Thursday, September 17, 2009

TMR Now Used to "Create" new Wilderness Areas

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.
# # #


  1. As an avid OHV enthusiast AND former (and only) Six Rivers National Forest SO OHV Project Manager (who brought in almost 750,000.00 in Green Sticker monies to that unit), I've got to say that I am sorely disappointed with the Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Areas use of the Travel Management planning process as a subversive tool to continue to close and restrict OHV opportunities and access to existing roads and trails.

    It is apparent to me and anyone from the OHV community at large that the District Ranger/Manager for that unit is carrying out the wishes of her minions, rather than making her own sound decisions. I'm not going to name names, but these subordinates need to be terminated/censured for abuse of their positions by working outside of their job descriptions and reponsibilities in their pursuits of creating yet more wilderness and wild river corridors at the expense of other recreational user groups.

    The original intent in the SRNRA creation was to provide a broad spectrum of recreational activities, and in fact an OHV management plan was published and was included in the Forest Land Management Plan by reference. It identified low impact areas that contained existing hard rock mining roads and trail networks that would allow managed opportunities for 4X4, trail bikes, ATV's and Mtn bike. Unfortunately the land managers chose to ignore this plan and dismissed it a a non NEPA supported document. The simple fact that it was later incorporated into the final Forest Land Management Plan by reference makes it part of the FLMP and it's master NEPA treatment.

    I call for a vote of NO Confidence to the NRA managers/staff and mgt team members who are part of this cabal that is using the new travel plan to further restrict OHV access. I agree with Amadors assessment that their idea is to create yet more wilderness...all you have to do is review the maps and you'll see the agenda..and wild river cooridors.

    I also call for a reopening/review of the former NEPA decisions related to OHV access to the High Plateau area within the NRA (remember, it was originally designated as a low impact place for OHV recreation to take place, since the soils are highly non erodable and the routes, for the most part are already there). The former reasons for closure of the routes on High Plateau need to be revisited since more than 5 years hasd lapsed since the Decision Notice. Massive fires have come through the area, POC root rot may no longer be an issue and certainly the original BRC recreation alternative is to me a viable alternative to abject closure.

    I also call for complete removal of any and all Greensticker suplemental funding until such time as the NRA shows reasonable intent to follow the original NRA guidelines. This process must be and open public process and must be approved by the public. To do any less is a gross misservice.