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Natl Forest----streams

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Need some info from you guys concerning a NF closure here in TX. You seem to be much more up to speed as to what reasons are valid than our groups here and know methods to fight successfully. We have had one area(our best) closed due to crossing creeks/streams. They said it violated the Clean Water Act though they allow the horse folks to cross at will, no restrictions. This was several years ago. Now in our last small NF area it is closed due to roots. Honest! They will not allow us to ride until WE clear all the roots they deem a problem. Again, honest! It is very obvious we are being played like a fiddle. There is a group that works with the NF but they are very timid and do not want to ruffle any feathers. Total fail.   Help!!!

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You can do a stabilized rock crossing that is typically universally approved for utility vehicles (power line maintenance crews) to cross at unimproved crossings or if they really won't budge then you build a bridge over the creek like what PANTRA did in the thread below.

 

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We asked for both,,,nope. They are just bullying us and we need info on how to approach them legally.

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6 hours ago, YHGEORGE said:

Need some info from you guys concerning a NF closure here in TX. You seem to be much more up to speed as to what reasons are valid than our groups here and know methods to fight successfully. We have had one area(our best) closed due to crossing creeks/streams. They said it violated the Clean Water Act though they allow the horse folks to cross at will, no restrictions. This was several years ago. Now in our last small NF area it is closed due to roots. Honest! They will not allow us to ride until WE clear all the roots they deem a problem. Again, honest! It is very obvious we are being played like a fiddle. There is a group that works with the NF but they are very timid and do not want to ruffle any feathers. Total fail.   Help!!!

In the SBNF (Big Bear CA)  they keep a dump of rocks near the creeks...  when the rocks get low we whip out some canvas sacks and fill em and dump em.  As long as we are not rolling our tires in the bottom of the creek and disturbing the sediment we are good.  We just maintain it so it never becomes an issue.   But you need a forest supervisor willing to meet you half way ad not play games.

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If the area has completed the 2005 Travel Management Act, the routes should have been designated as to motorized and width (single track, <50", >50", 4X4). Once a route has been designated via a NEPA process it's designation can not be changed w/o another full NEPA process. The only way a motorized route can be closed to motorized (w/o NEPA) is via an Emergency Forest Order signed by the Forest Supervisor (maybe a District Ranger?). The Emergency Forest Order is temporary and usually must be renewed annually. It is required that the Forest Supervisor Identify the problem and develop a plan to mitigate the issue.

It is not OK to change the use of a Designated Forest Route via an Emergency Forest Order period..... 

Be polite and professional but confident/firm as to your understanding of the process. You may have to form a volunteer group to provide necessary labor as FS budgets are very tight. Also if your state has an ORV sticker program, Forests with OHV opportunity should be applying for grants from the State fund.

See our example here:

http://stewardsofthesequoia.org/

Bruce

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Get a hold of Chris Horgan with Stewards of the Sequoia.  He works closely with the forestry service and has done a great job on calling them out for some shenanigans.  He also works with them to keep trails open.  Chris has been vary successful.

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All federal agencies must complete some level of NEPA on every action that has the potential to result in impacts to the environment. So, ask the Forest for their Categorical Exclusion or Environmental Assessment of the action that closed the area to motorized use. Forest Service is reluctant to use a CATEX so they would have used an EA instead. If there was no public involvement, you as an individual can sue to require that a new EA be prepared that includes public involvement (open house, comment period, analysis of substantive comments, written record addressing public comments). If they have a signed Finding of No Significant Impact and/or the Final EA but won't share it with you, file a FOIA request. https://www.foia.gov/how-to.html

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1 hour ago, Gflo said:

Get a hold of Chris Horgan with Stewards of the Sequoia.  He works closely with the forestry service and has done a great job on calling them out for some shenanigans.  He also works with them to keep trails open.  Chris has been vary successful.

