We have been receiving an unprecedented amount of negative feedback from the 4x4 community recently about the progress of Yacolt Burn Trails Project. I do hope that this post will alleviate some of those rumors...
First of all, I need everyone to know that we are doing EVERYTHING in our power as individuals and as a club to keep this project moving forward. We have not (and will not) give up on this project.
You all should know that even though there has been a Judicial Challenge filed against Phase I of the motorized trails project - that DNR is continuing to move forward with with pursuit of permits for Phase I. In addition, plans and grant requests for Phase II of the motorized trails project are already in the works.
To clarify, the Judicial Challenge is a SEPA case. The opposing party is challenging the legality of the SEPA process that DNR followed for Phase I of the motorized trails. This is a common practice for environmental groups like "Gifford Pinchot Task Force" and CRAG Law Firm" to enact in an effort to slow down a project or "take the wind out of the sails" if a project has momentum and sufficient funding. Forcing the off-road community into giving up or failing to support DNR is EXACTLY what they want us to do - and that is not going to happen!
It is important to note that giving up or walking away from this project is not something we have ever considered and we find it offensive when our club members are randomly attacked by members of the off-road community about this project. There is only so much we have control over with this project - taking your frustrations out on members of our club is like writing a passenger in a vehicle a speeding ticket - pointless...
It is also important to note that DNR and the Attorney General are fighting this Judicial Challenge with everything they've got - DNR (and now the AG) have a considerable amount of time and resources invested in this project and it is in their best interest to WIN this challenge.
I just got off the phone with the lead Attorney for this case and he shared with me that back in December they "responded" to the Judicial Challenge with 17 GB (that's gigibytes) of electronic data that they collected from all of the DNR staff that has been involved. That was a daunting process for any law firm and now the complainant gets to wade through all of that data.
Likely Next Steps:
- the AG's office needs to prioritize the data into a "manageable" package for the court to review (17 GB is more than any Judge can be expected to review)
- the complainant will respond to the court with a brief about the data
- the AG's office will file a brief responding to the complainant's brief
- following the actions above - a court date willl be set and the lawyers will argue the case (we expect this to take place in late summer)
There is obviously more information that I am unable to post on this forum and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about this process in person. Attending one of our club meetings and sharing your questions with the group is the preferred method, but I will consider taking phone calls. I will also be at the Puyallup Swap Meet on March 10th in booth #7607 (outside covered building)
"We are not yet in the home stretch, but we are in the curve, right before the home stretch." (someday I will share who I stole this quote from)
ALL OF THE FUNDING that has been raised for this project, including capital funding, grant funding, fund raising by Piston's Wild, JCTRA, **** Hannah and Fast Specialties is ALL IN PLACE and awaiting the opportunity to be put into the Yacolt Burn motorized trails. These dollars will not be utilized for any other projects or activities, except for the Yacolt Burn motorized trails...
What you can do to help in the meantime:
- Visit the Yacolt Burn - enjoy the forest...please respect the rules...
- Pick up some garbage while you are there - take care of your forest...
- Join us for "Pick Up the Burn" on September 28, 2013
- DO NOT WHEEL ILLEGALLY in the Yacolt Burn - we do not want to waste our dollars replanting areas that are not included in the trail plan.
- Support our events this year - this is how we do the things we do.
- Watch for work parties in the Yacolt Burn and show up to help out.
- Join a local 4x4 or ATV club - these are the groups that keep public lands open to the public and fight to make sure you have trails to ride.
- We would like to recommend any PNW4WDA club (www.pnw4wda.org
), Jones Creek Trail Riders (www.jctra.org
) or Dirt Church ATV Club (www.dcatv.org
- Not a joiner? That's OK - feel free to participate in the other options listed above.
Thank you in advance to everyone for staying positive and keeping your eye on the goal - we look forward to working with everyone to build the best ORV Recreation Area possible in the Yacolt Burn State Forest...