North California Access Issues

Plumas announces proposed action for over-snow vehicle use designation

The Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposal to designate over-snow vehicle (OSV) use on roads, trails and areas on lands within the Plumas National Forest. The EIS will also identify snow trails available for grooming on the Forest. Public input on the initial proposed action is encouraged.

Designating OSV use on the Forest will ensure over-snow vehicle activity (such as snowmobile riding) is effectively managed to:  provide access; ensure OSV use when there is adequate snow; promote the safety of all users; enhance public enjoyment, minimize impacts to resources; and minimize conflicts among users.

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Upper Richardson Lake Road now open

The upper part of the Richardson Lake Road (14N39) on the Pacific Ranger District in the Eldorado National Forest is now open for motorized vehicle use, completing the final phase of corrective work on this route.   

Richardson Lake Road is on the far northeastern end of the forest, and must be accessed through roads leading from the Lake Tahoe area. This 2.65 mile road is used to access Richardson Lake for camping and fishing, and travel to the top of Sourdough Hill to enjoy the scenic vistas, including a good view towards the Rubicon Trail. The route also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail.  A 4WD vehicle must be used to reach this road.

The first phase of work allowed the Richardson Lake Road to be re-opened up to the Pacific Crest Trail beginning in July 2014.  Recently, improvements to the upper part of the road were completed in which a rolling dip was installed; an existing sediment basin was emptied and enlarged; and rock was placed over areas of bare ground. "These measures will help prevent erosion and protect delicate meadow ecosystems while allowing recreationists to enjoy one of the most popular motorized trails in the forest," said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh.  

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Barrett Lake trail reopened July 23

Volunteers from the Hi-Landers 4WD Club transported gravel to the Barrett 4WD Trail project site this summer for construction of rolling dips.

The Barrett 4-wheel drive (4WD) Trail, a rugged six-mile off-highway route from Wright's Lake to Barrett Lake, just west of Desolation Wilderness, was re-opened today (July 23, 2015), now that reconstruction has been completed on three segments of the trail to protect sensitive meadows. The Barrett 4WD Trail has been used by recreationists since the 1960s and offers one of the most challenging off-highway vehicle (OHV) experiences in the Sierra Nevada. The trail has a high rating for difficulty and is only recommended for very experienced OHV users prepared for remote travel over large rocks. Motorized travel on this trail is typically at a rate of approximately 1- 2 miles per hour. 

The Barrett 4WD Trail was identified as one of 18 routes in the Eldorado National Forest travel system which needed corrections to comply with the environmental protection guidelines in the Sierra Nevada Plan. These routes were closed in 2012 to complete further analysis and make corrections to ensure the hydrologic connectivity of meadows would not be significantly impacted by motorized vehicle use.

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Trespass laws to be enforced at popular OHV site

The Red Bluff Police Department announced Wednesday it would begin enforcing trespassing laws on a piece of property located at Walnut Street and Baker Road that is frequently used by all-terrain vehicles.

In a press release the department said it had been contacted by several residents in the area in regards to the constant off road traffic of dirt bikes, quads and four-wheel drive vehicles that recreate in the hills of the area.

The Tehama County Air Pollution Control District has also investigated complaints regarding the amount of dust in the air.

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Frogs & toads to be listed as endangered

CA4WDC issues position statement on ESA Listing of Yellow-legged Frog and Yosemite Toad

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the Final Rule for listing of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the Northern Distinct Population Segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog as Endangered Species and the Yosemite toad as a Threatened Species is pending publication in the April 29, 2014 edition of the Federal Register.

Background:  The current listing effort is the result of a lawsuit settlement between the USFWS and Center for Biological Diversity.

The frogs and toads have been on U.S. Forest Service "species of concern" list for more than 14 years.  As such, they were addressed in the 2000 Sierra Nevada Framework (SNF) with defined management prescriptions as if they were formally listed species.  As such, grazing, logging and recreation activities have lived under the SNF prescriptions which treated the species as listed on the Threatened and Endangered Species List.

This means that when U.S. Forest Service travel management was conducted, the SNF was one of the tiered documents reviewed to determine impact of designating the route.  As such, USFS routes can be (or should be) considered to be in compliance with ESA listing.

Note, I said "should be" considered in compliance.

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Six Rivers begins Travel Management Planning

Comments are due by June 4

The Six Rivers National Forest in California has published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with implementing a Travel Management Plan (TMP) for the Smith River National Recreation Area in the Gasquet Ranger District. This notice constitutes the beginning of the scoping and comment period for the TMP.

The Forest proposes the following changes to its transportation system: 1) add 28 user-created routes as roads, totaling 16 miles; 2) add 45 user-created routes as motorized trails, totaling 44 miles; 3) implement seasonal gate closures on 2 roads and 5 motorized trails, totaling 13 miles; 4) implement mixed-use access of 1 road (17N49), totaling 4 miles; 5) close 118 roads, totaling 57 miles, and; 6) close 173 user-created routes, totaling 80 miles.

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