Each Forest has it's own situation...  budget...  staffing...  supervisor...  political mood.... ohv volunteer group sophistication...  user group preferences.  Our situation improved a few years ago when we got a new Forest Supervisor who looked big picture at problem solving and working across the different user groups to meet her needs as a forest manager and the user group needs individually.  Before this gal had the job it was not so. It was bottlenecked and certain groups had the ear and support of the supervisor while other user groups had to fight tooth and nail to get action or consideration.

I wish you best luck getting your water crossings back !  :worthy:  :thumbsup:

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Thanks to all. Our biggest obstacle is a federal Judge who is aligned with the Horse folks and shut us down. Our tires disturbing the sediment was the main reason and the horses get a pass. They also basically refused to let volunteer groups build any type bridge or allow hardening.  Bottom line is that no individual or group has gone the sue route due to the federal judge situation. Maybe not enough care enough. Thanks again.

Edited by YHGEORGE

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Were or are these FS routes/trails officially designated as "Motorized" and mapped on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) per the 2005 Planning Rule? If you don't know you need to find out. What Forest? Which trail Numbers? I can try and have a look at the documentation but I would need Forest, District and some effected trail numbers.

If Travel Management has been completed for the Forest (most were done between 20054-2010) and the routes in question were never designated "Motorized" it's more than likely the train has already left the station.

As noted by shrubitup above, Categorical Exclusions (CE) are used but in our experience not for the purpose of closing a route or changing a route's designation (ie the routes use). They are used as a process to to allow special/periodic activities which could impact the environment such as trail maintenance activities (including hardening stream crossings, bridges, water bars, brushing). Use of a CE to close a route to it's "Designated" use would in our view/experience be an inappropriate use of a CE and in the vernacular of the Forest Service result in a Process Error.

Bruce Miller
Public Lands Director
Stewards of the Sequoia
Division of CTUC 501c3 Non Profit

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Thanks very much, really appreciate the info. No designated trails. The Angelina NF was an open riding forest and  then the horse group adopted our trails and decided they wanted motorized use stopped. So the Federal Judge who was a member of the horse group came up with the Clean Water Act, Rare and Ancient Soils, Water shed area, etc to stop all motorized activities. She has a heart of stone. This was in the middle-late nineties and all user groups just finally gave up. We don't have the rider numbers or organization to be an effective force.

Edited by YHGEORGE
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Here is the MVUM for the Angelina NF. It is the legal controlling document for motorized travel on the Forest, a requirement of the 2005 Travel Management Planning Rule. Among other things the 2005 Rule via a public process:

1) Designated Motorized Routes

2) Prohibited motorized use other on Designated Routes (ie no cross county travel, no user/club trails)

3) Required publication of a Motor Vehicle Use Map

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd548641.pdf 

A quick look, the MVUM seems to indicate there are no Designated Motorized MC trails in the Angelina. The routes shown being "Roads Open to Highway Legal Vehicles", some having a seasonal closure.

It is extremely unfortunate that in many cases, on many forests, OHV users were all too often not fully engaged during Travel Management Planning. Many thought the FS staff would provide for OHV recreation, but often the enviros were much better organized and represented. Their voices were heard and often resulted in Forest Plans with greatly reduced or even no singletrack motorized trails. I have heard the that once Travel Management was completed for all the NFs in Arizona, not a single MC trail had survived (MC groups are work hard to correct the oversight).

In your case the MVUM shows no Designated OHV routes and as a result non designated trails would be viewed as cross county travel and therefore illegal regardless of streams or roots. 

Here is a link to the FS web page with links to the MVUMs for other Texas Forests:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/texas/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5300457

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but perhap during the next Planning cycle the OHV community can/will press for OHV recreation opportunities. Sucks, I know.

Bruce

 

Edited by BDM
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Bruce, everything you are mentioning is true---in print. The reality is that several groups did represent the OHV community at ALL meetings held during the planning process. The TRUTH is that when the final plan was adopted the Judge stated the forest was just not suitable for OHV. The forest service was hand in hand with her. The playing field was not level and will never be without some legal action we have not been able to provide.  The total crux of the issue is the corrupt relationship between the horse group and the enviros based on total prejudice. I very much appreciate your info and time you have given me. I will be talking with folks but am fearful we just do not have a sufficient committed group funded properly. Most have become disgusted with being lied to face to face when everyone involved recognizes the lies. Thanks again.

