Access Alert – Forest Plan Update – Important !!!!

1. How you can help

2. An explanation of the proposed designations – Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Natural Research Areas and Special Interest Areas

3. Listings (by National Forest) of proposed designations

4. Cleveland National Forest meetings being held this week

1. HOW YOU CAN HELP

At this draft stage of the process, the preferred alternative for the Angeles, Los Padres, and San Bernardino National Forests is alternative 4. The preferred alternative for the Cleveland National Forest is alternative 2. These alternatives are good news, but we still must evaluate areas being proposed for specific designations to see what effect they will have on existing trails and roads.

THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVES ARE NOT LEGALY BINDING. After public comments on the draft environmental impact statement are received and analyzed, the selected alternative will be identified in the final environmental impact statement and the reasons for this choice explained in a record of decision that accompanies its release. The preferred alternative at this stage, represents the agency position for the 90-day DEIS comment period, and is NOT a decision.

We encourage active stakeholders to attend their local open houses (or not so local if they know the other area / Ranger District / Forest well) and try to learn as much as possible about the Draft RFP and how it will affect future management of the Forest. We need the people who are most familiar with specific areas that are being considered for changing designations such as the Wilderness Designation, Wild and Scenic River Designation, Research Natural Areas, and Special Interest Areas to report what is actually on the ground. Quite often the planners don’t have as much on the ground knowledge as local trail users.

We need to collect as much information and pictures of locations proposed for the Wilderness Designation, Wild and Scenic River Designation, Research Natural Areas, and Special Interest Areas designations to support our position if we intend to appeal these designations or prevent trails from being closed. Not just questions like “will this close the xyz trail?”, but looking out past the immediate plan effects to “how could the Preferred (or other) Alternative management affect trail xyz in the future?” Questions about the real “need” for a particular direction or designation, what the “threats” are (real or overblown), etc. will help guide what information needs to be collected for DEIS Draft Plan comments, and future actions (appeal, …) if needed, to show a particular direction or designation is simply not needed.

Bottom line, people with extensive local knowledge need to decide if a particular direction / designation is really needed, adequately justified, and how it will affect their interest — both short and long term. If it isn’t needed, is weakly justified (no real threat), and will or could affect their interest, they need to start collecting information (ground work, review of literature, FOIA, …) to show with hard facts *why* it’s a bad decision.

This will be used for the DEIS / Draft RFP comments, but the information collection should continue on critical areas, especially if we think we may need to appeal.

In this alert we have by, National Forest, a list of areas being proposed for the Wilderness Designation, Wild and Scenic River Designation, Research Natural Areas, and Special Interest Areas to help you assist us in evaluating threats to our access. Keep in mind, if trails do go through these areas we may not oppose these designations, but instead ask that the rerouting of these trails be designated in the plans as a condition of these areas being designated.

If you can assist us in evaluating the plans for the National Forest near you please email us at countingcoup@warriorssociety.org . Those assisting in evaluating the plan will qualify for free entrance in our Vision Quest and Toad Festival events, as well as our volunteer events.

Remember when evaluating these areas:

When submitting your comments on the draft Forest Plans and draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), your feedback will be most helpful if you:

* are as specific as possible with your comments

* describe the location(s) where your comment applies (e.g., if applicable, it is helpful if you note the National Forest(s), Planning Place(s), or name of proposed wilderness area, Wild and Scenic River, Natural Resource Area, Special Interest Area you are commenting on) and provide pictures

* indicate where clarification is needed

* suggest alternative management approaches or solutions to the specific problem.

The Forest Service will read and organize all comments received by subject matter through a content analysis process. Significant comments will be addressed through revisions made in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). All comments and the forests’ responses to these comments will be published as an appendix to the FEIS.

Keep in mind, Final Plan can change from the Draft Plan (sometimes significantly for particular issues), and that change may not be in our direction.

Also keep in mind the importance of not letting our guard down. Remember we are up against a multi-million dollar organization, the Sierra Club, which is seeking to remove as much of our access as they can. But even their money, given by unsuspecting supporters who do not know their true agenda, cannot stand up to our passion to protect our historical freedom to access our public lands – and so far we have proven that.

