White River forest revises travel use plan

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Federal officials are mapping a clearer direction for how they want to manage travel in White River National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service has revised its preferred draft plan for motorized and nonmotorized travel in the forest. The forest stretches roughly from Parachute to Dillon and encompasses more than 2
million acres.

The White River National Forest has 3,970 miles of roads and trails for summer recreation use. The new preferred alternative would reduce that amount to 3,681, while closing hundreds of miles of unauthorized routes.

White River National Forest planner Wendy Haskins said some big issues have included designations for motorized and bicycle routes in the summer, and snowmobiling areas in the winter. Resolution of conflicts between users, such as cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, is another key issue, the Forest Service says.

The Forest Service on Friday announced a 60-day public-comment period on the revised travel plan. Information can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/projects/travel_management.

The new preferred plan makes use of all the alternatives presented in the draft study, including its initial preferred plan. It also incorporates public input and changes required to comply with the latest federal travel management rules.

“This (preferred) alternative strives to balance the public transportation needs, including recreation uses, with natural resource protection and enhancement,” the Forest Service says in its supplemental statement.

Haskins said the new preferred alternative gives the public something to focus on and comment on that is closer to what a final plan might look like.

Environmental and motorized-use advocacy organizations have been vocal in the process, as have more local groups interested in the fate of their favorite places, she said.

Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale, said his organization raised a concern that the original draft preferred plan appeared to provide for a travel system too big for the Forest Service to manage with current resources.

“I’m told that’s been included in this round of the plan, that there is some relationship between their
budgets and the travel management system,” he said.


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