Sept. 21, 2012 - The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been in ongoing discussions with the USDA Forest Service over the past several years as the different forests go through their forest and travel management planning processes.
The Kaibab National Forest on Sept. 18 announced it had issued its final Travel Management Plan to designate roads, trails, and areas for motorized use on the North Kaibab Ranger District. There is a 45-day appeal period. Implementation of travel management rules on the Kaibab Plateau is expected to begin in January 2013.
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In a Cronkite News article today (Sept. 21) about the release of the final plan, there is a sentence that readers might mistakenly interpret as the Arizona Game and Fish Department backing the Forest’s selected alternative as written. The Department has not had the opportunity to fully review the decision document and selected alternative. During the process of providing input and comment to the Forest, the Department has supported some elements of the plan but expressed concerns about others, including proposed restrictions on motorized retrieval of legally taken downed big game as well as some of the proposed camping restrictions.
Regarding forest travel management plans in general, the Department has serious and ongoing concerns about restrictions that are in excess of what is needed to protect the resource and which unnecessarily deny outdoor recreation opportunities. The Arizona Game and Fish Department strongly advocates for a reasonable approach that allows for motorized game retrieval for a wide range of big game species and that provides access for hunters, anglers, campers, and other wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy their forests.