Posts tagged: ATVs
PUBLIC LANDS — A week after conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit against the new Clearwater National Forest Travel Management Plan, two Idaho counties have filed suit against the plan that closes 200 miles of national forest trails to motorized vehicles.
Idaho and Clearwater counties charge that forest officials failed to adequately consult with local authorities while drafting the travel plan enacted last year.
County officials also claim forest planners didn’t properly analyze the plan’s local economic impact and allege the forest created de facto wilderness areas by banning motorcycles and mountain bikes from areas previously recommended for wilderness.
“We thought we better take a stand,” Clearwater County Commissioner Don Ebert told The Lewiston Tribune. “We get ran over all the time by the Forest Service. We picked a battle where we think we are on solid ground and hope we will prevail.”
Forest officials did not offer an immediate response sought by The Associated Press today on the new legal challenge.
Commissioners from both counties say they were compelled to file a lawsuit after their administrative appeal of the travel plan was denied by the agency.
The lawsuit is the latest filed against the forest and its 2012 travel policy.
Last week, three environmental groups sued in federal court, contending the forest plan allows too much access for motorized vehicles, a policy they say will ultimately harm wildlife habitat. The environmental groups allege the travel plan violates a 1987 plan by allowing motorized vehicle use in areas the agency had pledged to protect as prime habitat for elk.
Federal laws require agencies like the Forest Service to coordinate their actions and plans with state and local governments.
The case brought by the counties alleges agency officials made little effort to coordinate the travel plan with the counties, who favor more motorized access when possible.
“We didn’t really see any attempt to do that,” Ebert told the Morning Tribune. “They just sort of disregarded us.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Three conservation groups say they filed a lawsuit on Dec. 5th in Idaho Federal District Court challenging the Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan. The recently released plan determines which trails and roads will be open to motorized vehicles and which areas of the national forest will be open to snowmobiles.
The plan defers the decision on the ultimate size and extent of the road system.
OFF-ROADING — While turkey hunting on private timber company land last week I was appalled, again, at how many illigal ATV trails were pioneered by goons who think they have a right to have their way with someone else's property.
Washington Fish and Wildlife police say the practice is all to common, and law-abiding off-roaders are losing access to public and private lands because of these law breakers who go off roads without permisson.
Here's a sad report posted Monday by the WDFW enforcementd division regarding officers patroling Department of Natural Resources land in Western Washington near Amboy.
…Illegal ATV trails that eventually become wide enough for a full-size truck are popping up all over DNR and PacifiCorp lands. Due to the increase in this illegal and destructive activity, Officers Chamberlin and Moats planned an emphasis patrol recently to address the problem. So when they drove past five jacked-up trucks parked at the Chelatchie Prairie store, the Officers made deliberate eye contact with the group, hoping to dissuade them from using any nearby land as their own personal 4x4 playground…. so much for that tactic.
Officers Moats and Chamberlin retrieved their own ATVs and headed into the area shortly after. And who did they find? You guessed it – the same five vehicles deep in DNR land, and deep in the mud, as two of the trucks were nearly stuck in one area of the unauthorized ‘trail.’
Seven subjects were cited for trespass and ORV violations in this one incident.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — An Idaho Fish and Game employee was injured Thursday in an ATV accident along the lower Salmon River below Eagle Creek.
Mark Parks, 57, of Lewiston, was working by himself spraying weeds with an ATV-mounted tank sprayer when the ATV rolled over on him, reports Mike Demick at the agency's regional office in Lewiston.
Parks used his emergency satellite transmitter to call for help.
A Lewiston-area medical evacuation helicopter, based at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical center, was dispatched in response. Parks was transported to Lewiston and eventually flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center Hospital in Spokane for treatment of multiple broken bones.
He remains hospitalized in stable condition, Demick said.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Idaho Fish and Game Department is joining Framing Our Community and the Dust Devils ATV Club in applying for a grant from Idaho Parks and Recreation to build an all terrain vehicle trailhead, shelter and restroom on the edge of the Nez Perce National Forest.
Fish and Game, the Idaho, Department of Lands, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Nez Perce Tribe are partners of Framing Our Community, an economic development group dedicated to creating jobs, improving forest and watershed conditions and increasing educational opportunities in the Elk City area.
The economic development group and ATV club envision the trailhead to be a starting point for motorized recreation in the area and a part of the proposed Clearwater Basin Collaborative North – South motorized route between Avery and Elk City.
