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home : opinions : commentary May 24, 2016

2/2/2012 1:15:00 PM
My Turn: Forest users, beware of new road rules
Photo by VVN/Clayton Peterson
Photo by VVN/Clayton Peterson
Gari Basham
Resident of Cottonwood

2012 will prove to be a truly eye-opening year for outdoors oriented Arizonans. In March of this year the Coconino National Forest will implement new rules to which hunters, hikers, RVers, ATVers, and wood gatherers must adhere.

Especially hard hit will be hunters who will find 4,317 miles of the roads into their hunting areas closed (but not marked as such). Drivers will be subject to fines for unknowingly driving or camping near these closed roadways. It will be necessary to verify each new turn onto a forest road will be one the government has granted us permission to use.

To avoid conflict, it will be the responsibility of all Coconino National Forest users to pick up a map of “government approved roads” and to only drive on those which are identified on this USFS, Travel Management Rule approved map. Those caught on a non-approved road, even unknowingly, will be subject to citation and $150 fine for the first offense, $300 fine for the second, $500 fine for the third, and then a court appearance and possible jail time for additional incursions.

Gone also are the days when the recreationalist was allowed to camp wherever he chose. We shall now only be allowed to camp within 300 feet of “government mandated and approved” areas along major, high-use roadways. Get caught camping with the vehicle somewhere else and you will be cited. We shall be allowed to camp on 43,313 acres in a 1,821,495-acre forest, or approximately on 2.4 percent of the government’s property.

There is only one approved reason that permission will be granted by the government to use their closed roadways. Permitted fuel wood gatherers will be allowed to harvest firewood and to use the closed access roads, but they will not be allowed to drive these roads searching for downed wood. One must first know where the downed wood is located which means either walk, ride a bicycle, or take your horse down the roads to determine locations of available dead falls, then return to your vehicle & drive the shortest available route to retrieve the wood.

Hunters need to be aware they will be allowed to retrieve their elk, but not their bear or deer, using a vehicle. This allowance will only apply to elk retrieval from one of the “government-mandated and approved” roadways. Use of the more logical “closed” roads will not be allowed for retrieval, again subject to citation.

Additional information can be obtained online at http://www.redrockcountry.org/about-us/TMR/TMR-home/20110830CoconinoTMRrecordofdecisionsigned.pdf. It is recommended that all forest users become very familiar with these new requirements as they will be game changers for the use of the government’s properties.

Gari Basham is a resident of Cottonwood.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012
Article comment by: upset taxpayer

Does anyone know of any groups that are fighting this? I would like to join, this is ludicious.

Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Article comment by: Gregory Aston

The CLOSED UNLESS POSTED OPEN rule has been coming for years. It replaces the common sense user friendly OPEN UNLESS POSTED CLOSED the forest was managed under for years. It signals the trend to protect public land from the public rather than for the public.

Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Article comment by: LILY FOOTED

As an 'older generation hunter" I am dismayed to find I will not be able to drive my ATV on the roads I have used in the past. I am not able to "put on a backpack" much less "trek through the woods". I am a taxpaying individual who loves the woods and the critters in it. I also pick up other's trash, put out other's campfires, and assist other's problems. I do feel the Government has gone too far on this one.

Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Article comment by: robin the hoods message and motives...

are clear... but the question for them is which amazing patriot will they pick?

1- the one that makes more in one day than the vast majority of families in the country (57,000 per day... or 2375 per hour...)

2- the one that wants to establish a 51st state on the moon...seems sort of kingdom-ish you think?

3- the one who would rather you not google his name based upon the "interesting" nature of the findings, and equates same sex marriage with bestiality... really?

4- the one that actually has some good ideas but would never really get elected or even nominated by the rep. party...

every republican i know is picking the current pres. over the 4 ring circus that is on display...

you might take a moment to consider the same...

Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Article comment by: Robin Hood

This sounds like the days of old when you dared not venture into the King's forest. Who decided that the "King" should own our forest anyway? The vast majority of the hunters that use this land are conscientious, responsible campers that endeavor to leave the forests cleaner than they found it. There are however, groups of less caring individuals that race ATV's up and down the roads while consuming large amounts of alcohol. This pitiful behaviour is rarely seen during hunting season. Perhaps these violators should be dealt with individually rather than penalizing the entire population.

