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Old 08-31-2005, 07:41 AM
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Default BR alert for Lefthand Canyon - 8/31/2005

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Late last night BRC received an urgent action alert from our Colorado partners, the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO http://www.cohvco.org ). It seems the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest has published a new management plan for the popular Lefhand Canyon area with input due on August 31st, 2005.

For those of you that are, as I have been in recent days, "calendar-challenged"... that's TODAY!

It's unclear at this time, but the staff and volunteers at COHVCO believe the FS may have intentionally avoided sending copies to motorized users in a timely manner. Incredibly, COHVCO first received the draft plan on August 15th, and Dennis Larrat, President of COHVCO, received his copy of the Environmental Assessment on August 17th!

Dennis is fortunate, in our opinion. BRC is still waiting for our copy! This type of... "unprofessionalism"... by a federal land management agency should not be tolerated!

Dennis informs us that the Lefhand Canyon area is one of the very few areas open to motorcycles, 4WD and ATVs near Front Range metro areas, and the alternatives offered by the USFS are absolutely unacceptable. Even the most "liberal" alternative would cut the available mileage on opportunity by about 50%.

Importantly, the Lefthand Canyon area is home to some of the best rockcrawling in Colorado. Let me say this clearly: if you enjoy high difficulty full sized 4x4 trails, our Colorado partners need your help!

This calls for one of our quick-and-easy 3-step action plan we're so fond of.

Step 1: Use our comment suggestions to send a quick email to the FS. The email address is below, as well as a URL for more information.

Step 2: Immediately forward this alert to anyone you know who values high difficulty 4x4 trails. We need their help!

Step 3: Support our Colorado partners!

COHVCO: http://cohvco.org

Colorado Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs: http://www.hightrails.org/index.shtml

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

Send an email to the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho NF today! Use our comment suggestions below to help. More information is available on the FS's website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf/project...nd/index.shtml

Remember! Your comment will not count if you do not include your name and address. Your email return address will not suffice! Do not fail to include your name and address in your comments!

Send your email to:

Catherine Luna,

Recreation Planner, Boulder Ranger District - Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests,

cluna@fs.fed.us

Comment suggestions:

* IMPORTANT: Include a brief description of how much you and your family enjoy OHV recreation.

* IMPORTANT: Tell the FS that you strongly object to the short comment period.

Issue: The FS wants to impose a complicated two-tiered permit system.

Comment suggestion: Tell the FS that you strongly object to the part of the proposal that limits the area to day-use only "without a special permit". This sets up a two-tiered permit system, one for day use and one for overnight use. Complicated permit systems are difficult for the public to understand and comply with. Any permit system must be easy to implement and easy for the public to comply with.

Issue: The FS wants to implement a permanent closure of all the routes around Fairview Peak.

Comment Suggestion: Tell the FS that you strongly object to a permanent closure of the area around Fairview Peak. Remind the FS that the 4WD road that goes around Fairview Peak and connects to Road 87J had been open for many decades!

Issue: The FS has identified many routes as "new user-created routes" when they are, in fact, very well established routes that have existed for a very long time.

Comment suggestion: Tell the FS that their analysis is flawed! Tell the FS that many of the roads and trails in the area have existed for many years. Ask the FS to perform an extensive data search to identify the origin of every route before identifying it as "new user-created routes."

Issue: The FS wants to limit access to this area to a single access point

Comment suggestion: Tell the FS that you strongly object to the part of the proposal that would close all entry points except the main one. Tell the FS that the two entrances at Castle Gulch should be open to the public. This is a major safety issue.

Issue: There is a need for more parking areas.

Comment suggestion: Tell the FS that you support converting two shooting areas into parking areas.

Issue: The FS is proposing to make the Lefthand Canyon area a "fee area."

Comment suggestion: Tell the FS how you feel about fee areas. Tell the FS that if they insist on a fee area then the funds must go directly back into the area itself.

Issue: The FS is proposing to install toilets.

Comment suggestion: This is an identified need for this area. Tell the FS you support this part of the plan.

