Author Topic: Plan to let vehicles off-road in Kaibab forest upsets environmentalists  (Read 1460 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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 Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012
By Cale Ottens
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Kaibab National Forest this week announced plans to let vehicles go off-road in part of the forest, a proposal that environmentalists fear will harm both wildlife and public land.

Under the plan announced Tuesday, the forest near Flagstaff would allow motorized vehicles to travel 30 feet from any open road. Campers and hunters in the North Kaibab Ranger District would have even more freedom, with campers allowed to go as far as 300 feet off-road and hunters able to drive freely on forest land.

The plan would add 796 spur routes that could be used for camping, in addition to about 16 more miles in the open-road system, according to the decision notice posted by the U.S. Forest Service.

“These additions are important for meeting the demand for motorized camping opportunities, especially in peak times (e.g., holiday weekends and hunting seasons),” the decision notice said.

Forest officials could not be reached for comment Thursday on the plan. But environmental groups quickly attacked the proposal.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the decision could disrupt many hunters’ experiences, as well as damage certain wildlife habitats and ruin some portions of the public land.

“Outside of the wilderness, there is not a square mile of forest that doesn’t have a road in it,” said Cyndi Tuell, the center’s Southwest conservation advocate.

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