Archive | June, 2023

Objections to Ashley National Forest Land Management Plan FEIS and DROD

Submitted June 20, 2023 to: the Objection Review Officer of the Ashley National Forest
Submitted by: Ride with Respect, Trails Preservation Alliance and Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition

Objection of Ride with Respect Trails Preservation Alliance and Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition to the Ashley National Forest Land Management Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (DROD)

Issues and parts of the plan revision to which this objection applies, how the proposed plan revision may be improved, and how the plan revision is inconsistent with law, regulation, and policy.

1. Objection is made to the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) definitions and boundaries. We object to how the ROS of the FEIS/ROD, and/or the FEIS/ROD alone:

  • In effect categorically prohibits a motorized route from being in a non-motorized zone;
  • Effectively allows non-motorized zones to cover at least half of the whole planning area, including non-motorized zones that stretch for ten or twenty miles, thereby isolating vast portions of the forest from connection by any kind of motor vehicle in summer;
  • Massively constrains the options for a subsequent travel planning process to consider, particularly since forest plans are intended to last a couple decades (and sometimes wind up lasting twice that long);
  • Undermines the work of the counties in diligently developing trails master plans by potentially forever prohibiting many of those trails from ever being considered, as overriding desired conditions and contradicting a forest plan for trail development is practically unheard of;
  • Fails to properly plan for the projection of demand for motorized vehicle recreation in the coming decades, including electrification and hybridization with bicycling;
  • Fails to expressly allow exceptions in Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized zoning for a motorized route;
  • Fails to give most of the planning area a motorized zoning designation;
  • Fails to extend motorized corridors far enough to ensure that USFS travel planners will have ample options for the coming decades;

2. The FEIS/DROD is objected to further on the grounds that:

  • It conflicts and is inconsistent with the trails master plans, maps, planned corridors and resource management plans of Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah Counties (including Uintah County’s OHV Master Plan as it is a supplement to its Trails Master Plan), all of which is contrary to NFMA, NEPA, Forest Service planning regulations, and NEPA CEQ regulations;
  • Its spoken or unspoken attempt to comply with the so-called 30 x 30 plan is flawed and arbitrary, because 50% of the Ashley NF is already tied up and off limits to motorized recreation as either Wilderness or other special designations that severely restrict OHV use;
  • Its significant motorized travel restrictions are inconsistent with mandates of recent Presidential Executive Order #14008 (January 17, 2021) to “improve access to recreation” and “revitalize recreation economies;”
  • Its significant motorized travel restrictions are inconsistent with the mandates of the Congressional mandated National Sustainable Trails Strategy for the USFS under the National Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, PUBLIC LAW 114–245—NOV. 28, 2016;
  • It arbitrarily fails to recognize and analyze the fact that the sustainability of every existing motorized trail in the planning area has been subjected to 50 years of scrutiny under the travel management Executive Orders issued by President Nixon in 1972;
  • It fails to provide an adequate supply, or the managerial flexibility of supply, of OHV opportunities to meet the current demand, let alone future demand in a sustainable fashion;
  • It fails to adequately recognize and analyze how trails can benefit other Ashley NF programs, resources and values, such as by providing remote access for wildfire suppression efforts and fuel reduction/treatment projects;
  • It is inconsistent with Federal law to the extent it may be construed to facilitate de facto wilderness designations and management prescriptions, especially in light of the Congressional release of all non-designated Forest Service lands as provided in the Utah Wilderness Act of 1984;
  • It is inconsistent with the 2019 Congressional Dingell Act designation for the Ashley Karst National Recreation and Geologic Area, in which recreational usage of the new NRA is specifically identified as a characteristic to be protected and preserved. While the Karst area has restrictions on new route construction there is no restriction on the designation of existing motorized areas in this legislation. Thus we object to the FEIS/DROD failure to preserve existing motorized trails as open route or road designations. The same concerns apply to the Flaming Gorge NRA designation in 1968 and its emphasis given to preserving recreational opportunities;
  • Its application of a “Recreation Management Areas” is redundant and sometimes conflicting with ROS, and will cause public confusion and exacerbate the risk of categorically prohibiting motorized recreation;
  • It effectively portrays the “Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized” ROS zone as intending to entirely prohibit motorized recreation travel. This would arbitrarily override the desired conditions aspect of such zone expansion, making it easier to claim a NEPA violation of desired future condition ideals if one were to try to open a motorized route in a Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized zone. This long term threat could be accelerated in a hurry, as the FEIS/DROD opens the door for making Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized zones more of an exclusive use rather than merely a non-motorized focus.
  • Thus the FEIS/DROD poses a clear and present threat to expand these zones over historic roads that all three counties have proposed to reopen for motorized recreation travel. As particularly egregious examples, the FEIS/DROD will convert three areas to become non-motorized ROS zones, despite that all three County trails master plans call for reopening historic roads in those locations. Such historic roads include Heller Lake, Galloway Springs, and Pipe Creek.

