Proposed Greenhorn Trail Closures updated 2/1/08

 
The proposed closures listed on this page were put on hold in 2005, due in large part to efforts by Stewards of the Sequoia. To find out about proposed closures of 279 roads & trails in 2007 click here

PROPOSED EMERGENCY TRAIL CLOSURES REPRESENT A LOSS OF ABOUT 27% OF SINGLE TRACK TRAILS 12/2005
 
The Forest Service is underestimating the impact of proposed closure. They are saying we are loosing only 43 miles of single track out of 700 miles of trails, but that total includes mostly jeep roads. After reviewing Forest documents we calculate they are proposing closing about 68 miles out of about 250 miles of single track for a loss of about 27% of single track.
 
Stewards of the Sequoia recently received a letter from Forest Service stating that they will not proceed with Emergency Closures until a later date.

In response to our comment we recently received a letter stating Forest Management Staff have personally gone in the field & looked at the trails proposed for emergency closures. Management has ordered the specialists who proposed the closures to fine tune the list to truly meet the definition of emergency closure.

We feel that Stewards efforts working with the Forest Service are in large part responsible for this reprieve & likely reduction of closures. This gives us time to become more organized. If you are not a member of Stewards we hope you will join us & add your voice to keep our trails open.
 
The following is an excerpt of the Comments Stewards have filed with Forest Service & Legislators. To read the entire Comment click here.
 
As Stewards of the Sequoia we are in support of preventing & mitigating valid resource damage. Therefore we look forward to working with Forest Service to mitigate problems & prevent additional resource damage by keeping existing trails open.

· We are concerned about the proposed 27% closure single track trails in the Greenhorn district, many of which are designated trails. These closures will cause unnecessary resource damage by forcing users onto a smaller trail system.
· We are concerned by the proposed elimination of loops & preferred high value trails.
· We are concerned regarding safety when trail bike & mountain bike users are prohibited from trails & directed or forced onto roads where speeds are higher & they will mix with trucks, SUV’s & cars.
· We are concerned that previous Forest Service trail reports indicate the need to perform maintenance, but Forest Service has not done the paperwork required to solicit funding & perform the maintenance.
· We are concerned about the negative impact on trails by the loss of OHV funding & OHV volunteer efforts when trails are closed to OHV use.
· We are concerned that the Forest Service has not followed the management direction of the Sequoia Land Resource Management Plan regarding building more OHV trails, creating loop trails & multi day opportunities
 
At the Forest Service Meetings on 9/24 & 9/26/05 a list of approximately 25 trails or segments of trails were proposed to be temporarily closed to wheeled vehicles (including mountain bikes) for one year because of Considerable Adverse Off Road Vehicle Impacts. The Forest Service handed out three maps Piute, Greenhorn & Breckenridge. We marked the proposed closed trails in red on our copies of the maps which you can download from links below. The majority of the closures are proposed in the Piutes.
 
List of 25 trails proposed for closure due to Considerable Adverse OHV effects
 
 
 Location of Trails Approx miliage of trails less than 24" wideProposed Closure of Trails Loss of single Track to Area 
 Piute 164 miles 53 miles 32%
 Breckenridge 25 miles 5 miles 20%
 Greenhorn 60 miles 3 miles 5%
 
Forest staff claim that these trails proposed for emergency closure are the Worst of The Worst. Their list states there are approximately 43 miles of trails (really 68 miles) that require closure for numerous reasons such as Resource Damage, Soil Erosion, Sedimentation, Sensitive Plants, Sensitive Wildlife or Heritage Sites. They also state that they have inventoried about 700 miles of Trails, which includes roads & non motorized trails.
 
Two Forest Orders will be written. One to prohibit cross country travel may be written soon. It will require wheeled vehicles to stay on the designated trails included on the inventory maps.
 
The other order will be to temporarily close trails for one year for resource damage. After one year the trails may be re opened or closed to wheeled vehicles permanently. These trails will still remain open to horse & hiker during the temporary closure to trail bikes.
 
WORKING TO KEEP TRAILS OPEN
The good news is that Forest Service have offered to work with Stewards to find ways to fix the proposed closure trails so they may not need to be closed or may be able to be re opened. It is very helpful that the list of proposed trail closures was shown to the public before the District Ranger has signed the Forest Order to close them. They are not sure when he will sign that order. There will be a 60 day comment period after the order is signed, although that may be extended to next summer to allow the public time to look at the trails on the ground. You can also send in comments now which might convince them to not close some of the trails. They would like the initial comments submitted by 10/14/05. Please try to include facts & substantive comments based on specific trails proposed for closure. Things like keep the trails open because I like to ride them carries little weight.
 
