With less than 2% of land in Alabama managed by the United States Forest Service land, several recent proposals could have huge effects on public land users in Alabama. These proposals could also set a precedent for other National Forests throughout the nation, especially in the Southern United States. The 6 proposals will affect the Talladega, Tuskegee, Conecuh and Bankhead National Forests in Alabama.
We are in the scoping period of these plans which means detailed plans have not yet been released however, the Forest Service is looking for broad feedback on the proposals. It is important to make your voice heard on these issues as the FS looks to shape the rest of the planning process based on feedback. The proposals include restricting overnight camping in certain areas and day-use only would be permitted. During muzzleloader and rifle deer hunting seasons dispersed camping would be prohibited. In certain areas these could be reasonable asks by the Forest Service, however we would like to see data on why camping in these areas during these times needs to be restricted.
Typically across Forest Service land we see a 14 day camping limit where after 14 days you have to move to a different site. The purpose of this is to prevent squatting on public land. What the Forest Service is proposing in Alabama forests is a 21 day camping limit where you then have to vacate the forest for 10 consecutive days. BlueRibbon believes both rules lead to similar outcomes. However, the 21 days on, 10 days off will be much more difficult to regulate and requires the USFS to be surveilling and tracking public movement. We support the standard 14 day camping limit used in most national forests.
The Forest Service is exploring prohibiting bicycles and horseback riding on certain trails, prohibiting swimming in specific lakes, and prohibiting gas motors in certain lakes as well. There may be very good reasons for the proposed restrictions however we are still learning about the areas and working with local groups to gain feedback on the proposals. If certain user groups such as bikers are being restricted, we want to know why and want to ensure that more bicycle trails are being opened for their use. One user group such as hikers should not be favored over other recreation users.
The last proposal is to prohibit alcohol in recreation areas, boat ramps and certain campgrounds. BRC supports recreating responsibly and with that, drinking responsibly. However, we want to ensure the Forest Service isn’t overstepping their limits and implementing restrictions on users as they sit around a campfire at night. Please include your preferences in your letters to the Forest Service using the tool below. You can read about each individual project with the links below:
Add your voice to ours by sending a letter for all 6 projects using the tool below. Please add in any specific or unique information you have regarding your preferences and experiences.