|Tibble Fork Trail System,
AF Canyon, Utah
On Tuesday, January 13,
2004 the Utah Shared Action Alliance (USA-ALL) filed a lawsuit in Utah
federal district court challenging motorized trail closures and other restrictions
in the Uinta National Forest.
The lawsuit challenges the
U.S.D.A. Forest Service’s closure of 20 miles of the Tibble Fork trail
system and implementation of a “closed-unless-posted-open” motorized travel
system for the entire forest.
USA-ALL’s complaint alleges
that the Forest Service unlawfully refused to consider comments from USA-ALL
or the environmental consequences of its actions when it adopted a revised
Uinta Forest plan and then restricted motorized travel.
Brian Hawthorne, USA-ALL
executive director, said that the Forest Service discouraged the public
to comment on specific trails, indicating it would address travel plan
changes at a District Office level.
“When formulating the new
forest plan, the Forest Service said they would not be making route closure
decisions and refused to accept our input on trails,” said Brian Hawthorne,
USA-ALL executive director. “Then they did the opposite and closed
Land managers and even environmentalists
say they want OHV use to be limited to designated trail systems.
The Tibble Fork system was a model of what a responsible trail system should
be. OHV users contributed nearly $200,000 of Utah State OHV funds
for management, maintenance and law enforcement of the system. “The
Forest Service has rewarded our good behavior with closure,” said Hawthorne.
USA-ALL’s suit asks the court
to re-open the Tibble Fork trails, to order the Forest Service to consider
comments from USA-ALL members, and to consider the environmental impacts
of its actions before making changes.
The action also asks the
court to block the closed-unless-posted-open system of roads and trails
that remain open. USA-ALL contends that forest regulations require
the Forest Service to post closed routes, not vice-versa. “It’s
an impossible system,” said Hawthorne. “Somebody pulls down a sign
and it’s unlawful for the public to travel on an open road.”
The Utah Shared Access Alliance
is Utah's largest public lands access advocacy group. Learn more about
how you can help keep public lands open for recreational access on USA-ALL's
What Can You Do?
Take a minute to write/email
the Forest Service officials.
to Land Use