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Update on El Dorado Forest

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Fellas,

Trying to recap the bi-weekly meeting with the forest service. Supposedly the finalized Alternatives (A,B,C,D) will be posted on the web next week as well as answers to the many questions users have had over previous meetings.

The draft EIS is due out end of October (hold your breath.)

Some of the changes to the Alt.'s- Alt. A stays the same because this is the "do -nothing" Alt., and legally they can't just do nothing. It's just a complete road/trail inventory of the whol forest.

Alt. B- Looking to actually add some non-system routes into the process! :thumbsup:

On routes with resource concerns, the FS is looking to add amendments into the forest plan to re-route the trail around concerned areas instead of just a blanket closure of the trail because it gets too close to a meadow etc. This is a biggie, because it concerns ALL the trails around the strawberry/Caples Lake area as well as the Squaw Ridge/Horse Canyon trail around Silver Lake. We need to push the forest service to adopt these realities that we don't have to close an entire trail down because a portion of it hits an area of resource concern. There's lot's of room in the forest to "go around" specified areas; and let them know that!!!!!!!

Alt. C-the piece of sh** Alt. that the FS actually wants stays the same. This one takes away a lot of trails.

Alt. D-this Alt. is more of lets put all of our rotten eggs in one basket and have concentrated OHV areas ie: gold note, elkins, georgetown etc. We won't get to ride some nice high sierra trails, just eat the dust at the lower elevations with all the quad rejects (no offense :ride: )

One last thing, the FS is actually adopting a common sense approach in regards to seasonal closures. They want to have flex dates when riding areas below 6,000 ft. will be closed. If we have a really wet/snow year then it will stay closed longer and if it's a drought, then it will open sooner. Leave it up to the local ranger stations to make the call. That's a bit of progess.

If you got this far, sorry it's such a long read but there's a ton of info. The biggest thing is to go to the El Dorado Forest website and contact the route designation team and voice your concerns and what you want to see happen. Also call in on the bi-weekly conference calls and do it all over again. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease!" (unless your slyko's bike and then he'll just shove you over a cliff) :cry:

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Nice summary SLR. :thumbsup:

Although I've been to all the public meetings, this was the first time I was able to participate in one of the phone conferences. It was pretty informative, but I'm still pretty sceptical about the whole process. :cry:

Like already stated the promising news is a possible change in attitude about the seasonal closures. They are thinking about possible closure dates of December 15 or January1 - May 1 or May 15 for areas above 6000', and December 15 or January1 - April 1 for areas below 6000'. That's a big improvement from the original November 1 - May 1. They are also considering doing wet weather closures instead of seasonal closures for the OHV areas (Elkins and Goldnote). This was a suggestion I had made in written form at the last public meeting, again at the one-on-one meeting, but I think the phone call that BigBob had with the project leader may have been what finally got them to consider the idea. :ride:

Let's see what the details look like when they update the information for the public, but right now I'd say Alternative B is still the least restrictive, and the only alternative worth supporting, although grudgingly. :ride:

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Yeah, it looks like they're taking public input seriously. We've made progress from the earlier meetings. That's probably one of the best ways to communicate is the bi-weekly meeting. It sucks that it's at high noon, but at least it's something. Plus it gives you an idea on what other users of the forest want to do ie: quads, single trakcers, equestrians etc. I'm keeping my fingers crossed until the EIS comes out in October. :thumbsup:

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SLR, can you post a link to the Eldorado Nat'l forest site? If its one click away, more people might visit and express an opinion. I'm computer handicapped. Thanks for the update

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SLR, can you post a link to the Eldorado Nat'l forest site? If its one click away, more people might visit and express an opinion. I'm computer handicapped. Thanks for the update

Next time want me to hold your hand while you cross the street. :thumbsup:

Here you go Pete, try this link. It's directly to the route designation project.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/projects/route/index.shtml

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SLR,

Thanks for the update. I missed yesterday's call. Those proposed changes in Alt. B are an improvement, for sure. Much better than earlier in the process. I don't know if you follow the BRC at all, but there was a good editorial in it awhile back, talking about the whole NF route designation process. The gist of the article was to do all we can now, not hope that appeals and lawsuits work AFTER the EIS comes out.

