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high desert 4x4 01-02-2010 07:33 PM

Sled Springs OHV Trail System
Warrpath 4X4, Grumpy, Dustdriver (other PNW members living in far eastern Oregon) I was wondering what you all know about the Sled Springs OHV Trails System. Per the final Decision Notice it sounded like an ok decision (except for all the closures) it would have netted Class II users a trail system of about 80 miles on old roads. However the decision is being appealed by the greenies. Are any of you involved with the Forest Service in the Wallowa Valley Ranger District particularly the District Ranger Ken Gebhardt. This Final Decision is a great start but I need help in formatting a letter to the District Ranger. If someone knows this area at all please post up so as at least we can send a letter in support of OHV's. In many cases without public support the Ranger will just give in to the greenies. The fact a lawsuit has been filed apparently says loudly; the Ranger is not caving easily. It is our hope a letter of support to Ken Gebhard will aid in his decision not to cave to the greenies strong arm tactics. The e-mail site address is verrrrry long but the easy way to get on site to view the decision is to search for Sled Springs OHV and then click onto Planning and decision of Sled Springs OHV area. I hope one of you can help either by writing, calling or stopping by Ken Gebhardt office in order for information in order to support him. Randy

warrpath4x4 01-02-2010 08:15 PM

I havnt been in contact with anyone yet, i was tipped off to the law suit by someone on here (not sure if they want me mentioning their name) just recently. I am in the process of researching info.

Grumpy 01-02-2010 08:28 PM

Following is news articles I have on the Peak Putters site:

Group challenges planned eastern Oregon ATV area
By Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian
December 24, 2009, 2:29PM

The U.S. Forest Service plans to designate the Sled Springs OHV Trail System in 38,283 acres of federal forest north of Enterprise.

But the Hells Canyon Preservation Council contends the plan will damage summer elk range in the Sled Springs area, and that increased OHV use will displace the herd.

“The Hells Canyon Preservation Council certainly isn’t the only entity concerned about the negative effects this project poses to local wildlife,” says council attorney Jennifer Schwartz. “In addition to (the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife), a broad coalition of sportsmen and the Nez Perce Tribe have also raised wildlife-related concerns.

The plan designates a 144-mile trail system for ATVs and other off-road vehicles, but it also closes 91 miles of roads to use of any kind, reducing the total miles of roads and motorized pathways in the area from 218 to 140 miles while eliminating unregulated cross-country travel, the Forest Service said.

The decision strikes "a reasonable balance among competing interest groups, individuals, and governments while conserving the lands and resources that I am responsible for managing on the Wallowa Valley Ranger District," said District Ranger Kenneth Gebhardt.

The decision comes in the context of a larger effort by the Wallowa-Whitman and other national forests to decide where off-highway vehicles should be allowed and where they should not be.

The Wallowa-Whitman has more miles of roads -- about 9,000 -- than the Oregon Department of Transportation maintains.

-- Matthew Preusch

Comments (13 total) RSSPost a commentOldest comments are shown first. Show newest comments first
Posted by cornwall
December 24, 2009, 4:11PM
You can't even put a shovel in the ground in this state anymore.

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Posted by kedsokedso
December 24, 2009, 7:18PM
If you cannot travel in the wilderness by leg power, keep out!

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Posted by jory
December 24, 2009, 8:52PM
That guy standing in the ruts looks like a real Goober.

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Posted by gadfly52
December 24, 2009, 11:59PM
I can't imagine this one will stand up in court. Why do these wingnuts think the public lands are theirs to destroy?

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Posted by puffy999
December 25, 2009, 12:51AM
I'm not someone who will support every environmental cause out there, and I'm an avid hunter, fisherman, and supporter of sportsman's rights. However, these redneck fools who destroy property (public AND private) with their ATVs and trucks with mudders deserve some severe street justice.

Don't give them more land to ruin. Let them drink themselves stupid at home, and destroy their own yard.

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Posted by mdvaden
December 25, 2009, 1:29AM
Looks like one conflict that I'll be glad to see other people iron the wrinkles out of.

I've been down near the redwoods by Orick, CA, quite a few times the past few years. And the folks in that area are very fond of their elk too. In their case it draws in a lot of people to enjoy the herds. Most surrounding land there is already protected.

M. D. Vaden Portland Landscape and Trees

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Posted by typicallibrl
December 25, 2009, 6:14AM
California has much stronger environmental protection laws and regulation than Oregon does.

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Posted by jwh2008
December 25, 2009, 7:05AM
I dont want to upset you metro fools but I was in the area and saw this area and most all of the vechiles, with trailers ect and numerous ATVs had metro area license plate holders on them. Dont know but that would make me think the, eastern Oregon is metros playground, crowd have no idea about real land protection measures. Most locals would not tear up the land like this as they live there and are far better at land protection than the mindless metro crowd that believes it is ok for them to destroy the land but not anyone else.