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There is the law...  then there is the truth...  they do not always line up. 

Laws didn't change in our area but things improved when the Forest Supervisor changed.  Had that not occurred things would be much worse here.  

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I'm too tired, and too old to put up with the kind of BS you're having to deal with YHGEORGE.  I'm sorry to hear of your troubles, but my solution is to ride outlaw and don't look back.  I know, not the best of plans, but sometimes that's all you can do.  That or sell your bike and buy a horse.  BTW, I live smack dab in the middle of high-end expensive horse properties.  Those people are $@!#$#$%#!@'s.  It's all about them - no one without a horse matters.  I say ride and don't look back.  They will continue to shut things down to motorized travel to the point where you will look back @ 2017 and say to yourself "those were the gold old days...."

Ride on...

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Bruce, everything you are mentioning is true---in print. The reality is that several groups did represent the OHV community at ALL meetings held during the planning process. The TRUTH is that when the final plan was adopted the Judge stated the forest was just not suitable for OHV. The forest service was hand in hand with her. The playing field was not level and will never be without some legal action we have not been able to provide.  The total crux of the issue is the corrupt relationship between the horse group and the enviros based on total prejudice. I very much appreciate your info and time you have given me. I will be talking with folks but am fearful we just do not have a sufficient committed group funded properly. Most have become disgusted with being lied to face to face when everyone involved recognizes the lies. Thanks again.

the closing of riding areas that has me gradually switching to dual sports, the street legal dirt bikes means that your parking spot will not be where you get ticketed or arrested, and you will find more trails by riding back roads and streets, it sucks but it keeps me riding.
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Thanks guys , you are all a great resource. A change in supervisor would have to be an improvement  but with the Fed judge being so against us it probably would be status quo. And the forest legal enforcement guy is a direct clone of Barney Fife, absolutely zero exaggeration. He is famous for stacking offenses that run up to $500  in the blink of an eye. And being a federal offense makes the "outlaw" thing very chancy. He has made it vey clear he would relish the opportunity to haul folks to jail and impound vehicles. It is really a bad situation. Thanks again guys I do appreciate all the suggestions and detailed info.  :thumbsup:

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Dual Sport from the local Costco or Home Depot parking lot.  Dual Sport to the entrance of the trails in one place, ride the trails, exit from a different location.  Dual sport back to Costco/Home Depot (or wherever).  Don't backtrack, don't meander around, don't stop for lunch on the trail.  Ride in, get out.  No problems.  It's not ideal, but if you want to ride, this is almost certainly what you must do.  If you don't like it, like I said, sell your bike and get a horse.  OR, you can stay frustrated for the rest of your life.  You can't tell me Barney can keep up with you on the trails.... :)  Nor can he guess where you staged if you ride in Dual Sported.  Nor can he guess your exit strategy.

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1 hour ago, Bill_P said:

Dual Sport from the local Costco or Home Depot parking lot.  Dual Sport to the entrance of the trails in one place, ride the trails, exit from a different location.  Dual sport back to Costco/Home Depot (or wherever).  Don't backtrack, don't meander around, don't stop for lunch on the trail.  Ride in, get out.  No problems.  It's not ideal, but if you want to ride, this is almost certainly what you must do.  If you don't like it, like I said, sell your bike and get a horse.  OR, you can stay frustrated for the rest of your life.  You can't tell me Barney can keep up with you on the trails.... :)  Nor can he guess where you staged if you ride in Dual Sported.  Nor can he guess your exit strategy.

You are more than welcome to come to our area and demonstrate. I'll sit back and watch. I have another NF area to ride legally with non gestapo mgt, just hoping for a solution to add another area.

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No Thx.  Texas is too flat for me.  But thanks for the offer.  If I do come out, I'll borrow a horse.

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