We're all fortunate that we've got a bright group of people (very much including yourself) deligently working this process so we get the best possible alternatives for consideration. It'll take more work and more people, no doubt, but we're headed down the right path I think. It really begins to hit home when you realize, whether we like it or not, the rest of our trail riding days will be governed by this process. That is why this EIS decision is so important. Thanks for the hard work. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for the post, SLR. :thumbsup: I was going to put something together based upon my notes, but work got in the way.... Yesterday was my first opportunity to participate, too, and while informative, I came away with the feeling that they're stringing us along with this process and when all is said and done, the Forest Supervisor can do anything he wants. I really hope that's not the case, but that's my impression, especially based upon the comments late in the telecon that the Forest Supervisor will have the power to make mods to any of the alternatives after selection.... :ride:

I would like to make one addition/correction to your notes:

They want to have flex dates when riding areas below 6,000 ft. will be closed. If we have a really wet/snow year then it will stay closed longer and if it's a drought, then it will open sooner. Leave it up to the local ranger stations to make the call. That's a bit of progress.

The answer to my question about the ability to shorten the closure dates in a dry year was that they didn't think the law allowed for such changes, only closure extensions. They are going to "try" to make the firm closure dates as short as they can, but they waffled and mumbled quite a bit during that answer, too.

I agree with OD that Alternative B is the only one worth supporting, albeit grudgingly, because Alternative A is not a true option.

One final piece of info is that the USFS is going to set up field trips to the areas that have generated the greatest debate and discussion. Once they finalize the dates, I'm hoping to tag along on a couple of these....

Charlie

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Sorry about the seasonal closure snafu, I missed that one. I assumed that the flex dates worked in both directions. How silly of me to interject common sense into a bueracracy!

I too feel that the FS is leading us along by our noses and we're all going to get F****D when the EIS comes out. :ride: I'm trying really hard when I talk to them to be rational and congratulate them when I can and play the game. I'm figuring we'll "catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Once the draft EIS comes out we'll know for sure and we'll have 45 days to comment and contact the lawyers and BRC. Speaking of the BRC, Don Amador was at the Jackson meeting and basically told the FS that if they don't include for additional trails and stop closing trails the BRC is going to sue. Who knows. :thumbsup: I also heard a strong rumor from a reliable source that the BRC is writing off California because it costs so much in litigation costs. They win one case and 10 more are filed right after it. :applause: I hope that's not the case but stranger things have happened, and from a purely financial basis it makes sense.

EVERYBODY needs to call/write/e-mail your wishes to the FS office in Placerville. The more we bitch the more they listen. :applause:

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For what it's worth...

The EIR is going to have two major concepts to its content: Impact & Mitigation. What are the impacts and how will they mitigate.

Example; The impact is that the OHV community tears sh*t up. The mitigation is that the FS will just shut it down. (example only..stay w/ me)

(most of you probably already know this so ignore me, but I do this sh*t all day, just at a lower echelon of public agency)

So, when the EIR draft first rears its ugly head, the contest will be the impacts. Are the impacts bonafide? Or are they fluffed full of BS. Who authrored them? Does the author have technical expertise of his content? What research concluded the impact statement? If the impacts are retorted with strong allegation, the mitigation portion will most likely fall into place in the OHV'rs favor if we can really identify the BS impacts that are identified in the EIR.

So pull your NEPA handbooks out and keep it handy next to the john.

Oldedude had a picture of somebody on the single track looking across a meadow on the up-n-back trail we rode at strawberry. In the picture it showed a very narrow single track, with an ohv rider lumbering across it and taking in the view. This is great evidence because the impact is low. The single track disturbs neglible enviromental space, and everything surrounding it is undisturbed, clearly showing we are an enviromentally responsible sport enthusiast. So the resulting mitigation would be equally negligible such as them requiring limits on track width (i'm giving examples of what MIGHT occur) instead of closing the whole portion of the trail.

Don't feel like we don't have a voice, there are some valuable assets in this forum, if we can organize a bit. Didn't I read somewhere Bbob was an environment Engr?? Silverlakerider has a potential strong case as a local resident and OHV enthusiast. I know CEQA(state) and NEPA(federal) (sadly) better than I can recite the pledge of allegiance, etc, etc. I'm all game offering my help, of what little it may be.

SLR- nice job on the vigilance, keep us info'd...

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ALRIGHT!! You've just been upgraded back to rockhounder instead of rockflounder. :thumbsup::applause::ride::applause:

Sounds like you're the man to talk to. Someone who understands the whole process and can speak government-ese. Not bad for a squid! :applause:

In fact that was so good I'm printing it out to keep in a nice safe file for future reference.

Sincerely, Thank You. I'll be leaning on you in the future if we end up getting the hose job.

