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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Southeast  |  Topic: Southern Environmental Law Center notifies intent to sue over Tellico trails « previous next »
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Author Topic: Southern Environmental Law Center notifies intent to sue over Tellico trails  (Read 2904 times)
Dave Logan
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association
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« on: June 29, 2007, 07:41:52 am »

SELC joins sportsmen, other conservationists in protecting native trout streams in Nantahala National Forest


Severe erosion of ORV trails in the Tellico Area of the Nantahala National Forest channels muddy water to nearby streams, threatening some of the last brook trout populations in the Southern Appalachians.


For generations of Southerners, the brook trout is a symbol of the region's natural bounty and plentiful outdoors recreation opportunities. The native species, which survives only in the cleanest, coldest water, is also a symbol of water quality in our mountains.


Decades of intensive logging, sprawl development and other impacts have polluted trout streams and extirpated brookies from much of their historical range. In the South, some of the last, best habitat for this fish is on public lands.


One of these areas is the upper Tellico River watershed, with headwaters in the Nantahala National Forest in Cherokee County, North Carolina; the watershed flows into the Cherokee National Forest in bordering Tennessee. For years, Tellico has been a popular destination for anglers.


It's also become one of the largest and most intensively used areas for off-road vehicle (ORV) users. The sport entails driving customized "monster" trucks, as well as smaller all-terrain vehicles through rugged terrain - the steeper the trails, the more challenging. And the more damaging to the forest floor and water quality.


Years of heavy use and erosion have turned trails in the Tellico area into massive ditches, some more than seven feet deep. In wet conditions, these ditches channel muddy water into nearby streams.


The US Forest Service has designated 40 miles of trails in the Tellico area for ORV use - twice the legal limit. This doesn't take into account the innumberable smaller illegal trails forged by ORV users. Further, in violation of federal and state law, many of these trails are within 100 feet of streams and creeks. The agency's own studies show that brook trout populations in the area and downstream in Tennessee have declined due to impacts from ORV use. Yet the agency has failed to take the necessary steps to protect and restore the trout streams.


On June 28, SELC filed a "notice of intent to sue" the agency for failing to enforce the law. We are representing Trout Unlimited, both the North Carolina and Tennessee Councils, as well as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. We are calling on the Forest Service to permanently close the most environmentally damaging trails, and seasonally close the entire system.


With ORV use growing rapidly in the South's national forests, our legal action aims to make clear to the Forest Service its responsibility to get on top of the problem now.

http://www.selcga.org/cases/tellico_orv/index.htm


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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2007, 08:51:19 am »

Another fight on our way here.

I looked at the pictures they have on the site about this. 

The first one is an easy fix with some rocks, or fill in the hole with dirt to remove the water so it is not splashed over the sides and down into a stream.
How far is the stream from the first picture?  If they stream is way down, there is no way that the dirt water would be dirty when it makes it to the stream after it runs through all the forest brush, and what not.

The second picture, I can see the standing water, but can not tell if it is an uphill or downhill picture. 
There are ways to make the stream crossings to minimize intrusion of new dirt, and what not, by building rock bed crossings, and ensuring the approaches do not allow water from the trail in wet times of the year to entire directly into the stream or creek.

Has anyone adopted any of the trails here to help the forest service maintain some of the trails to mitigate water erosion?
The hardest part of trail maintenance, is keeping control of the water, and getting it where you want it.  This can be done, because it is done on the Rubicon trail with water bars, and other methods to remove the water from the trail.  They spend a lot of money every year, and work hard to keep the water off the trail to minimize water erosion.

Thanks for posting this though, and I will put this on my watch list.

Thanks

Todd
Interim Dir of Env Affairs
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Dave Logan
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2007, 09:24:37 am »

Thanks for your concern and ideas, Todd. 

The Southern 4WD Association was founded in 1987 in order to work with the Forest Service to offer user input and volunteer maintenance for the Tellico trails.  We have adopted trails in 3 National Forests.

We now spend roughly $50,000 per year in trail maintenance as well as owning our own track hoe and mulitiple military dump trucks.

We have annual fund raising events to fund these items.  We recently celebrated our 20th annual Dixie Run event.

Southern was awarded $ from BFG from their Outstanding Trails program for Tellico's Trail #4.  John Stewart came to help present the check.

Here is a link to a Pirate 4x4 thread that informs users what trail maintenance is being done.  http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=587677

As I've mentioned before, there is a lot of information on our web site. http://www.sfwda.org/

Our Forest Service Volunteer awards are shown, etc. 

I have requested time during the Land Use conference at the AGM to discuss what we are doing, our challenges, etc.

Southern has since fixed the areas shown in the photos.

The Forest Service employs one person who rides around identifying areas that need work.  Then we cooperatively schedule a work day or weekend to do the repairs.  We have put in countless culverts and built numerous wooden bridges.  We have silt traps at the end of our water bars.  Every trail maintenance "feature" is numbered and mapped for easy identification.

Todd, we've been doing this for 20 years now.  We know how to do the work.  We need more funds from the Forest Service to do more work.  The daily and annual user fees are doubling this year in an effort to catch up in some areas.

Hopefully Carla will be able to help somewhat with the legal issues.

