The meeting was packed. In fact Irene wanted to split the groups up into separate rooms but the users wanted to stay together so nothing was missed. There was a lot of angry and distrustful people present and Irene did her best to calm things down. She stated that the FS was looking at a 10% reduction in funding this year (still unknown) and that she was going to have to make tough decisions on how to spend the limited funds she will have. To me she is basically asking us as users what we can live without. She did state that there would be no trails closed this year but next year and the future is a unknown. There was a lot of discussion on the term "up to FS standard" that the new trails coordinator (Jeff) has brought to the table. Very little of our trails meet these standards currently and the thing that scares everyone is if these trails cant be brought to "standard" then they "could" get decommissioned. That has everyone on high alert. The group was broken up into smaller roundtable groups (by user group) and give a table with a large district map and a plastic cover (overlay) We were to mark out the trails that were important to us and fill out a sheet giving the trail info and why this particular trail was important. This is what troubles me. There were a dozen or so 4x4 users present and we only got about 11 forms turned in. If this is to represent what we want then we are in trouble. There are 44 $X$ trails on the district and using this method we only covered abut 1/4 of them. I have copies of the forms filled out and the map as well. (plan to bring to WC). I am trying to contact the FS and see if we can post this form online and submit by e-mail to them. If not and this was our one opportunity then we have a fight ahead. ( I think we have one anyway) Pasted below is a report from a BCH member as well that helps sum things up. Jim
TWIG Meeting report - Jan 10 2012
Just got back from the TWIG meeting. There were at least 60 folks in the room and more out in the hall. I started to take notes, but with my hearing and all, I'll just have to go by memory ( uh-oh ). We all sat with our respective groups ( horsemen together, 4X together........ ) we were asked to fill out forms on trail information; trail #/name; location ( township, range, section/starting point ; type of trail; current known uses; significance to you or your group
( eg. amount of use,connector. previous investment, historical significance, type of experience) ; ranking of significance, low, medium, high and why you chose that ranking; is the trail class appropriate or should it be changed? if changed, to what? ; incidental knowledge of condition ( including tread, known problem spots and/or maintenance challenges ) willing to adopt-name of group__________ to manage the trail to "standard" to address health and safety issues-brushing and removing litter;additional information* is there an acceptable alternative to this trail * easy access for maintenance * option and alternatives for maintenance * strategies for reducing maintenance and any concerns or disagreements from the group please document.
Well, I'll let that soak in and let you be the judge on those questions. Quote of the night was a man of 25 or 30 who said on the question of importance of a trail he said " the important trails our the ones I haven't rode on yet. I might not ride it this year or next, but I'd like to ride it sometime" ( or words to that effect ) he's a 4 X er and wanted to volunteer to keep motorized trails OPEN. I know ALL of us horsemen answered the above questions the same. Ranking of signifcance..............High WHY because we don't want any trails CLOSED.
Irene did say that she had NO in intention of closing trails THIS YEAR. Wade and I talked to Irene a little later on that and Irene said she said it in that way because she doesn't now what might be going on next year or the year after. I really think Irene was being sincere on this.
Ron Rutherford at the mid way point of the meeting gave a little history on the motorized trails on the Naches and as Ron said, when the various wilderness came into being motorized LOST trails, when floods or other natural disasters accured motorized LOST trails. NO MORE LOST TRAILS....ENOUGH.
It got a little heated a few times, but for the most part, it went very well. Many people went home with the maps to fill in at their various club/group meetings and toke forms as well.
I guess to just give y'all a bit of my PERSONAL views on this issue. I don't want to give up a single trail.....PERIOD. We also started going over the 1100 miles of trails and from the FS 's own trail list of ALL the trail on the district it came to 772 miles. That's ALL trails..4 X trails is 170.712 miles...motorcycle....138.578 miles Roger told Ron R that he grooms 135 miles of "TRAILS" which are some roads some cross over trails. Non-motorized trails 463 miles......
Last, but not least, Paula Heaverlo gave a proposal for consideration. A one year wait and see on trail standards, see what the various trail volunteers can do to help the FS with their budget short fall, name two or more volunteer trail coordinators to help the FS with scheduling trail maintenance, allow for a two week chainsaw permitting period to open trails during mid-week, problems areas would fall to the FS crews. Paula gave a very detailed proposal and when she finished Paula received a well deserved applause for her many sleepless night ( Jessie told me that ) over this whole issue. I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but hopefully others will comment and add to what I've wrote.
We'll ALL just have to stay vigilant with these and all other public land issues.......IT'S OUR LAND and we should be able to enjoy OUR LAND in the responsible way that most of us do. The 1% that ALL user groups have are a problem ofr ALL OF US not just this group or that group. We need to work together as Paula Heaverlo said at the November TWIG. Together we can accomplish great deal in the way of recreational security buy just showing that we care.
Mike Drougas Yakima Valley BCHW/ Backcountry Horsemen of Central Wa.
Member #40 Hombres jeep club
Region 2 landmatters chairman