The General believes that on a growing number of National Forests - TMR has actually very little to do with addressing “repeated cross-country travel.” Rather, it appears to be laying the groundwork for future Wilderness designations by green groups and Congress.
Photo: Note mapped OHV routes - arrows point to OHV routes - that were on the 1994 Forest Map that have either been closed by the new MVUM or other decision (click on map for large format)
Nowhere is this “Wilderness creation” concept more evident than on the Smith River National Recreation Area in Northern California where a series of agency management decisions over the last decade have successfully to date banned motorized use on once legal OHV trails that were on official Forest Maps.
See Decision on 2000/2001 BRC Appeal where we offered a managed recreation alternative and it was rejected by the FS:
Just recently, the NRA published its new MVUM. As you may know, The General (on behalf of the BRC) and Del Norte County appealed and won regarding the unit’s attempt to misuse the Roadless Rule as an excuse to close mapped OHV routes in a previous TMR EA. Now the agency has used a provision in TMR whereby they simply identify “system routes” that are available for wheeled vehicle use and publish the MVUM. No substantive public process is required.
If you go to the NRA’s North Dist. Map, you will see a large block of land where use of mapped OHV routes has now been banned or was banned in a previous decision. It is a strange coincidence that public use has been banned of all mapped OHV routes in the High Plateau Mountain/Diamond Creek area and that this area mirrors the exact outline of a Proposed Wilderness Area.
N. Dist. MVUM (note large blank area in center of map)
Some of you may remember that in the North Coast Wild Heritage Wilderness Bill (HR233) that enviros used the rationale for new Wilderness Areas in areas that had historic and legal OHV use as follows: “…our Wilderness proposal will not close any currently legal OHV riding.” How convenient?
While protecting landscapes that meet true 1964 Wilderness Act characteristics may have value on a case-by-case basis, the OHV community should be alerted to the potential that current and future Forest planning efforts (including TMR) can and will be used to “create” new Wilderness areas out of lands once used by the public on OHVs.
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