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home : opinions : opinions May 28, 2016

2/11/2012 1:11:00 PM
My Turn: Motorized travel changing in forests across nation
Photo by VVN/Clayton Peterson
Photo by VVN/Clayton Peterson
Jody Nickerson
Jody Nickerson
Jody Nickerson
OHV Program Coordinator

After reading the recent opinion piece “Forest users, beware of new road rules,” from a resident of Cottonwood, I feel it is necessary to respond in an effort to clear up misinformation and confusion the letter may have caused.

The Coconino National Forest (NF) is in the final stages of implementing a Travel Management Rule (TMR). This process began in 2005, for every National Forest and Grassland across the country. In fact, the Prescott NF implemented their new rules a couple of years ago, and the Kaibab began theirs on the Williams Ranger District in June of last year. Many of the forests from Florida to Alaska also have their travel management in place as well, so this is not something new.

Each Forest and Grassland, in cooperation with citizens and interested organizations, determines which roads shall be designated for motorized use, the policy on motorized camping, and motorized game retrieval. Therefore, each Forest and Grassland has different rules, and it is the individual’s responsibility to obtain a free Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) to determine which roads are open and closed.

The Coconino National Forest’s MVUM will be available in April at Forest Service offices and on the Forest’s website. Once the map is available, implementation and enforcement will begin. The maps will clear up the confusion of which roads non-street legal vehicles can travel on, specifically Off-Highway Vehicles. Additionally, all roads will be signed with a number, and an individual can use that number to determine if the road is on the map or not. If a road is not on the map, motorized use is not permitted. If the road is on the map, motorized use is permitted.

Camping corridors are indicated on the map, as well. There are more than 600 miles of designated camping corridors across the Coconino NF. Within these corridors, motorized camping is allowed within 300 feet of the road’s edge. Outside of camping corridors, people may park no further than 30 feet from the road’s edge incurring no resource damage. This rule also only affects motorized camping; those using non-motorized means may camp anywhere, as long as their vehicle is in a designated location.

Working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, public groups, and individuals, it was decided to have elk retrieval in game units 6A, 6B, 7E, 7W, and 8. Motorized elk retrieval in these units means: one mile off a designated road straight line distance, without resource damage, and one vehicle per animal.

Permitted use is exempt. So, for example, fuel wood gathering would be exempt because it requires a permit to do so. Resource damage cannot be incurred (e.g. ruts and vegetation destruction) and you must locate your fuel wood by non-motorized means first.

As populations have increased, the use of our public lands has increased as well. It is important that the lands are managed as a forest and retain their forest characteristics. As of today, 93 percent of any random location on the Coconino NF is within half a mile from a designated road. After TMR is implemented, that number will only drop to 79 percent, so the public will still be able to access their favorite areas. They will just have to use specific routes to get there.

TMR is a starting point, which means the map will have changes to it every year, with additions or subtractions depending on your comments and resource needs. Get involved with motorized trail planning by contacting one of the Coconino NF offices, in Flagstaff, Happy Jack, or Village of Oak Creek.

Jody Nickerson is the OHV Program Coordinator for the Red Rock Ranger District.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Article comment by: If the USFS put out the grazing rights and timber sales to open bid...

then there would be plenty of $ to grade the roads. The little amount the USFS charges to run cattle on OUR land is a joke, and allows the cattle rancher to make money off OUR land. Time to let the person who bids the highest per unit of cattle get the bid to run cows, and stop the welfare offered to ranchers that lines their pockets. Offering practically free grazing has got to stop!

Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Article comment by: My Two Cents

Geek Chick
If the USFS needs more money to grade roads...why dont they start selling more timber sales... give more grazing rights out... I say every USFS building should be self sufficent.. let everyone that they cant afford to keep Go down the Road... My ? is what do "we the people" of the USA need the USFS for in the first place...? they pretend to protect a National Forest that isnt there's in the first place...the National Forest belongs to the people.... who ever put our National Parks and National Forests up for collateral at the world bank should be put in prison for steeling from the American People in the first place... just saying

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: John Q. Public

Okay, the Forest service is “managing” this area for us using our tax money. If it comes down to money to maintain these roads that are being closed – let the roads go to hell – (like they are not already) and put a sign up to warn people that the road is not maintained and that stupid motorist laws apply. This would make too much sense and be an easy solution to the problem.

