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National Forests Could See Large Closures - enough said!
20, 2007 - IMPORTANT
The agency plans to close the entire 38-mile trail area in the Nantahala National Forest for the winter, January 1st through March 31st. They are also closing trails 7 and 9, and sections of trails 2 and 8 for a 1 year (they say no longer than 1 year, but we are not believing them)! These are basically some of the most widely used trails in Tellico! The closures will affect the numbers of people that go to Tellico. As one off roader was quoted in the article stated "It’s like when you go to an amusement park and everyone is waiting in line for the biggest rollercoaster...They just closed down the biggest rollercoaster.”
This latest round of closures is the most recent result of a lawsuit brought by the vermin environmentalists that won't be happy until every last one of our riding opportunities are shut down. The scumbag environmental groups applauded all of the trail closures while local businesses, which make their living off of off-road enthusiasts, expressed their disappointment and concerns over the decision. This move will hurt the local economy and probably cause some shops and stores to go out of business. As usual, the environmentalists do not care about people. They are more concerned with fish and rocks and such.
The Southern Four Wheel Drive Association said that t hey are consulting with thier attorneys to decide what the group will do next. My guess, little or nothing. I mean what can they do? Under what grounds are they going to appeal? We hate to say it, but the long-term does not look good for Tellico. We wouldn't be surprised if it is completely shut down in a few years. We are in mourning.
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Four Wheel Drive Association's Rescue Tellico Fund!
During the ninth annual Tellico ORV area stakeholders meeting on August 24th, the US Forest Service announced its strategy for restoring water quality in the Tellico River. They identified immediate projects and future plans to counter sedimentation issues allegedly caused by the mismanagement of the Upper Tellico ORV area. All of this was in response to claims made by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the NC and Tennessee Councils of Trout Unlimited, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project stating that the US Forest Service is violating environmental laws. These environmental organizations filed a “notice of intent to sue” on June 28 if the US Forest Service did not effectively change its management of the ORV area in order to comply with it's own rules and the Clean Water Act. The conservationist groups requested that the Forest Service take immediate action to remedy the significant and ongoing violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (also referred to as the Clean Water Act) and other various federal and state water laws.
A US Forestry supervisor, Bill Champion, said complete condition surveys will be performed on all trail segments within 100 feet of streams in the ORV area, covering an estimated 6-7 miles of the trail system. All necessary repairs and modifications to crossings, silt traps and other maintenance needs will be made to these trail areas where needed. Condition surveys also will be conducted throughout the entire trail system. Relying on the results from National Environmental Policy Act analysis, the Forest Service will then consider proposals for a seasonal closure of the ORV area as well as permanent closure and rehabilitation of the 2, 7 and 9 Trails, which many believe cause much of the sedimentation issues. The seasonal closure would most likely occur between January and March.
This is not good folks. The first act of the US Forest Service is a major rollover to the conservation groups. We can only go down from here. The conservation groups have already won major concessions without having to take any legal action. They will surely use this as a stepping stone to gain more trail closures and stricter requirements. We're already down two scores in this critical game and the enviro-groups haven't even had to use their big weapons. I don't like the looks of this one bit.
The truth finally came out! These groups hope to obtain a total closure of the Tellico ORV Riding Area. If you care about this ORV area you had better get involved now!
A U.S. Forest Service spokesman would not comment on any specifics in the letter from the organizations threatening a lawsuit if the problems were not fixed, but said the agency is working to address the issues raised by the groups. According to the spokesman the Forest Service has 60 days from receipt of the letter to respond to the claims. If the groups are not satisfied with the response they will then file suit.
According to the conservationist groups, the Tellico area has twice as many designated ORV trails as allowed by the Forest Service's own plan - not to mention the numerous illegal trails. The agency (Forest Service) has also documented dozens of areas where it reports that trails are within 100 feet of streams, which is against its own rules. In wet conditions, the eroded trails turn into ditches that send muddy water (heavy silt) directly into nearby creeks and streams, violating state and federal (turbidity / siltation) water laws. The Forest Service has been asked repeatedly to do something about the ORV damage, but it is reported that little action has been taken. In their letter (dated June 28th) the groups - the North Carolina and Tennessee Councils of Trout Unlimited, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project - notified the Forest Service of their intent to sue for repeated violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws.
DJ Gerken, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the groups, said "The Forest Service has come up short in taking decisive action to fix this problem. We are letting them know that the law is unambiguous - water quality and mountain trout come first."
The groups are calling on the Forest Service to permanently close the most environmentally damaging trails, and temporarily close the entire system in the wettest months.
This will be a big battle folks and we had better be prepared for a huge dogfight to keep Tellico anywhere near what it is today, a 4x4 wheeling Mecca!
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