Remember:

YOUR COMMENT WILL NOT COUNT IF YOU DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS. YOUR EMAIL RETURN ADDRESS WILL NOT SUFFICE! DO NOT FAIL TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENTS!
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Old 08-31-2005, 07:50 AM
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:p And here I am, ready to create a topic under Land Use, on Lefthand Canyon, with the BRC alert living in memory in my clipboard for pasting, when who do I see that beat me?

You go, Kevin!

Do comment. But I respectfully DISAGREE with their characterization that the late mailings are deliberate. Cat Luna is a balanced friend of responsible OHV use, and Lefthand Canyon is still open due to her efforts to find SOME way to keep that disaster more sustainable and available for OHV use. So do NOT ding her in your comments!!

Sometimes COHVCO inflames when it is neither helpful nor justified. All in all, they help though.
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Old 08-31-2005, 08:15 AM
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Here are my comments for you to review, use, or reject...

_____________________________________________
TO: Catherine Luna, Recreation Planner, Boulder Ranger District - Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Hello Cat-
As you are well aware, I am involved in both 4x4 recreation and in working to make recreation opportunities on public lands both sustainable and available to recreationists. When I first was introduced to Lefthand Canyon years ago, I was not sure I wanted to ever return: it was an environmental disaster. Under your care, and Brian's, it is much, much better, but there is more to do to keep it open and to make it the recreation opportunity it could be.

I wish there were more time in the comment period to gather feedback. I know you are on a tight timeline, but this only makes it more likely that determinations will be challenged, and could weaken the plan in the long run. You may find it justified to extend the comment period, as some people have not received their materials in time to review them prior to the cutoff!

For safety reasons, I object to the part of the proposal that would close all entry points except the main one. The two entrances at Castle Gulch should be open to the public, not only for recreation, but for emergency access. Closure, while seemingly the path of least resistance in resolving private landowner issues, creates other issues and liabilities for the Forest Service as well as unnecessarily creating safety risks for recreationists.

Regarding making Lefthand Canyon area a "fee area", I know fees are controversial. For one thing, frankly, government agencies have not exactly been completely accountable to making sure that fees collected are returned to the area that generated them. I know funding of Lefthand maintenance and impact mitigation is an issue however, and I support fees if the funds go directly back into the area itself, and this is publicly tracked.

Contrary to some, I actually support issuance of permits for overnight use as differentiated from day use. This makes enforcement of illegal 'drinking parties' much simpler. These parties are a major source of trash and impact to the area and need to be controlled.

The installation of toilet facilities is an identified need for this area! Thank you for including this in the proposal. Also, I support converting two shooting areas into parking areas. Parking must be accommodated not only for convenience but to minimize visual and safety impacts to the area.

Regarding permanent closure of all the routes around Fairview Peak, I object to that closure. The 4x4 road that goes around Fairview Peak and connects to Road 87J had been open for many decades and provides access to several routes for 4x4 and motorcycle use. I also believe that many of the "new user-created routes" are, in fact, very well established routes that have existed for a very long time. While this does not preclude their evaluation for closure, calling them "new user-created routes" also does not make them automatic candidates for closure. The proliferation of routes over time, while problematic from an environmental point of view, also points to strong demand for more challenging routes and variety of challenge. While much work in the plan has been done to accommodate this demand, some of the "user-created routes" could be used to also accommodate the desire of the public for challenge and variety. Please perform an extensive data search to identify the origin of every route before identifying it as "new user-created routes." Don't take shortcuts and hurry this part of the process.

I very much appreciate your efforts to create a new rockcrawling area away from the riparian area. This recognizes an historical recreation challenge for the Lefthand OHV area, and is the right thing to do for environmental reasons. I see it as a win-win.

Thank you for all the work you have done in the area, Cat, and I look forward to continuing to work with you. Thank you especially for swimming upstream at times, on behalf of the motorized recreation community. It contributes to part of why Colorado is a wonderful place to live.

Bill Morgan
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