Recreation requires Collaboration                 

QUESTION FOREST SERVICE TRAIL CLOSURES OR PROPOSED CLOSURES

Ask under what authority a trail has been closed. Ask to see the documents supporting the closure. Ask to see the public process documents (NEPA) that reviewed the closure options. Forest Service should have posted notices in the papers & had a public comment period. In many cases where trails are closed without the above you can get them reopened just by asking. It is illegal to close a trail without the above unless it is a temporary closure for health, safety or resource damage. If you get no response when you ask questions or feel you are being blown off, then write a letter to your District Ranger & politely ask the same questions. If you get no response or an inadequate response, then write a letter to your Forest Supervisor. If that does not work then write to the Regional office. If that does not work then contact your elected officials, usually your Senator.

Suggested Challenge Procedure if you are challenged regarding the legality of your recreation activity by an agent or representative of a government agency or public servant

MEET WITH YOUR LAND MANAGERS

Get to know your local forest service &/or BLM land managers. These are the folks who make decisions on what roads & trails to keep open. They are far more likely to keep a trail open if they know you are using the trail & why you want it left open. Perhaps it is part of a loop, or goes to a point of interest, or just is a great trail. Get to know your District Ranger. He makes the final decision, but often is too busy to be able to get out in the field & see things for himself. Be his eyes & let him know what you are seeing on the trails & why the trails need to be kept open.

JOIN A CLUB IN YOUR AREA OR FORM A CLUB

You have a greater chance of being heard if you are a group instead of one person. You can bring to the table many positives in terms of added volunteer hours & public cooperation. However some land managers may be skeptical & not very responsive to your needs. Do not let it stop you. Keep trying. If you are not in a club you can still follow these suggestions. One person speaking up in your area can make a big difference.

JOIN A STATE & NATIONAL ORGANIZATION

This will increase the clout of these groups & that means keeping trails open. In California a good group to join would be CORVA California Off Road Vehicle Association. Nationally Blue Ribbon is a good multi use group.

VOLUNTEER WORK & TRAIL ADOPTION

Organize volunteer days through your local land manager on the trails you enjoy. Make sure that all of your volunteer trail work hours are documented by your land manager & appear in the official year-end reports giving your group credit. Better yet adopt a trail that you enjoy. This normally entails doing two days of trail work on it each year with your group. Make sure you get credit for this in the year-end report. This not only keeps the trail in better condition, but also is documented proof that you care about a trail. This makes it far less likely that the trail will be closed.

MEET YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS

Meet your elected officials & let them know that you care about your trails & that they should too if they want your vote. Tell them about yourself, your family & your recreation. Tell them of the need to keep trails open & to open more trails to reduce the impact on the land & to provide adequate recreation for families & children. Tell them how great your land managers are if you have a good working relationship with them. If not tell them how unresponsive your land manager is & that you want your elected official to look into trail closures or blocking of volunteer efforts. The squeaky wheel often gets the grease.

This may seem like a lot of work to keep your trails open. Regrettably it is necessary because there are some motivated people who are actively working to close our trails to multiple use. Do not get discouraged. Just do what you can to keep your trails open & speak up when there are closures or proposed closures. You can make all the difference.

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     Stewards of the Sequoia 2005

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