Travel Management Proposal Threatens Single Track Trails in Rico-West Delores System This Access Alert is a bit unusual for NMOHVA - the particular area threatened is not in New Mexico. But if you are interested in riding and preserving some of the very best (and some of the most challenging) single-track motorcycle trails in Colorado, read on! The San Juan National Forest has issued a Proposed Action (the first document in the NEPA process) for the Rico-West Delores road and trail system in southwest Colorado. The Rico-West Delores area includes lands around the town of Rico on either side of Highway 145 and the Delores River and West Fork of the Delores River corridors in Delores and Montezuma Counties. If you thought you had recently heard this area was already "saved" from closure, you are partially correct. The final Environmental Assessment and decision on Travel Management was originally issued in 2009. The decision was appealed from both the motorized and non-motorized sides and the original decision was thrown out. In late 2011, a group of clourists sued the Forest Service to close 14 of the key trails in the area to motorized use. In a major victory for motorized users, the federal judge ruled against the radical environmentalists in March of 2013. In the meantime, the Forest Service has issued a new Forest Plan for the area and has slowly moved forward with preparing a new travel management plan for the area. That brings us to the Proposed Action issued on December 8th. The document signals the start of the NEPA process associated with that new travel plan. We encourage all of you to review the short document itself by clicking on the links to the upper left. While the proposal from the Forest Service is better than the original version issued in 2009, it still severely impacts the current access enjoyed by motorized enthusiasts. The proposal brought forward would implement draconian seasonal closures which specifically limit motorcycle use to a mere 9 weeks each summer (July 1 to September 8th). The proposal, while adding some new trails and connectors, would also close some prime trails with a long history of motorcycle enjoyment. The Forest Service is taking Scoping comments on the Proposed Action until January 30, 2015.Written comments can be sent to: Derek Padilla, District Ranger Dolores Ranger District 29211 Highway 184 Dolores, CO 81323 or by email to: [email protected]. The public can also send in electronic comment via a form located at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=44918 How can I best influence the project with my Scoping Comments? Remember, your scoping comments help form the alternatives that will be analyzed in greater detail in the upcoming Environmental Assessment (EA). Your purpose during scoping comments it to make sure the right alternatives get considered in the EA (the next step in the NEPA process). Read the Proposed Action carefully so you know what the Forest Service is proposing. Tell them what you don't like about the proposal. Tell them why and how it can be improved. Be detailed. Be specific. Explain how your suggestions do a better job of meeting the Purpose and Need the Forest Service described. Propose additional motorized routes that make sense for key connections for more loops or to adjoining areas. Propose additional routes that provide alternative levels of difficulty. Propose additional routes that provide connections to trailheads and Rico. Propose reroutes around private property or areas of special natural resource concern (water crossings, steep areas that tend to rut, trails that run up/down the fall line, etc). The riders and organizations of Colorado (especially the Trails Preservation Alliance and COHVCO) have been very supportive of NMOHVA's efforts in New Mexico. Here is an opportunity for NMOHVA to help out our riding friends to the north. We will be filing official NMOHVA comments prior to the January 30th deadline and encourage all of our members and friends to do so also. Thank you! Together, we do more!