Today, Eldorado National Forest Supervisor Kathy Hardy announced the designation of 24 popular high-country off-highway-vehicle routes for public motorized vehicle use and another 18 that will be designated after repairs have been made. The popular routes were closed to public motorized vehicle use in 2012 by court order until their impacts on water flow in meadows were analyzed (a requirement found in the Eldorado National Land and Resource Management Plan).
A supplemental environmental impact statement and a “Record of Decision” were released today. Both documents are available on the Eldorado National Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado. Twenty-four of the analyzed routes either do not cross or border meadows or meet water flow requirements and 18 have segments that affect water flow in meadows. The routes and their designations are identified in the record of decision.
“The decision I made today affects two very important resources - healthy meadows and high country recreational opportunities,” said Hardy. “We need both.”
Hardy’s decision will be implemented once any administrative appeals to her decision are resolved and the designated routes are printed on the Eldorado National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map.
“I know how important these routes are to people for high country recreational experiences,” said Hardy. “A number of the routes have been adopted by clubs whose members help to keep them in shape. We’ll need to continue acquiring the funding necessary to complete site-specific environmental analysis and I’m sure there will be room for volunteers to help out.”
Hardy says the Forest Service roads budget has been declining over the years and she is not too optimistic in the near term. However, the Eldorado has already begun applying for grants from the California Department of Parks and Recreations OHV Division to help get some of the repairs started as soon as possible.
Many of the routes will need simple fixes and simple environmental documentation and some will be more complex requiring engineering designs and more detailed environmental analyses.