Thursday, July 27, 2006

Plans for White River National Forest

From the AP:

The White River National Forest, which includes some of the country’s premier ski resorts and eight wilderness areas, released a proposal today to reduce growing conflicts among hunters, off-road drivers, hikers and cyclists.

The long-awaited travel management plan contains four options, ranging from little change to closing some trails and roads to motorized vehicles. Forest managers recommended one that would designate trails for certain uses.

“We’re trying to accommodate all these users and reduce some of the conflicts that are occurring,” said Wendy Haskins, a forest planner and head of the team that wrote the draft environmental impact statement on the travel plan.

The White River Forest covers nearly 2.5 million acres west of Denver and is bisected
by I-70. With about 9.6 million visitors a year, it's the nation’s busiest.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth has said the growing illegal use of off-road vehicles is one of the greatest threats to forest health across the nation. The White River forest has identified about 1,000 miles of unauthorized trails, either old logging roads never designated for recreation or others blazed by recreationists.

Off-road enthusiasts want to keep as many trails open as possible, saying the majority of riders are responsible and as entitled as others to enjoy the forest.

Forest officials will take public comments on the plan over the next 90 days.

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