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Posted by jwh2008
December 25, 2009, 7:08AM
Here is the major difference between Metro and rural people. Most metro people have no real commonsense when it comes to use of the land and most rural people take better care of it than the so called enviros with commonsense practices.

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Posted by typicallibrl
December 25, 2009, 8:06AM
California has much stronger environmental protection laws and regulation than Oregon does.

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Posted by watchdawg666
December 25, 2009, 8:41AM
kedso: You might sing want to sing a different tune. My active lifestyle caught up with me as I neared 50 and developed osteoarthritis. Should that limit my ability to go out and see things and have fun, I think not.

ATVs have allowed me to wander deep into places I could never hike now. And the interesting thing is, the places I've gone (other than the trail, which sometimes means ruts develop due to weather conditions) are generally free from garbage and vandalism.

Acre for acre there's VERY little public land where off-road use is legal - I have to drive at least two hours to ride - and I live in Eastern Oregon.

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Posted by econoline
December 25, 2009, 10:19AM
kedsokedso- First off these are roads so it is obviously not a wilderness area, secondly if by leg power you mean to include bicycles you might note that once again bicycle access has been reduced, as 1/3 of these areas are now off limits to bicycles, as well as hikers in addition to the ATV crowd. It doesn't make much sense to try to force more conflict between users who are traveling at such widely varying speeds... Let's not remove options for non-motorized use on alternative trails!

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Posted by Nell Langford
December 25, 2009, 10:40AM
Please see our documentary series at, "What We Need to Know About Oceano Beach and Dunes". We, too, are engaged in a battle to protect the environment and public health from the ravages of off roading.

************************************************** ********

Suit tests planned off-road park

By Kathleen Ellyn
Wallowa County Chieftain

The Hells Canyon Preservation Council is taking legal action to block an off-highway-vehicle trail system at Sled Springs in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

The planned project would establish a 144-mile OHV trail system within the U.S. Forest Service's nearly 40,000-acre Sled Springs Wildlife Management Unit.

In a news release announcing its lawsuit last week, the council identified the area as "crucial wildlife habitat" and "the highest quality elk summer range." The council pointed to Forest Service reports that found that motorized vehicles were a threat to maintaining productive elk herds and that elk calf births had declined in the Sled Springs area in recent years.

Recent research done by the Forest Service stops short of blaming declining birth rates on motorized traffic alone, citing a six-year study from 1999 through 2006 that showed a pregnancy rate of 92 percent in Sled Springs, though only 18 percent of cows were seen with calves in the spring. It has been suggested that given the ability of cows to conceive, the loss of calves might be due to predators.

HCPC also criticized the proposed trails based on information that they would pass through three known Northern Goshawk nest stands and possible corridors for travel that could be used by wide-ranging gray wolves and wolverine. The Forest Service does not argue these points.

Jennifer Schwartz, HCPC staff attorney, said the ability of Sled Springs to continue functioning as an important wildlife habitat "has already been impaired by past and present commercial logging and livestock grazing - establishing a large OHV play area on top of all that adds insult to injury."

HCPC argued that OHV systems result in more, not less, off-road trespass in unauthorized areas. ". . . results indicate that OHV users did not confine themselves to designated trails," Schwartz said. "Take, for instance, the Winom-Frazer OHV Complex Near Ukiah. ODFW found that 27 unauthorized trail segments totaling over 14 miles had originated from just one of the designated trails it surveyed."

Judy Wing, spokeswoman for the Forest Service, expressed disappointment about the suit, pointing out that HCPC did not participate in an appeal process to try to work toward a compromise.

The Forest Service has been looking for a site for an OHV system since 1997 and working with the environmental groups, governments, other agencies, tribes, ATV groups and the public on the Sled Springs site since 2003.

"This project has been ongoing for a long time," she said.

The basic problem, she said, is that the Forest Service has the responsibility of balancing multiple uses of forestland, and HCPC and others have a single focus. The result is that the Forest Service ends up making a decision that represents the best balance of key issues brought forward by each group - it looks for a compromise.

"We felt the decision represented a good balance between environmental conditions and resource needs, including public use," she said.

The man responsible for the compromise decision, Wallowa Valley District Ranger Ken Gebhardt, said the Forest Service pursued the Sled Springs project because it was one of few areas under consideration that had support from at least one of the special interest groups.

"We are disappointed to see the complaint by HCPC," he said. "During the scoping process we worked through and discussed all of the various issues - everyone was treated the same."

The Wallowa Valley Trail Riders Association also appealed Gebhardt's compromise solution on the grounds that the proposed season was too limited, but sat down with Gebhardt in the appeal process.

"We worked with them in the appeal resolution process and HCPC didn't take part in that process," Gebhardt said.

Key points from Gebhardt's proposal:

• Closure of 91 miles of existing roads to all uses.

• Conversion of 54 miles of existing roads to OHV use only.

• Preservation of two popular roads listed as closed but in use for both full-size and off-highway vehicles.

• Agreement to work with Nez Perce Fisheries Tribe and others to limit access within the area to dry-condition seasons.

