A new preferred alternative for the U.S. Forest Services Boggy-Glade Travel Management Plan mollified hunters who use motorized vehicles for game retrieval access and angered other forest users distressed by environmental impacts from off-road vehicles.
The new plan, released for comment Oct. 24, adds 20 miles of motorized road access, for a total of 379 miles of roads open to general motorized use, 68 miles of motorized trails open to vehicles 50 inches or less in width and 61 miles of nonmotorized trails within approximately 245,800 acres of national forest north of Dolores.
The alternative comes on the heels of nearly two years of contentious work on the Boggy-Glade plan.
The original record of decision, Modified Alternative B, was released Aug. 12, 2010, and drew harsh criticism from community members and Dolores and Montezuma county commissioners for eliminating motorized off-road game retrieval and for closing roads.
After a formal appeal process, Modified Alternative B went back to the Dolores Public Lands Office for adjustment in November 2010.
The new preferred alternative Alternative D opens roads that would have been closed under Modified Alternative B, allows motorized game retrieval, and changes the road density guidelines in the forest plan from 1 to 1.2 miles per square mile.
Dolores Public Lands Office National Environmental Policy Act Coordinator Deborah Kill, who has been involved in the Boggy-Glade planning process since the beginning, said the changes were made in direct response to concerns from members of the public.
We held various public hearings and open houses and had a comment period where people wrote letters and attended meetings, and many of those comments included drawings on maps of areas that were important to the public, Kill said.
We brought those maps back in and reconvened our interdisciplinary team, comprised of biologists and hydrologists and recreation staff and engineers, and looked at where we could add a road here or there for an additional camping spur or an additional loop for (all-terrain vehicle) riding. We just tried to address the pieces of access people were requesting.
Not everyone is pleased with the Forest Services turnaround on the issue.
I was quite favorable of the plan before, but with the game retrieval back in it, Id have to say I cant support it anymore, said Jack Spence, a rural Dolores resident and mountain biker. The Forest Service has given up and caved in to the hunters, the ones who wont get out of their car and walk.
Montezuma and Dolores County officials say they appreciate the work the Forest Service did to listen to members of the public during the last comment period.
I think the Forest Service has really done a good job of listening to the community, said Montezuma County Federal Lands Coordinator James Dietrich. There are sideboards to what they can do, but I think this new decision shows the Forest Service is going out on a real limb for the community, especially with the motorized game retrieval.