The heart of the matter is that it is time for patriots to stand up and demand less government to interfere in the freedoms that we have been granted. We have our chance this year not to re-elect a "King" but rather to elect a patriot who will work toward reducing this cancer that our government has become.

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Article comment by: The Hiker

As a non-ATV owner, I am for regulating the access of vehicles to non-roadways only. If there is a road then everyone should have access. It seems odd that our forest service employees have access year-round in their gov't owned vehicles to all closed roads for their PERSONAL use. Oh yes. I have bumped into a much surprised on duty employee during antler "hunting" season. He even admitted to the fact! If all rules applied to all people including our wonderful gov't then this madness would stop.

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Article comment by: Danny smith

When did it become the "Governments" property? Silly me I thought we all owned it. Our Forest service has fallen in to that abyss where they believe they own the land and owe nothing to the public whom they actually work for.

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Could it be there's Gold in them there hills?

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Article comment by: Ann Rant

I agree that being fined for traveling on a closed road that is not marked as such is ridiculous. I also feel sorry for the hunters and wood gatherers that use their ATVs and other vehicles for the retrieval of game or wood in a responsible manner.

But come on people! Put on a pair of boots and strap a pack on your back and go enjoy your forest. Leave the toys behind. Romping up and down trails on your ATVs for entertainment does not need to be done. Most of the ATV riders I've seen could surely use the exercise anyway.

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Article comment by: Slater Slater

How in the world is a person going to grow and
harvest their mariquana?Oh I get it, the State
will retreive it.

Great idea.Perhaps they'll put up a 80sq mile
fence to make hunting easier.After all, we know
it's not the hunters trashing the land,it must the

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Jane Doe

Make sure you pass this along to all your friends in Arizona, that's the only way people will wake up and so something about this. I know I haven't heard a word about it on the local news.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: come to Cornville Community meeting

The Cornville Association is having a meeting on this very subject this Wed. night. come and chat with the Forest Service rep. and find out what you can do to change it

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: nutso fasst

Maps and rules:

When you can be fined for driving on a public road with no indication such driving is illegal, you know that those responsible for the rules do not have the public welfare at heart. Something is very wrong when the supposed solution to bad behavior by a few is punishment for the many, and I fear those who suffer the most will be rangers tasked with enforcement. It started with NPS rangers, now it'll be USFS rangers who get imbued with an 'us versus the public' mentality.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Hold on the there, Understand Why

"I support this rule, as do the majority of us."

Most of the people I talk to are opposed to these new rules. I'm not sure who appointed you to be the spokesperson of "the majority," but you're not. I have been camping and living in the Coconino forest for 25 years, and not seen the degree of "trashing" that you discuss. Yes, there are some areas that have been affected due to being popular camping spots. But let's not shut off the whole forest because of this. This is our land, and we should be able to use it. Campfire out of season? There are ways to control/regulate this that are already in place. I've seen a few isolated areas of litter but not the widespread trashing you are talking about. Camping illegally? How do you camp illegally when the land belongs to the people? Can you point out the specfic area that people are camping/dumping trash illegally? Did you take a picture with your Droid and report it to the forest service? This is a big forest and they rely on us to help police people like this. Take a pic of their license plate too and report it. But don't close off the forest to the "majority" of us that respect and enjoy it, and want the forest to stay open.

I think there was not much opposition to this plan due to people being sheeple. But now there is a new awakening in America as we see many of our rights and freedoms taken away by "our" government. It will be interesting to see if these new laws will stay in place and remain unchallenged.

It all rolls back to the song, 'This land is your land, this land is my land...'

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: a responsible camper

O.K., I will not buy a hunting license, or a wood cutting permit. I will not buy fuel, groceries, atv off-road license. In fact I won't buy another atv. I will not be staying at local motels or cabins. or r.v. parks. I will not be eating at local restaurants either. And neither will many others. Close everything off, it will last forever. and no one will see it, and no one can use it.

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