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· The Boss
4,037 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

<div class="style1">July 3rd, 2008

<div class="style1">[b]BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT![/b]



Dear Friends,</p>

In  our last Tellico alert, we noted that the Forest Service wants to close  11 miles of the paltry 39.5 miles that make up the upper Tellico OHV  area. [b]We were WRONG![/b]</p>

Sure, the official Forest Service (FS) document says 11 miles. But we neglected to mention that those 11 miles will[b]cut the guts out of Tellico[/b]. We also neglected to tell you that the FS wants to [b]PAVE Trail 1![/b]</p>

Yes,  you read that right. The FS wants to pave Tipton Creek and allow street  legal vehicles only. Speaking of paving, the FS is also [b]paving the way for the closure of Trail 11 (Chestnut Mountain).[/b]</p>

In other words, those 11 miles literally cuts the heart right out of the OHV experience that is Tellico. [b]It's like someone removing the Matterhorn from the Alps![/b]</p>

Friends,  we need to do what we can to stop this travesty. If the FS gets their  way, you won't even need four-wheel drive on what is left in Tellico  for trails. [b]Your mom's Oldsmobile would do fine.[/b]</p>

When  theSouthern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Trout Unlimiteddemanded  animmediate closure, a team of OHV groups stepped up. BRC, in  partnership with the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and  the Southern Four Wheel Drive Associations (SFWDA) has taken legal  action to challenge the temporary emergency closure. </p>

[b]We need your help.[/b] We desperately need more comments to the Forest Service in support of  Tellico. We formulated some new comment suggestions, so if you've sent  comments before, you can do so again! Easy step by step instructions  are below. The deadline is July 9, 2008 so do it now!</p>

Brian Hawthorne

    Public Lands Policy Director

    BlueRibbon Coalition

    208-237-1008 ext 102</p>

[b]PS:[/b] We need your donations to fund this effort for the benefit of all  recreationists who enjoy the Tellico OHV experience. Use our killer  secure webpage to make your donation to SAVE TELLICO! [url=""][/url]


    [b]WHAT YOU NEED TO DO[/b]

    Please  send an email to the Nantahala National Forest. Use the comment  suggestions below. Be sure to add a bit of personal information.</p>

If you want, you can use BRC's letter generator ([url=""][/url]). It has an easy interface for adding additional comments and sending your letter.</p>


    Be polite. Be Professional. Be on time. ([b]The comment deadline is Wednesday, July 9, 2008[/b])</p>

    [*][email="[email protected]"][email protected][/email]-  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:
  <p dir="ltr">[b]MAIL WRITTEN COMMENTS TO:[/b]

    Upper Tellico OHV System

    Steve Lohr, Tusquitee District Ranger

    123 Woodland Drive

    Murphy, NC 28906</p>

[b]<u>COMMENT SUGGESTION:</u>[/b]</p>

The  Forest Service scoping notice does not comply with the law and will not  adequately provide recreational opportunities or access needs. The  purpose and need statement is flawed. The FS should be reopening and  maintaining trails at Tellico instead of closing more trails. If this  action is motivated by an effort to reduce sedimentation in streams,  then that should be the primary purpose of this analysis, which would  result in a broad range of management alternatives, not just closing  trails.</p>

Regardless of  the official purpose and need, the FS must generate a robust range of  alternatives rather than the closure-focused options suggested by the  scoping notice. Every reasonable effort should be made to preserve  access to the "challenge" sections that make Tellico famous and a  destination icon for off-roaders. There exist numerous management  options short of closure that would preserve some level of access to  these treasures.</p>

I  question the entire motivation for this action, which seems based on  inaccurate science. A Forest Plan standard to eliminate all visible  sediment seems unreasonable and is not properly connected to specific  resource needs. The agency has failed to document that brook trout or  other species need "sediment-free" watersheds to survive and propagate.  While proper watershed management, including erosion monitoring and  management, is an appropriate general goal, there is no legal or  practical reason to focus solely on restriction of OHV use toward such  a goal. For example, sedimentation in Jenks Branch is coming largely  from the Tipton Community rather than the OHV Area. The upper portion  of the "Lower 2" trail does not drain in the watershed. Even if it did,  such issues can be addressed through maintainance and active  management. Erosion challenges in many areas arise from poor route  location, construction and/or associated logging practices. The OHV  community should not be punished for past failures to effectively plan  and manage a route network. Finally, but importantly, the FS must  consider whether an amendment of Forest Plan standards is justified, as  would clearly be allowable during this NEPA analysis.</p>

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 a  less-involved and unyielding preservationist group. Regardless of the  ultimate solution, the FS seems committed to a frustrating policy of  erring on the side of closure and capitulation in response to threats  from preservationist special interests.</p>

Monetary  and staffing constraints are no 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.</p>

I  believe that the USFS has not properly evaluated the impacts to the  "human environment" of closing or restricting the Upper Tellico OHV  Area. These include not only socioeconomic impacts, but the prospect of  actually INCREASING "environmental damage" by closing Tellico. I  believe that the economic impacts to the area have not been considered  at all in determining the current proposed changes. 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.</p>

The  proposal fails to address the need for opportunity and access. The  practical effect eliminates meaningful vehicle access to the area. The  rippling consequences of continuing and further closures will generate  greater stress on the resources in the very few remaining areas for OHV  recreation in the region. Put differently, there could be a cumulative  impact associated with excessive restrictions at Tellico. By forcing  more and more people onto smaller and fewer areas of opportunity, the  proposed action will also have the outcome of creating greater  conflicts. The 15.5 miles of trails proposed for either closure or  status change to paved road and the probable closure of an additional  2.74 miles within 2 years represent the heart of the Tellico OHV  experience. Without those miles and the quality of experience they  bring, a 4wd is not even needed. The Upper Tellico OHV Road and Trail  System will have effectively been gutted and the provision of the  criteria of recreational opportunities and access needs as outlined in  the Travel Management Rule completely ignored.</p>

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