Here is the real reason the roads are being closed – “we the people” do not need to drive on these roads because some elitist city folk think we do not need to go there. In their mind these areas need to be roadless so that nature can be one with itself again. News flash - This will overburden the open roads and cause high impact on the camping areas that are open and they will need to be closed after a few years.

This whole thing is driven by the environmentalists who do not want you out in the forest with your vehicle. They also want the logging, mining and ranching on public lands to stop. They are organized and hit the forest service hard with all of their requests to close all the roads. Most weekend type users were never aware that their recreational forest use was in jeopardy.

Go enjoy the forest while you still can. This is only the beginning of the madness. Motorized vehicles are in the crosshairs right now, bicycles and horses are next. Unless you are in great physical shape and can backpack into these areas you soon will be denied access to your national forest.

Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Article comment by: Geek Chick

Larry, I agree 100%. I was trying to stick to the topic at hand and avoid a potential tangent. But you are right: the real solution isn't paying more taxes, it's demanding that our elected officials allocate them the way we, as a people, want. My main point originally was that many people spouting anti-government views are also against taxes, but here they are complaining when the lack of revenue results in closing their favorite roads or whatever.

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Article comment by: Larry Amis

Well I may not get a good response to this but I seen on the news about a few weeks ago where there was so much waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan (see below) that it makes me mad to see the resposes that say we need to pay more taxes to have the forest roads maintained to keep them opened. Here is the excerpt from that news piece to show you what I mean, "WASHINGTON -- As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates."

60 billion dollars!!!!! And it goes on to say that it is probably higher than that. But we should pay more in taxes to maintain our roads in our forests. Wait a minute, something is wrong here........Any ideas as to what it might be? Maybe something in Congress? Who is watching over the tax money that is already collected? Or is this the money that was aproved to be borrowed from China that put us futher in debt. that was then tossed out the window of the speeding car of who cares because we will borrow more?

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Article comment by: Geek Chick

Ah, I misunderstood the comment posted "RE geekchick" -- the formatting of the header made it look like someone was posting under my name. In response to that comment, however -- yes, logging revenues should be used for road maintenance. However, not a lot of timber is happening on the Coconino. The bottom line is still that land management agencies are ultimately funded by Congress, and the government's budget is ultimately funded by taxes. It can be supplemented by things like timber sales and other permit fees, etc, but unless they are allowed to charge true market value for such uses, the revenues will never make up the cost of managing the public lands. Whether that situation is right or wrong is beside the point it's simply a fact. So, if we want forest roads open, how do we fund the needed work? If not thru fees and taxes, then what?

2 Cents Scott: you're right, no land "belongs" to the USFS. It belongs to all of us. However, they have been charged with managing it on our behalf. We may not like all their decisions, but that doesn't mean they have some secret agenda. And remember folks, for every one of you against TMR, there is someone who is for it. Try dealing with that kind of contention for a living!

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Article comment by: Geek Chick

First of all, the comment about liberal judges was NOT posted by me, but by someone posing as me. Hopefully readers are intelligent enough to see that for themselves, based on my original comment.

Second, people are allowed to express views in support of the government without actually BEING the gov't -- ie, your comment accusing me of being Jody.

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Article comment by: My 2 Cents Scott

The Real Deal
The USFS Was created to scale timber for logging and to work with and help Ranchers that bought grazing rights...and take care of the forest that belongs to every fellow American.. One thing for sure.. the parking permits, camping permits wood cutting permits for property that doesnt belong to the USFS in the first place... I say every County should take over and control every square inch of land that is in there County... It doesnt belong to the USFS... put our signs back up that use to say.. " Protect Your National Forest" it doesnt belong to the USFS....

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Article comment by: RE: Geek Chick

Revenue generated through logging (not increased taxes) should be used to maintain not only the forests roads but also the health of the forest. Sadly, we have come to this because of liberal judges and environmentalists who care more about their agendas than protecting a resource that belongs to the PEOPLE.

