Access / Road Closure Thread - USFS GW & Jefferson National Forests - Virginia

Discussion in 'Southeast, The Lair of the Dragon - The Blue Ridge' started by error cooled, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    New gate in the Jefferson National Forest

    Motorized Access in the George Washington and Jefferson Forest is Diminishing


    Motorized access in the GW & J National Forest is contracting year over year. With a new forest plan on the horizon (set to be released this fall), diminishing budgets and increasing concentration of use in smaller areas - the future of our dual sporting ways is in question.

    I have been actively involved in the planning process in the GW and closely monitor the ongoing decision making that dictates what roads are opened and during what seasons. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart - and also tremendously influences projects like The Blue Ridge Trail and events like the Shenandoah 500.

    The reality is that roads are not closing due to resource protection, legitimate user conflict, erosion or environmental concerns - but rather lack of budget, user solidarity and communication with the USFS.

    Here are a few of my observations over the past few years:


    • The general consensus at the USFS is that the current road system is financially unsustainable - and they are looking for road segments to decommission and reclaim
    • The open dates of seasonally opened roads are contracting. Roads that were once open from 4/1 - 12/31 are getting pushed back to 8/1 - 12/31 - greatly impacting our access during good weather.
    • Roads that were open year round are becoming seasonal hunter access roads.
    • The USFS is very open minded - given a cohesive, unified voice from user groups - including the motorized segment.

    I have been on the phone with both the Lee Ranger and Glenwood Pedlar district rangers the past few weeks - and you cannot find a nicer, sharper group of civil servants. They are hamstrung by budgets more than anything else - and need user input on decision making.

    This goal of this thread to highlight ongoings in the forest that may impact our access - and steps we can take to positively influence our relationship with the USFS.
    #1
  2. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    Current Access Issues & Actions To Take:

    Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District Road Closures(Where Shoe Creek, Big Levels etc is located)

    The Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District recently (September 24th) released thier seasonally closed road list (http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5437419). Unfortunatly they have decided to make changes that affect dual sporters in the district.

    1. Enchanted Creek FDR1881 is a great dual sport route - included in the BRT - that goes under the BRP - and is one of the better off road rides off of the parkway. For years it has been open from April 1st through December 31st. This year the USFS has decided to push the opening out to August 1st - significantly limiting our ability to enjoy the route during good weather.
    2. Bobletts Gap FDR4008 (incorrectly listed as 3004) on the press release has been open year round. This is another neat road that winds its way underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway. This year is is closed from January through August - only reopening for a few months. I have been told this is in the interest of public safety - as an elderly driver took the road this spring in his sedan and wrecked / stranded his car.
    3. They have also pushed the opening dates of Inch Branch FDR1823 and Panther Mountain FDR1286.

    Here is an older schedule for comparison: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5338584

    Actions you can take: I have spoken with Dave Whitmore who is in charge of roads in the District. Super nice guy - seems reasonable. He said this is experimental - and is seeking user input. Send him a letter letting him know you would like these roads open in the spring and not late summer. Feel free to cite your interest in dual sporting - and if you are hunter - access for spring Turkey. His email address is: davidwhitmore@fs.fed.us - you can also CC Annie Downing at adowning@fs.fed.us

    Looming:

    The George Washington National Forest Plan will be arriving any moment. This document directs how the forest will be managed for the next 10+ years. I do not expect it to be favorable to our sport. We will need to comment and get involved if we need to appeal any decisions.

    To get a sense of what is to come check out the travel planning documents:

    Report - http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5299426.pdf
    Spreadsheets that highlight every road in the GW - its current status - and what they are looking to close: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5299427.xlsx
    Maps to view what is at risk: North http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5322940.pdf South http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5322941.pdf
    #2
  3. BOIKE333

    BOIKE333 Been here awhile

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    EC-it's there anything else we can do besides send a letter?
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  4. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    Sure!

    If one was local and capable - any sort of hands on volunteerism would go a long way. Reach out and ask how you can help.

    You can also call and let your opinion be heard. The number is 540 -291- 2188 - ask for David or Annie.

    The thing with a letter is that they are officially logged and archived - so they work in our favor. If you are inclined to mail a letter - even better - the Glenwood Pedlar Ranger District's address is:

    P.O. Box 10
    Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579
    (540)291-2188
    #4
  5. MGB

    MGB ex. BmwDuc

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    and it seems to be a financial issue more than any other. Our camp within the GWNF is near a fire road which has been gated for at least 15 years. Reason: two washouts on the road over the years where the road traverses the river/stream. They apparently cannot get funding to 1) repair and 2) continue to maintain the fire road at these two water crossings. Only option is the gates get closed.

