National Forest Releases DEIS and Schedules Public Meetings on Motorized Use on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests
On Friday, September 20, 2019 Pike-San Isabel National Forest officially released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Public Motor Vehicle Use across the National Forests in Central Colorado. This started a 45-day comment period giving the public a chance to influence the future of these important public lands.
The documents are available on the Pike & San Isabel National Forests Motorized Travel Management (MVUM) Analysis website (select the Analysis Tab to find the DEIS). Comments must be submitted by Monday, November 4, 2019. Written comments must be submitted in person, through the online comment portal, or mailed to John Dow, PSICC Forest Planner, Travel Management, 2840 Kachina Drive, Pueblo, CO, 81008.
Learn more about this important process at the following public meeting:
Thursday, October 24, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM, MT. Zirkel room on the main level of the USFS Regional Office, 1617 Cole Blvd, Building 17, Lakewood CO 80401
Rocky Mountain Wild is joining a coalition of conservation organizations including Colorado Mountain Club, Conservation Colorado, Quiet Use Coalition, Wild Connections, and The Wilderness Society to review these documents, educate the public, and provide input to the National Forest.
Generally the plan is weak: it does not sufficiently mitigate impacts to natural resources and quiet users; it does not address significant dispersed camping issues on the forest; and it does not comply with the Travel Management Rule.
At public meetings, let the Forest Service know you support:
- A motorized route system on the Pike & San Isabel National Forests that is fiscally sustainable and protects clean water, clean air, wildlife, and quiet use recreation opportunities
- New, extended, permanent and seasonal closures for motorized use to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.
- Closure of motorized routes in Wilderness Areas, Roadless Areas, and designated non-motorized management areas.
- Increased management to minimize and mitigate impacts to natural resources.
- Prohibiting motorcycle use on trails predominantly used by hikers.
- Allowing only highway-legal vehicles on certain roads.
And let the Forest Service know you oppose:
- Opening new motorized trails in priority wildlife habitat or in places favored for quiet recreation.
- Reduced maintenance of roads that access designated recreation facilities such as quiet use trailheads (by significantly reducing maintenance levels).
Route Specific Comments
It is important to include comments about specific routes and in your own words. Consider including comments about areas you are familiar with. See Rocky Mountain Wild Guide to Writing Comments that Stick for more information.
The following comments are suggestions.
- I support the portion of the Forest Service’s proposed action (Alternative C) that keeps the Wildcat Canyon area on the South Platte River non-motorized. I support the proposed action to decommission Road 220 (Hackett) from BMP 3.9 to EMP 4.74, to decommission all of Road 220.A (Crossover), to decommission all of Road 220.B (Widow Maker), to decommission all of Road 540 (Corral Creek), and to decommission all of Road 897 (Sportsman).
- I support the portion of the Forest Service’s proposed action (Alternative C) that simplifies the road and trail system in the Rampart Range area. I support decommissioning all of Road 322.A (Limbaugh), decommissioning Road 323 (Wilding Stairs) from BMP 2.68 to EMP 3.87, and decommissioning Road 327 (Gove Creek) from BMP 1.85 to EMP 4.7. I support continuing to classify and maintain Road 323 (Winding Stairs) from BMP 0 to EMP 3.87 and Road 327 (Gove Creek) from BMP 0 to EMP 1.85 as Roads. I support the decision in Alternative C to notadd motorcycle trail PA 42 and to not add road PA 115.
As part of the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Forest Service is required to define different systems of motorized routes and analyze how these route systems help the people who use the forest and how the impact the natural environment of the forest.
None of the alternatives analyzed by the Forest Service present the best travel management approach to support the people that visit the forest while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. Changing the management approach of selected routes can improve the preferred alternative to better protect wildlife and wildlife habitat. After more review we will update this web page with recommendations for specific routes.
The following alternatives are presented in the Draft EIS:
- Alternative A, Public Motorized Routes Prior to Settlement, is the Forest’s public motorized route system prior to the November 2015 settlement agreement. 2,944.34 miles motorized routes total (2,004.85 miles of roads/505.96 miles motorized trails).
- Alternative B, Settlement Action Proposal, removes all roads and trails not previously analyzed as identified in the November 2015 settlement agreement. Alternative B reduces the Pike and San Isabel National Forest’s motorized network by 34 percent. 1,663,69 miles motorized routes total (1,161,45 miles of roads/502.24 miles motorized trails).
- Alternative C, Proposed Action, according to the Forest Service, emphasizes a safe and environmentally sound system of roads, trails and areas that allows for existing forest uses and access to private property. It decreases roads open to motor vehicle use by just under 11 percent and increases trails open by almost 22 percent. The 4 percent overall reduction in roads and trails specified under the proposed action aims to reasonably address and balance the expressed concerns of motorized users, non-motorized users and environmental groups. 2,408.71 miles motorized routes total (1,792.08 miles of roads/616.63 miles motorized trails).
- Alternative D, Motorized-Recreation-Focused Proposal, emphasizes public motor vehicle use and recreation. This alternative combines parts of Alternative C with motorized routes proposed during public scoping. It proposes new motorized areas. Alternative D decreases motorized access by about 3 percent overall. Alternative D decreases motorized access by about 3 percent overall. 2,426.54 miles motorized routes total (1,441.62 miles of roads/984.92 miles motorized trails).
- Alternative E, Non-Motorized-Recreation-Focused Proposal, emphasizes natural resource protection, habitat quality and non-motorized recreation while providing the least amount of public motor vehicle access across the forest. Alternative E decreases motorized access by just over 50 percent overall. 1,248.30 miles motorized routes total (969.91 miles of roads/278.39 miles motorized trails).
In 2010, Rocky Mountain Wild along with Quiet Use Coalition, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, The Wilderness Society, and Wild Earth Guardians “filed a lawsuit challenging the Pike-San Isabel’s permitting motorized vehicle use on over 500 miles of motorized roads and trails without first consulting the public or examining the potential environmental effects. Some of the routes are in areas zoned for not-motorized use only; others were located in important big-game winter range and imperiled species’ habitat.” (Earth Justice, press release).
The U. S. District Court announced a settlement to this lawsuit in 2015. The Forest Service is now required to review all motorized use on the forest and develop a plan that defines the type and location of motorized use across the Pike-San Isabel with in five years. This is a win for both wildlife and the public and will help protect the forest for the future.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is another step along the path towards resolving this injustice and protecting the wild lands and wildlife in this region.