• Creation and maintenance of four elk security areas.

• A promise of cooperation of the USFS with Wallowa Valley Trail Riders Association and other partners in a restoration of 25 miles of user-created OHV trails.

• A plan for an annual monitoring report addressing various issues including weed treatments, big-game conflicts and range permittee issues.

• Building of three bridges where the trail passes over McAllister and Mud creeks.

warrpath4x4 01-02-2010 08:34 PM

Group sues over OHV project
Written by KATY NESBITT The (La Grande) Observer December 30, 2009 01:54 pm
Hells Canyon Preservation Council opposes Forest Service plan to build OHV trails in Wallowa County

ENTERPRISE — The Hells Canyon Preservation Council has filed a complaint in federal court challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the Sled Springs OHV Project.
The preservation council says it is primarily concerned with protecting elk habitat in the area and that vehicles and off-highway vehicles in particular are a leading threat to maintaining productive elk herds.

HCPC is seeking an injunction to stop new OHV trail construction and the conversion of roads to OHV trails. Studies show, according to the council, that OHV use disturbs elk habitat and that numbers have decreased.

“Decline in elk calf recruitment is more susceptible with human interaction,” and included OHV use as a contributing factor, said Jennifer Schwartz, legal counsel for the council.

The council first filed appeals in 2003 and 2004, before the initial decision was released in 2005 by the Wallowa Valley Ranger District in Enterprise. Since the initial release, the Forest Service has conducted an internal appeal process and says it has made changes in the areas sensitive to fish and wildlife. The preservation council and the Nez Perce Tribe filed appeals in the ensuing years.
The impetus for creating an OHV trail management plan was to find an area that would impact the Wallowa Valley Ranger District the least while providing OHV recreation, the Forest Service claims. Another target was to diminish cross-country travel that already exists and keep vehicle use to designated roads and trails only.

“We are seeking a reasonable balance,” said Steve Ellis, supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

The most recent decision was released May 29 by Ken Gebhardt, the ranger of the district. The plan designates roads, trails and areas that are open to motorized use. It closes all undesignated roads, trails and areas to motorized use in order to eliminate cross-country OHV use.

According to Gebhardt’s decision, the trail system season of use would begin in the spring when the ground dries, but not before May 1, and end three days prior to archery season in late August.

The plan would convert 54 miles of existing road to OHV use only and 73 miles of existing road would be open to OHV and full-size vehicle use. Seventeen miles of new OHV trail, three trail bridges and two OHV staging areas would be constructed.

The Council is concerned that adding an OHV trail system puts further pressure on elk habitat already at risk from logging and livestock grazing, Schwartz said.

this is from the ranger districts website

one thing id like to point "Creates 4 elk security areas (From Alternative 3)."

warrpath4x4 01-02-2010 08:36 PM

Wallowa Valley Ranger District

88401 Hwy. 82
Enterprise, Oregon 97828
(541) 426-5546
Ken Gebhardt, District Ranger

Grumpy 01-02-2010 08:47 PM

The lawsuit will have to be answered at some point. More money down a rathole. And, at this point, I'm not seeing anything on BRC. I'll get that fixed if I can. I haven't been up there in a long time, but that's still one of my favorite parts of Oregon.

high desert 4x4 01-04-2010 08:53 PM

Thank you Grumpy and Warrpath. As this is your area all I will do is write in support of ken and his staff per the 80 miles of Class II and forward our support in keeping this area open as per his Decision for OHV's. I will add in needing more as always and make him aware we the PNW would and will support in any way possible. Is this ok. Randy

Grumpy 01-04-2010 09:19 PM

I'm actually in Region 4, but will do what I can to support you guys in Oregon. I have info on my club site, and I'd hope this thread will garner more support!I sent the news articles to BRC, but have no response yet. I'll let you know when I do...

bjeepin3 01-04-2010 11:56 PM

A letter was sent to MR. Gebhardt on 1-2-10. This plan was initially settled in 2002-03 with appeals filed by the anti access groups in 2005 as noted in the article. I am not sure if anyone from PNW4WDA sent letters of support of this project back then but if you did it might be helpful for the Wallowa Ranger District to have it in hand. Currently after talking to the Ranger District today, the only folks that they are aware of that could assist them in the lawsuit were the Wallowa Valley Trail Riders Association. If anyone knows someone in this group it might be helpful to get their history of the area and incorporate that into your letters as well. This area was actually included in a SOPA that I had recieved earlier and I had thought it was a done deal and under construction.


Art Waugh 01-05-2010 09:04 AM

Have not seen the latest state OHV map/brochure yet, but IIRC this area was in the old one. I have been on the RAC since 2003 and we work with USFS as well as BLM, and this one has never appeared at our meetings, for input from the RAC, and many other OHV proposals have been brought forward. Last meeting we had was back at the end of May, and as far as I know we are still waiting on appointments to come down, then schedule our next meeting.

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