Upper Tellico - The Latest News, Please Take Action Now!

The Lyin King

Public Lands Advocate
BRC Critical Action Alert -- THEY WANT TO CLOSE TELLICO!

You MUST take action to save Tellico NOW!

Today the Southwest Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) met with the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and heard a presentation on what will be in their Environmental Assessment (EA). While they have 7 alternatives that they are considering, their preferred alternative is to CLOSE TELLICO. While we know that this is completely unacceptable and will cause immediate and intense emotional reaction, we are asking that everyone maintain a level head and concentrate on what our task is now.

STEP 1: The USFS Forest Supervisor issued a TEMPORARY CLOSURE ORDER that will keep Tellico closed until they decide what the fate of the area will be. This means that TELLICO WILL NOT REOPEN ON APRIL 1ST!

Please read the order here: http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/tu...ry_closure.pdf and provide comments to the temporary closure.

Be sure to talk about all the plans you have to use the area, all the events that are already scheduled for that you have paid to attend. We MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!

STEP 2: We must, at all costs, provide as many SUBSTANTIVE comments about the EA as humanly possible. And we are ready.

SFWDA requests that you download the study that we commissioned . . . (Recommended Trail System Repair and Maintenance Plan Upper Tellico OHV System)

. . . and that you download the USFS EA which is posted here (Upper Tellico OHV Area )

. . . and that you compare the two side by side and start making comments.

Our study will give you the data that you need to make comments about the surveys that have been done, the lack of maintenance the USFS has completed, the science, the engineering, the economics, EVERYTHING.

We will work to have a letter generator up, but honestly, we need for you to take pencil to paper and think this through.

Copy this announcement and send it to your friends, family, and everyone you know.

STEP 3: The other thing we need, and you know what is coming, it's money. In these tough economic times, it's hard to find a few dollars to support a cause, but if you enjoy the Tellico area, or even the dying sport of OHV and 4X4 recreation, please consider a donation to Rescue Tellico so that we may continue to fight for Tellico . . . Rescue Tellico Fund

STEP 4: In an effort to show that we will not accept these actions, Crawford's Campground is committing to continue on with the plans for Spring Fling on April 4th. Please consider attending and showing your support and helping to raise money for Rescue Tellico.

So you know, SFWDA is working very closely with United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the BlueRibbon Coalition to review these documents. BE ASSURED that the lawyers will be reviewing all of these documents in detail and that we are all ready to take whatever action is warranted to further the fight to KEEP TELLICO OPEN!

Thank you for your help,

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Management of the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) System

My letter . . .

Subject: Management of the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) System - EA

National Forests in North Carolina
Attn: Candace Wyman, Project Coordinator and Marisue Hilliard, Forest Supervisor
160 A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Dear Tusquitee Ranger District,

The proposed continued closure of the Upper Tellico OHV System to OHV users by Forest Service Supervisor Marisue Hilliard is totally unacceptable!

We in the OHV community are completely opposed to the trail closures and paving that has been suggested for the Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle area by the Forest Service in your recently proposed and obviously preferred “Alternative Câ€ÂÂ.

Water quality in the Tellico River Watershed is not being damaged by the OHV Area, and in fact meets or exceeds state and national requirements in nearly all areas, and the areas that are not meeting requirements appear directly attributable to other factors besides the OHV Area

We believe that current plan for the Tellico OHV Area is not fair to OHV users and is altogether unfeasible. We question the motivation for this action, which seems based on flawed analysis of the issues at hand. We also believe that the criteria used to formulate the initial purpose and needs statement was faulty.

The OHV community should not be punished for the Forest Service’s past failures to effectively plan and manage this trail network. Volunteers have been working for years in cooperation with the Forest Service to maintain this area and now funding, staffing and maintenance excuses are being used to justify trail closures. The OHV user community has been successful in procuring substantial funds for OHV management of the area. There are several grant and volunteer programs available, the Forest Service needs to address any legitimate maintenance and funding concerns by training staff in grant application processes, management of volunteer programs, and should endeavor to learn about and apply for other funding sources such as that provided by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Additionally Memorandums of Understandings or other similar agreements with recreational groups, such as the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association should be considered.

The OHV community is committed to help provide assistance in addressing legitimate concerns about route maintenance. The Forest Service proposal of implementing “Alternative C†will not adequately provide recreational opportunities or address access needs. We generally support the idea of travel being limited to designated roads, trails and areas. We are also in support of a thorough environmental review and analysis as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the OHV infrastructure. We as an OHV community have voluntarily taxed ourselves in order to provide funds to the agencies involved so they can actively and effectively accomplish these tasks.

My family and I spend many enjoyable hours recreating in our National Forests, National Parks and on BLM lands. Though we reside in California we visit relatives in North Carolina often. During our visits we like to get out in nature with family and friends. We usually travel to our chosen destination via a four wheel drive vehicle as it allows us to get away from paved roads and into areas we could not otherwise reach. Upon arrival at our final destination we spend our time camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and traveling the trails in the vicinity with our Jeep and our other OHVs taking in the beautiful scenery and challenging trails in OHV systems like Upper Tellico that our public land affords us.

In closing, we insist that the Forest Service make every effort to reopen and properly maintain the trails at Upper Tellico instead of closing them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


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