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Superior National Forest Releases Travel Management EA for Comment

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

Superior National Forest Releases Travel Management EA for Comment

As part of the Forest-wide Travel Management Project, the Superior National Forest has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that documents the analysis of four alternatives involving site-specific decisions regarding off-highway motor vehicle use within the boundaries of the Forest.  The EA is now available for a 30-day public comment period that began on June 5, 2008.

The purpose of the Forest-wide Travel Management Project is to create recreation opportunities for riding off-highway vehicles by identifying loop routes and connections on existing roads and trails, and to make a decision on appropriate management of unclassified roads (existing woods roads that are not part of the official national forest road system). The Environmental Assessment, including maps of each of the alternatives, is available on their website at www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior.

The Superior did a fairly good job with Alternative 3, which provides just over 90 miles of trail and tries its best to keep good loop riding opportunities. But Alternative 3 still closes some routes, and the anti-recreation groups are pushing Alternative 4, which would drastically decrease the number of roads on which ATVs can ride and only includes one mile of snowmobile trail.

THE DEADLINE IS JULY 3, 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 involvement,


Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

SITUATION
The Superior NF is accepting comments on a forest wide travel plan. The comment deadline is July 3, 2008. If you have any questions regarding this project or for additional information, please contact Duane Lula at (218) 626-4300. View all documents and maps for this project at the Forest's website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/superior/TMR.php

Send an email comment today.
COMMENTS CONCERNING THIS ACTION WILL BE ACCEPTED UNTIL JULY 3, 2008


WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Please send an email to the Superior 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 (http://www.sharetrails.org/letters/letter.php?id=15). 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 Monday, July 3, 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), Pportable Document Format (.pdf), or Rich Text Format (.rtf).

*In the Subject Line of your email, please put: " Forest-wide Travel Management Project"

*Paste in the name and address:
Forest-wide Travel Management Project
Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808-1122

*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:
Forest-wide Travel Management Project
Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808-1122

FAXED COMMENTS TO: 
Forest-wide Travel Management Project, at (218) 626-4354.


COMMENT SUGGESTION:

The off-highway vehicle community generally supports the "travel limited to designated roads, trails and areas" paradigm. The OHV community also supports thorough environmental review and analysis in route designation process, as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the OHV infrastructure. Indeed, we have taxed ourselves in order to provide funds to the agency so it may actively and effectively accomplish these tasks.

What the OHV community does not support is being presented with Alternatives that fail to adequately address the need to provide for motorized recreation. OHV use is a legitimate use of National Forest lands. Much of the Superior National Forest has a motorized niche. OHV use continues to increase in popularity with the American public and forest visitors. There is a need to provide for this legal and popular activity. At least one Alternative should have been presented that maximized recreational uses in order to meet the current and future need for OHV use.

Of the Alternatives developed, Alternative 3 best meets the need to provide for both motorized and non-motorized recreational uses while protecting the environment. It would also give ATVers more ways to access services, such as lodging, restaurants and gasoline. Increasing ATV mileage would actually reduce impact on roads and trails by disbursing ATV traffic over a larger area.

There is a question of whether any of the Alternatives truly provide adequate opportunity for the increasingly popular uses, such as trail-based motorized uses. Please consider ways to enhance Alternative 3 with additional loops or other motorized opportunity.

I strongly oppose Alternative 4. Alternative 4 fails to meet the current needs of the recreating public and totally fails to meet the stated Purpose and Need of the Superior National Forest travel planning.

I am strongly opposed to Alternative 4 as it would decrease the number of roads on which OHVs can ride. Alternative 4 also only includes one mile of snowmobile trail. That is a wasteful use of our forest resources; snowmobile trails are already motorized during part of the year and already constructed so as not to interfere with non-motorized users.

Most environmental concerns regarding OHV traffic in SNF have already been mitigated by the 2004 revised Forest Plan and the national rule against cross-country travel. Confining OHVs to designated roads and trails already protects sensitive species and prevents the spread of non-native invasive species. Keeping ATVs on roads and trails lessens the impact on stream crossings, as there are bridges and culverts on roads and trails. Implementation of the Travel Management Plan should not even need an environmental assessment, as there are virtually no new trail miles being constructed.

The restriction against cross-country travel greatly reduced ATV riding opportunities - it eliminated a number of historically used local trails. The Travel Management Plan should increase road and trail use to offset that loss. Increasing OHV routes would also fulfill the directive of the 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, which instructed the US Forest Service to expand motorized opportunities to make up for those lost with the creation of the non-motorized BWCAW.


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