Dear Interested Party,
Thank you for attending the travel management meeting held in Rico on October 18th. We appreciate the comments we received and have used some of them to start the analysis for the Rico – West Dolores Travel Management Plan. As stated at the meeting, we are also using the San Juan National Forest Travel Map (2005 edition) as a baseline in which to designate routes that will be open to summer motor vehicle use. National Forest Lands to be analyzed include over 240,000 acres of federal lands surrounding Bear Creek, Taylor Mesa, lands around Rico and Dunton, Black Mesa, and Stoner Mesa. Please see enclosed map. We would appreciate your comments specific to the development of this transportation plan by January 25, 2008.
The purpose and need for this action is to improve management of motorized vehicle use within Dolores Public Lands in accordance with provisions of 36 CFR Part 212 which states that the Forest Service designate a system of trails, roads, and areas for motorized use. In addition, a clear identification of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use will enhance management of public lands; sustain natural resource values through more effective management of motor vehicle use; enhance opportunities for motorized recreation experiences; and preserve areas for non-motorized experiences.
This project will comply with the Forest Service’s new Travel Management Rule (published in November 2005), which clarified policy related to summer motor vehicle use, including the use of off-highway vehicles, through revision of travel management regulations. In addition to designating routes for summer motor vehicle use, it is also our intent to address other issues such as, motor vehicle use for dispersed camping and parking for day use. The Rule does not apply to: administrative access, law enforcement operations, government contractors, emergency motor vehicle use, and motor vehicle use specifically authorized under federal permits such as special events, firewood gathering, livestock operations, or recreation/lands special uses. The Rule also allows us to revise designations as necessary.
Motorized route designations include the class of vehicle that will be allowed on each route and may include seasonal restrictions. The vehicle classes that will be used are highway legal vehicles, all-terrain motor vehicles less than 50 inches in width (ATVs) and motorcycles. Highway legal vehicles are those that are licensed and registered in accordance with State law for use on public roads. Seasonal restrictions of motorized use are necessary on some routes for resource and/or wildlife protection.
The following subjects describe specific activities associated with the Rico – West Dolores Travel Management Plan: designated routes, dispersed camping, seasonal closures, and parking for day-use. Enclosed is a map associated with the project.
1. The “F” travel management areas across National Forest lands (as illustrated in the 2005 San Juan National Forest Map), would be eliminated and cross-country travel prohibited. This represents approximately 125,627 acres of federal lands that would no longer be open to motorized travel unless designated.
2. Unless certain restrictions apply, all National Forest System Roads (NFSRs) shown on the San Juan National Forest Visitor Map (2005 edition), would remain open to motorized use. The NFSR’s with limitations include:
a) Burnett Roads (NFSR #422, 422A, 422A1, 422B). The entire lengths of these four roads would be closed to motorized vehicles and gated at the forest boundary.
b) Lizard Head Roads (#424 and #424A). The entire length of these roads would be closed to motorized vehicles and gated.
c) Aztec Mine Road (#231). The entire length would be closed to motorized vehicles and gated at the forest boundary.
d) Johnny Bull Road (#538). The entire length would be closed to motorized vehicles.
e) Pipe Creek Road (#201). The end of this road (approximately 2.0 miles in length) would be closed to motorized vehicles.
National Forest System Roads being considered for motorized closures would still authorize certain permitted uses, such as access to private in-holdings and/or mining operations.
3. The following single-track trails would authorize motorcycles and all non-motorized uses: Bear Creek (from the trailhead to the intersection with the Grindstone Trail), Little Bear, Gold Run, Grindstone, Grindstone Loop, Hillside Connector, Rough Canyon, Ryman, East Fork, Priest Gulch, Calico, Wildcat, Horse Creek, Winter, West Fall Creek, East Fall Creek, Eagle Peak, East Twin Springs, West Twin Springs, Spring Creek, Stoner Creek (from its intersection with Spring Creek Trail to its terminus with Eagle Peak Trail), and Stoner Mesa. ATVs would be prohibited on the entire length of these trails.