2. AN EXPLANATION OF THE PROPOSED DESIGNATIONS – WILDERNESS, WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS, RESEARCH NATURAL AREAS AND SPECIAL INTEREST AREAS

You should all know by now that the wilderness designation is very restrictive and best described as near abandonment of active land management. The wilderness designation also BANS MOUNTAIN BIKING.

One of the main concerns of the forest service is the limitations that wilderness puts on fire prevention and management due to its restriction on motorized equipment. This concern was expressed by the Angeles National Forest Supervisor in a letter to Tim Allyn of the Sierra Club through a letter obtained by the Freedom of Information Act:

http://www.warriorssociety.org/News/WildernessAlert07.html

In a May 7, 2004 Los Angeles Times Article Tom White, an assistant project leader for the Forest Service who helped draw up the Forest Plan proposals said forest managers believed there was, for the most part, enough existing wilderness. And he noted that access was limited in non-wilderness areas because Southern California forests have a lower density of roads than other national forests in the state because of the rugged terrain and the relative lack of logging.

“A lot of the wilderness character is actually inherent in the non-wilderness because it’s so steep,” White said.

But in this article the Sierra Club (and most likely their allies the Center for Biodiversity) are not satisfied and it is obvious from their support for Alternative 6 that their goal is to stop citizens (and mountain bikers in particular), from recreating in the forest and maintaining their historical access by removing roads and trails.

In a future update we will be quoting directly from their own Conservation Alternative 6 document a poison pill provision that would allow them to easily sue to remove roads and trails as well as restrict the use of fire retardants and other fire fighting methods – which would put fire fighters and canyon communities at risk.

The Warrior’s Society’s intent in influencing these plans is not to have additional trails or roads, but to maintain and protect access to the existing system we have.

Below is the description of the Wild and Scenic River Designation, Research Natural Areas, and Special Interest Areas (in quotation marks) taken from the Forest Plan CD followed by the comments of our National Legislative Representative Candace Oathout.

– Wild and Scenic River Designation –

“All existing facilities, management actions, and approved uses will be allowed to continue in eligible river corridors until a decision is made on inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic River System, provided these facilities, actions, and uses do not interfere with the protection and enhancement of the river’s outstandingly remarkable values. Proposed new facilities, management actions, or uses on National Forest System lands are not allowed if they have the potential to affect the eligibility or potential classification of the river segment.

Uses comply with Forest Service Handbook 1909.12, chapter 8.2, which includes a description of developments and activities that are permitted, restricted or prohibited within the designated river corridor for each of the three classifications (wild, scenic and recreation).”

It has been the experience of our National Legislative Representative Candace Oathout that the designation of wild and scenic rivers has led to rerouting of trails, restrictions on camping near streams and rivers due to the creation of buffer zones and limits on the number of trail users due to perceived impacts. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act emphasizes “protecting its aesthetic, scenic, historic, archaeological and scientific features…” Creation of new roads, logging, dams and most water diversions are prevented.

“Scenic easement” is defined as the right to control the use of land (including the air space above such land) for the purpose of protecting the natural qualities of a designated wild, scenic or recreational river area. The boundaries of the wild and scenic river designation are legislated as one fourth mile from the ordinary high water mark on each side of the river.

There is a lot of language in the act that supports land acquisition by the Federal government and declares the river corridors as under Federal control. Although the definition of a river in the Act is “a free flowing condition or restored to this condition”. Petitions for designation have recently included ephemeral streams and creeks and dry washes. The impacts to recreation include loss of access through restrictive carrying capacity limits, loss of access to water especially in more arid regions and limitations on camping along designated rivers and streams. The impacts to equestrians have included restrictions due to the perceived potential for the spread of diseases, such as, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. There is current research available that disputes the spread of cryptosporidium by horses.

– Research Natural Areas –

“Research natural areas include relatively undisturbed areas of the forest that form a long-term network of ecological reserves designated for research, education, and the maintenance of biodiversity. This designation applies to both established and proposed research natural areas.

Research natural areas are selected to preserve a spectrum of relatively pristine areas that represent a wide range of natural variability within important natural ecosystems and environments, and areas that have unique characteristics of scientific importance. Research natural areas are also selected for one or more of the following reasons:

* To serve as reference areas for evaluating the range of natural variability and the impacts of management in similar environments.

