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Off-road to Ruin
Las Cruces Sun-News, July 10, 2008

N.M. forest releases motorized travel proposal
The Associated Press

SANTA FE—The Santa Fe National Forest on Thursday released its proposed action for managing motorized travel across the northern New Mexico forest.

Forest Supervisor Dan Jiron said the proposal was an effort to protect natural and cultural resources, minimize conflicts between off-roaders and others and still provide motorized access to the forest.

"This proposal is merely that—a proposal, a starting point," Jiron said.

The forest is trying to decide which of its 1.5 million acres should be designated for travel by motorcycles, four-wheelers and other backcountry vehicles.

The proposed action is one of the first steps as the forest develops its travel management plan.

The public has 45 days to offer comments and ideas on the proposal. Forest officials will then develop alternatives based on the comments and analyze the environmental impacts of each option, which could take up to a year.

Jiron said the forest plans to make a final decision in 2009.

Some residents near the forest's boundaries already have voiced concerns over irresponsible off-roading, saying the activity results in erosion, damage to watersheds and wildlife habitat, and threats to traditional ways of life

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton