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Tibble Fork Trail System, AF Canyon, Utah

Background:
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 the trails.” 

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.” 

History:
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 website: http://www.usa-all.com 

Links:
Usa-All Website

What Can You Do?
Take a minute to write/email the Forest Service officials.

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