* To protect and maintain representative or key elements of biological diversity at the genetic, species, population, community, or ecosystem levels.

* To serve as areas for the study of ecosystems and ecological processes including succession.

* To provide onsite and extension educational activities.

* To serve as baseline areas for measuring ecological change.

Uses that retain the research values for which the site is designated are appropriate.”

Research Natural Areas are by their definition set apart and all human access except for researchers is usually prohibited. The establishment of new Research Natural Areas should be studied carefully to avoid current and potential impacts to existing or potential new trails as it is doubtful that land managers would support any recreational use of these areas. There is a perception that more RNA’s equals a more positive cumulative impact.

– Special Interest Areas –

“Special interest areas protect and, where appropriate, foster public use and enjoyment of areas with scenic, historical, geological, botanical, zoological, paleontological, or other special characteristics. Uses that are compatible with maintaining the target of the areas designation are appropriate.”

Special Interest Areas, again, focus first on protection, so land managers tend to first look at carrying capacity and control of access. This would most likely result in less access rather than more. In my opinion, it would be harder to maintain existing trails or develop new ones. Land managers tend to have a lot of discretion in administering these areas. Strong concerted advocacy will be needed to keep public access.

Below are listed, by National Forest, the areas being recommended or are eligible for the Wilderness Designation, Wild and Scenic River Designation, Research Natural Areas and Special Interest Areas:

3. LISTING (BY NATIONAL FOREST) OF THE PROPOSED DESIGNATIONS

– CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST –

Recommended Wilderness (RW): This zone includes land the Forest Service is recommending to Congress for wilderness designation.

Cutca Valley:

The 14,510-acre Cutca Valley inventoried roadless area is located in the northern part of the Palomar Ranger District, approximately 12 miles southeast of Temecula.(Map Cutca Valley ) From the east, the area can be accessed from the High Point Road (FS8S05) and Palomar Divide Road (FS9S07). The eastern boundary parallels High Point Road. Cutca Valley Trail (1E01) provides access to both the Cutca inventoried roadless area and the Agua Tibia Wilderness. Recreational opportunities include hiking, hunting, backpacking, photography, minimal target shooting, equestrian use and rock hunting.

Pine Creek Expansion:

The area lies within the Descanso Ranger District, and is situated in the Pine Creek Valley, south of interstate 8.(Map Pine Creek Expansion) Access is from Horsethief Canyon Road on the west, and from Skye Valley Road on the southeast. Public access is limited by adjacent private lands. Several miles of the wilderness abut Interstate 8, however, there is no direct access from the highway.

The rough, steep canyon walls are covered with young, even-aged chaparral, due to a minor fire in 1970 that burned the entire area. There are several mesas within the wilderness, which support some broadleaf woodland. Pine Creek and its tributaries represent typical riparian areas. Elevations vary from 1,600 to 4,400 feet. Several minor canyon drainages feed into Pine Creek, bisecting the wilderness.

Recreational opportunities include hiking, backpacking, and hunting. One of the primary designated trails, Espinosa Trail, runs through the upper portion of the area.

Sitton Peak:

The 3,840-acre Sitton Peak expansion area is located on the western slopes of the central Santa Ana Mountains, on the northern part of the Trabuco Ranger District.(Map Sitton Peak ) The Sitton Peak expansion area is the steep, undeveloped, unroaded southern slope of the San Juan Creek Canyon. No Forest Service system trails access the interior of this roadless area. A primitive, unmaintained road (Sitton Peak Road, FS
7S09) delineates the southern border. This road is deeply eroded, rocky and overgrown in places, but offers relatively easy access for hikers.

Sitton Peak offers a 360-degree panoramic view and is one of the few remaining peaks on the Trabuco District without an existing electronic site. Vegetation in this area is mainly chaparral.

Recreational activities common in this area include hiking, viewing scenery, photography, hunting, mountain biking, and equestrian use.

Upper San Diego River:

This area is the headwaters of the San Diego watershed and is located east of the town of Ramona.(Map Upper San Diego River (Gorge) ) Access to the area is primarily via unauthorized trails from the nearby San Diego Country Estates, and on the eastside from Saddleback junction.

