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Draft Environmental Impact

Statement for Travel Management

on the Tonto National Forest

Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yavapai Counties, Arizona

 

The Tonto National Forest proposes to designate a system of roads and motorized trails, in addition to prohibiting motorized cross-country travel, except in designated motorized areas and fixed-distance corridors solely for the purpose of motorized dispersed camping or motorized big game retrieval. The area affected by the proposal includes the entire Tonto National Forest. This action is needed because the increasing number of unmanaged motorized recreationists on the forest has been contributing to resource damage. The project area being analyzed in this document is the entire Tonto National Forest.

 

On November 2, 2005, the Forest Service announced the final Travel Management Rule regulations governing off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and other motor vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. Under the new regulations, which reiterate direction given in previous Executive Orders (11644 and 11989), forests that do not already restrict OHV travel to designated roads and trails must do so. Motor vehicles, including OHVs, must remain on designated roads and trails systems or in designated areas while on the national forest.

 

Currently, the Tonto National Forest does not have a forestwide designated road or trail system; cross-country motorized travel is permitted except in areas that are signed closed or restricted to seasonal use. To date, four ranger districts (Cave Creek, Globe, Mesa, and Tonto Basin) are closed to cross-country travel by Closure Orders, direction in the 1985 Tonto National Forest Plan, or other designation that restricts motor vehicle use.

 

The Tonto National Forest published a proposed action in the Federal Register on February 1, 2013. This original proposed action would have resulted in approximately 3,812 miles of designated National Forest System road and trails and 1,417 acres of designated areas open to motor vehicles on the National Forest, adding approximately 280 miles of unauthorized routes. This alternative was eliminated from detailed study to reflect updated data and in response to public comments and replaced by newly developed Alternative C, which is the preferred alternative. Two other action alternatives (B and D) were developed in addition to the no action Alternative A, which proposes no change from the existing condition.  Read more....

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Gila County Cattle Growers Association

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