4. The following trails would prohibit all motorized use: Morrison (from its intersection with Bear Creek Trail to the end of the planning area boundary), Bear Creek (from the intersection with Grindstone Trail to its terminus), Little Bear Pack Loop (the section of trail that is located between the Bear Creek Trail and Hillside Drive Road #436), Rio Lado, Burnett, Johnny Bull, Priest Cut-Off, Section House, School House, Tenderfoot, Salt Creek, Lower Ryman, Colorado Trail (except for the portion of shared use with NFSR #149), McJunkin, all trails within Lizard Head Wilderness, Groundhog, Kilpacker, Burro Bridge, Geyser Spring, Horse Gulch, Fish Creek, Groundhog Creek, Stoner Creek (from the intersection with Spring Creek to its terminus at private land), Loading Pen, and Little Taylor. ATVs would be prohibited on the entire length of these trails.
5. There would be no change to the Willow Divide OHV Trail, which is currently open to ATVs, motorcycles, and all non-motorized uses. Full-size vehicles would still be allowed to travel on portions of the trail that are shared with Willow Divide Road #727.
6. The following OHV routes would be open to ATVs, motorcycles, and all non-motorized uses: Barlow Loop: utilizing NFSR #496, #496B, and connecting into NFSR #578. Black Mesa Loop: utilizing NFSR #536 and portions of #305 and #404. Groundhog Point Trail: utilizing NFSR#403. Taylor Mesa Loop: utilizing NFSR #419, #202, #202A, and #210B connecting to #547B. All other routes that are currently being used would no longer be available for motorized use and would be closed and/or decommissioned.
7. Seasonal closures for roads, trails, and/or areas will be evaluated during the analysis.
1. Allow motor vehicle use 300 feet off of designated routes for purposes of dispersed camping. Under this proposal, vehicles would be allowed to travel 300 feet from centerline on each side of the road.
2. Prohibit dispersed camping at the following:
· One mile on either side of Burro Bridge Campground and Cayton Campground;
· Along NFSR #726 (Fish Creek Road) except for the months of October and November.
· Certain campsites along Highway 145 from the Montelores Bridge north to Lizard Head Pass would be closed and decommissioned.
3. Prohibit camping at the following trailheads and parking areas: Loading Pen, Bear Creek, Priest Gulch, Tenderfoot, Roaring Fork, Wildcat, Ryman, Barlow, East Fork, Cross Mountain, Calico, Kilpacker, Navajo Lake, Willow Divide, Fish Creek, Mavreeso, Goble, Stoner, Eagle Peak, Lower Stoner, Section House, Schoolhouse Draw, and Hillside Drive.
1. Parking off of a designated route for purposes of day-use activities would be allowed within one vehicle length from the edge of the road or trail surface.
2. Relocate the Kilpacker Trailhead in closer proximity to NFSR #535.
3. Reconstruct the parking area and access to the Johnny Bull Trailhead.
4. Reconstruct the Priest Gulch and Lower Stoner Trailheads.
5. Relocate the Wildcat Trailhead (and a portion of the Wildcat Trail) off of private property to an area near the Montelores Bridge.
If you have comments specific to this proposal, please make them in writing, addressed to Penny Wu, at the Dolores Office, and submit them by January 25, 2008. In addition to the input received from our public meeting, comments generated from this scoping letter will be used to shape the environmental assessment and further develop the proposed action. We anticipate the environmental assessment being available by early spring with hopefully a decision by summer 2008.
Through local collaboration we will be able to balance the best possible care of our public lands with the public’s enjoyment of recreational opportunities. For more information about the Rico – West Dolores Travel Management Plan, please feel free to contact Penny Wu at the Dolores Office, 970-882-6829.
STEVEN K. BEVERLIN
Manager, Dolores Public Lands Office