Critical - The Tonto National Forest is proposing to close the best part of the AZBDR

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by verboten, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    For anyone who loves the Sierra Ancha Mountains or is considering riding the AZBDR, your attention is needed. The Tonto National Forest has released their Draft Record of Decision (ROD).

    http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/fs-usda-pop.php?project=28967

    The record of decision for Travel Management for the Tonto National Forest cannot be signed by the Forest Supervisor until 30 days after publication of the NOA.


    It's a lot to digest, and there are many areas of the forest effected. I am focusing your attention on one of those areas, Cherry Creek Road (FR203), which is one of the best sections of the AZBDR IMHO. FR 203 skirts along the foot of the breathtaking Sierra Ancha range with excellent views of the mountains and Cherry Creek below. There are numerous springs to refill your water bottles, primitive camping spots, awesome hikes to lesser known cliff dwellings and ruins, diverse plant species, and unique geology. Most of these features can be enjoyed by riding along the route, but it is even more fun to take short hikes into the rugged terrain the road accesses. If this road closes, it will take a fit hiker a day or more just to access Devil's Chasm.

    Here's one of our recent "AZBDR Detours" to Devil's Chasm. Wouldn't you like to do the same trip sometime?

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/azbdr-detours-sierra-anchas-get-off-your-bike.1106355/

    What is the proposed change? See the attached image.

    sierra ancha closure.jpg

    Basically, the plan will close the most scenic portion of the AZBDR along the Sierra Ancha Mountains. If you look at the map, note the red stippled area around the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. That is designated as "inventoried roadless area". If this plan passes, expect that inventoried roadless areas to be converted to wilderness in the future.

    more details and pics to follow. Please read the link and take action.
    #1
  2. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    Please spread the word about the areas you enjoy that this proposed plan would effect.

    If you are a member of a dirtbike club, get them to write a letter on the club's behalf.

    Contact NOHVCC, AMA, and any group you support that can advocate on your behalf.

    Do you know business owners in Young, Roosevelt, Globe, Payson, and other areas? Tell them how important this change is and get them to write a letter and voice their concern.

    Do you know elected officials in AZ or anyone with political pull? If this is important to you, now would be a good time to take them out to lunch and get in their ear.


    I suspect the recent Juniper fire closure order will stay in place until this decision is approved. We rode the route on Saturday after getting the go ahead from a dozer crew working the road. I hope it is not the last time I get to ride the route :(
    #2
  3. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    Some places that will be effected by the closure of FR 203...

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    #3
  4. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Did they list some kind of reasoning for including that road in the "inventoried roadless area"? Bizarre.
    #4
  5. cyberdos

    cyberdos Easy Bonus Loop ♦♦

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    What's the appropriate course of action here?
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    AZ Mark likes this.
  6. FOF2

    FOF2 Adventurer

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    Here is my understanding from reading some posts on the ATR forum from people who have been involved in the Tonto Travel Management Plan for some time. The Forest Service wanted to leave the Cherry Creek road open but it was discovered that parts of the road are actually in the Wilderness area. The solution is to redraw the Wilderness area boundary. But that takes an act of Congress. There seems to be some support in Congress for redrawing the boundary.
    #6
  7. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Attached Files:

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  8. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    Hopefully you and others wrote letters back when they were taking comment on the original 4 options for travel management. If not, now is the time to start hounding everyone you know. Written comments, emails, phone calls, maybe even a protest at the supervisor's office with news crews and elected officials. It's going to take an unprecedented effort to save this trail, but if people bring attention to it, it will be hard to sweep under the rug. If this passes, it gets harder to fix.
    #8
  9. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    This has nothing to do with the State Land Trust. It's a Forest Service thing. The BDRs are laid out by a bunch of industry buddies that formed a nonprofit to promote the routes.

    Template letters are worthless, they largely get ignored in the process. Writing and calling with personal details as to why you oppose this is key. It doesn't have to be a novel, succinct points as to why you want it open and why it is an important route will help.

