Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Once a decision is made, a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) will be prepared, in compliance with the 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule (36 CFR Part 212). The MVUM will show all the routes that are designated for public motorized use on the Roosevelt/Duchesne and Flaming Gorge Ranger Districts. The MVUM will be the primary tool used to determine compliance and enforcement with motorized vehicle use designations on the forest. Those existing routes and other non-system routes not designated open on the MVUM will be legally closed to motorized travel. The decisions on motorized travel will not include motorized over-the-snow travel.
Electronic comments may be e-mailed to
There will be a concurrent NOI and scoping for the Vernal Ranger District Travel Management Plan. The Vernal Ranger District is also located within the Ashley National Forest. However, because of differences in travel management within this District that currently allow motorized use on existing, non-designated routes in certain areas, and the large number of user-created routes on this District, it is anticipated that the assessment for the EIS will take longer than for the Roosevelt/Duchesne and Flaming Gorge Ranger Districts. Therefore, the analysis will be completed separately and at a later date. Cumulative effects will be analyzed for both EISs.
The Ashley National Forest has determined that there is a need to improve management and enforcement of off-highway vehicle travel policy on the Forest. This need includes three fundamental management considerations.
It is Forest Service policy to provide a diversity of road and trail opportunities for experiencing a variety of environments and modes of travel consistent with the National Forest recreation role and land capability (FSM 2353.03(2)). In meeting these needs, the proposed action must also achieve the following purposes:
A. Avoid impacts to cultural resources.
B. Provide for public safety.
C. Provide for a diversity of recreational opportunities.
D. Assure adequate access to public and private lands.
E. Provide for adequate maintenance and administration of designations based on availability of resources and funding to do so.
F. Minimize damage to soil, vegetation and other forest resources.
G. Avoid harassment of wildlife and significant disruption of wildlife habitat.
H. Minimize conflicts between wheeled motor vehicles and existing or
I. Minimize conflicts among different classes of wheeled motor vehicle uses of NFS lands or neighboring federal lands.
J. Assure compatibility of wheeled motor vehicle use with existing conditions in populated areas, taking into account sound, emissions, etc.
K. Assure compatibility of motorized vehicle use within Inventoried Roadless Areas according to 3CFR294.12a.
L. Have valid existing rights of use and access (rights-of-way).
M. Provide consistency of use on roads that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
N. Include consideration for compatibility with existing Potential for Wilderness Evaluation studies.
The proposed action has been developed by tentatively designating a motorized travel plan that moves towards desired conditions identified in the pre-project assessment. The proposed travel plan was compared to the existing travel plan to identify changes from current conditions. The proposed action includes addition of non-system routes, closure of system routes, and identification of current system routes where a change in use or route classification is needed to create the desired travel plan.
The designations will set specific seasons of use, where appropriate, and specify the type of use (e.g., street legal vehicle, OHVs, 4-wheel drive) for roads and trails. The Forest Service will produce a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting those routes that are open to the general public for wheeled motorized use. The final implementation of the MVUM will include consideration of any conflicts with special use permits, easements, or rights of use that may have been unknown or not identified at the time of the proposed action.
A consequence of designating routes open for public motorized travel is that existing routes not designated as open would not be available for public motorized travel.
The Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District currently manages and maintains approximately 539 miles of NFS roads and 41 miles of NFS motorized trails. Based on the stated purpose and need for action, the Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District proposes to add approximately 5.80 miles of existing unauthorized routes to its NFS roads; add 12.39 miles to its motorized trail system; restrict motorized travel on 4.48 miles of NFS roads, including the seasonal closure of 1.22 miles of NFS road; and to restrict through seasonal closure 0.67 miles of motorized trails. These changes would bring the total NFS roads on the Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District to approximately 540.32 miles and the miles of the motorized trails to 52.72.
The Flaming Gorge Ranger District currently manages and maintains approximately 434 miles of NFS roads and 21 miles of motorized trail system. Based on the stated purpose and need for action, the Flaming Gorge Ranger District proposes to add approximately 63.84 miles of existing unauthorized routes to its NFS roads; add 8.82 miles to its motorized trail system; and to restrict motorized travel on 0.29 miles of NFS roads and 3.68 miles of NFS motorized trails. These changes would bring the total NFS roads on the Flaming Gorge Ranger District to approximately 497.55 miles and the NFS motorized trails to 26.14 miles.
The Ashley National Forest maintenance level 3, 4, and 5 roads are subject to State traffic laws (36 CFR 212.5 (a)(1). Level 5 roads are open to highway legal vehicles only and are shown on the current travel maps as
The Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District proposes to add mixed traffic use to 2.87 miles of road that are currently designated for street legal vehicles only. The Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District proposes to change .15 miles of road currently designated as mixed traffic use to allow only street legal vehicle use and allow mixed traffic on 1.92 miles of motorized trail. The Flaming Gorge Ranger District proposes to add mixed traffic use to 17.67 miles of road that are currently designated for street legal vehicles only.
