As a hunter that will loose my remote campsite after December 31st of this year due to the route designation process I thought other hunters in all states should start preparing for the attack. This is in California's El Dorado National Forest, but all Federal Forests are required to do this also. So get ready to loose access unless you fight. Thanks
ROUTE DESIGNATION FAQ
Please read at your own risk, the author will not be held responsible for the fit of rage you will go into after reading about what is going to happen to your National Forests.
Due to the lack of understanding of what the Route Designation Process is and how it will affect public access to public lands, this post will break it down into laymanâ€™s terms. One huge reason the general public is not up in arms over the project is because of sheer ignorance of the project. Please feel free to add any bullet points to this post.
Q. What will Route Designation do?
A. The Route Designation Process (RDP) could and will close literally tens of thousands of miles of roads, trails and campsites in National Forests nation-wide. Some forests such as El Dorado National stand to lose over 2,500 miles worth of roads and trails.
Q. Why is this happening?
A. Forest Service got sued by the greenies because of mismanagement of the forests. A court order came down saying (basically) the Forest Service needs to take an inventory of all routes in the forest and re-designate them. Not necessarily CLOSE routes, (even though that is what they are doing) but in their words:
The Forest Service wants to improve its management by balancing the public's enjoyment of using OHVs with ensuring the best possible care of the land. At the national level, the Forest Service is revising its policy governing the use of wheeled motor vehicles to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use. This new policy will still provide public opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation, while enhancing protection of habitat and aquatic, soil, air and cultural resources.
Q: So whatâ€™s the big deal?
A: TENS OF THOSANDS of miles of roads and trails, many which have been in use for decades, will be closed. This will severely limit access to public lands by the public. Many of the roads that will be closed are spur routes that lead to primitive campsites. Once these roads, trail and campsites are removed, they will be lost FOREVER. It does not matter if a fire-road or logging trail has been in use for 20+ years or if you have camped there forever. If it is not on the final map released by the Forest service, itâ€™s gone for good. This will be the biggest change in the National Forest system in HISTORY.
Q: We got groups like the Blue Ribbon Coalition and FOTR fighting against this right?
A: Yes, HOWEVER, the way the RDP is set up; INDIVIDIUALS need to argue for as many routes, trails and campsites as possible. YOU CANNOT LEAVE THE FIGHT UP TO SOMEONE ELSE! We need a massive response to RDP in every National Forest.
Q: So, who will this affect?
A: These closures will not only effect the 4x4 community, but MX and ATV riders, campers who use dispersed camping, hunters and basically anyone who wants to travel through a National forest in a motor vehicle.
Q: Where will this happen?
A: RDP will happen in EVERY National Forest, if it is not already underway in a forest near you, it will be soon.
Q: Why isnâ€™t there a huge outcry from the 4x4 community?
A: Many people have NO idea or do not understand what the RDP will do to their National forests. If they knew, the public outcry from many groups would be massive. The wording and definitions used by the Forest service are often very confusing. Hence, this FAQ. Another problem is the apathy in the 4x4 community towards Land-use. Many people think groups such as Blue Ribbon can and will do all the work, but in this instance they cannot.
Q: So all is lost right?
A: OH HELL NO! Once the Forest Service picks itâ€™s final Draft, the public has 45 days to comment on and argue for routes, trails and campsites to be put back on the map. Itâ€™s kinda like a town meeting, If you do not do this, you have no legal ground to stand on later to fight for a route.
Q: So what can I do?
A: Get involved! NOW! Make sure everyone you know responds during the 45 day comment period. Get on the forest service e-mail list. Pass out flyers on the route designation process in a National Forest near you. Post on various message boards on the internet to spread the news. ELDO National will be holding meetings all over NorCal after the final Draft is picked on the 20th. GO TO ONE OF THOSE!!!
Q: How do I find out if my campsite, trail etc is on the chopping block?
A: At least for El Dorado National, they have created 5 alternative maps. Alternative â€œAâ€, is a complete inventory of all the roads and trails in the forest. The other 4 maps are versions that they will pick from. They pick the one they want in ELDO on July 20th, thatâ€™s when the public comment period begins. You will need to compare the inventory map against the new map from the forest service. YOU MUST DO THIS! We will not know which alternative the Forest Service will pick until July 20th (for ELDO), but it is best to be prepared. Check all your normal areas you 4 wheel, camp, hunt, fish etc. in.
Eldoâ€™s alterantive maps can be seen here:
Q: how does this whole thing happen? What are the steps?
A: Itâ€™s a five step process:
a. The Forest Service does an inventory of all existing roads and trails used by off-road vehicles and compile the info. This includes â€œuser-createdâ€ roads that the forest service does not manage.
b. They issue an order prohibiting wheeled vehicles on these routes until the project is over.
c. The forest service proposes a new map (or multiple alternative maps) of the forest with routes designated and/or removed from the maps. Supposedly this is done with public input.
d. The Forest service releases a draft map with which routes will be for off-road use and which routes will be closed.
e. The public has a forty-five day window to argue for these routes to remain open. (or closed for that matter)
f. The forest service makes a â€œfinal-finalâ€ map of the forest identifying their â€œapprovedâ€ routes.
Even though I live in the Tahoe NF I recognize that the greenies have chosen "The Eldo" as a battle ground. I think we (off roader's) as a group must stop the "green tide" here. Remember, as goes California goes the country! We, the California off road community have a responsibility to stand up and fight for what is ours and what's right.
Are we going to be kicked out of our National Forest's and BLM Lands one by one? I say NO!
We ARE the majority! Are we going to let a minority of, trust funder, San Francisco elitists and their attorneys dictate what we do in OUR National Forest? I say NO!
Are we going to stand by apathetically and watch them close trails we have been using for 40-50 years? I say NO!
Are we going to be "kicked out" of camping areas we have been using since the early 1900's? I say NO!
Are we going to watch helplessly while a small group of arrogant, wealthy, selfish folks dictate policy for us and our children? I say NO!
As I said, we have a responsibility to fight this and stop this HERE in California. Believe me, supervisors and forest managers around the country are watching. If we can fight and win here, we can win ANYWHERE!
Finally, give 'till it hurts! Donate to the BRC, CORVA, etc...
These are your trails and your forests. Don't loose them to a selfish group of individuals.