The topography of this area is characterized by rugged, very steep terrain in east San Diego County, along with a well-defined river channel. Elevations range from 880 feet at the riverbed to about 3,000 feet in the upslope area. There are waterfalls during spring runoff and
during periods of above-average rainfall.

This river corridor supports Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub, characteristic habitat for the federally threatened California gnatcatcher. Oak woodland vegetation types are also found here.

Hiking, hunting, horseback riding, photography, and some placer mining are the recreational activities pursued in this area.

Wildhorse (Morrell Canyon):

The 1,480-acre Wildhorse expansion area is located on the western slope of the Elsinore Mountains, within the Trabuco Ranger District, approximately five miles southwest of Interstate Highway 15.(Map Wildhorse (Morrell Canyon) ) It consists of several small parcels of National Forest System land located on the northeast side of the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. The South Main Divide Road (FS6S07, formerly Killen Truck Trail) parallels the northeastern edge of this area.

The vegetation here is primarily oak woodland. Natural features include Lion spring and scattered stands of oak.

Morgan Trail and nearby Morgan Trailhead are in the northern section of the inventoried roadless area. The area has dense stands of chaparral, archeological sites, and an intermittent stream.

Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers:

Cottonwood
San Luis Rey River (main)
San Mateo Creek

Proposed Research Natural Areas:

Guatay Mountain
Viejas Mountain
San Diego River

Proposed Special Interest Areas:

Chiquito Springs – near the San Juan Trail
Filaree Flat
Pine Mountain

– ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST –

Recommended Wilderness (RW): This zone includes land that the Forest Service is recommending to Congress for Wilderness designation. The wilderness designation bans mountain bikes

Sheep Mountain Addition:

The areas proposed are rugged and not easily accessible, but are still highly used by Los Angeles and San Bernardino residents. Elevations range from 2,400 feet to over 10,000 feet, offering a variety of recreational opportunities. The vegetation consists primarily of chaparral at the lower elevations and mixed conifer in the higher elevations.

Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers:

Little Rock Creek
San Antonio Canyon Creek
San Francisquito Canyon
San Gabriel River (East, North, and West Forks)

Proposed Special Interest Areas:

Aliso-Arrastre

– LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST –

Recommended Wilderness (RW): This zone includes land that the Forest Service is recommending to Congress for wilderness designation.

Chumash Toad Springs:

The Chumash-Toad Springs area is an off-highway vehicle corridor temporarily excluded from the existing Chumash Wilderness, which was established in 1992 by the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act. The Act states, “The Toad Springs road corridor delineated as potential wilderness shall remain open to off-road traffic until construction of an alternate route, which bypasses this area, is completed. These potential wilderness lands shall be automatically incorporated in and managed as part of the Chumash Wilderness upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register.”

Garcia Mountain:

The Garcia Mountain Roadless Area is located in central San Luis Obispo County, approximately 15 miles east of San Luis Obispo. The area consists of four separate parcels adjacent to the existing Garcia Wilderness.

La Brea:

The La Brea inventoried roadless area is located within the Santa Lucia Ranger District, approximately 15 miles east of Santa Maria. It is composed of all the National Forest System lands between the San Rafael Wilderness and the Sisquoc Land Grant south from NFSR 11N04 (near the North Fork of La Brea Creek) to NFSR 8N02 (near Zaca Lake).

Machesna Mountain:

The Machesna Mountain Roadless Area is within the Santa Lucia Ranger District, approximately 20 miles east of San Luis Obispo. The area consists of four separate parcels adjacent to Machesna Mountain Wilderness Area. Access is to this area best gained from the
Pozo Fire Station via Forest Routes 29S01 and 31S02.

Madulce-Buckhorn:

The portion of the Madulce-Buckhorn Roadless Area proposed for wilderness is located in Santa Barbara County, approximately 10 miles north of Santa Barbara. Elevations range from 4,926 feet at the headwaters of Buckhorn Creek to 2,000 feet where Buckhorn Creek leaves the area. Access is limited to non-motorized travel, and there are no trails within the interior of the inventoried roadless area.

