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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Southeast  |  Topic: Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Area DECISION « previous next »
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Author Topic: Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Area DECISION  (Read 1135 times)
Robert Temple
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« on: December 18, 2007, 07:28:54 pm »

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DECISION MEMO

Forest Supervisor’s Orders for the
Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Area
USDA Forest Service Southern Region
Nantahala National Forest
Tusquitee Ranger District
Cherokee County, North Carolina


DECISION

I have decided to put into force two Forest Supervisor’s Orders for
the Upper Tellico Off-Highway (OHV) Area on the Tusquitee Ranger
District of the Nantahala National Forest. This decision is based on
information gathered during a recent condition survey of high risk
trail segments, and on public comments received during the scoping
period. The Orders implement the following management measures:

1. A one-year closure of Lower Trail 2 (from the intersection with
Road 420 west to Road 402), Trail 7, a portion of Trail 8 (from the
intersection with Trail 9 to the intersection with Trail 10A), and
Trail 9 in the Upper Tellico OHV area which prohibits operating motor
vehicles on these trails during the closure period and sets penalties
for violating the provisions of this Order.

2. A seasonal closure of the Upper Tellico OHV Area which prohibits
operating motor vehicles on trails within the Area during the period
between January 1 and March 31 each year and sets penalties for
violating the provisions of this Order.

The following persons are exempted from these orders:

• Persons with a permit from the Forest Service specifically
authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
• Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized
rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
• Owners or lessees of land in the Closure Area are exempt from the
prohibitions listed above to the extent necessary to gain access to
their land.
• Residents in the Closure Area are exempt from the prohibitions to
the extent necessary to gain access to their residences.


PURPOSE AND NEED FOR THE ACTION

Direction in the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Nantahala
National Forest (Amendment 5, 1994) identifies the lands within the
Upper Tellico OHV Area as existing in Management Areas 1B and 2C. The
description for these management areas state “These lands are managed
to provide opportunities for public enjoyment of the Forest through
motorized recreation – driving for pleasure in conventional and
four-wheel-drive vehicles as well as machines commonly classified as
ORV’s. While these uses will be encouraged on appropriate roads and
trails, use will not be allowed to damage the Forests’ environment.”
(MA 1B, p. III-57). Also, “Provide opportunities for vehicles commonly
classified as ORV’s on designated routes primarily within designated
ORV areas... if such use does not adversely affect other resources.”
(MA 2B, p. III-67). These actions are needed to correct ongoing
impacts to area waters and aquatic resources caused by sediment from
the Upper Tellico road and trail system.

In October and November of 2007, the Forest Service conducted an
initial condition survey of Upper Tellico roads and trails identified
as “high risk” for sedimentation due to steepness or close proximity
to water (about 16.5 miles of trail were evaluated). Drainage features
constructed to remove water from trails were assessed - 61 % of these
drainage features were properly functioning during the assessment. All
trail segments assessed were contributing sediment to nearby streams
to some degree. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) computer
model was used to compare trail management alternatives to the current
condition (http://topsoil.nserl.purdue.edu/nserlweb/weppmain/). The
sediment reductions projected to occur based on the closure of various
trail segments (and the seasonal closure) were evaluated. These
projections indicated that closing the proposed trail segments would
maximize sediment reduction while also maintaining a viable trail
system.

All trail bridges in the Upper Tellico system were also assessed for
safety. Three trail bridges on Trail 8 were determined to be unsafe
for OHV traffic and a portion of the trail was closed under an
emergency order. Since it will not be possible to complete repairs to
these bridges during the emergency closure period, this portion of
Trail 8 was added to the year-long temporary trail closure order.

Scientific studies addressing the impacts of a winter seasonal closure
were also reviewed. Multiple past studies have shown the degree of
soil compaction and rutting, and therefore erosion potential, on a
road surface is related to the number of freeze-thaw cycles, as well
as the amount and type of traffic present. In areas where soil
moisture is already high, there is increased potential for erosion
(Halvorsen et al. 2001). Frequent freeze-thaw cycles typically occur
during the winter months in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
(Williams 1964). Also, during winter months, soil structure and
function change (Sulkava and Huhta 2003) and most vegetation is
dormant, which reduces natural buffer ability to assimilated eroded
soil. And additionally, estimated increases in winter water yield
resulting from the loss of hemlock from the forest (due to the effects
of the hemlock wooly adelgid) approach 30% (Ford and Vose 2007). These
known and potential increases in sedimentation of local streams during
winter months affect aquatic habitat at a critical time for many
aquatic species, including native brook trout (Schmitt et al. 1993).

Proposed Action 1, closure on Lower Trail 2 (from the intersection
with Road 420 west to Road 402), Trail 7, a portion of Trail 8 (from
the intersection with Trail 9 to the intersection with Trail 10A),and
Trail 9, is needed to provide immediate resource protection measures.
These trails have been identified as contributing to sedimentation in
the Tellico River system. The closure will allow time for further
evaluation of the resource condition associated with these trails,
planning for long-term resource protection, and needed repairs to
correct impacts to the area waters and aquatic resource.

Proposed Action 2, seasonal closure of the OHV Area, is needed for the
purpose of preventing resource damage during a period when the area is
most vulnerable to resource damage, and to allow for intensive
maintenance of system trails. Seasonal closures have already been
implemented at other all other mountain OHV areas on the National
Forests in North Carolina.

The actions will be implemented pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50 (b) which
states, “The Chief, each Regional Forester, each Experiment Station
Director, the Administrator of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
and each Forest Supervisor may issue orders which close or restrict
the use of any National Forest System road or trail within the area
over which he has jurisdiction.”

REASONS FOR CATEGORICALLY EXCLUDING THE DECISION

These actions do not individually or cumulatively have a significant
effect on the quality of the human environment, and therefore, are
categorically excluded from documentation in an environmental impact
statement (EIS) or an environmental assessment (EA). The specific
category, identified in Forest Service Handbook 1909.15 “Environmental
Policy and Procedures” is Section 31.12 Category 1: Orders pursuant to
36 CFR Part 261 – Prohibitions to provide short-term resource
protection or to protect public health and safety.


FINDING OF NO EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES

No extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant further analysis and
documentation in an EA or EIS. The District interdisciplinary team
screened these actions for the presence of any one of the
extraordinary circumstances identified in Amendment No. 1909.15-2007-1
to Forest Service Handbook 1909.15. Section 30.3 paragraph 2 lists the
following resource conditions that were considered:

• Federally listed threatened or endangered species or designated
critical habitat, species proposed for Federal listing or proposed
critical habitat, or Forest Service sensitive species;
• Flood plains, wetlands, or municipal watersheds;
• Congressionally designated areas, such as wilderness, wilderness
study areas, or national recreation areas;
• Inventoried roadless areas;
• Research natural areas;
• American Indians and Alaska Native religious or cultural sites;
• Archaeological sites, or historic properties or areas.

SCOPING AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

more info on site..

MARISUE HILLIARD DATE
Forest Supervisor
National Forests in North Carolina
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Palmetto Jeep Club
LowCountry Jeep Club
Dave Logan
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2007, 07:46:38 pm »

Thanks for posting this, Bob.  I sent it to Todd earlier.  Carla also has a copy of it.

We are reviewing our options... Wink
« Last Edit: December 18, 2007, 09:12:48 pm by Dave Logan » Logged

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Pat Brower
Great Lakes Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2007, 08:47:59 pm »

Keep us posted!
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Dave Logan
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2007, 09:12:23 pm »

Have no doubt...we will.  Thanks, Pat.  Roll Eyes
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