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USFS - Sequoia National Forest

 COMMENTS TO THE 2009/10 GRANTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS PROGRAM
 
FOR ALL GRANT REQUESTS SUBMITTED BY THE SEQUOIA NATIONAL FORREST
 
COMMENTER:
 
Monache Associates, Owners of Private Property in the Monache Meadow Complex of the Sequoia National Forrest.
 
ACTION REQUESTED:
 
The Monache Associates requests that the OHMVR Division reject/deny all SNF Grant Requests that are associated with the Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest until the Kern River Ranger District repairs/and agrees to maintain the Monache Four Wheel Drive Road (trail No. 34E38).
 
The Sequoia National Forest has submitted OHV Grand requests for $1,057,752, excluding Law Enforcement, for the 2009/2010 period.
 
Ref.      G09-02-15-D01
            G09-02-15-G01
G09-02-15-R01
G09-02-15-S01
 
 
 
REASONS FOR DENIAL:
 
The Monache 4WD Road (34E38) is a single point destination road of approximately 8 miles in length that begins in the Sequoia National Forrest and terminates in the Inyo National Forest.  Approximately 3 miles are in the SNF and 5 miles in the INF.  This road is passable only by 4WD, ATV or motorcycle.
 
Over the past 8-10 years the SNF portion of this road has seriously deteriorated to near impossible conditions.  Two sections are extremely difficult and dangerous areas and do not have water bars to prevent further damage and erosion.  More ands more users are building alternate unauthorized routs to circumvent these unmentioned sections.  While the INF portion has seen major improvements (reroutes / wet land protection and is being maintained on a regular basis using OHV Grant funds.
 
The primary use of this road is destination to Private Property (approx 10 owners), for Cattle Grazing Permitees, Primitive Camping and Fishing on the S. Fork of the Kern River.  This road is also used by the OHV Community as an “easy” route of 4 wheelers and young children on ATVs and motorcycles.
 
In 2008 one of the Monache Private Property Owners contacted the Kern River Ranger District in Kernville, Ca to complain about the progressive deterioration of this road and the lack of maintenance on the part of the SNF.  He was told by the KRRD Recreation Officer, Ms. Cheryl Bauer, that the Forrest Service had “conducted a survey” and all wanted a “challenging” Jeep Road.  In other words a “Rubicon Trail”.  No explanation was given as to why major maintained is being performed on the Inyo National Forest portion of this road.
 
Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to contact most of the Private Property Owners; both cattle range Permitees, and numerous campers and fisherman.  No one whom I have contacted was asked are aware of any kind of Forest Service conducted survey.
 
As this road is primarily a destination road to private property, for cattle permitees operations, for fisherman, for campers and for light beginner type off road experience we request that all Grant funds directed to the Kern River Ranger District be with held until the road is repaired and maintained.  It should remain as the 4WD Road as it has always been but not the vehicle buster it has become in the last 6-8 years.
 
The Monache Associates appreciates the opportunity to comment on these requests before the OHV Commission. [Dion Salfen - 4/5/10]


 The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) strongly supports the Sequoia National Forest’s 2009-2010 restoration, ground operations, and education and safety grant application proposals for Cooperative Agreements with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. We believe that these proposals reflect the Sequoia National Forest’s ongoing commitment to maintain an OHV program that balances recreational opportunities with ecological safeguards.
 
We are particularly pleased with the request for funding for the Lower Kern Restoration Project and the Woodward Peak Restoration Project. Illegal OHV use in these regions, including within the Greenhorn Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA), is resulting in significant damage to natural and cultural resources, and it is essential that unauthorized routes be decommissioned and restored as soon as possible. The proposed restoration activities, including decompacting soils, planting native vegetation, installing barriers, re-contouring affected areas, disguising unauthorized routes, and installing signs will deter further OHV incursions and improve habitat viability in the affected areas. In addition, on-going monitoring is needed to evaluate the success of these restoration activities and to identify areas where additional measures need to be taken to protect resources.
 
We also support the Sequoia National Forest’s ground operations and education and safety grant requests. We hope that the proposed activities, including trail maintenance and conservation, installation and maintenance of signs and barriers, erosion control, monitoring, and public education efforts and will largely eliminate the problem of illegal OHV use off designated routes.
 
