Public comment sought on proposed over-snow vehicle use in forest

Eldorado National Forest officials seek public input regarding areas for over-snow vehicle use and the designation of trails for grooming.

The Forest Service is beginning to prepare an environmental impact statement for the designation of OSV use on National Forest roads, trails and other areas. The proposed action also designates trails for grooming.

The goal is to ensure that the use is well managed to minimize effects on natural resources, provide access for over-snow vehicle use, promote the safety of OSV users and minimize conflicts among various uses, according to a Forest Service news release. No change in the number of miles of OSV trails and acres of OSV areas where use of the vehicles would be allowed, subject to snow-depth restrictions, is proposed. Current restrictions to OSV use will be made permanent in the environmental impact statement, officials said.

The proposed action identifies trails for grooming and adopts the California State Parks’ Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division’s snow-depth standards for grooming. A forest-wide snow-depth standard for OSV use of 12 inches of continuous and supportable snow covering the landscape will be implemented. OSV use on designated National Forest system snow trails would be allowed when there is a minimum of 6 inches of snow. When the snow-depth requirement is not met, OSV use would be prohibited.

The proposal’s overall objective, officials said, is to provide a manageable system of trails and areas designated for OSV use within the Eldorado National Forest. They said no decision has been made regarding the project. The proposed action is intended as a starting point for discussion with the public about the project.

“It is our responsibility, as land management and resource specialists, to manage the Eldorado National Forest for many different purposes and uses,” Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree said in a written statement. “Public participation in our planning effort is important to finding a manageable balance between these often competing interests.”

Comments on this phase of the project are due by April 6.

For additional information about the project and how to comment, visit the project websiteor call Micki Smith, resource officer, at (209) 295-5960.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.