Important land issue in Slade, KY (Natural Bridge/Red River Gorge)
This is an announcement that was posted on our club forum by someone that has been following the land use/USFS issues around Slade, KY. Many of you that have ridden this area are familiar with the forest service shutting down the arch trail/narrows, etc. What they're proposing is closure of the Sand Lick area. Included is the Sand Lot entrance and a lot of the popular trails including Widowmaker, Carb Hill, Little Widowmaker, Devil's Brew, Rattlesnake (before a landslide took it out), Slider, etc. If this is done, essentially Slade will pretty much be closed to wheeling.
I have been tracking the progress of this project called "SandLick/Bigbend Watershed Improvement" on this USFS document all year to see if it got funding because:
* Sandlick Hollow is where the remainder of the wheeling on public land is open as listed in the Motor Vehicle Use Map as fire road 212, 212A, and 2043 (Need to double check the #'s)
* "improving" a watershed usually means closing it to only foot travel after they perform an environmental assessment, propose an action, open a comment period, then take the action. (This is what they did to close the Arch Trail without any public comments!)
* It is a pretty slick way of going through the backdoor of the USFS process to close an area without representing the publics interest and I know it.
I knew all this was going on but was under the impression that the project lacked funding because I spoke with Ranger Jeff Lewis multiple times on this topic. Needless to say, they did get funding and moved on with the project without updating the "proposed actions" PDF I linked above... I am furious :bang:
so.... :Tank: bring out the artillery... so I get antsy and emailed Jeff Lewis twice in a week asking him how to engage the forest service to work with the OHV community to propose an official OHV trail system in the Sandlick/Bigbend area. He would not get back to me. Today I receive this response from the head man himself:
Jeff, as you are aware we do not have an official OHV trail system in the Sandlick area nor do we have any definite plans for one at this time. We have completed inventories to gather data on current resource conditions in the area and will have a proposed action to address these findings out for public review by the end of September of this year. You can comment on that in light of your interests in that area."
So basically, he tells me to comment when appropriate because he has no plans of proposing that the area we have all used for OHV trekking for decades is not a trail system anyway and he can propose to close it for whatever environmental reason they decide to use in this case (brook trout? no...... oil in the water? well it sits on the big sinking oil deposit :roll: .... erosion caused by tires :evil: )
I've requested all the documents they used to close the White's Branch Arch trail earlier this year and my final analysis of that situation is this (I wasn't living in KY at the time that happened so for my own personal closure I had to know what happened):
The USFS had not maintained that section of trail to the standards of the federally funded Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail so they were in violation of the standards and thus in violation of the receiving the funding they already took.
Private interests had loads of money to spend.. so........ Manner proposed to close the trail and take action to stop OHV travel. Well, HE RECEIVED ZERO COMMENTS OPPOSING THE ACTION. So he closed the trail. Then the land past the arch was sold to the nature conservancy (or KY Heartwood? Need to verify), then they spent a few hundred thousand tax payer dollars to trench down to bed rock across the trail, both the trail leading to the "Nature Trail" and at the entrance to the Arch Trail and all along the Arch trail. No kidding, they trenched down to bedrock and caused more damage than a million OHV's could cause. YouTube - Destruction of the Narrows Road
So.... bringing me back to my position at this time. We are in a bad position. They are going to close it all just like they did the Arch Trail and Nature Trail. He has no intention of listening to the public users of this area and working with us.
We all need to email AND call District Ranger Dave Manner and tell him to propose an official OHV trail system in the Sandlick/Bigbend Area before he proposes that it all be closed. I asked him to do this, telling him that if people opposed it he would hear about it during the comment period but to propose anything contrary to the historic and present use of the area would be against the public's desire to have multi-use access to the backcountry.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Cumberland Ranger District
2375 KY 801 South
Morehead, Kentucky 40351
606-784-6428 Office firstname.lastname@example.org
I am open to suggestions as to how to proceed. I think that the timing is critical here. If you've followed any of the land use issues nationally, (tellico for example, Livingstone as another) you know we are in trouble and need to act now in mass.
'95 YJ 4.0 5-Speed with a mod or two...