Send Comments before 10/14/05 to:
Greenhorn Ranger District
Att OHV Coordinator
PO Box 3810
Lake Isabella, CA 93240 csanders@fs.fed.us
 
Please send a copy to
Stewards of the Sequoia
PO Box 267
Lake Isabella, CA 93240 or email info@StewardsOfTheSequoia.org
 
CLOSURE REPRESENTS ABOUT 27% OF SINGLE TRACK
In between the 9/24 & 9/26 meetings Stewards went out on the trails on 9/25 & checked some of the closure mileage & found they were low. We also looked at Forest Service documents & find that approximately 68 miles of single track trails are proposed to be closed, not 43 miles. From Forest Service documents we calculate there are approximately 250 miles of single track trails out there, so this proposed closure represents closing about 27% of the single track trails. The Forest Service is underestimating the impact of proposed closure. They are saying we are loosing only 43 miles out of 700 miles of trails. A more accurate reading is closing 68 miles out of 250 miles of single track for a loss of 27% of single track.
 
Remember this is just the beginning. It is likely that more trails may be proposed to be closed in Step 3 of the Designation process. It is also not clear if the specialists have looked at all the trails they have inventoried. If not there may be other trails that they consider to have Resource Damage & will be proposed for closure.
 
CLOSING PREFERRED TRAILS
Stewards also found that many of the trails proposed to be closed are on the Forest Service Preferred Trail list & are of High Value or Very High Value in the Forest Service Baskin Sprayberry 2002 inventory.
 
LOSS OF LOOP SINGLE TRACK TRAILS
We agree with the closures of the cut switchbacks in Kern Canyon or Freeway Ridge, as a matter of fact last year we worked on blocking many of them ourselves.
 
Other trails such as 33E65 & 33E68 are designated Forest Service Motorized use trails in great shape & represent over 12 miles of trail opportunity. Closing these trails will eliminate at least 20 miles of loop trails & force users onto roads that require being street legal.
 
BEST OF THE BEST, NOT WORST OF THE WORST
We see many of the proposed closures as the Best of the Best, not the Worst of the Worst as stated by Forest Service. The criteria that they appear to be using to determine if a trail should be closed does not allow for normal trail use.
 
While the closures are supposed to be temporary Forest Service has taken these trails off the inventory map. If they are temporary & are to be included in future trail designation process they should remain on the map.
 
PREVENT UNNECESSARY CLOSURES
We do not want to see trails closed unnecessarily. We have been & are willing to work on trails to keep them open. It is extremely expensive & almost impossible to build a new trail under current regulations. Once a trail is closed it seems unlikely that a trail will be built to replace it. In any event if replacement trails are built prior to closing other trails there will be less impact on the remaining trails resulting from forcing more users onto fewer trails.
 
Lack of dollars to maintain the trails is cited as a reason to close them, yet Forest Service has done little maintenance in the past in the Piutes. We are willing to help Forest Service secure additional Grant Funding & would encourage them to create a list of trail projects to be fixed instead of closing trails.
 
The Forest Chief stated that unmanaged recreation is one of the four threats to the Forests. He is correct they need to fund maintenance & build enough trails so that the impact is spread out. There was little impact before they closed down so many areas.
 
Since motorized use is growing the Forest Service should be planning for a trail system that can handle more users. Instead the process seems to be based on closures, as though motorized use was a No Growth Sport.
 
We are concerned that there is no real emergency need to close many of these trails & by closing them users will be forced to use the other trails more causing a greater impact on them. Stewards will continue to stay on top of this & work with Forest Service to keep as many trails open as possible.
 
Unlike the first Trail Inventory meeting last year where over 150 people attended, mostly off roaders, the recent meetings had 25-50 people, still mostly off roaders.
 
LET STEWARDS BE YOUR VOICE
Many of you do not have time to attend meetings or find out the facts. Many can no longer justify the gas expense to drive to meetings. If you agree with Stewards position on keeping trails open we hope you will join us. Then we can truly be your voice. We have many plans to keep our trails open, but our hands are often tied by lack of funding. We hope you will be able to support our efforts with a tax deductable donation. It is a lot cheaper to support our efforts with a donation than to drive to just one meeting. If you were thinking wow these guys are doing a lot of work, you are right. However we need your support to make things happen. As always our efforts are totally voluntary, but we still have to pay for office expenses, legal, mailing to legislators etc.
 
Stewards is not responsible for the reliability of information provided by Forest Service. If you are in doubt please contact the forest service & get the actual documents & attend the meetings in person.