Riding Under Scrutiny in Sierra National Forest

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Throughout the country, units of the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service are in various stages of the route inventory and designation process as outlined in the National Travel Management Rule. A recent field review by national and local motorized recreation groups of the Sierra National Forest near Yosemite reveals the complex nature of travel management planning on federal lands.

The Sierra National Forest published a notice of intent Sept. 12, 2007, in which the proposed action would preclude motorized use on about 90 percent of presently open and historically traveled routes. That proposal could even ban OHV use on the popular Stagecoach Trail near Miami Creek.

The BlueRibbon Coalition and the Fresno-based Stewards of the Sierra National Forest toured proposed routes in the Forest's Miami Motorized Vehicle Use Area Sept. 14, 2008. Stewards of the Sierra National Forest are submitting comments and proposing an alternative in the DEIS that they hope will inspire the Forest to meet users halfway. Some club members are hopeful the agency will come forward with a plan that designates at least 250 miles of historic user routes in this once Open Forest, where cross-country travel was the legal and valid travel prescription.

"Just how the Forest Service recognizes the validity of historic user routes — which often have official agency signs and are on current federal maps — will determine how the public accepts the route designation process," says Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition. "The organized OHV community recognizes the importance of, and generally supports, the designation process. As these plans are finalized, it will behoove all involved for the agency to enlist the organized recreation community's help in the implementation of the program. However, such support will be difficult to muster where the agency operates from the default setting of route closure."

Further details regarding the Forest?s planning process are available here.

BRC's Don Amador (left) and Stewards of the Sierra National Forest's representative, Steve Kortoff (right) on proposed ATV and motorcycle trail in the Miami OHV Area.