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Motorized users lose bid to ease restrictions on off-road travel in California’s Tahoe National Forest

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A Federal judge upholds modest limits on motorized use in the Tahoe National Forest.

Modest forest plan limits will remain in place

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A federal judge in California this week upheld a plan that limits off-road motorized use in the Tahoe National Forest. Motorized users had challenged the rules as too restrictive, but conservation advocates said the plan strikes a good balance, enabling motorized access on much of the forest, but protecting sensitive areas.

Several conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, intervened in the lawsuit in defense of the plan, arguing that there is no way to adequately protect a forest while allowing motor vehicles to trammel all over the forest with no restrictions or limits. Continue reading

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Groups want Forest Service to close snowmobile loopholes

Snowmobile use in National Parks is strictly managed, like this tour in Yellowstone, but in some national forests, more management is needed to protect the environment and make sure there are opportunities for quiet, non-motorized use.

2005 travel planning rule at issue in formal petition filed with Forest Service chief  Tom Tidwell

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A far-reaching coalition of environmental groups representing more than 1 million people has petitioned the U.S. Forest Service to close what they say is a regulatory loophole that exempts snowmobile use from certain planning requirements.

At issue is a 2005 national travel management rule establishing the framework for how the agency manages off-road vehicles like dirt bikes and ATVs. The rule calls for national forests to designate trails and roads for motorized use, but it doesn’t cover over-the-snow travel. Continue reading

White River forest travel plan delayed again

Map of White River National Forest in Summit County, Colorado.

A section of one of the maps for the White River forest travel plan shows areas proposed for different types of winter use. Click on the map to get links to full-size versions.

Required lynx study submitted for review just last week; status quo on local trails this summer

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Forest Service plan that would address management of trails and roads across the White River National Forest is still on hold pending final review of a lynx study.

The travel management plan has been in the works for eight years. Agency rangers and interested users were anticipating a spring release of the document, with implementation — including new signage — due this summer, but the Forest Service just completed the required lynx study last week and delivered it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Grand Junction for review.

The plan determines if and where new roads will be developed, which old roads will be retired, and where ATVs, dirt bikes and other vehicles will and will not be allowed. It covers all all 3,000 miles of roads and 1,600 miles of trails on the Forest.

Visit the White River National Forest travel plan web site here, with links to all related documents, including a map for Alternative G, the preferred version of the plan.

Kurt Broderdorp, the federal biologist charged with reviewing the study, said he’s not sure how long it will take for his agency to respond. Forest Service officials now say they may be able to release the travel plan later this summer, perhaps in July or August. Once the final version is approved by the White River forest supervisor, their is still a public comment period and the potential for appeal that could further delay implementation. Continue reading

Concerns about motorized use at landfill revived

Residents of Summit County, Colorado walk trails on the county landfill property as part of effort manage motorized use in the area.

Residents of the Snake River Basin hike trails on the county landfill property in Aug. 2009 as part of an effort to manage motorized use in the area.

Snake River residents raising questions about management and temporary closure of area, pending completion of a management plan

By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — With the sparse snowpack quickly melting off low-elevation slopes, concerns are once again surfacing about motorized use on part of the county’s landfill property, alongside Highway 6 between Dillon and Keystone. The area was officially closed to motorized use on Jan. 1, pending completion and approval of a new management plan.

That plan is in the works and could be completed within the next few months, as stakeholders meeting during the winter have made progress on finding an acceptable location for a contained and managed motocross track. Along with residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, the Summit County Off-Road Riders have been instrumental in developing a plan that with buy-in from all the parties at the table.

But it’s unclear how the area will be managed until the plan is approved by the country, and whether the county has the will and resources to enforce the closure until then. Continue reading

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