Forest Service officials announced this week the release of the Boggy-Glade Travel Management Plan for the second time, after meeting with the Montezuma County Commissioners.
The plan has previously been released and then rescinded in Nov. 2010, which was followed by public outcry, a public march and a long-standing public protest, during which signs protesting the plan were placed on Highway 184.
“We appreciate the extensive public input from the community and the expertise of the county commissioners that we have received, beginning in 2008 to the present,” Dolores Ranger District Manager Derek Padilla said. “We have incorporated concepts and ideas from previous efforts into the current decision in order to offer a safe road system that allows for public access, while minimizing negative impacts to natural resources.”
At the time of the release of the first travel management plan for the area and during the public march in opposition of it in Feb. 2011, many were opposed to the plan because it closed roads and limited game retrieval.
The Decision for the Boggy-Glade area will include:
• motorized game retrieval via ATV within one mile of open system roads in specific areas shown on a motorized game retrieval map for deer or elk during archery, muzzleloader, and 1st thru 4th hunting seasons;
• a road system of 379 miles open to motor vehicles and UTVs, which the agency will maintain on a regular basis by blading surfaces and cleaning drainage ditches;
• a new OHV trail consisting of roads and trails designed for OHV’s 50-inches or less in width;
• changes to parking regulations for camping and day-use;
• seasonal restrictions in important big-game winter habitat;
• newly designated non-motorized trails;
• re-vegetation efforts that minimize ground disturbance, when possible, for decommissioning of roads and trails not included in the newly designated system.
The new road system will include most gravel roads and many dirt roads in use today, and a few un-numbered routes will be converted to open roads. The goal is to provide adequate public access, while protecting open areas between roads and trails to promote clean water and improved wildlife habitat.
“Open space in forests, meadows and canyons between roads allows herds to distance themselves from noise and intrusions,” said Ivan Messinger, Dolores District wildlife biologist. “Providing large enough security areas will reduce big-game vulnerability and keep herds in place, which will increase hunting opportunities.”
Reducing the amount of motorized routes crisscrossing these spaces, along with regular road maintenance, will also reduce erosion and allow the watershed to retain moisture.
“Healthy soils act as a reservoir for water,” said Joni Vanderbilt, San Juan National Forest hydrologist.
“Rain and snow percolate into the ground to grow grass and trees and recharge springs and seeps for people and wildlife to use. The current web of unmaintained routes alters this system by creating impermeable surfaces that channel water away rather than allowing it to recharge the soil reservoir.”
Maps of open roads and trails will be made available and road numbers will be posted at intersections to assist the public in keeping motor vehicles on the designated system of roads and trails. No cross-country motorized travel for general public driving will be allowed. Single-track motorcycle trails will be discussed further in future analyses and the Forest Service will continue to meet on a regular basis with county commissioners to discuss this and other projects.
The Decision Notice, Environmental Analysis and map will be available at the Dolores Public Lands Office, and online at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/projects.
The Decision will be subject to a 45-day appeal period. Instructions for how to appeal can be found in the Decision Notice posted online.