Is This the Future of OHV at Stonyford for the Next 2-3 Years?
As some of you already know, the Mendocino NF issued a public notice on Nov. 20 for comment on the Mill Fire Salvage and Hazard Tree Removal Project. Public comments are due by Dec. 17.
Mill Fire Salvage Scoping Letter (with contact info)
Mill Fire Salvage Project Info
Mill Fire Salvage Project Map
While HQ historically supports responsible timber/salvage sales, this plan hardly mentions OHV recreation. In addition, the proposal functionally closes the area until late spring/early summer 2014 for both casual riding and permitted OHV events. I also think this proposal seriously undermines the agency’s credibility with the OHV community and other stakeholders.
It appears many important connector roads and trails will be closed during logging/treatment. Again, this could mean no enduros in 2013 and possibly 2014. The proposal gives no estimate on when the trails could be re-opened for casual use. Again, OHV recreation is hardly mentioned. There is no mention of what this functional closure would have on the largest FS destination OHV area north of the Grapevine. There is no mitigation for repairing the trail system. At 20K/mile (or more), it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix obliterated trails.
Also, there is no mention of the sale’s impact on the current and ongoing post-fire trail restoration efforts.
The proposal does not address what HQ feels is a critical matter and that is dealing with the knobcone pine infestation (and the beetles/bugs that are eating them) on Sullivan Ridge and the Potato Hill area. How would this closure of the area impact the potential for grants during the closure time?
All of the affected trails listed below would be most likely converted from a system trail to a road and closed during the logging operation. At a minimum, a project like this would have to have project level NEPA to analyze the conversion of 50 inch or wider system trails to roads.
Initial List of Impacted (e.g. closed/obliterated routes by salvage sale)
Trails 03, 11, 13, 14, 15, 20, 22, 33, 35, and 36.
4WD/OHV route/roads – 17N02, 17N14, 17N62B, 17N62C, 17N95, and 17N97
Be assured that HQ and BRC will be sharing our concerns with the FS, users, and conservation groups about what appears to be an ill-advised plan. This proposal as currently crafted is nothing more than an appeal and/or litigation magnate. I expect the FS will get hit from both sides of the land-use spectrum unless this plan is withdrawn or rewritten.
This proposal does not make any cents! (Yes, I mean cents as in wasted taxpayer and green sticker monies)
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Original author: Don Amador