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Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan

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Apparently this may impact the Hermosa Trail, a pretty gnarly single track north of Durango to Purg.  I haven't looked closely at it yet, but from just looking at the map the trail is within the affected area.

Comment Period: Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan

 

Dear Interested Party,

 

The Columbine Ranger District, San Juan National Forest, announces the release of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) for a 30-day public comment period.  The watershed is located north of Durango, Colorado, within La Plata and San Juan Counties, in Townships 36-40 North, Ranges 9-11 West, N.M.P.M.

A public meeting will be held at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, on June 22 from 6pm to 8pm. Forest Service staff will present a brief overview of the proposed action and will be available to answer questions after the presentation.

The EA document and maps can be downloaded from: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43010. Because it is hard to see details on the maps in the EA due to the scale, you can also view interactive maps on-line. A web link to the maps can be found on the above webpage.  The interactive maps will allow you to zoom, turn layers on or off, compare alternatives, and/or submit comments on specific map locations.  A demonstration of the use of the interactive map website will be given at the public meeting.

Background

President Obama signed the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation into law in December 2014, which designated a new wilderness and a new Special Management Area. The legislation required that the Forest Service prepare a management plan for the SMA within three years.  The Forest Service elected to include wilderness, recreation, and travel management planning at the same time since they are all so closely related.  Since 2014, the Forest Service has been conducting extensive public scoping and internal analysis in preparation of this EA. 

The reader should be aware that this EA is more complicated than the average project EA. The first reason is because the legislation made some designations that were effective immediately upon the passage of the bill, but the existing Forest Plan and this Hermosa Plan still need to catch up with those designations. For this reason, there are items in the EA that are labeled “non-discretionary legislative requirements” which are included for clarification, and are not open to discussion.

The second reason this EA is complicated is that it is really two EA’s combined into one. It encompasses two levels of planning: a Forest Plan amendment for long-term overarching guidance to be signed by the Forest Supervisor, and site-specific project-level proposals regarding recreation facilities and travel management to be signed by the Columbine District Ranger. You should pay attention to section headings to determine which level of proposal you are reading about.

 

 

Proposed Action

The key points of two-tiered proposed action are as outlined below.

Key points of Plan-level Proposed Action (Alt.2):

Allow no net gain in trail miles after the decision is made.

Expand the over-snow suitability area.

Remove areas that had been recommended by the Forest Service to be wilderness, but were not designated by Congress as wilderness.

Encourage vegetation management for resiliency and ecological restoration.

Key points of project-level Proposed Action (Alt. 2):

Restrict all motorized and mechanized (bicycle) vehicle use to designated routes, seasonal dates, and over-snow open areas.

Implement a seasonal closure on the Lower Hermosa road and campground.

Continue the prohibition on dispersed camping in the Lower Hermosa area.

Prohibit non-highway-legal motorized vehicles (mixed uses) on Hermosa Park Road for the first 3 ½ miles.

Eliminate the “300 foot rule” for driving off-road for camping along the Hermosa Park Road, while maintaining access to existing dispersed campsites.

Construct a new campground and trailhead in Hermosa Park.

Allow e-bikes on otherwise non-motorized trails on the backside of Purgatory ski area.

Add Cutthroat Trail, West Cross Trail, and the Purgatory complex of trails to the Forest Service system.

Full details of the proposed actions are available in the EA and through the interactive on-line maps.  Based upon the effects of the alternatives, the responsible officials will decide whether the project will proceed as proposed, as modified, or not at all. The officials may choose an alternative in whole, or may combine elements from different alternatives.

How to Comment:

Written comments concerning this proposed action will be accepted for 30 days following publication of a legal notice announcing the comment period in the Durango Herald. If the legal notice is published as planned, comments must be received on or before July 10, 2017. It is the responsibility of commenters to ensure that their comments are received in a timely manner. Please be aware that all comments, including names and addresses, will be part of the public record and available for public review.

Written comments can be submitted in one of the following ways:

On-line through the interactive map site

or

Email to: HermosaSMA@fs.fed.us

or

Email to: comments-rocky-mountain-san-juan-columbine@fs.fed.us

or

Fax to: Hermosa Comments @ (970) 884-2428

or

US Mail, other delivery service (UPS, FedEx, etc), or hand delivered to:

Columbine Ranger District

ATTN: Hermosa Comments

POB 439 / 367 South Pearl Street

Bayfield CO, 81122

In order to object to the upcoming decision that will result from this analysis, a person must have previously submitted timely, specific written comments during the public comment periods.  The comment period being announced at this time is the last chance to establish eligibility to object.  This project falls under objections regulations found at 36 CFR 219 (1982) for the Plan-level actions, and under 36 CFR 218 for the project-level actions.  Both the Plan-level and project-level comments periods will run concurrently for 30 days starting from the date of publication of the legal notice. Please specify in your comments whether you are commenting on Forest Plan-level or project-level proposals, or both.

 

Individuals and organizations wishing to be eligible to object must provide the following information, as detailed in 36 CFR 218.25:

1.   Name and postal address required, e-mail address recommended.

2.   Title of the proposed project.

3.   Specific, written comments regarding the proposed project. Comments should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider.

4.   Signature or other verification of identity if requested (a scanned signature is acceptable).

5.   Individual members of an entity must submit their own comments to establish personal eligibility.

 

After comments are analyzed and responded to, the final EA, a draft Decision Notice, and instructions on how to object will be provided to those who are eligible to object.

 

You may obtain additional information about this project, or request a hard copy or CD version of the EA by calling Cam Hooley, Project Leader, at (970) 884-1414.

