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U.S. Forest Service Seeks Public Input on Over-Snow Vehicle Designation Project

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avatar U.S. Forest Service Seeks Public Input on Over-Snow Vehicle Designation Project
June 28, 2015 02:36PM
Sonora, California, June 26, 2015 – The Stanislaus National Forest (STF) is requesting public comment on the Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) proposed action beginning today, June 26. Public comment on the proposed action is encouraged. To assure your comments are fully considered during the scoping phase of the project, please submit comments by August 10, 2015.

“We appreciate those who have an interest in this effort taking time to review the proposal and provide comments as appropriate, especially if you have site specific comments or suggestions on how your concerns might be resolved,” said Jeanne Higgins, Forest Supervisor for the Stanislaus National Forest. “At the public meetings held last fall and earlier this winter, we listened to your interests and concerns. Since then, we have worked hard to balance the desires of stakeholders. The proposed action represents our response to that effort. The information you share now will be instrumental in formulating alternative actions in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for consideration prior to a decision.”

The overall objective of this proposal is to provide a manageable and sustainable system of roads, trails, and areas designated for OSV use within the STF, “It’s important for us to provide access for OSV use,” said Higgins, “but we also need to minimize impacts to natural resources and conflicts with other groups using the Forest.”

The proposed action also identifies trails for grooming and adopts the California State Parks’ Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division snow depth standards for that purpose.

For over 30 years, the Forest Service has enhanced winter recreation opportunities, including snowmobiling, by working in cooperation with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (California State Parks) Off-highway Motor Vehicle Division. Highlights of the proposed plan could enhance that use by:
  • Identifying approximately 54 miles of designated OSV trails that would be groomed on the Forest;
  • Joining forces with Tuolumne and Alpine Counties to groom Clark’s Fork Road (9 miles) and the Highland Lakes Road (5 miles);
  • Designating 98 miles of ungroomed OSV routes;
  • Designating 141,073 acres for open OSV riding;
  • Grooming trails when there is 12-18 inches of snow;
  • Implementing a Forest-wide snow depth requirement for OSV use when there is a minimum of 12 inches of continuous and supportable snow covering the landscape at 5,000 feet in elevation and above. Stanislaus Meadow on the Calaveras Ranger District will require a minimum depth of 24 inches. These snow depth requirements will provide for public safety, while protecting natural and cultural resources;
  • Amending the Forest Plan to allow winter OSV use in the Pacific Valley and portions of the Eagle Night Near Natural areas.
The analysis to be documented in the EIS is needed to complete Subpart C-Use by Over-Snow Vehicle, of the Forest Service Travel Management Rule (36 CFR part 212) and to comply with a Settlement Agreement between the Forest Service and Snowlands Network et al. The Settlement Agreement requires the Forest Service to analyze the effects of grooming snow trails for OSV use.

“No decisions have been made at this point,” said Higgins, “and we really value dialog with interested members of the public regarding our OSV program.”

The Forest will be hosting several open houses where we will provide an overview of the Proposed Action and answer questions. All meetings will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Locations are as follows:
  • July 13, 2015 @ Perry Walther Community Building, 325 Creekside Drive, Bear Valley, CA 95223
  • July 13, 2015 @ Perry Walther Community Building, 325 Creekside Drive, Bear Valley, CA 95223
  • July 14, 2015 @ Calaveras Ranger District Office at 5519 Highway 4, Hathaway Pines, CA 95233
  • July 21, 2015 @ Pinecrest Elementary School located at 30433 Old Strawberry Road in Pinecrest, CA 95375
  • July 22, 2015, @ Stanislaus National Forest Supervisors Office at 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA 95370
A stakeholder workshop is being planned during the 45 day comment period. Date, time and location will be forthcoming.

For additional background material, project maps and information on how to comment on the plan, please visit the project website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=46311. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Phyllis Ashmead, OSV Project Team Leader at 209-532-3671, ext. 322.
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