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Just got this email update from Eldorado National Forest Service:

****************************************************

Hello Everyone. There are several things that I wanted to give you an

update on.

1. Our bi-weekly conference call scheduled for Tuesday, August 15, is

cancelled. The next call will be on August 29. I will send out reminders

before the call.

2. We are close to finalizing the range of alternatives that the Team

will carry through the environmental analysis. Our goal is to have revised

copies of these maps and other materials on the web by mid-August, but it

could be a few days after that. We will also have a document on the web

that will help you identify the major changes that have been made since

the preliminary alternatives were posted on the web in June.

3. We are planning public field trips for the end of August/beginning of

September to visit several routes throughout the Forest that we have often

heard about from the public (e.g. Caples Creek area, Gold Note/Elkins

area, Indian Valley, etc.).

4. We plan to send out a project newsletter by mail and email by

mid-August that summarizes all of the information about the field trips,

alternatives, and other project events. This will include when we

plan to release the draft environmental impact statement, how to comment on

the draft EIS, etc. At this time, we are hoping to release the draft EIS

in late October.

5. We want to continue to encourage you to visit routes on the

alternative maps that you are interested in before cold weather comes.

Visiting such routes may help you provide comments during the official

45-day public comment period once the draft EIS is released. Having the

alternative maps from June and the revised maps by mid-August

should help you focus your efforts.

If you have further questions feel free to contact us at

eldoradoroutes@fs.fed.us.

Thank you

Anthony Scardina

Deputy District Ranger & Route Designation Team Leader

Eldorado National Forest

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You guys are doing a great job. I have yet to ride in the area, but being a resident of Folsom I will soon. Rockhounder is on the right track. We need to evaluate the impacts statement AND then be able to follow up with alternative solutions for mitigation. I work in the environmental industry (hydrogeologist). I would like to work with some of you guys to review the routes and alternates, but I don't know where they are. I will be tuning in to the telecons from here on out.

Can we get together a group who would be willing to take sometime in the forest to actually stop our rides and check these sections out closely? This would be probably several days of ride to a location photograph and map.

I find it interesting that the timing of the Draft EIR is coming out in Late October, right before closure season when it is more difficult for people to get up there and investigate/review the findings.

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Thanks for the update OD. You're going to have to take pictures and make those field trips for me in September. I'll be lounging on the beach in Cozumel with my thong back banana hammock. :thumbsup: Taking the wife and a week off of work to regain some sanity.

I have to agree that the timing is suspect, but the FS does want to get these field trips done before snowfall on the areas of resource concern. We need to get as many people as we can on these field trips, they may be our last ditch effort.

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Grab a beer, this may take a while.

I spoke to Tony Scardina of the FS extensively yesterday and learned a few things- some encouraging and others discouraging. First, the FS plans on amending Alternative C (?) in a manner which would keep many trails presently threatened by permanent closure open by rerouting the trails around ecologically sensitive areas i.e. mountain meadows. Case and point, the awesome trail that I unknowingly poached running down Strawberry Creek a couple of weeks ago would be reopened with the trail rerouted around a couple of wet meadows. I impressed upon Tony the importance of including in the Alternative's language a time line and funding source for the trail rerouting process. Without this I could see good intentions but unfulfilled promises.

Second, he said that it is likely that the trails around Caples Lake will be closed. I've never ridden these trails but he described them as running through meadow habitat exclusively. If this is true and the FS' definition of meadow habitat is "perennially wet, open areas comprised of grass and forb plant species," then it sounds like a less than an ideal place to ride from both the recreational and ecological perspectives. Flat, wet meadows while aesthetically pleasing, don't offer much of a riding challenge. Ecologically they are very important water and food resources for most mountain wildlife species. This mountain habitat type is also one that has been most developed- it is much easier to build in flat places with a water supply than on rugged slopes. My point is that if the FS is proposing areas that are truly ecologically sensitive then I'm ok with going around them. If a trail is found exclusively on that habitat type then it sucks but I'm ok with closing it or figuring out a viable alternative that would protect the species that depend on it for survival. This assumes that the trail negatively impacts the ecosystem. None of us would ride a trail if we knew definitely that riding that trail killed entire populations of deer and bear. I digress…