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2012
Article comment by: Georgio Piachettapelli

Quite the contrary, Geek Chic. We did participate and voice our concerns and provide input. Our concerns and input were ignored.

The Forest Service does not have a problem with keeping the forest clean. So, it has nothing to do with lack of funds. The forest is divided up into areas which are kept clean by volunteer organizations. Those are off-road clubs who go out on a regular basis and pick up trash. Over the years the amount of trash has diminished as the public has been educated to "keep it clean". These clubs prefer that the back roads not be maintained as they present more of a challenge to them. Have you ever seen a forest worker actually out doing any work on a back road? There is no maintenance. Give me a break.

In the case of abandoned vehicles, it only takes a phone call from the Forest Service to one of the volunteer groups to get that vehicle removed. There is no expense to the government.

This has nothing to do with money. It has to do with U.N. Agenda 21 which the Forest Service has signed on to. The agenda is to get people off the land and into cities where they can be 'managed'. To paraphrase you, Jody... ooops, I mean Geek Chic... 'Sadly, people of your type', are like the Brown Shirts in Germany. You lend yourself to an oppressive, dictatorial government without bothering to educate yourself to its end goal.

I suggest you try doing some reading and then think for yourself instead of spewing the propaganda your masters have fed you. You can start with Democrats Against Agenda 21 at http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/ Then you might actually read Agenda 21 at http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ You might recognize it. It is just like your TMR. Gee-whiz, what a coincidence. If you can read Edward Abbey umpteen times, you can at least read Agenda 21 once. Read, think, then respond. You might change your tune.

Freedom is not a "pet issue". It is a core value.

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2012
Article comment by: Geek Chick

TMR was not instituted in a vacuum. There were numerous opportunities for citizens, such as Mr. Piachettipelli and Mr. Rice, to participate and voice their concerns and provide input. Additionally, the Rule originated because Congress does not allocate the Forest Service enough money to maintain its roads -- so the agency must decide which ones to allocate its few dollars to. If Mr's Piachettiepelli, Rice, and others like them would like to pay more taxes or tell their elected officials to allocate more to Forest Service roads, the FS may not have to close them. Sadly, people of this type rally against "big government" but then cry and complain when their pet issues are unfunded.

You can't have it both ways. If you want more roads, you have to pay to maintain them. And if you want free access to those roads (as opposed to privitized, toll roads), then you'll have to be paying more taxes to do so.

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Article comment by: Georgio Piachettapelli

You begin with: "Each Forest and Grassland, in cooperation with citizens and interested organizations, determines which roads shall be designated for motorized use, the policy on motorized camping, and motorized game retrieval."

There was no "cooperation" at all. You just announced you were going to close roads and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Who are you trying to kid? You may be able to fool most of the readers here but you can't fool those who were members of those organizations and who's objections fell on your deaf ears.

Your agenda from day one was to close roads. Your ultimate agenda is to close ALL roads. The public has no input. You seem to think you are the masters and we are your slaves.

You lied about working "in cooperation with citizens and interested organizations". Have fun trying to enforce your rules. You can only police people as much as they want to be policed. You have crossed that line. You have crossed the Rubicon.

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Article comment by: Everyone should support this

This is a great example of the forest service doing what we need them to do: protect our land from those that abuse it.

This wouldn't be needed if everyone respected nature. Most of us do. But the sad fact is there are a few, a minority to be sure, but there are definitely a few irresponsible people out there with nothing better to do than trash our public lands.

It's gotten to the point where they are causing significant and in some cases permanent damage. If you spend much time out in forest land you know we're beyond that point actually.

We have to do something about it.

This is a much-needed step that must be taken if we are to protect our public lands.

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Rice

More Big Brotherism!!!!!!!!! Educate, enforce existing rule and quit micro-managing the masses because of the sins of a few!!!!!!!! All this does is create make work so you have a "job" and increase the size of a already overstaffed, inefficient bureaucracy!!!!!
All of the hype about public input is hooey. The final outcome was already decided many years ago and all of the claims about cooperation is false. The BLM and Forest Service, National Parks, US Dept. of Wildlife have an agenda that serves their political ideals and not one that serves the "REAL OWNERS" of public lands.

I hope you understand that I don't feel strongly about this issue.


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