White River Draft Travel Plan Targets Winter/Summer Travel

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Editorial by Jack Welch,
BRC President

The White River Forest Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Travel Management was released for a ninety-day comment period on July 28, 2006, and motorized recreation, including both winter and summer travel, is being addressed as never before in this DEIS. The effect of the Forest Service Travel Management Rule (OHV Travel Rule) is clearly being incorporated in both winter and summer travel management on the White River Forest.

In this article I will briefly touch on both winter/summer motorized travel concerns in the White River Travel Plan. But first let's step back and put this Travel Plan and motorized recreation in perspective. First, the White River Forest is located along the I-70 corridor that crosses the Colorado Rockies. It is the most recreated forest in the National Forest Service system! Both winter and summer recreation is very important. Winter recreation on the White River Forest has high visibility for several reasons. First, most of the major downhill ski areas in the United States are in the White River Forest. Second, high profile snowmobile areas like Vail Pass, the Flat Tops and the Sunlight to Powder Horn Trail are in the White River Forest. In addition, there are hundreds of miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails provided by Colorado Snowmobile Association (CSA) clubs on the White River Forest. In summer, OHV recreation is equally important. There are many miles of 4WD roads that crisscross the forest. Members of the Colorado 4WD Association have adopted many of these 4WD routes. There are many important motorized events that take place on the forest. One highlighted event that uses portions of the White River Forest is the Colorado 500 motorcycle event. This event brings riders to the Forest from all over the country. Another group of mechanized recreationists that use the White River Forest are mountain bikers who will be affected!

And now, some details on the White River Travel Plan, and how it has put winter and summer access to this National Forest square in the bull's eye. These are the facts: The winter portion of the travel plan will create, for the first time, designated trails that snowmobiles must stay on. It will also create designated play areas that snowmobiles have to stay in. Yes, there will still be some open areas and, on the negative side, there will be some areas closed to snowmobiles! In the case of summer access, the plan simply states "All Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) that travel on the White River Forest year round, which includes both motorized and mechanized (mountain bikes), will be on designated trails." PERIOD! Important to note is that during the inventory of trails, routes, etc., some special trails may have been missed. How, in developing the plan, will these missed opportunities be treated? At this point the devil is in the details!

See the information below to review how your favorite riding area in the White River is affected, and what you can do to influence the final White River Travel Plan. First, visit the Forest Service website and review the DEIS and maps. The website location is: .

Second, if you would like a copy of the DEIS and Maps on disk, you can order, at no charge, the two disk set by contacting Wendy Haskins, Transportation Planner, at 970 945-3303.
Finally, after you review the DEIS and maps for the White River Travel Plan, send written comments to:

WRNF Travel Management Plan & DEIS
c/o Content Analysis Group
P.O. Box 2000
Bountiful, UT 84011-2000

Comments are due 90 days from July 28, 2006.

It is important to note in your comments: You must still identify those routes/areas that are not on the maps but exist for the district and the planner's office within the comment period. If an area you ride in is not included in the planning process it may end up being closed. On all issues of both winter and summer travel, it is very clear that the forest service districts are the public's point of contact.

In other words, as you find concerns with the travel system that the White River Forest Planning Team has created or overlooked, you should work with that local Forest District and formally send your comments/maps to the address above.

For updated information on the White River Forest Travel Planning process you can visit the following websites: the BlueRibbon Public Lands website of , the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) at or the Colorado Snowmobile Association website of .

Why should the White River Travel Planning process concern you as a motorized recreationist? Because even if you do not ride in the White River Forest, there are indications that detailed summer/winter travel management with potential limitations on access will be coming to your favorite forest soon! The White River is the first Colorado Forest to address winter/summer travel in detail using the "Travel Management/OHV Rule," and it will not be the last!

--Jack Welch is the President of the BlueRibbon Coalition. For questions or comments, he may be contacted through the BRC main office: 4555 Burley Drive, Suite A, Pocatello, ID 83202. Phone: 208-237-1008, Fax: 208-237-9424. Email .

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