USFS - Tahoe/Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit NF - Patrol District
I have separated my comments for TNF and LTMBU – these are the comments for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit portion of the TNF/LTBMU Patrol District Grant Application
I appreciate that the LTBMU supports both OHV and OSV programs, and further appreciate the complexity of maintaining year-round officers and equipment that this entails. With that in mind, I have been disappointed to see how few resources remain for cross-over uses such as OHVs used over the snow. I hope to see this issue revisited during the annual review of changes for LBTMU’s System of Roads and Trails. Paved roads can be managed for wheeled over-the-snow access in tandem with traditional OSV access – users simply need educated to Share the Road, much as bicyclists and cars share the paved roads. Alternately, if the LBTMU can’t see their way to mandating a road-sharing system, certain areas need set aside primarily for wheeled over-the-snow travel. There’s a balance to be found somewhere short of the current extreme, where nearly every road is designated as legal for OSVs, and wheeled over-the-snow users are outlawed. I challenge LTBMU to drive better balance for these users, and will be revisiting this issue in future years when I review grant proposals. I will be lobbying for decreased funding if the current state continues where roads are closed to use by wheeled vehicles over the snow.
I’m most involved with 4x4 OHV recreation, but I continue to be concerned with the scarcity of high-quality single-track motorcycle experiences on all public land, and especially in the LTBMU. I hope that the enforcement efforts documented in this grant proposal will be matched with an ongoing effort to include trails (especially single-track) that have been missed during development of the MVUM. I hope that in LTBMU, as in other Forest Units, completion of the MVUM marks the beginning of a continued management process that will include annual consideration and review of routes for addition into LBTMU’s System of Roads and Trails.
I am pleased to see McKinney-Rubicon / Rubicon Jeep Trail prioritized for OHV-related enforcement efforts, and hope this focus extends especially to the OHV Staging Area just West of Tahoma. In specific context to the Rubicon Trail, I have not yet seen much LEO presence from LTBMU forest protection officers and LEOs on the trail, but I look forward to it. As enforcement has become more meaningful on the west side of the Rubicon Trail, illegal use has put more pressure on the east side of the trail, since these users have come to expect little law enforcement there. Generally, I have not seen much OHV enforcement on the actual Jeep trails and would hope that this will change as a result of funding this grant – indeed, much of my support is contingent upon it. Some LEOs believe that a highly-modified 4x4 vehicle is critical for enforcing OHV routes, but time and time again we find that officers on foot bring provide the best education and enforcement, followed a distant second by officers on motorcycles or quads. Frankly, I think that 4x4s insulate the officers when they are on the trail and impair their ability to contact, engage, and be most effective. One set of priorities that I don’t think are particularly of value is the stated intention to patrol meadows, cultural area, and restoration sites – unless these are receiving active abuse, I think these resources could best be focused on patrolling the area OHV trails, and in so doing, they’d be in the area to educate/enforce as necessary for any OHV violations on these sites. It makes little sense to me to prioritize enforcement on empty, unmarked, untrafficked sites, otherwise.
I continue to support LTBMU’s emphasis on engaging enforcement through education, working with local user groups, and hope to see this continue and expand. LTBMU’s solid relationship with the Tahoe Hi-Lo 4WD Club is a sterling example of a long, successful relationship, and LTBMU’s steady work with this club and recent work with Friends of the Rubicon and the Rubicon Trail Foundation continues to deliver education and volunteerism for LTBMU.
Informational open houses at major trailheads would work particularly well – depending on the season, a hot cup of coffee or a cold bottle of water are great icebreakers between LTBMU staff and users, and informal forums like this will be invaluable to communicating rules changes to the users, most of whom would like to be legal, it’s just that the system is difficult to understand fully. This sort of visible appearance at trailheads like the OHV Staging Area just West of Tahoma not only helps with educating on changes in rules, but sends a visibly message to rule-breakers and scofflaws that LBTMU staff is meaningfully on the trails. Local club meetings are another great way to get education out, and prioritizing attendance by a LTBMU representative will pay huge dividends in user awareness and buy-in. Please continue to reach out to local clubs and organizations like the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo 4WD Club, Friends of the Rubicon, and the Rubicon Trail Foundation!