The link between the objectors’ prior substantive comments and the content of this objection.

The foregoing objections are linked to, taken from and grounded in the following comments submitted by objectors in this EIS process:

  • February 7, 2023 written comments by Clif Koontz of Ride with Respect, sent by email to Lars Christensen, Collaboration Specialist, Forest Plan Revision, Ashley National Forest;
  • February 17, 2022 written comments of several OHV organizations including objectors Ride with Respect, Trails Preservation Alliance, and Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, addressed and sent to:
    Ashley National Forest
    Att: Forest Plan Revision
    355 North Vernal Ave
    Vernal, Ut 84078-1703

Documents referenced in this objection.

  • February 7, 2023 written comments by Clif Koontz of Ride with Respect, sent by email to Lars Christensen, Collaboration Specialist, Forest Plan Revision, Ashley National Forest;
  • February 17, 2022 written comments of several OHV organizations including objectors Ride with Respect, Trails Preservation Alliance, and Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, addressed and sent to:
    Ashley National Forest
    Att: Forest Plan Revision
    355 North Vernal Ave
    Vernal, Ut 84078-1703

Thank you for the invitation and opportunity to submit these objections.


Clif Koontz
Executive Director
Ride with Respect
395 McGill Avenue
Moab, UT 84532


Chad Hixon
Executive Director
Trails Preservation Alliance
PO Box 38093
Colorado Springs, CO 80937


Scott Jones
Authorized Representative
Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition
P.O. Box 741353
Arvada, CO 80006



Continue Reading

Thompson Divide Withdrawal Comments

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests
Anthony Edwards, Deputy Forest Supervisor
2250 South Main Street
Delta, Colorado 81416

RE: Thompson Divide Withdrawal

Dear Mr. Edwards;

Please accept this correspondence as the input of the Organizations to request for public input regarding the Thompson Divide Mineral Withdrawal Planning effort. The Organizations are aware that planning for this area has a long and heavily conflicted history and as a result we are providing this input to protect world class recreational opportunities for the public in all forms. Prior to addressing the specific concerns of the Organizations regarding the Proposal, we believe a brief summary of each Organization is needed. The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”) is a grassroots advocacy organization representing the OHV community 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. The TPA is an advocacy organization created to be a viable partner to public lands managers, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of motorized trail riding and multiple-use recreation. 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 lands access to diverse multiple-use trail recreational opportunities. Colorado Snowmobile Association (“CSA”) was founded in 1970 to unite winter motorized recreationists across the state to enjoy their passion. CSA has also become the voice of organized snowmobiling seeking to advance, promote and preserve the sport of snowmobiling through work with Federal and state land management agencies and local, state and federal legislators telling the truth about our sport. CORE is a motorized action group dedicated to keeping motorized trails open in Central Colorado and the region. Collectively, TPA, CSA, CORE and COHVCO will be referred to as “The Organizations” for purposes of these comments.

The Organizations have been involved in various legislative and land management proposals seeking to restrict or entirely exclude recreational access to the Thompson Divide area for decades. We are intimately familiar with the fact that some of these “community proposals” would have imposed draconian restrictions on recreational access to the area, with the significant expansion of Congressionally designated Wilderness in the area. While these legislative efforts started in the late 1990’s, passage of these various legislative Proposals was never obtained. It is significant to note that while these efforts wallowed in the legislature, other land management proposals in Colorado were created and passed into law over a much shorter time frame. The Organizations believe this lack of passage of these proposals after more than 20 years of effort speaks volumes to the true public support for these pieces of legislation. Despite advocates claiming for decades there was broad community support, this community support has been insufficient to obtain passage of these Proposals

This long history of draconian management proposals from the Thompson Divide area stands in stark contrast to the direction and vision that was provided by President Biden’s Proclamation issued on October 12, 2022 declaring the Camp Hale Planning area a National Monument.  This Proclamation identified a very different vision for the management of the area and its world class recreational opportunities in all forms, which it clearly states as follows:

“In light of threats posed by vandalism, unmanaged recreation, and climate change, protecting the Camp Hale and Tenmile Range area of the continental divide will preserve its historic and prehistoric legacy and maintain its diverse array of natural and scientific resources, ensuring that the historic and scientific values of the area remain for the benefit of all Americans.  Reserving this area would also honor the valor and sacrifice of the 10th Mountain Division, secure ongoing opportunities for Tribal communities to continue spiritual and subsistence practices, and enable the region’s modern communities and the Nation to continue to benefit from the area’s world class outdoor recreation opportunities.”[1]

This Proclamation further clearly identifies a full range of world class recreational opportunities in the area, rather than the exceptionally narrow interpretation of recreation provided in legislative proposals for decades as follows:

