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USFS - Sequoia National Forest

The Sequoia National Forest has as a world class system of OHV trails which they continue to do an excellent job of maintaining even with shrinking budgets.

As the largest on the ground volunteer organization in the Sequoia National Forest Stewards of the Sequoia work with staff out in the field maintaining trails on a regular basis. We are intimately familiar with the trail systems and their needs.

The Sequoia trail systems are  extremely important as they are the only remaining continuous OHV trail systems in Southern California where one can enjoy continuous OHV trail riding without using street legal roads. Most of the Sequoia trails are primitive in nature, which is hard to find anywhere else in Southern California or even in the entire state. There is a large segment of the public that prefer these type of primitive trails.

The request for Operations & Maintenance has been reduced from $692,000 last year to $539,00 this year and we are concerned that the lower level of funding may not be able to provide the needed maintenance. We would hate to see staffing reduced below prior levels.

In past years $2500 was requested for once a year dozer work on the Cyrus Canyon OHV Track  to make it usable for the public by removing ruts, gullies and ditches. This year that request was dropped from the grant equest, but it appears the Sequoia does not have funding in their budget for this work. We would like Sequoia grant to have the $2500 for Cyrus anyon. This work is needed.

However we do have one $16,000 item on the grant that we think should not be funded-

There is a line item in the Education Grant for 20,000 new maps for $16,000

The Sequoia already has many maps
1. A new Forest map
2. A Motor Vehicle Use Map
3. A Trail Inventory Map
4. Kennedy Meadows OHV Guide
5. The Sequoia is at this moment printing an OHV Opportunity Guidemap
6. Extremeline Productions has created a very detailed topo trail map of the area for sale in local stores and on the net

Here are our thoughts:
• There is no need for another map
• The Sequoia has not yet finished their Travel Plan so all the above maps may need to be updated, which will be quite a costly project. This new map would also need to be updated perhaps one year after 20,000 or so copies had been printed. That does not make any sense.
• Having another map will increase enforcement problems as the public may go on trails shown as legal on this new map, which have been restricted once the Travel Plan is completed.
• Having so many maps creates unnecessary confusion for the public and we cannot understand how another map would benefit the public
• We see no justification for the Green Sticker OHMVR funding of this map and encourage the OHMVR to remove this item from the grant.

Stewards of the Sequoia support the Sequoia National  Forest OHMVR grants for O&M, Restoration and Education with the additional funding of $2500 or Cyrus Canyon OHV Track and the removal of the $16,000 map funding. [Chris Horgan, Executive Director, Stewards of the Sequoia - 4/2/12]

The Sequoia National Forest grants for operation and maintenance as well as for safety and education are very comprehensive in support of Sequoia and all the OHV opportunity there.  These two grants should be funded as fully as possible with one exception.  The $16,000 item for map development in Safety and Education should be denied.  Routes in the forest are in a flux with Travel Management not yet completed.  More maps that may not agree with other existing and future maps will only add confusion to users and law enforcement.  I would, however, like to see the grant for O and M expanded to include an additional $2500 for the Cyrus Canyon Motocross Track to be graded. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 4/2/12]

I support this grant request.

The Sequoia National Forest is a valued resource offering significant opportunities for the OHV enthusiast, in particular the Kern River istrict.

The FS employees work hard to provide a quality experience for visitors.

The SNF coordinates closely with other agencies, volunteer groups and the public in an effort to efficiently deliver the experience OHV users seek. The Forest has done an outstand job of stretching limited funding in part by utilizing an array of donated volunteer help and thus leveraging the funds available.

My only concerns are;
The OHVR grant request does not contain ground operations funding for the Cyrus Canyon OHV facility.

That the use of mechanized equipment for trail maintained is consistent ith the USFS “Trail Maintenance Objectives” and “Trail Class (FSH 353.142)” standards. Trail Class should dictate level and type of maintenance utilized, not the reverse.

I support this grant request and the excellent work of the Sequoia Nation Forest staff.

I support this grant request.
The Sequoia National Forest is a valued resource offering significant opportunities for the OHV enthusiast, in particular the Kern River District.

The FS employees work hard to provide a quality experience for visitors. The SNF coordinates closely with other agencies, volunteer groups and the public in an effort to efficiently deliver the experience OHV users seek. The Forest has done an outstand job of stretching limited funding in part by utilizing an array of donated volunteer help and thus leveraging the funds available.

My only concerns are;
OHMVR funds are utilized only for OHV related restoration projects and not to study or restore damage caused by other activities.

The use of mechanized equipment for restoration is consistent with the USFS “Trail Maintenance Objectives” and “Trail Class (FSH 2353.142)” standards. Trail Class should dictate level and type of maintenance utilized, not the reverse.

