Motorized Travel Management

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What is Travel Management / Route Designation?

All the National Forests in California have completed an inventory of all the roads, trails, and areas used by off-highway vehicles; identifying routes from that inventory that could be added to the National Forest Transportation System without undue environmental and economic impacts, and designating those routes/areas for off-highway vehicle use.

Background

The rapid expansion of OHV travel on national forests and grasslands has been impacting the natural and cultural resources of federal lands. The former Chief of the Forest Service identified unmanaged recreation - especially impacts from OHVs - as one of the key threats facing the nation's forests today.

On many forests, unmanaged OHV use has resulted in unplanned roads and trails, erosion, watershed and habitat degradation, and impacts to cultural resource sites. Although the Lassen National Forest has not experienced the same level of unmanaged OHV use as other forests, continued management is necessary to prevent additional impacts. Improved management of wheeled vehicle use on National Forest System lands would allow the Forest Service to enhance opportunities for public enjoyment of the National Forest System, including motorized and non-motorized recreation experiences.

In November 2005, the Forest Service revised its national policy governing the use of wheeled motor vehicles to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle travel to minimize or eliminate the undesirable impacts from unmanaged motor vehicle travel.

We have worked with the motorized vehicle, environmental, and other non-motorized communities to identify motor vehicle routes that might reasonably be added to the Lassen National Forest Transportation System and to develop a forest-level travel management plan that accommodates off-highway vehicle use and recreation after cross-country motorized travel is prohibited.

Implementation Goals

Our goal is to have a transportation system that is manageable, environmentally sensitive, and economically viable. During this first phase of implementing the Travel Management Rule, we have reviewed all routes on the Forest to determine which should be designated as part of the Lassen National Forest Transportation System and what vehicle use should be allowed on each. This will result in a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that designates which routes are open for motor vehicle use and the class of vehicle allowed. At that point, cross-country travel will be permanently banned, except by special use permit.

During subsequent analyses, the second phase of implementing the Travel Management Rule (Subpart A) will entail analyzing the Lassen National Forest Transportation System for economic viability.

Route Designation Guidebook

The Region 5 Route Designation Guidebook presents a 5 step process that has guided the designation of routes on the 19 National Forests in California, including the California portions of the Humboldt-Toiyabe. A detailed description of all five steps and a timeline that shows the interrelationships among the steps make up the main portion of the Guidebook.

Download the Route Designation Guidebook on the Region 5 web site

Prior Steps in the Route Designation Process

Temporary Forest Order

On July 13, 2009, a new Temporary Forest Order (TFO) will take effect and continue the previous year’s order. Motorized wheeled vehicle travel off routes identified on motor vehicle use maps will remain prohibited. Copies of the TFO and maps are available free of charge from any Lassen National Forest office.

The public is also reminded that Green Sticker (non-street legal) vehicles are restricted on higher standard passenger car roads on the Lassen National Forest. These roads fall under the Federal Highway Safety Act and the California Vehicle Code. Travel by Green Sticker vehicles has always been illegal on these roads. The Forest Visitor Maps displays the roads and trails that are open to Green Sticker vehicles and those that are not. Please refer to the information on the back of the map for more details. This map may be purchased for $9.00 from any Lassen National Forest office.

Notice of Intent and Public Scoping

The Lassen National Forest (LNF) published its Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on October 25, 2007 followed by public comments on the proposed action. These comments were analyzed and used to develop the range of alternatives in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was available for public comment from June 5, 2009 to July 31, 2009. Two hundred and forty one (241) interested parties submitted 267 communications in which we identified 1887 comments.  These comments were analyzed for information that would improve our decision. Some of this information was incorporated into the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and we responded to the comments in the FEIS Appendices.

Current Status

Forest Supervisor, Kathleen Morse signed our Record of Decision (ROD) for Motorized Travel Management on Thursday January 28, 2010. It will be made available on February 9, 2010.

