Travel Management

 

Overview of Travel Management Rule Implementation on the Coronado

 

The Forest Service published final travel management regulations (Travel Management Rule or TMR) in the Federal Register (Vol. 70, No. 216–Nov. 9, 2005, pages 68264 through 68291). The TMR requires that each Forest designate roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use by the public by class of vehicle and, if appropriate, by time of year. It also prohibits the use of motor vehicles on routes and in areas that are not designated for such use.

 

Background

 

Visitors to National Forests and Grasslands share a common interest in the enjoyment of outdoor recreation in a natural setting. The Forest Service currently manages more than 300,000 miles of roads nationwide, including 2158 miles of roads on the Coronado National Forest, to provide visitors with motorized access to recreational amenities, motorized access to those who use National Forest Service lands under special authorizations, such as grazing or operation and maintenance of communication sites, and administrative access to agencies for fire and land management activities.

 

Over the years, there has been an increased use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on Federal lands. Forest Service motorized travel regulations issued before the increase in OHV use and advances in OHV technology were outdated; so in 2005, the Forest Service published final travel management regulations (Travel Management Rule; Federal Register Vol. 70, No. 216; Nov. 9, 2005, pages 68264 through 68291).

 

The Travel Management Rule clarifies current Forest Service policy regarding motor-vehicle use and provides management direction that allows sustainable access by motor vehicles, including OHVs, on National Forests and Grasslands. It requires that each National Forest and Grassland designate roads, motorized trails, and areas that are open to public motor vehicle use by class of vehicle and, if appropriate, by time of year. The Travel Management Rule requires National Forests to document their motorized transportation systems on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that is available to the public free of charge and updated annually.

 

The Coronado National Forest published an MVUM for each of its five Ranger Districts in May of 2011. The MVUMs reflect the current designated system of roads, motorized trails, and areas on each Ranger District. Because these MVUMs make no changes to the existing designated road system, no public input or analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was required.  The Forest is now considering changes to the designated road system and will consider public input and perform a NEPA analysis before changes are made. Any changes made will be reflected in the next set of MVUMs published.

 

Coronado National Forest Travel Management Planning Process to Date

 

Since 2006, the Coronado National Forest’s (Forest) Travel Management Planning (TMP) process has included several opportunities for public involvement. Three open-house meetings related to the Forest Plan Revision (one each in Safford, Sierra Vista, and Douglas Districts) provided opportunities for public input on the TMP process. A fourth meeting, held in Tucson in March 2009, focused entirely on the Santa Catalina Ranger District’s TMP.  In February and March of 2012, the Safford Ranger District, the Douglas Ranger District, and the Sierra Vista Ranger District held public meetings. There are plans to hold additional public meeting on

Douglas and Safford in April 2012. All meetings gave interested members of the public opportunities to view maps showing existing motorized-use direction in the Forest Plan and to provide input regarding unique recreation opportunities, specific vehicle-class opportunities, access to significant-use locations, dispersed camping opportunities, and environmental and/or safety concerns related to specific roads. The Forest Supervisor also informed 12 Native American tribes in writing about the travel management planning process and advised them of their opportunity to comment.

 

How Previous Public Input Was Used in the Travel Management Planning Process

 

After the public meetings, the Forest’s internal Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) met to consider recommendations for changes to the current designated transportation system based on a science-based roads analysis and input from a broad spectrum of citizens and groups as well as state and federal agencies.  The ID Team’s analysis identified the  minimum road system needed for each District (as set forth in the Travel Management Rule) and provided recommendations for changes to the designated road system. These changes were documented in Transportation Analysis Plans and maps.

 

Each District’s Transportation Analysis Plan resulted in a proposed action (proposed changes to the designated road system) for that District. Stakeholders have been asked to comment on the proposed actions.

 

Public input received in regard to travel management was considered in the development of the Transportation Analysis Plans and the corresponding proposed actions. The Coronado National Forest is very appreciative of the public’s contribution.

 

Status of the Travel Management Planning Process on each Ranger District

 

Below are links to each Ranger District's Travel Management project being reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Each link contains scoping notices, maps of theproposed action and other associated documents.

Each District began the Travel Management process by completing a Travel Analysis Plan (TAP) for each Ecosystem Management Area.  Public input was a vital part of this process.  Once the TAPs were completed, each District developed a proposed action to be evaluated.  Public comments about the proposed actions were solicited for each District.  These comments are being analyzed and addressed in the Environmental Assessments being prepared for each District.

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Extension of Scoping Comment Periods

Scoping periods on the Douglas, Nogales, Safford and Sierra Vista Ranger Districts have been extended untiil June 1, 2012.

View the most recent scoping notices here.

 

Coronado Transportation Analysis Plans (TAPs) and Maps

 

A Travel Analysis Plan (TAP) involves a broad-scale comprehensive look at the forest transportation network, providing long-term management guidance and site-specific proposals for change to travel management direction and the forest transportation system. TAP is an interdisciplinary process focused on identifying needs for change to existing travel management direction and providing recommendations.  TAP replaces and updates the previous process called “Roads Analysis Process (RAP)”, providing a technical, science-based review of the National Forest/Grassland motorized transportation system in preparation for designations required by 36 CFR 212.51  TAP is not a NEPA process; however, federal regulation and agency policy require an analysis to provide input when considering changes to the motorized transportation system.

 

The link below contains helpful information about how to navigate through the maps using Adobe software

Help with Adobe Maps

You may also download Adobe here.

 

Coronado Travel Management Collaborative Process

Now that Transportation Analysis Plans and proposed actions have been developed, the Forest Service is inviting public input and collaboration on the next phase of the travel management process. To ensure interested stakeholders and the public have an opportunity to provide input to potential changes in the Forest’s designated road system and are well-informed about the process, Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch, the District Rangers, and Forest Service staff have asked the Udall Foundation’s U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (the U.S. Institute), an independent and impartial agency of the federal government, to design a balanced, fair, collaborative process.

The process began with an initial forest-wide kickoff workshop (January 28th), followed by workshops in each District.  The meetings will conclude with a Forest-wide summary meeting to share results of the collaboration and next steps.  The time, date and location of this meeting will be posted as soon as it is scheduled.