The change of motorized use on an open NFS road does not require NEPA.
The Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District is not proposing to open NFS roads that are currently closed to public motorized access. The Flaming Gorge Ranger District is proposing to open 8.04 miles of NFS roads and .71 miles of motorized trail that are currently closed to public motorized access. This includes the removal of a seasonal closure on 5.99 miles of NFS roads.
The current travel plan allows motorized dispersed camping up to 300 feet from a designated motorized route. In order to establish consistency with other National Forests in Utah, the allowable area for motorized dispersed camping will be reduced to 150 feet from a designated motorized route.
The Ashley National Forest recognizes its unique niche for dispersed camping and plans to continue to offer a multitude of dispersed camping opportunities where appropriate. With this in mind, the Roosevelt/Duchesne and Flaming Gorge Ranger Districts have closely examined routes that provide this opportunity. Many sites (especially on the Flaming Gorge) access a multitude of recreational opportunities, such as fishing or hunting, as well as dispersed camping and have been included in the proposals outlined in Item 1 above.
In addition, the Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District has been inventorying existing numerous short routes that are appropriately used for dispersed camping, but are further than 150 feet from a designated motorized route. Those routes meeting an initial review are shown as “Potential Dispersed Camping Routes under Consideration” on the proposed action map. A determination of type of vehicle class for these routes will also be required. It is anticipated that most routes will be designated as mixed traffic use roads or motorized trails greater than 50 inches.
There are 15.28 miles of Potential Dispersed Camping Routes under Consideration being proposed by the Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District.
Maps describing the existing transportation system and maps and tables describing the proposed action can found at
The No Action Alternative would be to designate all of the motorized system roads and trails as identified in the existing travel management plans for Roosevelt/Duchesne and Flaming Gorge Ranger Districts, and would not address existing routes that are identified as unauthorized (i.e. non-system) routes by the Forest Service. Those existing routes not designated as open would not be available for public motorized travel. The opportunity to motorize disperse camp up to 300 feet from a designated motorized route would continue to be available.
The Forest is expecting that the public input will generate either thematic concerns or route-specific issues that may be addressed by modifying the proposed action to create a new alternative or alternatives.
Decommissioning or obliterating of routes, which may involve ground-disturbing activities, would be a part of the Proposed Action or alternatives. The environmental consequences of having routes closed to motorized travel will be evaluated in this environmental analysis. Identification of new routes that would meet the goals and objectives for a motorized transportation system on NFS lands will be, as appropriate, a part of this travel management planning.
The Responsible Official is Kevin Elliott, Forest Supervisor, Ashley National Forest, 355 N. Vernal Ave., Vernal, UT 84078.
Based on the purpose and need for the proposed action, the Forest Supervisor will evaluate the Proposed Action and other alternatives in order to make the following decisions for the specific National Forest System lands:
1. Designating or eliminating unclassified travel ways;
2. Determine the allowed season and/or type of use for those routes open to motorized travel; and
3. Determine if any changes in the extent and nature of motorized dispersed camping are warranted.
Travel management direction for routes that will not have a change in travel management direction will be shown on the MVUM (pursuant to 36 CFR part 212). Routes, for which travel management direction is being changed, will be analyzed in the EIS for the Roosevelt/Duchesne and Flaming Gorge Ranger Districts Travel Management Plan.
Public participation will be especially important at several points during the analysis. The Forest Service will be seeking information, comments, and assistance from the federal, state, tribal, local agencies, and other individuals or organizations that may be interested in or affected by the proposed action. A series of public opportunities are scheduled to explain the proposed travel plan and route designation process and to provide an opportunity for public input. Dates for these scoping meetings will be posted on the Ashley National Forest web page at
The Forest Service will consider all public scoping comments and concerns that have been submitted, as well as resource related input from the interdisciplinary team and other agency resource specialists. This input will be used to identify issues to consider in the environmental analysis. A comprehensive list of issues will be determined before the full range of alternatives is developed and the environmental analysis is begun.
The Notice of Intent is expected to be published in the
The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available for public review by July 2008. EPA will publish a notice of availability of the draft EIS in the
The final EIS is scheduled to be completed November 2008. In the final EIS, the Forest Service is required to respond to comments received during the comment period that pertain to the environmental consequences discussed in the draft EIS and applicable laws, regulations, and policies considered in making the decision.
Important goals for the project are to create a motorized travel plan that is simple to understand, consistent with other public land management agencies in Utah, and is enforceable. Protections for threatened and endangered animal and plant habitats, cultural resources, roadless considerations, and the need to maintain motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities have also directed the development and design of the proposed action.
This notice of intent initiates the scoping process that guides the development of the environmental impact statement.
A draft environmental impact statement will be prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft environmental impact statement will be 45 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability in the
The Forest Service believes, at this early stage, it is important to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public participation in the environmental review process. First, reviewers of draft environmental impact statements must structure their participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and contentions.
To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft environmental
Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal, and will be available for public inspection.