The Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA), the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) expressed disappointment today in the Forest Service decision to implement the emergency closure of the Upper Tellico OHV trails on April 1, pending review of the many substantive comments made by OHV enthusiasts.
Gary Parsons, President of SFWDA, said, "We are very disappointed in the Forest Service decision to close the Upper Tellico OHV trails. In formal comments made to the Forest Service, the OHV community and other interested parties clearly demonstrated that such a closure has no scientific basis. Substantive comments provided to the Forest Service included findings of an independent study completed by Caliber Engineering and the recommendations from a report completed by the Forest Service's own Trails Unlimited Team. This is a bad decision and we are left with no other alternative but to pursue legal options."
Carla Boucher, legal counsel for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations, stated, "The Forest Service has failed to make the case with regard to adverse effects and resource damage. There is no immediate threat to public health, safety, or other requisite finding required by such an order. Water quality standards cited by the Forest Supervisor as the basis for such an order are not being exceeded." Boucher added, "In making this decision, the Forest Service must be prepared to explain why similar findings have not been made in the decades of greater environmental impact and they simply have not done that."
Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director, stated, "Implementing this closure order threatens the integrity of the ongoing planning process in which the interested public and our federal government have collectively invested significant time and resources."
Mumm concluded, "The economic impact of this closure will be devastating to the area and comes at a time when the current administration is calling for more jobs, economic development, and healthy outdoor recreation. It makes no sense."
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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. BlueRibbon Coalition: Preserving your recreational access to public lands.
United Four Wheel Drive Associations is an international organization comprised of four wheel drive enthusiasts, clubs, associations, and businesses dedicated to providing community services around the world, education in responsible land use and safe vehicle operation, and protection of our natural resources through conservation practices. 1-800-448-3932. United Four Wheel Drive Associations Official Site - United Online - An International Organization
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) was founded in 1987 to promote responsible land use and to keep public lands accessible for motorized recreation. For more information on the activities and accomplishments of Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, please visit Southern 4WD Association or contact us at 1483 N. Mt. Juliet Road, PMB # 222, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122