    People to contact? Maybe someone can post a list here. I outlined general guidance above. Your federal representation (senate and house) would be great. State representatives for the area effected would be good too. AMA and NOHVCC. Local clubs.
    #9
  10. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    You're not running it anytime soon. It's under a closure order due to the fire, though it's perfectly passable right now. I suspect they will never reopen it if the ROD is approved.
    #10
  11. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    We don't want a reroute, we want FR203 to remain open. There are a couple of ways to get from A to B if it closes, but none as memorable as FR203
    #11
  12. azredline

    azredline Wobbly Adventurer

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    Thanks for the info Verboten. It is worth a try to drop some emails and/or letters.
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  13. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    I found the original Sierra Ancha Wilderness legal description. When I get some time, I may draw it up, georeference, and compare it to what is depicted on current maps. Ordinarily, I wouldn't go to the trouble. However, when your legal description includes language such as:
    "thence northeasterly, easterly, and southeasterly 4.25 miles along a not too well defined topographic rim on the west side of Cherry Creek..."

    I'm thinking the story of lazy cartography putting the road "inside" the wilderness boundary might actually have some truth too it.
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  14. verboten

    verboten confused Supporter

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    I doubt they would state the reasoning for defining an area as "inventoried roadless" when there are existing roads there. I am guessing they will decomission and obliterate existing roads in these "roadless" areas and they will fade from memory. Once that happens, more wilderness. I don't want to sound anti-wilderness, as I enjoy visiting those areas to. This particular route is an important connection for motorized travel, very scenic, and provides access to great hikes. Typically, these changes are made to expand wilderness areas. I wish they would just keep the existing road in this case and manage the areas to the east by not developing new routes there rather than potentially expanding the wilderness in this case.
    #14
  15. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    I figured they might have something written about adjusting the boundary due to erosion, overuse, remote rescue or remote maintenance concerns. Not that they would be legitimate, but I could see them doing something like that to attempt to decommission a road they don't want. Lazy mapping seems like the most likely scenario, though.
    #15
  16. strappyman

    strappyman Been here awhile

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    I've heard that it crosses into Wilderness boundaries as the reason for closure.
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  17. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    I'll dig into some of my old USGS topo maps tonight and see what I can find.
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  18. kbblue

    kbblue mmmm... dirt...

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    There is another map link (59232_FSPLT2_370936.pdf) on the same site verboten posted on the first page that has this on it. It has a dark green for the SA Wilderness, and a light green that most of the road is in, which implies it is not part of the wilderness. On the map Verboten posted on page 1 the light green is included with the dark green, implying it is part of the wilderness. Or are they saying that's what the surveyors screwed up? I'm not buying that. What I've seen up here where there has been the Travel Management for a few years is, the truth is out there... :-) Verboten's plan of further examining the original legal docs sounds like a good one. Maybe Scully and Moulder can help.
    upload_2016-6-14_14-17-40.png

    The other thing I noticed on this map is all of Sycamore will be a permit area. That may be a good thing. I don't know. The trigger trash has really messed that place up from what it once was. Looks like Hayfield is going permit too.

    kb
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  19. bbolesaz

    bbolesaz AZ Airhead GS'er

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    Being a digital packrat, I have copies of the .pdf files for the Proposals A,B,C,D from early in the process. I downloaded them on 1/26/2012. On none of those maps is FR203 shown as proposed to be closed. I have a real job, so I don't have time to pursue this issue right now. If you send an email to "my forum handle" at netscape period net, I will email you the maps I have. To me, it looks like a fast one is being pulled.
    Once something gets to this point in the NFS process, I don't hold out much hope that it could be changed. Some TV coverage would help. Maybe.
    #19
  20. bbolesaz

    bbolesaz AZ Airhead GS'er

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    Digging a little deeper in my digital pile, I found a Proposed Action map from 10/26/09. It shows the route of FR203 to be within the boundaries of the wilderness area, but does not show any proposed actions on that section. Oddly it shows the southern section as having a proposed action. I can email this one also.
    #20