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Off-road Vehicles:
forest service road management plan

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HCR2068
Sponsor: Konopnicki, Brown
Legislative Session: 2008 Legislative Session

It is a message to Congress asking them to oppose any road closures on the national forests.  This is truly irresponsible.  While it is just a "postcard", we should ask them to reject the measure as it includes inaccuracies and is just bad public policy.

Status

05/23/08 - This bill is dead as it was never heard in Rules.

Action Needed

The bill stalled in House Rules.  Instead the Legislature passed SB1264.

More information

To review the measure and to see a more detailed status, just click on HCR2068.

Contact

Sandy Bahr at 602-253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

Background

We are asking legislators to oppose HCR2068 forest service road management plan, a measure which expresses opposition to the Forest Service road management plan.  The Travel Management Rule will not close up to 80% of existing forest system roads as the resolution indicates, and could in fact result in the creation of additional roads in some areas. 

In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service passed a long overdue rule to control the rampant off-road vehicle abuse of our public lands.  This rule is known as the Travel Management Rule and is the subject of HCR2068. This rule was passed as a result of decades of unrestricted off-road vehicle use which created a spider web of illegal roads and trails in the forests which damaged historic sites, caused severe soil erosion and destruction of wildlife habitat and watersheds, and also increased the chance of wildfires. 

Each forest in Arizona is going through a public process to determine which roads will be closed and which will be open.  Stating that the legislature is absolutely opposed to the closure of any roads, again as the resolution says, is shortsighted at best.  There are many roads in our National Forests that are redundant, cause damage to wildlife and vegetation, and cause damage to cultural resources.

The Travel Management Rule will not prevent anyone from entering and enjoying the National Forests of Arizona.  The goal of the rule is to develop a map that shows the road system needed to provide safe and efficient travel in the forest while protecting natural resources for current and future economic and recreational uses.  Forest Service staff will be allowed to travel anywhere in the forest for thinning projects and fire protection. The residents of Arizona will still be able to drive on roads throughout the forest and will continue to be able to do those things they have always done, including logging, grazing, mining, gathering fire wood and other forest products such as pine nuts or mushrooms, and will still be allowed to camp in the forests.  The forests are empowered to designate areas as open to cross-country travel such as the Cinder Hills ORV area in Flagstaff.  The only thing limited by the Travel Management Rule is the currently unrestricted ability to drive anywhere in the forest just for the sake of a good time.

The National Forests of Arizona have some of the highest forest road densities in the country, which lead to unhealthy forest ecosystems more prone to fire and disease.  Rural economies depend on forest health for their recreation dollars and allowing unrestricted motorized recreation has damaged the health of all of Arizona’s forests. Allowing unrestricted motorized access to our forests only increases the chances of a devastating fire that will destroy the forest not only for recreation, but also as a source of income for generations to come. 

Unrestricted off-road vehicle access to our forests leads to an increase in crime and conflicts with users of the forest who hike, camp, view wildlife, and hunt.  A recent study of Forest Service employees revealed that most forest service Rangers and Law Enforcement Officers agreed that off-road vehicles were the biggest drain on a ranger’s resources and generate more law enforcement citations that all other criminal activity combined.  They also felt they did not have the tools they needed to protect the forest and those using the forest from the irresponsible use of ATV’s, motorcycles, and 4-wheel drive vehicles.  We are therefore very surprised to see a resolution opposing a plan to rein in the ability of a vocal but small number of forest user’s unlimited access to our forests in our State Legislature. 

We ask that they oppose HCR2068 and support a healthy forest that provides income and recreation for all Arizona residents, not just a small minority backed by the off-road vehicle industry whose sole purpose is to make money that most often leaves the state of Arizona. 

     
     

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