It will include an information kiosk that will help distribute information to trail users. The two groups are seeking the grant to fund the project and have pledged to donate their labor and funds.
Info: Joyce Dearstyne, Framing Our Community, (208-) 842-2939.
HUNTING — A national sportsman's conservation group has paid a $500 reward to an Idaho bear hunter who provided the information game wardens needed to cite hunters using all-terrain vehicles in habitat protected from motorized traffic.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a national group of outdoorsmen and women who value hunting and fishing in the peace and quiet of natural conditions, said Holly Endersby, BHA acting director who lives in Pollock, Idaho, in announcing the reward.
The case dates back to spring of 2011, when Ted Koch and two friends were hunting for black bears on the Nez Perce National Forest. They planned to hike into an area where roads had been closed to vehicles, but hike-in hunters were allowed.
As they hiked in, they observed hunters on ATVs driving around the locked gate. They also found bait stations the hunters had left behind.
“We planned to enjoy a quiet evening looking for bears,” Koch said. “Instead, the evening was shattered by noise and exhaust where it did not belong.”
Koch lived in Boise at the time of the hunt, but has since moved to Reno, Nev. He pointed out that he and his hunting partners own dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles, but stay within the bounds of the law.
“Hunters and wildlife alike need some places entirely apart from the noise and disturbance of motor traffic,” Koch said. “Owning an ATV does not mean you can re-write the rule book.”
Koch noted the license plate numbers of the hunters’ vehicles, took GPS readings, recorded the date and time and wrote detailed descriptions of the riders. He reported the incident to Roy Kinner, a senior conservation officer from Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Grangeville.
“Mr. Koch gave us exactly the kind of information we needed to launch a successful investigation,” Kinner said. “I don’t usually get that kind of high quality information. It was just priceless.”
In the end, three hunters pleaded guilty to the road closure violations and were fined $500 each. Other charges of leaving bear bait too close to a stream were dismissed.
BHA has a dedicated reward fund for aiding the conviction of law-breakers who abuse public hunting and fishing areas with motorized vehicles.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Snowmobile Association filed a lawsuit against the Clearwater National Forest for its travel plan that bans motorcycles, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and mountain bikes in the Great Burn wilderness study area on the Idaho-Montana border, according to a story by the Idaho Statesman.
“Only Congress can designate wilderness. We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands.”
—Sandra Mitchell, public lands director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.
“I see this as full frontal assault on wilderness. They are making essentially the argument that the Forest Service doesn’t have the power to protect wilderness character as a multiple use of public lands”
—Brad Brooks, deputy regional director of the Wilderness Society in Boise.
PUBLIC LANDS — The new supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon is touring Wallowa, Union and Baker counties this week to meet the public he will be serving in the wake of a flap over restricting motorized use on the forest.
Kevin Martin succeeds Monica Schwalbach, who has taken a new assignment with the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland.
She left less than 18 months after assuming responsibility for the Baker City-based forest.
The Wallowa-Whitman has been embroiled in controversy regarding its proposed travel management plan, which would have closed almost 4,000 miles of roads and trails to motor vehicle use.
Schwalbach withdrew the plan in April amid public protests, and it is being revised.
FORESTS – The Colville National Forest is seeking comments on a revised proposal to regulate dispersed camping and designate and expand roads and trails open to motorized recreation.
Comments are due by the end of August on the South End Project scoping notice and plans for the Tacoma, Chewelah and Calispell drainages).
The original plan was appealed last winter by conservation groups.
The project goals include designating an expanded system of routes for motor vehicle use.
OFF-ROADING — The popular Fish Lake Trail #419, located 15 miles south of Hoodoo Pass, near the Idaho-Montana state line, has closed temporarily to motorized traffic, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest officials announced today.
Wet conditions forced the closure to prevent motor vehicles from causing damage to the trail and fragile high alpine meadows on the lake’s western edge.
Forest officials will reopen Trail #419 as soon as the waterlogged trail has dried out, firmed up and is once again suitable for recreational use.
For updates: Clearwater National Forest Information Desk, (208) 476-8267.
OFF-ROAD VEHICLES — Idaho recently came within an eyelash of stripping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of the authority to regulate the use of all-terrain vehicles on public land during hunting seasons.
An editorial in the Idaho Mountain Express notes that if the state Senate had not stopped a measure that had been approved by the House, Fish and Game would have had no say on where hunters could operate ATVs during big-game hunting seasons.
That would have been a big mistake, the opinion piece suggests.
Read on for the editorial's reasoning.