“For purposes of protecting and restoring the objects identified above, the Secretary shall prepare a travel management plan to ensure appropriate access for the management and use of the area, which shall provide for motorized and non-motorized mechanized vehicle uses, including mountain biking, consistent with the proper care and management of the objects identified above.” [2]

Despite the clear vision and direction of the Presidential Proclamation, legislative proposals have again been introduced seeking to further reduce methane emissions and other activities from human activity in the Thompson Divide planning area.[3] It is disappointing that even with the Proclamation, which was supported by a wide range of interests throughout the region, this was not enough to finalize conflict around use of the area. What is even more disappointing is the fac the legislation would reduce recreational protections from the current requirement of protecting world class recreational opportunities in all forms to planning where recreational usage is merely a planning consideration.

The Organizations are aware that the limited motorized access to the Thompson Divide area is critical to all forms of world class recreational opportunities in the area. While there may be significant local pressure to close these routes in the mineral withdrawal efforts, routes that may be provided partially for mineral extraction reasons also have significant recreational values as well.  We would vigorously support expanding recreational infrastructure in the area to support more world class opportunities. Closures of any routes without addressing the recreational value of the route would directly conflict with the presidential proclamation and would be highly pre-decisional.

The Organizations welcome this opportunity to provide input on the Proposal and planning effort and would voice strong support for the area continuing to provide world class recreational opportunities.  This recreational activity is heavily reliant on the network of roads and trails in the area. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Scott Jones, Esq. (518-281-5810 / or Chad Hixon (719-221-8329 /

Respectfully Submitted,

Scott Jones, Esq.
CSA Executive Director
COHVCO Authorized Representative

Chad Hixon
TPA Executive Director

Marcus Trusty
President – CORE

[1] See, Proclamation at pg. 8. A full copy of this proclamation is available here: A Proclamation on Establishment of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument | The White House
[2] See, Proclamation at pg. 11.
[3] See, §305 of S1634– a full copy of this Proposal is available here: Text – S.1634 – 118th Congress (2023-2024): Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act | | Library of Congress

Continue Reading

Phase 2 – Penrose Commons Recreation Management Plan – Send your comments to the BLM now!


Your Comments are Needed – Due Friday July 7th, 2023.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office (RGFO) is seeking public comment for the Penrose Commons Recreation Area Management Plan Environmental Assessment.

The BLM wants to hear from you on how you think they should plan to manage the area into the future. This is our second opportunity for public comment, the Environmental Assessment, in a series of steps that the BLM will do.

Penrose Commons is a 3100-acre designated OHV area near Penrose, Colorado, which currently has no designated motorcycle trails. This area is very popular, especially to Front Range users in the winter months, due to its mild temperatures and proximity to major population areas of Colorado. Under its current management, Penrose Commons lacks the adequate infrastructure to provide users with their desired experiences and therefore, numerous user-created trails have been established.

Please take this opportunity to submit a personal message to the BLM!

How to make comments

Tell them about yourself or your organization:

Who you are, where you’re from, what activities you already enjoy or would like to do in the Penrose Commons area, and how much money you spend locally when visiting (dining, recreational equipment, hotels, fuel, etc).
The variety of benefits that the area’s motorized routes provide to you. (exercise, thrill-seeking, skill building, family time, connection with nature, etc.)

Key Talking Points

  • Purpose and Need for Action:
    We recognize and support the need identified for adding motorcycle-specific recreational opportunities at Penrose Commons that are not currently available, or severely limited, in other lands managed by the BLM RGFO. Especially the need for motorized singletrack, a beginner skill development area and an area where trials motorcyclists can recreate, practice and develop rider skills. We agree that OHV use at Penrose Commons has steadily increased, and the area is experiencing high levels of use by OHVs coupled with a shift in OHV types and uses at Penrose Commons. Two major reasons for this purpose and need for action are:

    • Limitations to motorized single track experiences – Currently there is approximately ~10 miles of motorized single track versus 297 miles of non motorized singletrack in the 600,000 acres of land managed by the Royal Gorge Field Office. Motorized single track opportunities are less than 3.5% of the total trails system in the RGFO. (DudBob 6 miles. Bull Gulch in Texas Creek 2 miles. Rainbow Trail Reroute 3 miles Sundgren Sunset Loop in Big Bend 1.1 miles.)
    • 2003 Gold Belt EA – The Gold Belt EA written in 2003 had an alternative that recommended the addition of motorized singletrack trails in Penrose Commons. While this alternative was not selected it was clearly a (known need) consideration at that time. Coupled with the BLM’s knowledge of the drastic increases in use, especially by off-highway motorcycles, we have to question why this EA doesn’t include a similar recommendation.
  • “Friends Group” is prejudicial to motorcyclists:
    Singletrack opportunities should be pursued immediately and not be conditionally contingent upon the suggested “Friends Group” being successfully established. This is unfair and prejudicial to motorcyclists.
  • Trials and skill development areas should be developed in step with singletrack trails:
    The development of a motorcycle skill development and rider progression area along with trials opportunities (i.e. trials riding area) should begin immediately and not be contingent on a vague and arbitrary condition that future “designated singletrack proves successful” or based upon the actions or behaviors of other users.
  • Suggested funding is problematic:
    • Consistency and any predictability of recurring funding cannot be assured and it is improper to assume or infer that an OHV group might be able to influence the process and scoring outcomes of the OHV grant selection process.
    • Restrictive conditions that single out motorcycle use are discriminatory, unjust and counter-productive in supporting partnerships and the pursuit of competitive OHV funding sources and opportunities.
  • Trail conversions raise safety concerns:
    The conversion of 50” trail to full-size trails to support SxS vehicles will increase the traffic on these trails and thus the risk of motorcycle, ATV, or SxS collision. Conversions must only happen in unison with the creation of singletrack trails to help disperse users.
Comment Here!

This is your chance to make Penrose Commons a more valuable asset to the OHV community and enable the BLM to manage it more efficiently and effectively – It’s very important your voice be heard to help guide the direction through the entire process!

Comments are due Friday, July 7th, so speak up for motorized opportunities today!


Chad Hixon
Executive Director
Trails Preservation Alliance

Continue Reading

Proposed New BLM Rule – Make Your Comments Now!

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a new rule that would be a major alteration to their land management policy. The BLM is proposing to allow for the creation of something they are calling “conservation leases” that any “qualified individual, business, non-governmental organization, or Tribal government” could be eligible for. The TPA has many concerns about how the proposal seems to suggest the transfer of management of public land and bypasses existing policies and procedures.

The following is a list of concerns that you can utilize for your comments in opposition (please rewrite in your own words to ensure they are not consolidated).

How to file comments:

First, tell the BLM about yourself:

  • Who you are, where you’re from, what activities you enjoy on BLM Managed Lands and possibly how much money you spend when recreating (dining, recreational equipment, hotels, fuel, etc) on visits to these lands.
  • Emphasize if you are a multi-use recreationist. Include all the activities you enjoy on public land, and what characteristics you look for in your experiences.
  • The variety of benefits that recreational use of BLM lands provide to you. (exercise, thrill seeking, skill building, family time, connection with nature, etc.).
  • That you support the comments submitted by local, state, and national groups (RwR, CORE, TPA etc).

Then to comment substantively on The Proposal, include these points in your own words:

  • NEPA analysis of this Proposal must be required. The creation of this new regulation (“conservation leases”) must comply with Federal Land planning policies and NEPA requirements. It is not clear that this proposal fills either requirement. Approval of this Proposal as a Categorical Exclusion is a violation of NEPA.
  • “Conservation leases” cannot limit or close access to public lands for any reason. Public access to public lands cannot be lost indirectly from the proposal.
  • “Conservation leases” must be managed by the BLM. The BLM, not the public, should be required to monitor areas with leases to ensure impacts are not occurring to other uses or to hold a leaseholder accountable for violations.
  • The proposal must ensure staffing is provided to manage the program. One large issue facing the BLM is a lack of staff. Existing staff can not be reallocated away from other projects and work on management plans that are often out of date.
  • The Proposal fails to address what best management practices would be to protect multiple uses on public lands. To date, conservation leases have been targeted areas outside the multiple use mandate and as a result, best management practices on this issue may not exist. Clarification must be made that multiple uses will not be impacted and best management practices will be applied.
  • Allocation of carbon offset credits must be based on an equitable system. It is not clear how leases are being considered the proper way to provide carbon offset credits. In Colorado, the motorized community created the Motorized Trails Program in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). This program now contributes more than $8 million per year to maintenance and trail conservation. Many projects funded by this program could be worthy of carbon offset credits but would not qualify if a “conservation lease” was required to create them.
  • Intact Landscapes Definition: The Proposal seeks to protect intact landscapes but defines “intact landscape” in a manner that is too broad and ambiguous.

Deadline for comments: June 20, 2023 July 5th, 2023 (deadline extended)

Please take this opportunity to submit a personal message to the BLM!

Comment Here!

Where to File Comments:

Written comments:
U.S. Department of the Interior,
Director (630), BLM
1849 C St. NW, Room 5646,
Washington, DC 20240
Attention: 1004–AE92

Electronic comments:
Federal Register: Conservation and Landscape Health

More Details:

BLM Proposed Rule: Conservation and Landscape Health

BLM Public Lands Rule Frequently Asked Questions
BLM Public Lands Rule Public QAs.pdf

Continue Reading