March 2011
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Boggy, Rico travel plans remain in limbo

By Gail Binkly

The Boggy Draw-Glade travel-management plan, which was overturned on appeal last year, has yet to be formally adopted and implemented.

“We haven’t re-signed the decision at all,” Steve Beverlin, manager of the Dolores Public Lands Office, told the Free Press. The DPLO manages the Boggy- Glade and other local areas of the San Juan National Forest. “We are determining the appropriate course of action. We’re talking with Montezuma County and Dolores County to see the best strategy to work through with them.”

Under the new travel plan, 62 miles of public roads were proposed for closure, a fact that prompted outrage among many local citizens as well as the Montezuma and Dolores County commissions. However, the vast majority of those roads were two-track dirt roads, user-created routes, and old logging roads, according to Beverlin. Furthermore, 63 new miles of ATV roads were proposed to replace the closed routes.

The plan had been appealed by seven parties, most of whom based their appeals on opposition to the road closures and a ban on motorized game retrieval. However, the appeal that was upheld was by Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and was based in part on the fact that road densities in the new travel plan exceeded thresholds established in the San Juan National Forest’s recently revised draft Resource Management Plan.

Beverlin had indicated several weeks ago that the plan would be revised only slightly in response to the appeal, with language added to clarify why it was deemed important to exceed road density in a particular area. However, he said later that “there’s probably an opportunity to resolve some of these things in a new decision.”

At a meeting with the Montezuma and Dolores County commissioners on Jan. 18, Beverlin said that he hoped to have a new decision by the end of January or the middle of February. However, he said on Feb. 25 it’s not known when the new decision will be in place.

In the meantime, none of the planned road closures in the Boggy area have been implemented, he said.

“No roads or areas or trails or access or cross-country travel has been closed in Boggy Draw,” he said.

The travel-management plan for the Rico area, which in December 2009 was also overturned on appeal because of concerns about too much motorized access, is still in limbo as well.

“We’re still determining how we’re going to proceed with that,” Beverlin said.

The furor over roads and access is not unique to the local area, he said, and intensified in 2005 when the Forest Service adopted a national travel rule that required local districts to designate specific trails for motorized use and ban crosscountry motorized travel.

“The designation of a motorized system of roads and trails for the public has probably been the most controversial undertaking that the Forest Service has done nationwide since they had to deal with the spotted owl in the Northwest,” Beverlin said.

 


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