Most of the Direct Expense Line Items look fair, but I am concerned about funding for non-LEO positions, especially those that appear to not impact OHV/OSV use. North Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol, Avalanche Forecasters, and etc. should be disallowed unless they can be clearly explained to positively affect OHV/OSV usage. I suspect that the Backcountry Ski Patrol would be displeased that there efforts were being used to support nearly $40K worth of match to OHV/OSV grants!
That said, I am generally encouraged by documentation of volunteer matching and heartily encourage LBTMU management to do even more of this. Many thousands of undocumented hours are spent on LBTMU resources every year by volunteers, and if the LBTMU works harder to formally document these, it draws them closer to the volunteers and helps with the match to OHMVR. This is truly a win-win-win proposition, since it binds federal, state, and local resources together to work on the trail resources that they all value.
This is a modest grant with specific commits and budgets, and I’m looking forward to seeing LTBMU LEOs on the trail this year. Accordingly, I support this law enforcement grant, even as I ask that they work well with trail users, displaying appropriate levels of both social and professional interaction. I understand that registration, and insurance (in the case of street-registered vehicles) are necessary, but I hope that LTBMU enforcement efforts will give higher-priority to enforcing against drunk driving and resource damage. [Randy Burleson - 4/5/10]
I was provided the opportunity to review your application for Law Enforcement needs within the Tahoe National Forest, especially the Greenhorn Creek area. I am a resident of the Buckeye Road area and am concerned with the increased traffic. Attached is my response letter. [Joe Riley - 4/2/10]
The Friends of Fordyce fully supports your application for the above named grant. We feel there is a great need for increased funding to patrol and maintain the Tahoe National Forest, specifically the Fordyce Trail and its surrounding areas. Increasing usage due to several factors have put a severe stain on existing resources.
General maintenance needs to be performed to allow the public to safely enjoy access to our national forest. The Friends of Fordyce will continue to work closely with your office to help maintain and improve the Fordyce Trail and its surrounding staging areas. Mitigation measures needed due to usage and natural causes will be performed and we will help with improvements such as installing signage and public education and contact.
Continued patrolling of all areas is also needed to ensure responsible use as well. In the past we have offered our assistance in the form of transportation for TNF personnel. We will continue to do so in the future. We also consider the addition of a TNF vehicle capable of accessing more areas of the Fordyce Trail an also indispensible necessity for public safety. It will allow Forest Rangers and LEO’s to render assistance to those in need and increase your public presence to serve as a deterrent to those individuals that might take advantage in an otherwise remote area. The Friends of Fordyce stands ready to work with the TNF to help train any potential drivers of an off road capable vehicle in safe driving techniques, provide what service we can in its maintenance, and offer qualified volunteer help with installation of any performance and/or safety aftermarket equipment purchased for it.
The Friends of Fordyce has enjoyed working with your office in the past and looks forward to continuing our relationship in the future. Our goal is to help provide for the quality multiple use of our public lands and the protection of our natural resources. [Bret Preble, President, Friends of Fordyce - 4/4/10]
Every single Law Enforcement grant should have a commitment and focus to catch the "Willfully Ignorant" visitor. We see every day folks doing what ever they want and they feel immune because it is their feeling "there is no one around to catch me" That has to change. Yes, we have Green Sticker Violations, sound violations, and other normal day to day violations that by now should be all in compliance. It is the "Willfully Ignorant " that does not abide by the rules of the areas they ride in, i.e. "Stay on Designated Trails " "Respect Private Property" "Know the rules of area you are riding in " be it Forest Service, BLM, City and County. All of us can put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" but it is Law Enforcement that needs to focus their talent to those that want to ruin it for everyone. We can not let them rule our destiny or how we are being portrait in the eyes of the public and government elected officials.
The other area of grave concern is our children, we need to make sure that all children 16 and under on Quads have the proper certification. We need to make sure that they are properly dressed to ride, no tank tops, tennis shoes and short pants. Parents need to be told of their responsibility in the strongest possible manner, ticket.
Thank you all for working this very difficult issue. [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]