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For Immediate Release, October 30, 2010

Contact: Cyndi Tuell, (520) 444-6603

National Forest ORV Plan Puts Arizona's Native Fish at Risk

TUCSON, Ariz.— At least seven species of native fish in Arizona could be harmed by a new off-road vehicle plan for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The plan will close fewer than 500 miles of currently open roads, leaving thousands of harmful stream and river crossings in place despite years of requests from the Center for Biological Diversity for the Forest Service to do a better job protecting native fish and wildlife.

“The Forest Service’s own report makes it clear the agency can do more to protect Arizona’s threatened and endangered fish. It’s unacceptable to turn places like the San Francisco River into a motorized playground,” said Cyndi Tuell, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center.

More than 2,300 miles of roads will remain open for public use, crossing rivers and streams in excess of 2,000 times. Many of these waterways are inhabited by native fish that are hurt by sediment from roads. Analysis of the impacts of the plan are available in a document called a “draft environmental impact statement,” on which the public will have 45 days to comment.

The release of the Forest’s ORV plan comes on the heels of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to designate nearly 900 miles of critical habitat for spikedace and loach minnow in their historic ranges in Arizona and New Mexico. The Center will soon ask the Forest Service to take another hard look at its plan in light of the other agency’s proposal. Right now, it is unclear how the roads in the ORV plan are going to affect the proposed critical habitat designations.

The endangered Gila chub, Gila trout, razorback sucker and spikedace, along with the threatened Apache trout, loach minnow, Little Colorado spinedace and roundtail chub, are all likely to be adversely affected by any of the alternatives the Forest Service has presented for public review and input. Other species at risk from roads in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest include the Mexican gray wolf, southwestern willow flycatcher, Mexican spotted owl and Chiricahua leopard frog.

Public meetings will be held throughout the White Mountain region from Nov. 8 through Nov. 17. “The public needs to show up at these meetings to give a voice to the wildlife and fish that have been harmed by decades of poorly managed grazing and logging, and now this ORV plan,” added Tuell.

Public meeting schedule:

Date

Ranger District

Town

Location

Time

November 8

Lakeside

Lakeside

Whipple Ranch Elementary School

4:30-7:30 p.m.

November 10

Alpine

Alpine

Alpine Community Center

4:30-7:30 p.m.

November 15

Black Mesa

Overgaard

Navajo County Mogollon Complex

4:30-7:30 p.m.

November 16

Clifton

Clifton

Clifton Railroad Depot

4:30-7:30 p.m.

November 17

Springerville

Springerville

Forest Supervisor’s Office

4:30-7:30 p.m.

For more information on affected species, please click on the following links:
Gila chub http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/Gila_chub/index.html
Razorback sucker http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/razorback_sucker/index.html
Spikedace http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/spikedace/index.html
Loach minnow http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/loach_minnow/index.html
Roundtail chub http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/roundtail_chub/index.html
Draft environmental impact statement http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/projects/travel-management.shtml
San Francisco River http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/off-road_vehicles/san_francisco_and_blue_rivers/index.html


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