Eldorado National Forest Travel Management Decision:
It’s Here; and it’s Bad!
We waited almost three years for the Eldorado National Forest to do an analysis of its off-road vehicle routes, even stipulating to an extension of the court-ordered deadline. In the meantime, the Forest Service’s Washington DC office ordered all forests to complete “Travel Management Plans.” These are designations for all types of vehicles on all forest roads. A draft Travel Management Plan was released by the Eldorado late last year, and CSNC submitted extensive comments, including site specific comments and photographs of troublesome routes.
In March, the Eldorado released their final Decision and Environmental Impact Statement. Disappointingly, they pretty much ignored our comments. Out of 5 alternatives analyzed, the Forest Supervisor chose a hybrid alternative, with the highest number of vehicle miles of all the action alternatives. Alternative Modified B also has the highest number of stream crossings; it amends the Eldorado National Forest Land Management Plan to allow vehicles in meadows; and it ignores recommendations from its own specialists, designating routes with known impacts to aquatic resources. It designates the most popular hiking trail on the Georgetown Ranger District as a motorcycle trail.
On the positive side, it finally ends motorcycle use in the Caples Creek proposed wilderness area.
CSNC and other conservation and sportsmen’s groups have appealed the Decision to the Regional Forester. We expect a decision on our appeal in early July and are fairly confident hope the Regional Forester will send the decision back for further analysis. Still, we are hugely disappointed in the Forest Supervisor. At best, we are now looking at several more months before a final management plan for off-road vehicles.
See the appeal: