TNF Issues Motorized Travel Management Final EIS and Decision

Nevada City, CA (Oct 5, 2010) — Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn announced his decision for the Travel Management Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). "I have selected Alternative 6 with some modifications. I believe this alternative strikes a balance between providing motorized recreation access and protecting critical natural and cultural resources. This decision recognizes the extensive network of roads and motorized trails that currently exist on the Tahoe National Forest (TNF). Although the decision will reduce the amount of motorized opportunities as compared to the existing condition, approximately 83% of the Forest will be within ½ mile of an authorized road or motorized trail," stated Quinn.

The existing National Forest Transportation System of roads and motorized trails in the TNF is approximately 2400 miles and includes one open motorcycle area, Prosser Pits north of Truckee. With this new decision, the following will be added to the existing motorized system for public use:

  • 13.1 miles of roads (346) segments
  • 48.9 miles of motorized trails (107 segments)
  • 11.4 miles of closed roads will be open for motorized use (13 segments)

Other attributes of the decision include:

  • Prohibition of Cross County Travel: Motorized travel will be prohibited off designated roads or motorized trails on 835,800 acres.
  • Open Areas: 244 acres at Boca, Prosser, and Stampede Reservoirs will be available for highway legal vehicles to access the shoreline of the reservoirs in select, established areas while protecting cultural, aquatic, and other sensitive resources.
  • Seasonal Restrictions: Wet weather seasonal restrictions will be placed on 1,369.5 miles of road and motorized trails. On the westside of the forest, these restrictions will be in effect from January 1 to March 31 and on the remainder of the forest, from January 1 through April 23.
  • Over the Snow Use: On the Fordyce Jeep Trail, over the snow use will be permitted on 3.6 miles when 15 inches of snow are present on the ground. In addition, Maintenance Level 3, 4, and 5 roads will remain available for wheeled-over-the-snow use, except for roads on the Truckee District and those roads designated as snowmobile trails.
  • Motorized Mixed Use: Mixing both highway legal and non-highway legal vehicles will be limited to roads less than 3 miles in length (as per Ca Vehicle Code 16.5) except that 117 miles of longer segments will be open for mixed use during deer hunting (rifle) season when log hauling does not occur.
  • Lowering Maintenance Level: Mixed use will be allowed on 122 miles of road previously listed as Maintenance Level 3 (smoother dirt) roads which have been downgraded to Maintenance Level 2 to reflect their existing rougher conditions.
  • Dispersed Recreation Spurs: Hundreds of short unauthorized road segments are added to provide dispersed recreation opportunities.
  • Protection of Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs): The majority of existing unauthorized routes within the IRAs have not been added to the National Forest Transportation System to protect the values of solitude, old forest ecosystems, wildlife habitat, and other resources. With only one congressionally designated Wilderness on the TNF, opportunities for quiet recreation and solitude are limited. A few short trail segments totaling 4 miles, however, have been added to the West Yuba, East Yuba, Grouse Lakes, Duncan Canyon, Bald Mountain, and Castle Peak IRAs that would not adversely affect roadless area characteristics.

"Over the course of this project, we have received substantial input from the public. Despite differences of opinion, these comments revealed a strong connection with public lands on the TNF and the importance of both motorized and non-motorized recreation. I greatly appreciate the time that the public has spent working with us, sharing their views and ideas and reviewing the documents. I hope that we will continue to have a good partnership as we move toward implementation of the decision and in future projects," stated Quinn.

History: From 1982 to 2000, the number of people driving off-highway motor vehicles more than doubled in the US with similar growth patterns in the TNF. The Forest Service initiated travel management planning in 2003 by mapping and inventorying roads, trails and routes. In addition to the 2400 miles of National Forest Transportation System roads and motorized trails, there are approximately 869 miles of unauthorized routes on the Forest, many of which have been used for a long time and some of which have been created more recently. In addition, the Forest has 830 miles of closed system roads, some of which are being used for unauthorized motorized vehicles.

The purposes of this process have been to determine 1) which of the unauthorized routes should be added to the Forest transportation system; 2) what measures should be taken to protect motorized routes during wet weather; 3) if there are safety concerns mixing non-highway vehicles (and young unlicensed drivers) with passenger vehicles on the same road; and 4) what open areas should be established. To assist with these questions, many public meetings, workshops, open houses have been held. A Draft EIS was issued in 2008 and a Supplemental Draft EIS was issued in the spring of 2010.

The Final EIS and Record of Decision are available on line at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/projects_plans/ohv_inv/ . CD’s and a limited number of hard copy documents are available from the Forest Headquarters in Nevada City. For questions, contact the Tahoe National Forest Headquarters, 530-265-4531.

 

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