Tonto National Forest Releases Travel Management Draft Decision
July 1, 2016
The Tonto National Forest released a draft decision on the Travel Management Project today, which designates a system of roads, trails, and areas for motorized use, as well as prohibits general cross-country travel.
Not Everyone Will Be Happy
“I realize not everyone will be happy with the decision. It is the Tonto National Forest’s best effort to strike a reasonable balance that is responsive to the vast majority of public input the Forest received,” said Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor.
While Bosworth recognizes some users’ favorite routes may no longer be open for motor vehicle use, the Forest tried to provide a range of opportunities across the Tonto National Forest. “I know motor vehicle users like to ride loops and visit a variety of scenery. We tried to provide for those opportunities while simultaneously protecting natural resources and providing for those who seek a more quiet recreational experience on the Forest.”
Seven Years Of Planning
This draft decision comes after a seven-year planning process that included extensive public participation and review of more than 5,000 miles of roads and trails. During this time, the Tonto National Forest has provided a number of proposals for a designated road and trail system to the public for review and comment.
These public comments were used to develop a comprehensive analysis called the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on which the recent Travel Management draft decision was based.
This decision provides a starting point for management of motor vehicle use on the Tonto National Forest in compliance with the Final Travel Management Rule. The Final Rule, established in 2005, directs each forest to provide for appropriate motorized access and motorized recreation opportunities while protecting important forest resources and non-motorized recreation opportunities.
Provision For Objections
Today’s release of the draft decision is subject to the pre-decisional objection process described in 36 CFR Part 218, Subparts A and B. Objections must be filed within 45 days of the publication of the legal notice announcing the draft decision in the Arizona Capitol Times. Those that previously commented on the project have the opportunity to submit an objection based on their previous comment. A decision will not be made until the objection process is complete.
The Draft Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Tonto National Forest Travel Management Project are now available online at: http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/fs-usda-pop.php?project=28967 Hard copies and compact discs with this information are available on request by contacting Anne Thomas, Travel Management Team Lead, at 602-225-5213 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.