I want to thank the many committed individuals and organizations who have spent long hours participating in this effort. It was your dedication and thoughtful input that enabled me to select an alternative that will provide a baseline system of roads and trails. This transportation system will serve as a well-considered starting point for an on-going process of meeting the recreational and access needs of local citizens and visitors while protecting important resources.”

The decision selects Modified Alternative 5 as described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was released on December 18, 2009, for a 30-day public review period. After considering the comments we received during this final review period, Supervisor Morse selected Modified Alternative 5 (our Preferred Alternative) as the best choice for meeting the goals of Motorized Travel Management within the context of the laws, policies, regulations, directives, agreements, and plans that guide management of the Forest. The over-arching goal in this planning effort has been to develop a system of roads and trails that provide an array of opportunities for motorized access and recreation on national forests, while also protecting resources by limiting cross-country travel by motorized vehicles. The public is encouraged to remain active in working with the staff of the Lassen National Forest to further refine and improve our road system over time.

Also, included in the ROD Appendices are Errata to the FEIS and summarized responses to the comments we received during the 30-day review period.

Appeals

The Notice of Decision has been submitted to the Paper of Record, the Lassen County Times, for publication February 9, 2010. This decision is subject to appeal pursuant to the regulation at 36 CFR 215. Appeals, including attachments, must be filed within 45 days of the publication date of this legal Notice of Decision.  Details regarding the appeal process are provided in the ROD and in the Notice of Decision.  Our Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for 2010 will be published once any appeals are resolved. This map will be the binding legal document that describes the official Lassen National Forest Transportation System and allowed uses on all roads and trails. It will be updated annually as our Transportation System is revised.

 

How to obtain copies of the documents:

There are three ways to receive copies of the Record of Decision: hardcopy, CD, or from this website (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/lassen). Hardcopies or CDs will be provided upon request. CDs include PDF files of the ROD (including Appendices), the FEIS, the FEIS Appendices, and all the maps. Many of the maps are multi-layered and viewing with Adobe Reader allows the viewer to click layers on and off. A map index and instructions for viewing the maps are also included. You may also request paper copies of maps, but these are expensive to reproduce, so we ask that requests for printed maps be tailored to the specific maps desired. We only include one new map on this CD that was not on the CD produced when the FEIS was released in December 2009; that is a map of the Selected Alternative with one small change from our previous map of Modified Alternative 5 to include a seasonal closure on route 29N21Y to protect spotted owl nesting. This reflects the correction of an error in the FEIS and is explained in the Errata (Appendix B of the ROD).

Documents, CDs, or printed maps may be requested by emailing us at: ltmrd@fs.fed.us; calling Christopher O’Brien, Public Services Staff Officer, at (530) 252-6698, or Dave Pilz, Natural Resources Planner, at (530) 252-6659, or by writing to:

Travel Management
Lassen National Forest Supervisor’s Office
2550 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130

CDs will be available, and documents and maps may be viewed at the Supervisor’s Office and the following Ranger District Offices:

Eagle Lake Ranger District
477-050 Eagle Lake Road
Susanville, CA 96130

 Almanor Ranger District
900 East Highway 36
Chester, CA 96020

Hat Creek Ranger District
43225 East Highway 299
Fall River Mills, CA 96028

The Future

This decision is a very important first step in the process of further protecting natural resources and improving the Lassen National Forest Transportation System.  However, much remains to be accomplished.  Implementation will involve public education, mitigation of resource concerns, and monitoring of the results of the decision. It will also involve working one-on-one with our neighbors and dedicated forest users to address the many road-related issues that were too complex to resolve with this decision. Additionally, the Forest plans to subsequently address Subpart A of the Travel Management Rule and analyze how to make our transportation system more affordable. Accomplishing all these objectives in a timely and productive manner will necessarily involve close cooperation with you, the individuals, and organizations that care so dearly for the well-being and enjoyment of the Lassen National Forest. The staff of the Lassen National Forest sincerely appreciates your participation in this process and encourages you to stay involved in our on-going efforts to better serve you and protect our resources.