It is not often that we get a SECOND CHANCE to make comments on a Travel Management Environmental Assessment (EA). NMOHVA successfully appealed this Travel Management decision last summer. The Forest Service's Region 3 then directed the Cibola NF to revise and re-release the EA for another public comment period. Now ALL of us get the opportunity to provide new or additional comments to the EA.
Those of us who missed the deadline the first time around get another chance to help preserve existing motorized access to this important nearby area.
The Travel Management EA for the Mountainair Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest is available NOW on the Cibola's NEPA page. The official release of the EA on September 29th started the public's official 30 day comment period. The public's deadline to submit comments is October 31st. Only those who provide comments during this comment period will be eligible to appeal the final decision.
The Mountainair District covers the areas of the Cibola to the south and east Albuquerque. Why should you care what the Forest Service is planning?
The District includes 471 miles of existing road that are open to public use. Of these miles, 410 miles are currently managed for high-clearance vehicles, such as pickups, Jeeps, or other sport utility vehicles (the other 60 miles are graded gravel or paved roads). The Forest Service's Proposed Action would close 304 miles (a full 75%) of those high clearance roads!
Motorized dispersed camping (camping off the side of the road) is currently allowed everywhere on the District. The Forest Service's Proposed Action would limit dispersed camping to narrow corridors on a mere 14.7 miles of road!
It is currently legal to use motorized vehicles to retrieve downed big game across 168,000 acres of the District. The Forest's Service's Proposed Action would eliminate ALL motorized big game retrieval on the District!
If you are okay with the dramatic changes that the Forest Service is proposing for the Mountainair Ranger District, your job is easy. All you have to do is NOTHING but wait and your access will be limited very soon. But if you disagree with the Forest Service's Proposed Action, you have less than thirty days remaining to READ the EA, WRITE your comments, and SUBMIT them to the Forest Service.
The purpose of the Travel Management EA is to designate a motorized road and trail system for the Mountainair Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Designation will include class of vehicle and time of year for motor vehicle use. The decision will result in the publication of a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). After the MVUM has been released, all motorized travel off the designated system will be prohibited.
The full text of the EA document(including the maps) and the supporting Specialist Reports are available for public review on the Cibola National Forest's NEPA page here. You can also get hard copies or CD's of the EA from the Cibola National Forest Supervisor's Office in Albuquerque or at the Mountainair Ranger District Office in Mountainair, NM.
Comments on the draft EA can be submitted by postal mail, email, and fax. Written and electronic comments on the EA must be submitted to the Responsible Official:
Cibola National Forest and Grasslands
2113 Osuna Rd, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Electronic comments may be submitted by email as documents (.doc), rich text format (.rtf), text(.txt), and hypertext markup language (.html) to email@example.com
. Please note that the Forest Service is not currently accepting the latest version of Word documents (.docx).
For further information on the EA or the comment process, please contact the Erin Hudson, Travel Management Project Leader, at 505-346-3900.A second chance to comment on a local Travel Management document is a rare thing, MAKE THE MOST OF IT!!