HUPC Logo
HUPC Home Page Fare Thee Well! HUPC
Issue Updates
Contact
HUPC
About the Uintas
We Are HUPC Our Reflections What You Can Do Join HUPC HUPC Archives

Comments are needed on the Ashley National Forest's Motorized Travel Plan, Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Send comments by July 16: (ANF has extended comments for 45 days until 7/16 from 6/1)
Kris Rutledge, Environmental Coordinator
Ashley National Forest
355 N. Vernal Ave.
Vernal, UT 84078
or by email or a word doc. attachment using Travel Plan in the subject line:
comments-intermtn-ashley@fs.fed.us

THE ASHLEY PROPOSAL

First: This is not a travel management plan--it is a motorized travel management plan meant to meet the concerns of off-road/all terrain vehicle (ORV/ATV) users. Second: It does not address snowmobile travel. Third: All cross country motorized travel is prohibited.

The Ashley selected Alternative B which increases the mileage of designated motorized roads on the forest by some 74 miles! It increases the mileage of motorized trails open to all vehicles by 54 miles! It designates some 128 miles of roads and trails in roadless areas open to vehicles.

Within this context it is important to note that the vast majority of these designations, in and out of roadless areas, and the increased mileage of designated routes do not represent new construction, but simply designating for use previously undesignated/unauthorized/ILLEGAL routes mostly on the Vernal Ranger District. For years the Ashley ignored this growing problem.

Also, the Ashley was required to adopt a new Utah forest-wide decision allowing dispersed camping off designated routes within 150 feet. The Ashley was allowing camping to occur within 300 feet of designated routes. Unbelievably enough, the Ashley sneaks around this rule by designating some 217 routes, something like 72 miles of 300 foot and longer dispersed camping routes (many in roadless areas), while still allowing dispersed camping 150 feet from all designated routes! Again, it is important to recognized these routes were all in existence as undesignated/unauthorized/ILLEGAL routes. Even more frustrating, there is no data or analysis, just simple speculation, as to how important these sites are for dispersed recreation!

The Ashley has the audacity of suggesting, for the most part, there are no notable environmental impacts to wildlife, for example, simply because the vast majority of newly designated routes were already on the ground and being used as undesignated/unauthorized/ILLEGAL routes.

At the same time, there are some good and very notable closures as well. The long Marsh Bench Road is closed and proposed open to non-motorized use. Galloway Spring road is closed and open to non-motorized use. Some seven miles of ATV roads are closed in the Ashley Gorge roadless area.

The HUPC PROPOSAL

  1. Urge the Ashley to close all ATV/ORV routes in roadless areas, particularly those adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness and ecologically unique areas such as Ashley Gorge. This is particularly important for those previously undesignated/unauthorized /ILLEGAL routes and the 300 foot dispersed camping routes.
  2. Urge the Forest Service to abandon its proposal for the 300 foot dispersed camping roads. Almost all of these routes were previously undesignated and unauthorized/ILLEGAL routes. The Forest Service offers no specific use data suggesting these routes are heavily used and literally tens of thousands of acres are available for dispersed camping utilizing the 150 foot dispersed camping rule!
  3. Firmly remind the Ashley that the undesignated and unauthorized/ILLEGAL routes have never been analyzed for their environmental impacts and now that the forest is proposing to designated many of them as legal routes they must be thoroughly analyzed, not dismissed simply because they were on the ground and being used illegally!

Thank you much. We hope you will make your wild voice heard!

Send comments by July 16:
Kris Rutledge, Environmental Coordinator
Ashley National Forest
355 N. Vernal Ave.
Vernal, UT 84078
or by email or a word doc. attachment using Travel Plan in the subject line:
comments-intermtn-ashley@fs.fed.us

Dick Carter
High Uintas Preservation Council
PO Box 72
Hyrum, UT 84319
hupc.org

Imagine a mountain defined by the creation of life, not the production of resources.


HUPC Home Page Our Reflections HUPC
Issue Updates
Contact
HUPC
About the Uintas and Lakes Roadless Area
We Are HUPC Fare Thee Well! What You Can Do Join HUPC HUPC Archives