Matilija:

The Matilija Roadless Area is located in Ventura County, approximately six miles northeast of the town of Ojai. Elevations range from just over 5,600 feet at the summit of Ortega Hill to 1,600 feet where the Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek leaves the area. Access is from State Highway 33 along the Matilija Creek Road (Forest Route 5N13) and the Ortega Road (Forest Route 6N01).

Mono:

The Mono Roadless Area is located in Santa Barbara County approximately 10 miles north of Santa Barbara. Elevations range from Hildreth Peak at 5,065 feet to 1,600 feet, where Mono Creek leaves the area. The area is surrounded by existing administrative jeep-ways. Access is limited to non-motorized travel originating primarily from Mono Campground. The Mono/Alamar Trail and a portion of the Poplar Trail comprise 10 miles of non-motorized trails within the area. The Mono/Alamar Trail does receive some mountain bike use. Mountain bikers also use the 25-mile Loma-Victor Jeepway from the Monte Arido Road to an area just south of Ogilvy Ranch for extended backcountry travel and dispersed camping.

Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers

Piru Creek
Sespe Creek
Arroyo Seco River

Proposed Research Natural Areas

Big Pine Mountain
Sawmill Mountain
White Mountain
Valley Oak
Ventana Cones

Proposed Special Interest Areas

Bear Ponds
Camatta
Mono Basin
Milpitas

SAN BERNARDINO NATIONAL FOREST

Recommended Wilderness (RW): This zone includes land that the Forest Service is recommending to Congress for wilderness designation.

Cucamonga B Expansion:

The Cucamonga Roadless Area is located in the western portion of the Front Country Ranger District. The area lies west of the Lytle Creek Ranger Station and the Lytle Creek community, with the more urbanized Rancho Cucamonga and the Upland communities located five miles to the south.

Raywood Flat B (San Gorgonio Expansion):

The Raywood Flat Roadless Area is located in the east side of the Front Country Ranger District. It is bounded on the north and east by the San Gorgonio Wilderness, west by FDR 1S08, and south by the San Gorgonio River. Raywood Flat lies near the Oak Glen Fire Station and Oak Glen and Forest Falls communities, with the more urbanized Inland Empire communities located 10 miles to the southwest.

Sugarloaf:

The Sugarloaf Mountain Roadless Area is located in the southeast portion of the Mountaintop Ranger District, near Camp Heart Bar and the Big Bear community

Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers

Bautista Creek
Bear Creek
Fish Creek
Fuller Mill Creek
Holcomb Creek
Lytle Creek – Middle Fork
Palm Canyon
San Jacinto River – North Fork
Santa Ana River
Santa Ana River – South Fork
Siberia Creek
Whitewater River – East Fork of South Fork
Deep Creek

Proposed Special Interest Areas

Childrens Forest
Deep Creek

5. CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST MEETINGS THIS WEEK

It is important for recreationists to make a presence at these meetings to let those attempting to restrict our historical access that we will actively oppose them. Each week we will be announcing the forest plan meetings to be held during that week. This week’s meeting will all be for the Cleveland National Forest:

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

May 10 (Monday)
San Diego Natural History Museum
Discovery Room
1788 El Prado
San Diego, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

May 11 (Tuesday)
Corona Public Library
650 S. Main Street
Corona, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Exit the 91 freeway at Main Street and take a right and proceed to Main Street then take a right and park in lot behind the Library.

May 12 (Wednesday)
Ramona Community Center
434 Aqua Lane
Ramona, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

May 13 (Thursday)
Alpine Community Center
1830 Alpine Blvd.
Alpine, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

May 14 (Friday)
East Valley Community Center
2245 East Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

May 15 (Saturday)
City of San Juan Capistrano
Community Hall
25925 Camino Del Avion
San Juan Capistrano, CA
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Exit I-5 at Ortega in SJC, take a right, get in left lane immediately and take a left on Del Obispo. Follow Del Obispo across the Rail Road tracks on down to Del Avion and take a left on Del Avion to the Community Hall parking lot (on the left).

For information on all the planned forest plan meetings go to: www.fs.fed.us/r5/scfpr

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