The Cibola National Forest has released the Draft Environmental Assessment for Travel Management for the Mount Taylor Ranger District. This release starts the official 30 day comment period for the Environmental Assessment (EA) document.
The draft EA proposes some really BIG changes from the current situation. In addition to the elimination of cross country travel, the Proposed Action (Alternative B) would close nearly 350 miles of currently existing road (although some of the closed road would be designated for motorized trail use). Of perhaps even greater impact, Alternative B would also eliminate dispersed camping on all but a 200 foot corridor along a mere 80 miles of roads. By its own admission, this would result in an 85% reduction in the available camping sites that are currently being used by the public. Three of the four alternatives being considered would also completely ban motorized big game retrieval.
The public has 30 days to comment on these issues by submitting letters or emails. The 30 day comment period will end on September 14, 2010. Only those who provide comments during this comment period will be eligible to appeal the final decision.
The purpose of the Travel Management EA is to designate a motorized road and trail system on the Mount Taylor District. Designation will include class of vehicle and time of year for motor vehicle use. The decision will result in the publication of a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). After the MVUM has been released, ALL other motorized travel off the designated system will be prohibited. The full text of the document is on the Mount Taylor Ranger District Travel Management website.
Two Open House public meetings will be held on August 25th and August 26th in Gallup and Grants. This will be an opportunity to meet with the Forest Service and ask questions about the project and the proposed closures. The meeting will begin with a short presentation on the alternatives at 5:00pm, followed by the open house.
Wednesday, Aug. 25th, 5:00pm - 7:00pm Gallup Community Center 410 Bataan Veterans St. Gallup, New Mexico
Thursday, Aug. 26th, 5 :00pm - 7:00pm National Guard Amory 2001 East Santa Fe Ave. Grants, NM
Comments can be submitted by postal mail, email, and fax. Specific instructions and contact information are available here.
For further information, please contact the Travel Management Team Leader for the Mt. Taylor Ranger District, Arnold Wilson at (505) 287-8833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.