 

Thank you for your interest in the project,

/s/ Matt Janowiak

MATTHEW JANOWIAK

Columbine District Ranger

 

Cam Hooley

Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan

Project Leader & Environmental Coordinator

Forest Service

San Juan National Forest,

Columbine Ranger District

p: 970-884-1414
HermosaSMA@fs.fed.us

PO Box 439 / 367 S. Pearl Street
Bayfield, CO 81122
www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/HermosaCreekSMA

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Looking closer at the maps the trail is at the edge of the wilderness area and in the SMA.  The impact to motorized travel here is potentially closure.

hermosa1.JPG.0d925d6e998fe1d747f3a8fc9a582d89.JPG

Pink dots are the trail

hermosa2.JPG.255e826bb98710c74d126ccd18bfa736.JPG

Slanted lines are SMA.

Edited by cjjeepercreeper

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It didn't sound like they were even proposing to close any trails. They said there would be no net gain in trail miles after whatever adopted plan is implemented. 

Where did you read that the trail would potentially be closed because it is near the proposed wilderness boundary?

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2 hours ago, VelvetHog said:

It didn't sound like they were even proposing to close any trails. They said there would be no net gain in trail miles after whatever adopted plan is implemented. 

Where did you read that the trail would potentially be closed because it is near the proposed wilderness boundary?

I'm just paranoid. The eco whacko population in the Durango area is loud and carries some weight. I don't think it is outside the realm of possibility to close the trail to motos. Better to be safe on this, look at the noise they are making in Rico. This does bear keeping an eye on.😉

  • Like 1

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We already lost Clear Creek to this wilderness and that was truly a gem of a trail. It looks to me like hermosa and corral draw will remain open and we won't be losing anything but the mtn bikers sort of take a hit because there are a couple non moto trails in the area that weren't really being utilized, but they could have been. that option goes away now.  It kind of says something when mtn bikers have so many trails a lot of them just get neglected overgrown. The south fork of hermosa trail, going from hermosa to the CT has a bridge to access it and it doesn't get used. If it were open to motos it'd be rideable again in no time and spread all us forest users out more. 

Edited by enduro-ince
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Thanks for sharing this. It is yet another example of how very viable trail systems get closed to those of us who enjoy motorized recreation on public land. 

The environmental lobby petitioned for and got huge tracts of land that were traditionally multiple use - closed to motorized users by the last administration. Unless we get involved, these systems will be lost to motorcycling and other forms of motorized recreation.

What I have seen too often is that during public comment periods on these assessments, motorized users aren't even aware and their input is not used to make decisions. The environmental lobby, OTH, is heard loud and clear during these comment periods. 

Lesson: Save our sport. Go to meetings. Speak up. 

Get involved or lose your access to public land.

 

Edited by mrgem

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BRC alert on this has some good info:

ACTION ALERT! USFS proposal expands
trails in the Hermosa Creek Area

The US Forest Service has released a draft management plan for the Hermosa Creek Special Management area on the Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan NF. This area was specifically designated in the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Legislation of 2014, which recognized the importance of continued motorized recreation in the planning area and removed various Wilderness review standards in the area. Right now the preferred Alternative is Alternative 2.   Alternative 3 would improve multiple us opportunities to a greater extent.  The specific talking points for your comments are below.

 
Public Meeting:

San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango on June 22 from 6pm to 8pm
 
Written Comments:

Columbine Ranger District
ATTN: Hermosa Comments
POB 439 / 367 South Pearl Street
Bayfield CO, 81122

Electronic Comments:

HermosaSMA@fs.fed.us

Or

comments-rocky-mountain-san-juan-columbine@fs.fed.us

Comment Deadline
July 10, 2017

-

More Info:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43010

-

Our Position:

1.  Alternative 3 should be VIGOROUSLY supported! Here is why:

            - It provides 7 miles of new Side by Side trails adjacent to Pasture Creek Area that are badly needed;

            - It provides for an significant new single track looped trail network around the Dutch/Pinkerton area based on existing logging roads in the area, which would be highly valuable to the motorized community;

            - It avoids the no net gain trails standards provided for in all other alternatives;

            - Alt 3 provides the most dispersed camping opportunities in the area.

             - Allows the Coral Draw Trail s to be added to motorized inventory.

            -  The Proposed connector trail to Purgatory Ski area in the summer would allow the unique opportunity for recreational users to access the ski area for dining and other resources.

2.  Up to date science should be relied on in the analysis of the Project- too often the draft plan analyzes the Project to most restrictive or most cautious scientific study  and often these standards have been specifically superseded by new management documents which were designed to address the reasons for previous caution in analysis.  As a result of the advancing nature of scientific analysis, impacts are noted in the Plan on issues that best available science has determined are unrelated to challenges facing the species.

3. Alternative 4 should be opposed due to unnecessarily restrictive motorized standards that only technically comply with the Legislation, which provided quiet recreational opportunities in the newly created Wilderness area.

4.  Snowfall instead of dates are relied on for triggering snowmobile travel in the planning area, and expanded OSV travel is supported as it more accurately reflects usage of the area now and in the future.

5.  While the motorized community is sensitive to the ever reducing USFS budgets, the motorized community has been a major funding partner with the Columbine Ranger District through CPW OHV grants provided to the District.

6.  The Financial benefits of multiple use recreation are not recognized and are clearly important to local communities as evidenced in public meetings around the Hermosa Creek Legislation. OHV recreation is a major economic driver for local Colorado communities as research indicates more than $2.3 billion in economic contribution results from OHV recreation which results in more than 16,000 jobs and more than $100 million in badly needed tax revenue to local communities.

7. Multiple use access is a major factor involved in many other activities, such as hunting, fishing and private lands ownership. OHV recreation is predominately a family sport

COLORADO SNOWMOBILE ASSOCIATION
PO Box 262
Milliken, CO 80543

844-4cosnow (426-7669)
info@snowmobilecolo.com

Edited by cjjeepercreeper

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