If you need volunteers to help implement these or other projects, please do not hesitate to contact us.  [Sean Baumgarten - 4/2/10]



 I'd like to write the following comments in support of the Sequoia grant applications.  The applications fall in to the categories of:
 
1. Development -  this is for an OHV building at the Kernville center.  The building has been supplied as has the land, and the grant is for completion of an 1800 square foot building for storage and maintenance which is small for the size of the program.  The building is badly needed to support OHV and OSV related activities and the Forest has supplied substantial match.  This project clearly deserves funding.
 
2. Ground operations - this is a very comprehensive request for GO funding in the amount of over $550,000.  Sequoia has an extensive OHV program, including OSV.  Most of the requests are for supplies, maintenance, mileage, etc.  There is a request for new snowmobiles and ATV's which I suspect are needed.  Of course salaries are the greatest cost, but these don't appear to be excessive for a request this size.  Most of the funding seems to be essential.
 
I think the list of Forest T&E species in this application should be checked.  Some of the species, such as the Kern Slender Salamander are in fact forest sensitive species and have never been listed, also the bald eagle was delisted some time ago.
 
I'd question the estimate for dozer rental at $1300 per day.  I rent a John Deere 450 or Cat D4 for about $1300 per week, not per day.  Perhaps they are renting a larger machine, such as a Cat D 10? Please clarify this request.
 
Of course the amount funded will depend on availability and scoring, but it is refreshing to see such a detailed and comprehensive grant request.
 
3. Restoration -  this is primarily for restoration of the Black Gulch area and the area around Evans Flat. That area has seen heavy use for many years and needs a lot of rehabilitation.  It will need ongoing monitoring and enforcement or it will soon revert to the prior condition.
 
I'd support the request for a Sutter Equipment (SWECO)  trail tractor, there is a need for a small machine with a 4 ft blade for delicate work.  The Sequoia has at least 3 mini excavators and they need the Sutter for specialized applications such as restoration work in sensitive areas around arch sites. I don't believe Kubota markets such a machine for the USA.
 
4. Education - this is a modest  grant request for a Forest the size of Sequoia. I believe many  Tread Lightly materials are available at no charge to the USFS.  The best education occurs through volunteer activities, and fortunately Sequoia provides extensive support for forest volunteers. Booth at fairs are helpful, but consume a lot of time for a limited return.  Having an effective education program is always a challenge, and Sequoia's application is improved in this area over previous years. [Bruce Whitcher - 4/4/10]


 Everyone asking for Grant money does it with honorable intentions to manage our public lands , provide sustainable recreation and protect resources.  I agree with all of that and am not one to say "do not fund"  but there are exceptions from my point of view. 
 
In reviewing these grants for 2009/2010  It it is alarming how the % of actual work on the ground changes from one agency to another.  From experience I would like to see no more than 5% of the grant request for staff under Ground Operation go to management.   The key to sustainable recreation on our public lands are for our grant money to be spent on the ground.  
 
Every single grantee should be preaching "Stay on Designated Trail"   regardless what your job is, it is the responsibility of every person involved with OHV that this message has to pushed.
 
Every single grantee should encourage those that are law abiding citizens to put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" to change their way so that we can have a "Sustainable OHV recreation"  for future generations. 
 
Lastly I want to thank every single person involved in working on  OHV recreation for your time and dedication . [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to public lands for all" - 3/28/10]


 We are opposed to providing OHV money to the USFS to close the trails!

We have paid to have the trails put in to their inventory. Now they ask for OHV money to have them closed! As we have seen in the "Route Designation" process the USFS is not a good investment for OHV funds.
Give the grants to groups that actually enhance OHV opportunity, like the BLM. [Brendan Hathaway  - 3/17/10]



 Please do not give any state money to a federal agency to close our public land to us.  I whole heartedly reject what the federal government is doing to our lands.  They are tying to kill local economies and discourage people from living free.  It appears as if they all want us to sit and a desk and enjoy the forest on a screensaver. [Casey Crandall - 3/11/10]