See you in Colorado.  Dave
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2007, 09:58:33 am »

Dave

Good work on the trails in the area. 
You may have read my rant in the last post, and it was not directed towards you, or the people in the area that spend countless hours working these trails to keep them open. 
From your reply, and what you guys are doing, it is above and beyond, and highly commendable.  Outstanding job to you and all the others.  Give eveyone a pat on the back for a good job. 

My rant is against the group that wants to close the area, and sues the forest service.  This lawsuit cuts into their budget, and then decreases the amount of money they have for trail maintenance, and Law Enforcement in the area.  I know I am preaching to the choir here with you guys.  You are doing everything right to keep this area open.  And if they happen to win, the forest service has to pay their legal fee's also, to pay for other lawsuits.  Lawsuits funding lawsuits. 

Good job on the Top Trails award too.  That shows that you have put in a lot of hours in the forest. 

I will watch the SELC site, and your site to keep an eye on this one. 
It will be good to talk about this issue, and others.  Then we can come up with a plan of attack on some of these attacks on our lands. 
I  have some ideas that may work, and will bounce them off the fellow BOD's at convention. 

Thanks for your hard work.

Todd
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Dave Logan
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2007, 10:03:03 am »

Thanks, Todd. 

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Greg Eggert
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 08:22:24 pm »

Hey all,

I havent been down to Tellico yet, but will we need an enviromental engineer(or whatever the current title is) to map out how and where the drainages are to be installed.  if it is a wetlands area, there will be a bigger problem since whatever is "destroyed" needs to be recreated
« Last Edit: June 29, 2007, 08:24:51 pm by Greg Eggert » Logged

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Jennifer Hawkins
Florida Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2007, 06:46:06 am »

Dave,

Is it possible to rotate to a different trail system?  I think you told me that there are several miles of used logging roads throughout the area and I wonder if its time to close the most heavily used trails and move on to others.

Jennifer
FL4WDA
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Dave Logan
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2007, 09:51:25 am »

Greg,
The US Forest Service has engineers who decide what needs to be done and where.  The work must comply with the Forest Service's engineering standards.  We simply provide volunteer labor and heavy equipment.

There are no "wetlands" in the Upper Tellico OHV Trail System.  There are riparian areas which must be protected to prevent erosion from adding silt to the river.  Southern 4WD Association has been doing this in partnership with the US Forest Service for over 20 years now.

The irony is that the scientific data shows that both water quality and Brook trout populations are improving. 

Of course, the trout population would probably do better if the fisherman weren't killing them.  Wink
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Dave Logan
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2007, 09:53:37 am »

Jennifer,
There are dozens of possibilities.  The Forest Service just put in a huge bridge of the river on Trail #5 to help improve water quality.  Another one is planned for Fain's Ford on Trail #4.

Any re-routes or new trails would probably require years of NEPA surveys, etc.
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2007, 09:58:10 am »

Greg,

The irony is that the scientific data shows that both water quality and Brook trout populations are improving. 

Of course, the trout population would probably do better if the fisherman weren't killing them.  Wink

So, do we stop the fishermen from catching them? Or make it catch and release?

How do the fishermen get to the river/creek?  4X4? 
Maybe talk to them about a partnership to work on the trail, and this will allow them easier access, and maybe even provide for a few more fish since they are working on the trail, and not working the river with their lines and hooks.

I know that when working with the forest service, the trail maintenance has to be in compliance with their rules.

Todd
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Dave Logan
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2007, 11:09:10 am »

While there are anglers that catch and release, a number of the locals just take a can of corn and try to catch as many fish as possible for food.  In addition there have been some infamous cases of poaching in the headwaters.

The anglers typically drive the paved road from Tellico Plains, TN and park.  They can fish directly from the river's banks.

"Anglers enjoy 38 miles of stocked rainbow and brown trout waters with 19 miles managed for brook trout."

A large portion of the local people fishing also own OHVs.  It's the elitist envioronmental group members that worry about the lawsuits.  Wink

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Dave Logan
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2007, 10:57:51 am »

All,
We at SFWDA are working diligently to help resolve this law suit.  Right now the best avenue for our membership and interested parties to do is to write a letter to the Forest Service (be very polite) telling them that you are aware of the pending lawsuit and that you want the Forest Service to be sure to stand up and support access to the Upper Tellico ORV trails because of the area supplies a user experience desired for family recreation.  Keep the letter short and to the point.  Send the letter to the District office in Murphy, NC.


Tusquitee Ranger District
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906
828-837-5152

David Borum
Dir. Legislative Affairs
SFWDA
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2007, 11:45:54 am »

Dave

Thanks for the address.  If we can get every member here to write a letter for support, we will be doing good.

I will pull up one later this weekend at home, and get it in the mail to them also.

More support we can show for you guys, and the trails there, the better.

Thanks

Todd
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Rick Casey
Carolina Full Size Jeep Club
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2007, 09:05:37 am »

This hits waaay too close to home for me!

I will rally our club to support any effort to help solve this problem. The SFWDA can count on us, we may not be that big of a club, but we care.

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Rick Casey

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Dave Logan
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« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2007, 07:54:49 pm »

Thanks, Rick.  We appreciate all the help we can get.  Please ask your members to write a letter to the District Ranger at the address listed above in Murphy. 
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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Southeast  |  Topic: Southern Environmental Law Center notifies intent to sue over Tellico trails « previous next »
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