Off-Road Proposal Gives Forest Service Too Much Authority

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This letter is in response to Victoria Borrell's letter published in the Roundup April 24, urging Payson residents to support the Forest Service in a plan that has yet to be defined in its entirety by the Forest Service.

Ms. Borrell continues to complain about the Star Valley Forest Service riding area. What Ms. Borrell does not share with readers is that land has been designated by the Forest Service as an off-road vehicle riding area. Whether or not this is fair to residents is questionable. For riders who have no other place to ride, it is not questionable. We are told to ride there. Additionally, the "Road Closed" sign that was referred to in the letter has been removed as it was determined to have been erected illegally.

The Forest Service's proposal is to create parallel policies throughout Arizona's forest ranger districts. Currently, each forest has different policies regarding cross-country travel. Some forests allow off-highway-vehicle travel off designated roads and trails. The proposal is to go to a "closed unless posted open" policy across Arizona. The Forest Service has not defined what roads and trails will be closed or which will be open. Let's put this in practical sense. There are many trails in the Rim country that are used by horseback riders, hikers and ATV riders. In the event the trails are closed to off-highway-vehicle users, where will they all end up riding? In Star Valley at the designated Forest Service riding area. Then Ms. Borrell and friends will really be unhappy.

I suggest residents urge the Forest Service to develop a defined policy of no riding or driving off existing roads and trails. The Forest Service also needs to work with local communities to develop user trails, i.e. horseback trails for horseback riders, mountain biking trails for mountain bikers, etc. During the recent meetings when Forest Service officials were asked what trails and roads would be opened and which would be closed in Rim country, their response was, "We have no idea." The proposed policy gives the Forest Service the right to close access to areas of great beauty to cars and trucks, which are also off-highway vehicles.

Do not make your decision of the proposed policy based on local propaganda. Realize that this is statewide. If you're a hunter, photographer, hiker, horseback rider or whatever, the Forest Service proposal may close your four-wheel-drive trail to your favorite hunting spot, lake, etc. In my opinion the policy gives the Forest Service too much authority to make decisions on roads and trails of what they want, not what "we, the people," want. The policy is more than about cross-country travel.

Ty Krehbiel, Star Valley

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