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THEY WANT TO CLOSE TELLICO!

You MUST take action to Rescue Tellico NOW! The Forest Service has told us what they want to do and it is incumbent on the OHV community to change their mind.

Background:

On Friday, February 27, the USDA Forest Service rolled out the draft Environmental Assessment for the Upper Tellico OHV trail system. The OHV community has been extremely dismayed to learn that while there are six alternatives the Forest Service is considering, the Forest Supervisor, Marisue Hilliard, made it very clear that her 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.

In addition, 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 if the temporary closure order stands, TELLICO WILL NOT REOPEN ON APRIL 1ST!

What we are doing about it:

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA), and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) have teamed up to fight this and we are working as aggressively as we can to get you the right information. We have spent the last week "scrubbing" through the draft EA and developing a plan and now WE NEED YOUR HELP AND HERE IS HOW YOU CAN BE MOST HELPFUL:

STEP 1: The week of March 9th, THIS WEEK, we need you to call, write or, even better, visit your congressman, senator, state and local representatives. They need to know you feel angry, hurt and betrayed by the Forest Service. They need to know that the Forest Service is going to affect jobs and the economy in this difficult time. They need to know the real science and that the water is not bad. See the sample letter below for talking points. Feel free to copy and paste the letter, but be sure to personalize it with a short paragraph on why Tellico is important-what it represents to the OHV community and to you. Help your representatives understand how important Tellico is.

Please forward any positive or negative reactions you get to Jay Bird at jay.bird@sfwda.org. We want to know who our friends are and follow through with them.

STEP 2: Beginning the week of March 16th, BRC, SFWDA, and UFWDA will have a letter generator up with comments you can make to the Forest Service about the EA. If you have already made comments, make some more. Each time you find out some new information, send it to the Forest Service. We need letters. We are currently refining our comment bullet points and will send out and post more information to help with your letters as we complete that process. But don't let that stop you from doing background preparation and comments yourself. WE NEED to have as much enthusiast involvement as we possibly can muster from the OHV community.

BRC and UFWDA will be following through for us in Washington DC, working from the top down. They will meet with the Forest Service as well as other national organizations and some of those friendly representatives.

Please read the Forest Service documents on their website at: Upper Tellico OHV Area

Then take the time to review the independent scientific study SFWDA had commissioned at: Recommended Trail System Repair and Maintenance Plan Upper Tellico OHV System.

If you see anything in the EA or Caliper report, or you have information that you want to make sure we don't overlook, please notify Heather Royston at Heather.Royston@sfwda.org

We each need to do our part to RESCUE TELLICO and YOUR INVOLVEMENT IS CRITICAL!

Thank you for your help!

SFWDA, UFWDA, and BRC

A SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE CAN BE FOUND HERE FOR COPY AND PASTE. OR THERE ARE GENERAL TALKING POINTS TO USE BELOW... You can find out your representatives' contact information and where to send your letter or email to by visiting the BRC Rapid Response Center at http://www.sharetrails.org/rapid_response/and simply typing in your zip code.

Upper Tellico OHV Area

Proposed Closure Order

TALKING POINTS

Congressional attention to this problem cannot wait.

The USFS has issued a proposed temporary closure notice prohibiting all use of the Upper Tellico OHV system effective April 1, 2009.

REPAIRING THE AREA IS THE BEST SOLUTION:

o OHV enthusiasts spend 4 times more money on lodging, food, and gas than other outdoor sportsmen

o $4.8 million annually in tourism revenues by OHV users

o Repairing contributes $1.5 - $2.6 million in OHV revenue annually

o Repairing would create more than $1.4 million in local jobs

o Nearby streams are currently healthy

o Nearby streams have excellent water quality per North Carolina standards

o Nearby streams are capable of sustaining viable, reproducing native trout populations

o Nearby stream channels are very stable

o Nearby stream channels convey stream flows without streambed erosion

o The trails are repairable and very much maintainable/sustainable after repair

CLOSURE IS A BAD SOLUTION:

o Closure creates ZERO OHV tourism revenue

o Degradation of water quality and degradation of aquatic habitat in Upper Tellico is non-existent

o Historic clear-cutting of land in Upper Tellico has contributed more to the off-site sediment transport than the trail system

o Closure of trails is neither warranted nor recommended by USFS trails experts!:aargh:

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