can locate.  Failures to provide accurate baseline info on basic issues such as this precluded meaningful comment from the public on specific impacts which is why we are asking for a revised draft based on accurate information.

Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) – Zoning Inconsistencies

3. Many existing NEPA analyzed routes traverse areas of inconsistent management in the plan.  Throughout meetings it has been asserted these routes would be excluded from closures due to these conflicting designations with a corridor of consistent management. This is not reflected in any manner on maps or analysis.  This must be clearly identified and we are unable to locate this in the plan. Existing site specific NEPA must be recognized and carried forward.  Here is the link to the story maps for more information on ROS settings

Wildlife and Route Densities 

4. There have been a lot of concerns raised about wildlife impacts from recreation on the forest. This fails to recognize that currently CPW has concluded elk populations on the GMUG are 35% above target populations and deer populations are only 10% below target which is attributed to winter kill issues from exceptional snowfall. This proves current management is highly effective at protecting wildlife on the GMUG.

4a.  Alternative B would designate up to 700,000 acres of wildlife habitat on the Forest, but fails to explain why these areas were designated.  Based on commercially available information from CPW much of these areas are not habitat.  Simply drawing these areas on a map does not make them habitat and there remains large tracts of habitat outside these areas and the US Supreme Court recently struck down this type of arbitrary management processes.

4b.  Current planning provides for management based on habitat effectiveness, which mirrors many other agencies’ management for healthy ecosystems. Healthy ecosystem management is an attempt to address many issues, such as drought, fire and beetle impacts to benefit all phases of habitat. Many factors entirely unrelated to recreation or route density will negatively impact habitat effectiveness, such as the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado.  While this challenge is totally unrelated to route density, these factors will not be addressed in the management of habitat areas as the primary tool will be route density.

4c. The imposition of only route density standards starts from the position that routes and recreation are the only factors impacting habitat and wildlife populations. Alt B&D remove habitat effectiveness and provide 1 mile of trail per mile is proposed for a significant portion of forest. There is no basis for standard or why the standard could not be 2 miles of trail per square mile.  Upper tier roadless designations discussed 2 miles of trail per square mile and that was dropped due to huge negative impacts to recreation and the arbitrary nature of the standard.  Also how does this standard relate to large open areas that the USFS just recognized as highly sought after and valuable in the development of the winter travel rule?

4d. What basis is there for the landscape level application of the 1 mile per mile trail and route density requirement?  We are opposed to the arbitrary nature of the standard as the GMUG has approved route densities of up to almost 5x this density in ESA habitat areas and critical watersheds.

Species Permitted Route Density Species Permitted Route Density
Greenback Cutthroat Trout 4.78 Canadian Lynx 1.39
Water influenced zone 4.569 Gunnison Sage Grouse – occupied 2.1
Sucker 2.57 Gunnison Sage Grouse -unoccupied 2.5
Colorado River Cutthroat Trout 2.17

This type of standard is in direct conflict with new USFS guidance regarding trails and wildlife and also conflicts with new Parks and Wildlife Guidance the document claims to be implementing.

 Alternative D – Citizen based planning groups influence

5. The Citizen petitions are the basis of Alternative D will have massive impacts on access to the GMUG despite their assertions to the contrary.  These proposals bring Wilderness into areas where trails could be built and designate Wilderness in areas previously released by Congress.  Candidly we were not even aware several of these efforts existed until the draft was released. These are impacts and we have worked with some of these interests to address impacts but these efforts have been unsuccessful.  Often huge conflict across the petitions on management of issues or areas and that makes us question any assertion of broad community support for the proposal as these proposals simply don’t even align with each other.

 Submit your own unique comments

Please use this document as a guide to make these points in your own words and submit them to the US Forest Service.  Remember to tell them the following

  1. Who you are.
  2. Your experience recreating in GMUG, or your interest in doing so in the future.
  3. The recreational opportunities you seek (e.g. motorcycle singletrack loops)

Use this link to submit your comments electronically and remember the deadline for submitting on the plan is Friday, Nov 12, 2021.

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Colorado 600 Article in UPSHIFT Magazine

This article is republished with permission from UPSHIFT Magazine from their October 2021 issue.

Words and photos: Chad De Alva

UPSHIFT October 2021Cover

Public land is public land. It’s land that should be open to all user groups to recreate on. It doesn’t belong to me any more than it belongs to you – and that is exactly what makes it public. Yet somewhere along the way, the definition of public land seems to have been twisted, and there are legions of folks out there now who don’t want anyone else besides their user group on our public land that we as Americans all own equally. As motorized users of public land, we’re more often than not the first user group to fall under the crosshairs of those who seem to believe that public land is their land and other users are not allowed. Make no mistake about it – there is no shortage of folks out there who would be thrilled to never see a motorcycle on public land again. So the question you need to ask yourself is: do you want to help save our sport?

The Colorado Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) was created specifically to help save motorcycle riding in Colorado and the surrounding states. This isn’t another localized motorcycle club, but rather a unique non-profit that works to help support local clubs and provide strategic level of support to motorized recreation advocacy efforts across the Western United States. Think of a local motorcycle club as the boots on the ground working at the tactical level and engaging with their specific land managers and local issues. The TPA acts on a more state-wide strategic level, helping new clubs get off the ground or supporting established clubs in their local efforts. The TPA has all of one paid employee, and the rest of the board is all-volunteer, which makes this a very efficient non-profit with a long track record of getting advocacy work done. Just take a look at the news section of their website, where you can see everything they’ve done for us. With the support of a number of industry partners and like-minded riders, the TPA is an asset to our sport.