    The reality is if the USFS needs it to fight a fire, it's still usable for that purpose as the damage is not bad enough to prevent their vehicles from passing through.

    On a side note, it was fun to hear the USFS folks implicate the horseback users as doing the most damage (versus motorcycles, etc).:D

    Thanks for sharing the links!
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  6. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    Hey MGB - thanks for the feedback. I seem to recall years ago you listing your property here on ADV - am I correct? If is the same property I remember here is a GIS overview of the area. Blue is year round open roads, yellow seasonal and brown administrative (gated), red decomissioned, orange closed and purple unauthorized. White is VDOT.

    If the road you are talking about is FDR51 - that is the one I have highlighted. If that was open it would make a great loop up to Coon Bridge 1167 and Shoe Creek 263!

    Also - as you know Enchanted Creek 1881 is close by - in the bottom of this overview. Any letter coming from a local land owner would bear some weight :deal

    [​IMG]

    Here is KentuckyKLR's snap of Enchanted Creek 1881 from 2 weeks ago - while riding the BRT:

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. MGB

    MGB ex. BmwDuc

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    I'll drop a letter this weekend, they probably don't get many "local" landowners writing. It would make a great loop! I walk it for the fishing and it's actually in decent shape. I can see where the water crossings are rough and maintaining them could be a challenge depending on the users.

    Heading that way in 20 minutes, bike is in front of the office packed!:D

    #7
  8. porterrad

    porterrad Been here awhile

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    I agree with both of you - this would complete a great loop. I'll also send a letter & try to talk another local landowner into doing the same.


    error cooled: Thanks for suggesting points of contact.
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  9. porterrad

    porterrad Been here awhile

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    What was the original purpose of this tunnel under the BRP? I've ridden thru this a dozen times & always wondered why it was built. There's always a very little bit of water running through it, but it doesn't appear to align with any significant drainage channels.

    All around this area there are traces of light gage logging railroads that remain from the time prior to the BRP. Was it possibly a light gage rail tunnel? A road tunnel? Something else?
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  10. AB13

    AB13 Long timer

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    We will be writing a letter and hand delivering it to the Natural Bridge office.I would also volunteer time to the cause. AB:-)
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  11. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    My understanding is that these tunnels were constructed to accommodate vehicles - for either public roads or private access. There are a few of them up and down the parkway but many are no longer accessible to vehicles.

    Bobblets Gap is another one that springs to mind.. that one is a bit bigger.

    [​IMG]
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  12. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    :clap:deal

    The more letters the better
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  13. AB13

    AB13 Long timer

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    I came up on two creepy looking guys over there where the A T trail crosses one time I'm not sure what they were up to but I am sure it was no good. AB:-)
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  14. porterrad

    porterrad Been here awhile

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    I don't recognize the Bobbet's gap tunnel. Where is it?
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  15. AB13

    AB13 Long timer

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    Take 43 out of Buchanan towards the parkway turn right on Pico rd watch for Bobletts Gap on your left. Fun road AB:-)
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  16. porterrad

    porterrad Been here awhile

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    Thanks - I see it on the map now, but I don't recall ever riding Bobblet's gap. Looks pretty twisty.

    Aren't there also some seasonally open trails near there? I think they parallel the BRP, but they are down in the valley.
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  17. AB13

    AB13 Long timer

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    Bump
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  18. TOYBARN

    TOYBARN Adventurer

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    Bobbet's Gap is now closed and gated. Signage say open 8/1-12/31 only. Found this out two weekends ago while out riding.
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  19. Ed@Ford

    Ed@Ford Long timer

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    Toybarn: I scouted around the Bobbletts gap underpass at the BRP on foot. You can see where folks have gone around a dirt berm in the parking area at Bobbletts gap. Shouldn't be too difficult to get to the underpass from the parking lot....one side goes east numbered 617 on my VA delorme atlas...is it barricaded on the east side as well as on the Pico road (625 side) ?

    Nice road going up to BRP marker 71 via Petites gap road from the Arcadia side
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  20. error cooled

    error cooled anything but asphalt

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    What a joke. When I asked the USFS about this they said they were closing it in the interest of public safety. Apparently an elderly person high centered their Buick and this is the solution :huh

    I would suggest we let the powers that be know that we don't agree with the closure dates:

    Actions you can take: I have spoken with Dave Whitmore who is in charge of roads in the District. Super nice guy - seems reasonable. He said this is experimental - and is seeking user input. Send him a letter letting him know you would like these roads open in the spring and not late summer. Feel free to cite your interest in dual sporting - and if you are hunter - access for spring Turkey. His email address is: davidwhitmore@fs.fed.us - you can also CC Annie Downing at adowning@fs.fed.us
    #20