Click here for the Idaho Fish and Game Department's web page on ATV issues.
PUBLIC LANDS — Passenger cars, ATVs, dirt bikes and four-wheel-drive rigs will be prohibited on on nearly 4,000 miles of roads in northeastern Oregon's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest starting in June.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest management plan, entered last week into the Federal Register — prohibits motorized vehicles on 3,835 miles of roads and ATV trails in a 1.3 million-acre area of the forest in Union, Baker and Wallowa counties.
Opponents based in Enterprise already are organizing. They have 45 days to appeal. However, some groups and fisheries officials support the closure.
Earlier versions of the policy triggered one of the most vocal resistance efforts in the state, with more than 6,000 people signing petitions urging the U.S. Forest Service to leave all the forest's roads open, according to a story by the Oregonian.
The changes don't affect motorized travel in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, but they will affect some areas used by groups such asberry pickers and hunters.
There's still plenty of places to go by motor power. The 2.3 million-acre Wallowa-Whitman has a total of 9,111 miles of road.
OFF-ROADING — It's no secret that off-road vehicle riders run rampant in some areas of national forests and other public lands that are closed to motorized traffic. But even if you catch them in the act, little can be done to report the offenses because ATVs and off-road dirt bikes don't need licence plates necessary for ID.
A compromise bill is in the works in the Washington Legislature that would help open more roads for OHV riding while getting a licensing requirement promoted by environmentalists. Many OHVers support the licensing portion of the bill to help deal with the bad apples in their ranks.
See Olympia reporter Jim Camden's Spin Control column for the details.
PUBLIC LANDS – Colville National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West has withdrawn the South End Motor Vehicle Project enacted in November after years of planning to guide off-highway vehicle use.
This decision was appealed in January by Conservation Northwest, the Lands Council, and the Kettle Range Conservation Group.
West withdrew the project after the appeal was reviewed by the Regional Forester in Missoula. No timeline has been set for rewriting the project that would allow off-road vehicle riders to establish more legal riding routes on the south half of the 1.1 million acre forest.
The conservation groups appealed primarily on the basis that the project rewarded groups who illegally pioneered new trails in national forest areas where off-road travel had been prohibited.
“The South End project is an excellent project,” West said in a written statement. “Not only does it provide a wonderful network of family-friendly OHV routes that connect communities, it provides for the rehabilitation of heavily impacted campsites, stream corridors, and illegal motorized trails.
“I withdrew the decision so that we can supplement our analysis of the project to make sure the decision to proceed is based on solid rationale that fully considers the impact to other resources.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Getting no satisfaction from a letter of concern to the forest supervisor, three Washington-based conservation groups have appealed a Colville National Forest travel plan designating where ATVs, motorcycles and other off-highway vehicles can go at the south end of the 1.1 million acre forest.
The Lands Council, the Kettle Range Conservation Group and Conservation Northwest filed the appeal last week, charging among other things that the plan rewards lawbreaking OHV riders by legitimizing trails that were illegally made.
The groups sent a letter to Supervisor Laura Jo West on Dec. 22 expressing several concerns about the South End Project.
The supervisor replied that her decision would stand as is.
PUBLIC LANDS — About 200 miles of trails and more than 1 million acres of the Clearwater National Forest will close to motorized users under a new travel management plan released Wednesday.
See all the official forest documents on the travel plan here.
Meanwhile, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests also is revisiting its forest management plan. See today's S-R story.
Read on for the report on the Clearwater forest plan proposal from the Lewiston Tribune.
PUBLIC LANDS — Off-road vehicle riders have more routes for legally riding their ATVs and motorcycles on the Colville National Forest, according to a plan approved this month.
Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West signed the South End Motor Vehicle Management Plan, which designates roads and trails that create quality loops, connect communities and provide access, camping and parking.
The plan, two years in the making, designates motorized routes between U.S. Highway 395 and State Highway 20, including the Tacoma, Chewelah and Calispell drainages.
Read on for more details.
TRAILS — A federal judge has decided to temporarily close down trail access to off-road vehicles in sections of the Salmon-Challis National Forest pending a review of the forest's travel plan, the Idaho Statesman reports.
The order issued Tuesday follows a February ruling that the U.S. Forest Service had ignored evidence showing significant damage to trails and the landscape from off-road vehicles when it crafted its 2009 plan.
Brad Brooks of The Wilderness Society says the closure will ensure trails are protected until the forest managers can craft rules better protecting soil, water and vegetation from ATV's and other vehicles.