One of the ways that the TPA raises awareness on what they are working on is the Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium. This is a five-day riding event and advocacy symposium that was held in Crested Butte, Colorado, for 2021. Here in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, riders at this year’s event got to learn about and experience firsthand exactly what it’s going to take to ensure that motorcycles will get to play in these mountains for years to come.

Rider in forest

Crested Butte is known for its non-motorized recreation, which is ironic given that many of the trails that are now non-motorized were originally built by miners and maintained for decades by motorcycles. The mountains and valleys that surround Crested Butte are in large part the purview of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest, which has built almost no new motorized trails since 2010, despite receiving nearly a million dollars of OHV fund money annually. Yet the same can’t be said for non-motorized trails. The scary part is that the Forest Service is projecting that the recent “COVID Boom” of users will become the new normal user load within the next ten years. The Forest Service is also making no secret of the fact that they do not have enough money to perform all the maintenance the current inventory of trails requires. So expect the current state of blown out and over used trails to become the new normal unless we step up and do something.

The GMUG National Forest is currently going through its first forest planning process in decades. The draft plan is over 1,800 pages long and will impact both summer and winter recreational activities on the forests. Other user groups are currently proposing increasing the amount of nonmotorized area (Wilderness / Roadless Areas) from 49% to 75% with Alternative D of the draft plan. The TPA alone will expend thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars advocating for motorized recreation on this forest planning process alone.

Yet to stack the deck even further against motorized users, some ranger districts of certain Colorado National Forests will not sign volunteer agreements with local motorcycle clubs. Without an agreement in place, any volunteer work that a club does to make our public land and public trails better for anyone who uses them doesn’t count in the eyes of the district ranger. Remember that any user group can use a motorized trail, but motorized users have to be on specifically designated motorized trails. Are you motivated to do something to help save our sport yet?

The TPA supporting local clubs is a great example of an effective organizational structure, but we need to step it up to really expand the impact of current motorized advocacy efforts. To take a page from the mountain bikers’ playbook, look at the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). This organization has the main IMBA playing quarterback on an international scale, and then all of these local chapters dealing with the specific objectives present in their back yards. It’s an organizational structure that has proven to be very effective.

Motorized advocacy groups are much more splintered. We’ve got NOHVCC, BRC, AMA, and other organizations all of which are vying for funding from the same user base and chasing their own issues and fighting their own battles. Would our advocacy efforts not be much more effective if we all came together under one flag, or at least figured out how to coordinate our efforts?

Group of riders

So what can you as an individual rider do to help save our sport? If you live in a Western state, find a local club and get involved. If you’re one of the many out of staters who travel to ride each year, find out who cares for the trails where you travel to ride and reach out to find out how you can support their efforts. To be clear – just buying an OHV sticker (which you better be doing) is not enough. Whether it’s a donation of time, money, or both, local clubs and advocacy organizations like the TPA need all the help they can get. I can’t think of a better example of the few working tirelessly to benefit the many than Ride With Respect (RWR), which advocates for motorized riding in this little place called Moab, Utah. Ride With Respect is run almost entirely by one guy, yet his backyard is a mecca for OHV use visited by tens of thousands of users each year. So the least you can do is buy RWR a beer next time you’re in town.

Motorized trail advocacy needs our help – because right now is how we as a user group figure out where we are headed in the coming years. In the era of travel management, the strategy has been no net loss of trails, but now is the time to go on offense and work to adopt a strategy of a net gain of motorized trails. That means redesignation of non-motorized trails, reopening closed motorized trails, and the construction of new motorized trails, in addition to much-needed maintenance on existing trails, like those around Crested Butte. A motorized trail can be used by all user groups, which makes it an efficient tool for resource-strapped land managers struggling to meet an increase in trail demand. How effective we are at doing this ultimately depends on us. So now is the time to get involved in shaping the future of our sport.

Rider on roadThe 2021 Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium was a five-day event that provided a perfect window into the current state of motorized trail use in an area that’s slowly being claimed by non-motorized users. Yet all across Colorado this season, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the motorized trails that so many users enjoy are just becoming more and more neglected as time goes on. Our existing trails need maintenance, and as our user group increases in size along with every other user group out there, we need an expanded inventory of motorized trails and more trail maintenance to handle the increase in user demand.

Take a good look at the photos that accompany this article. These are the exact riding opportunities and trails that we stand to lose if we as riders just sit back and do nothing. Yet, if we step up and get involved, there is no reason we can’t strive to make more trails like this all across the Western United States.

Get involved with a local club, and chip in to support any trails that you travel to use. Motorized users need to care for what we currently have, and we need to get involved with our local clubs and organizations like the TPA to effectively advocate for new riding opportunities all across the Western United States. The Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium is a great way to gain exposure to the advocacy landscape in Colorado and to meet like-minded folks who care about the future of this awesome sport we all enjoy. If more motorcycle riders attended events like the Colorado 600 and got involved in advocacy efforts, the impact that would have on our sport would be profound. For more information on the Colorado Trails Preservation Alliance go to:

The TPA wouldn’t be possible without support from the following companies: Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Motion Pro, Klim, MotoMinded, Texas Sidewinders Motorcycle Club, Billet Racing Products, Elite Motorsports, Centura/St. Anthony Prehospital Services, Doubletake Mirrors, AMA, KTM, Dunlop, Kate’s Real Food, Tomichi Creek Trading Post, Upshift Online, Dave Mungenast Motorsports.

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