Finally, nearly 40 years after the signing of a presidential order designed to protect our forests from off-road vehicle abuse, the Forest Service is putting regulations in place to protect our public lands from further off-road vehicle abuse. The Travel Management Rule forces the Forest Service to designate routes and areas open to off-roading — reserving other areas for the benefit of wildlife, plants and quiet recreation.
The Center is dedicated to ensuring that the Forest Service prioritizes the protection of our natural resources for all Americans over the demand, from a small minority, for more and more motorized access. We’re playing a key role in ensuring that the Travel Management Rule is implemented appropriately to protect wildlife and habitat. We encourage all concerned citizens to join in this effort to reduce damage associated with off-road vehicles to protect public-trust resources, ensure the Forest Service adopts fiscally responsible road systems and secure recreational opportunities for quiet and low-impact users.
ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO
Forests in Arizona and New Mexico offer some of the country’s most diverse natural resources in an arid and fragile environment that is exceptionally sensitive to the ravages of ORV abuse. Some of the finest rivers in the Southwest, such as the Blue and San Francisco rivers, are located on our public lands. These rare and valuable riparian areas are at high risk for long-lasting damage as all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes are allowed to keep ripping them up. The Blue Range Wilderness and Primitive Area spans the Gila and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests, linking habitat and wildlife corridors that are essential to the protection of threatened and endangered species, and it’s also at risk from unmanaged motorized recreation.
The Center is also closely monitoring travel-management planning on four Southern California national forests: the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino.
These four forests are ecological jewels at unique risk of harm from off-road and other motor vehicles. Encompassing over 3.5 million acres of coast, foothill, mountain, and high-desert terrain, the four national forests provide much more than pretty scenery. Much of the land here falls within the globally significant Mediterranean climate and ecological region known as the “California Floristic Province,” an 8-million-acre region stretching from southern Oregon to northern Baja, Mexico, west of the deserts and containing the richest diversity of plant and animal life of any region in the continental United States.
Yet this concentration of wildlife, plants, and wild nature is at extreme risk in the face of staggering growth in nearby urban areas. The national forests are located near 28 of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and 11 of the nation’s largest cities are located within a two-hour drive of most of the Southern California national forests. More than 20 million people live within the metropolitan Los Angeles and San Diego areas, making this one of the most densely populated regions in North America. By 2020, the region’s population is expected to expand to 35 million people.
The Forest Service appears dead set on accommodating more inappropriate vehicle access on the Southern California national forests. On the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego and Orange counties, Forest Service officials have elected to skip any real travel analysis and have jumped to a proposal to add 12 miles of new roads and off-road trails, many of which are located in oak woodlands, other “Riparian Conservation Areas,” and endangered species habitat. To their credit, Cleveland officials have proposed to close harmful cross-country travel in two existing open off-road areas and have removed one proposed new route near an important raptor nesting site. But overall the Cleveland’s process is highly biased towards the addition of new routes, and the Center will continue to press not only for the elimination of new proposed routes but also numerous existing designated routes in sensitive areas.
Motorized recreation may have a legitimate place on the forest, but only to the extent that the above concerns are satisfactorily addressed and that the motorized trail system can be adequately maintained and rules enforced.
|San Bernardino National Forest photo by Monica Bond||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|