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Monday, December 6, 2010

Deadline nears for comments on Forest Service's Travel Management Rule for closing back country roads

The deadline to being heard on the Forest Service's Travel Management Rule is December 13th at midnight. After that, those with the biggest voices, the most money, and the most aggressive organizations will have presented their cases. If you haven't presented yours, it will be too late.

These are the highlights of the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR 212, Subpart B, Designation of Roads, Trails, and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use):

* The rule requires each national forest or ranger district to designate those roads, trails, and areas open to motor vehicles.
* Designation will include class of vehicle and, if appropriate, time of year for motor vehicle use. A given route, for example, could be designated for use by motorcycles, ATVs, or street-legal vehicles.
* Once designation is complete, the rule will prohibit motor vehicle use off the designated system or inconsistent with the designations.
* Designation decisions will be made locally, with public input and in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.
* Designations will be shown on a motor vehicle use map. Use inconsistent with the designations will be prohibited.

Proponents of the rule say that the forest needs protection from overly aggressive users, ATVers that drive off road and destroy plants and create unsightly trails prone to erosion, that there are plenty of roads and areas for recreation already available, and that continuing to destroy more land from overuse each year benefits no one--not the health of the forest, the wildlife, or recreationists.

Opponents of the rule say it is just a forest service ploy to prevent the public from using land that belongs to them, it will eliminate hundreds of miles of back country roads used now by hikers, hunters, bicyclists, ATVers, and campers.

Read more of the rule here  then make your voice heard. Time is running out.

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