The third thing I learned was that there are some trails closed now that should not be. I need to provide you with some background to explain. My buddy and I rode from Strawberry over the pass and over to an area called Government Meadows (I know, "meadow riding hypocrite"...no meadow in sight of the trail head) where we hoped to ride some single track as shown on my recently acquired FS map. Well we got there after riding 10+ miles only to find two red "sign-post stumps" where trail markers closing the trail had been placed and torn down. We turned around. I mentioned this to Tony who told me of a more up to date trail map (DVMPete I think this is the map you showed me) and said that all trails with official trail numbers are on the new map. I responded that the Govt Meadows trail did have a number on the FS map I had to which he responded that there are trails out there created by the "local FS", assigned a trail number, but aren't officially recognized in the "federal FS" because the local FS did not follow the proper trail registration/permitting protocol. He said that these local FS trails often have a long history of use and would be reopened. Believe it, or not?!

Finally, he stated under the new and revised Alternative C that 50 miles of trails would be lost and that most of the miles occur in 3 historically popular areas- one of them being Caples. I think, but don't quote me, that Indian Valley may have been another.

I agree with Rockhounder & tgodwin that we need to evaluate the impacts in the EIR, check out and record the areas and provide mitigation solutions. Sign me up to help- I'm an ecologist with a dirt bike!

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Shred, glad to hear you had a chance to talk to the folks at the FS, but I'm not pleased to hear that they seem to be pushing Alternative "C". Even with some modification this alternative, which is the original proposed action, would be more bad news than good news. Only in Alternative "B" do most of the high counrty trails remain open. In alternatve "C" and "D" virtually all high counrty trails become non-motorized trails. :ride:

I did notice you put a (?) by your first reference to alternative "C", so hopefully you are mistaken, and a modified version of alternative "B" is the one they are leaning towards. :thumbsup:

By the way, I'm pretty sure I know which trails they are talking about closing, actually I think they are around Caples Creek, not by the lake. If they are the ones I'm thinking of I believe they are accessed from Silver Fork Rd, and I'd like to get up there and ride them sometime soon so I can see for myself what they are talking about. :applause:

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Shred, first off welcom aboard. I'm the guy you talked to on the yamaha wr450 that told you about the new map and the trail down in buck pasture that you inadverdently "poached."

Alt. C is the one that the FS is proposing. It's their baby and they're going to try and push it through. Alt. B is the only one worth a damn and that's the one we need to push through once the EIS comes out.

The trails Tony is talking about around Caples lake are the ones that start at the caltrans station and branch of the strawberry 4wd jump trail and head down into buck pasture (read wetland meadow.) That's the one that we all did OD. From there you can branch off and go into Government Meadows and ride along Caples Creek and end up in Silver Fork campground. Trail #'s 17E50,17E51,17E52 & 17E71 if my notes are correct. Most of those are currently open and I rode them about 3 weeks ago, except the signage is all screwed up, posted in the wrong spot. I told Amy Reid of the FS and Scardina's gang about it and she said she was going to go up there in a week or two to sort it out. That's one of the resource concerns the FS is talking about, riding next to a creek and through meadows. This is one of the areas they are definetely going to go on one of their "field trips." I know for a fact there's a way around buck pasture to keep that trail open. There's also forest around government meadows to re-route the trail. We need people there when that field trip takes place.

As I stated before, if it's the first week in Sept. I'll be in Mexico so you guys will have to cover for me.

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Those are the same trail numbers I had in my notes, but looking at the map I'm pretty sure Amy was talking about 17E20, 17E51, 17E52, and 17E71 (remember she was trying to remember the numbers without her notes), which are a group of trails along Caples Creek and it's confluence with the Silver Fork. The trail we all rode is 17E17 (Buck Pasture?), and I don't think they were talking about it. These other trails are just east of Silver Fork Campground, and 17E52 is curently marked as a non-motorized trail. The original Alt "B" map showed that 17E52 was going to become a motorized trail, which would have made it possible to go from the Buck Pasture area down to Silver Fork campground and back. Obviously I haven't spent too much time up there, so I'm getting most of this from the maps. I am going to try to get up there and ride those trails, probably stage from off Silver Fork Rd, I just don't know when.

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If memory serves, my notes are at work, the option to re-route a segment of trail to avoid closing the entire trail is part of Alternative B. The USFS preferred option is Alternative C. We (the OHV community) need to support Alt. B, since Alt. A is dead on arrival. I'm looking forward to the official field trips to these areas, but I'm even more interested in some riding trips, so that I can see for myself without "interpretation" by the tour guides....

SLR & OD, when are you guys thinking of heading up that way next? Mind if I tag along? :thumbsup:

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