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Recreation Advocate

The OutdoorWire family websites feature news and information affecting outdoor recreation opportunities and access to public lands. 

COMMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGES FOR UPPER TELLICO OHV TRAILS NEEDED!

Date: 06/25/2008
BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!

COMMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGES FOR UPPER TELLICO OHV TRAILS NEEDED!

The Nantahala National Forest today announced proposed changes in the 39.5 mile Upper Tellico OHV Trail System. The proposal calls for maintaining approximately 24 miles of trails, upgrading five miles of Davis Creek Road for street-legal vehicle use, and closing and restoring 11 miles of other trails. The Forest Service is asking for the public comments on the proposed changes.


BlueRibbon Coalition has gotten with our partners over at Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) to come up with some comment suggestions. In addition, we have developed a system to help you submit those comments in a quick and simple manner. To view the proposed changes, go to the forest's website at http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/tusquitee/tellico.htm.

This is also a reminder that the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System Open House on new Trail Management Proposal is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, 2008 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. It will be held at the First Baptist Church, 517 Hiwassee Street, Murphy, NC. The church is located at the intersection of US 74-19 and Hiwassee Street in Murphy (across the street from McDonald's); entrance for the open house will be marked. Individuals may come anytime during the open house hours.

The public is invited to come ask questions and learn more about the proposal as well as submit written comments and suggestions.

Comments may be sent to the Tusquitee District Ranger, 123 Woodland Drive, Murphy, NC 28906. Comments may also be sent via email to [email protected]

THE DEADLINE IS JULY 9, 2008, SO PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE AND SEND
THE FOREST SERVICE YOUR COMMENTS.


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.
Thanks in advance for your support
,
Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


SITUATION
The Nantahala NF is accepting comments on proposed changes to the Upper Tellico OHV Trail System. Comment deadline is July 9, 2008. For additional information, contact Candace Wyman at 828-837-5152 extension 113, or go to http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/tusquitee/tellico.htm.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Please send an email to the Nantahala National Forest. Use the comment suggestions below. Be sure to add a bit of personal information.

If you want, you can use BRC's letter generator (www.sharetrails.org/letters/letter.php?id=14). It has an easy interface for adding additional comments and sending your letter.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Be polite. Be Professional. Be on time. (The comment deadline is Wednesday, July 9, 2008)

EMAIL COMMENTS TO:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Acceptable formats for electronic comments are text (.txt), MSWord 6.0 or higher (.doc), Portable Document Format (.pdf), or Rich Text Format (.rtf).

In the Subject Line of your email, please put: " Comments on Upper Tellico OHV System "

Paste in the name and address:
Tusquitee District Ranger
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906

It's always good to include a brief paragraph about how much you and your family enjoy motorized use on National Forest lands.

Use the comment suggestions below in your email:

MAIL WRITTEN COMMENTS TO:
Upper Tellico OHV System
Steve Lohr, Tusquitee District Ranger
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906


COMMENT SUGGESTION:

I would like to strongly suggest that the FS consider scoping for reopening and maintaining trails at Tellico instead of closing trails. If the purpose and need for this action is to reduce sedimentation in streams, then that should be the desired outcome of this analysis, not closing trails. If the FS were to change the proposed action to reduction of sedimentation, this would allow the FS to conduct a more comprehensive analysis under NEPA and could provide recreation opportunities to OHV community and reduce sedimentation in the Tellico River watershed at the same time.

I take issue with the idea that the FS is scoping to close trails at the Tellico OHV area based on inaccurate science. I feel that the FS is crumpling under the threat of a lawsuit by a sportsman-turned environmental group. The FS provided information states that Jenks Branch is the creek with the most sedimentation. I feel that it is coming from the Tipton Community rather than the OHV area. The upper portion of the "Lower 2" trail does not drain in the watershed and, even if it did, can be maintained. The area in between that was logged recently needs to be reworked as there were no BMP put in place during that logging and the result is erosion. This erosion is not due to the OHV area and therefore we as users of the area should not be punished for actions for which we are not responsible.

It is inaccurate to say the FS has to close trails because of maintenance issues when they are the entity that did not perform the maintenance. SFWDA volunteers have been working for years in cooperation with the FS and now that relationship is being cast aside in an effort to pacify another less involved user group.

The motorized recreating public will not accept monetary constraints as an excuse for trail closures. Ironically, it is the motorized user community that has been successful in securing substantial funds for OHV management. There are several grant and volunteer programs available, and the OHV community is committed to help provide the tools to address legitimate concerns about route maintenance. Therefore, my comment is that you address any legitimate maintenance concerns by incorporating a training protocol into your plan that would train agency staff on how to apply for grants, use the available ICE-T Money, effectively manage volunteer programs, and learn about and apply for other funding sources. In addition, you might consider MOUs or other similar agreements with recreational groups, such as the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association.

I believe that the USFS has not properly evaluated the impacts of closing or restricting the Upper Tellico OHV Area. I believe that the economic impacts to the area have not been considered at all in determining the current proposed changes. I believe that the Forest Service has not considered the rapid, explosive growth of interest in motorized recreation, and has simply wilted in the face of a NOI from an extreme environment group. The FS needs to consider the interests of others besides itself and the few environmental lobbyists and lawyers who represent a small but well-financed group who wants to prevent the public's use of land that rightfully belongs to the public. The FS needs to consider where the OHV operators who currently utilize the Upper Tellico OHV Area will go, and what damage may occur from that shift to other areas. I believe that current plan for Upper Tellico OHV Area is unfair, unwise, and scientifically and economically unsound.


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