I support this grant request and the excellent work of the Sequoia Nation Forest staff. [Bruce Miller - 4/2/12]

This forest list 1490 miles of OHV trails,  with 50 acres for open riding and 92,328 visitors from 62,918 in 2005  In the 2005 PAR report   it listed 451 miles of 50 inches or less trails and 809 miles of other routes, .  What is the true number of single track routes in this forest? This forest also has received as of 1999 $2,007.441  in grant funding , add to that 12 years we have no summary reports you could safely say it is well over  3 million dollars. So what do we have for that kind of Dollars.

We have a first class Single track system, that needs maintenance. Steward of Sequoia have been doing their best, but more is needed. This forest should enter into a real partnership with Steward of Sequoia and fund some of the crew staff so that we have a continues cadre of workers on these trails.  A well maintained trail system needs daily attention, not once in a while. This is the way to sustain the resources and the trail onditions including signing.
What is the total cost of the OHV program  and what are the sources of funds to make up this program.  Appropriated $$,   Fee's if any, and then OHV Grant funds. 
G 11-02-15-G 01  Ground Operations  
Under Staff $240,645 it seems that we have a lot of other than "Boots on the ground" It seems that we are supporting a lot of staff, that after all this time, we should have more than covered every inch of our trail system. What we need more is staff on the ground, Now you can add forest ersonnel, or your can hire the Steward of Sequoia to do this. Their cost would be 1/2 of what you are spending with Government employees and get the done. This grant should add that element, so we have more "Boots" on the ground. This will be very critical when the Piuts route plan comes out, which it will have to one day.
Materials / Supplies 
the Qty of fiberglass markers of 2 for $370 that is this exactly.  It needs to have quantity of post needed and cost per post so that you can have a good explanation of exactly what are you asking for. 
Caronite is a trade mark, it should be listed as Brown post, having said that Travel Mgt Sign for 50 dollars each, seems very high, we pay 1/2 of hat for limited use signs or other signs warning public of management rules.
Batteries, here again, our program is to help get more trails and more opportunities, this surely is a house keeping chore, in other words the forest service should have this. 
Gloves 18 dollars each,  You can go to Costco and get 3 leather gloves for $19.95
Snowmobile expenses, this I always thought came out of the support budget, and now it is taking our Ground operation money? Something is not right here.
This grant staff is way to high when you really analyze "boots" on the ground. Here we have Cyrus OHV areas needing $2500 to make sure it is kept in shape, yet we do not even list it. 
G 11-02-15-R 01  Restoration
This grant though big implications on water shed it has me concerned that you have a 50/50 percent match,  This is a very high number to have and if less is received, what is the deliverables with a lesser grant. This needs to be rethought before final.

G 11-02-15-S 01   Education & Safety  
This again covers also OSV, as above I thought that was part of the Support budget of the OHV program, not something that comes out of grants. [Ed Waldheim - 3/30/12]

These comments pertain to Grant Applications G11-02-15-G01 (Ground Operations) and G11-02-15-R01 (Restoration) submitted by the Sequoia National Forest to the California OHVMR Grant and Cooperative Agreements Program.  Furthermore, these comments apply only to the Kern Plateau Area of the Kern River Ranger District.

The comments below are being submitted on the behalf of the 35+ Private Property Owners and Cattle Permitees who have private inholdings or business interests in the Monache Meadow Area of the Sequoia and Inyo National Forests.
It is requested that the OHV Grants Staff and OHV Commission restrict or temporarily deny a portion of the OHVMR Grant Funds requested by the Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest.  The USFS proposed use of these funds is to continue the expansion of the OHV infrastructure and for OHV Trail Work on the Kern Plateau without mitigating the damage cause by OHV use on the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road.  Specifically it is requested that these funds be denied until such time as the Sequoia National Forest has demonstrated that: 1.) they have repaired the damage to the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road caused by OHV/OSV Vehicle use; 2.) they have brought the Monache 4WD Road up to the quality, conditions and standards used by the Inyo National Forest on their portion of this common road and; 3.) they have  in place a Formal Plan for continued maintenance of this Road.

Excluding Enforcement and Safety, since 2003 the Sequoia National Forest has received $3,037,002 in OHVMR Grants ($4,115,871 requested).   As the SNF has not delineate the specific area where the work is to be accomplished, the follow formula has been used to estimate the Kern Plateau planned expenditures.  Since they have stated in the application that 334 miles of OHV Trails and Roads exist in the KRRD and that 160 miles of these are on the Kern Plateau it is therefore assumed that 160/334 or 48% of the requested funds will be expended on the Kern Plateau.  Therefore Grant Request G11-02-15-G01 should be reduced to $280,447 (.52 x 539,321) and Grant Request G11-02-15-R01 be reduced to $183, 040.

The Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road (34E38) is the sole vehicle access, as well as emergency egress, to the Monache Meadows areas of the Inyo and Sequoia National Forest's.  The Monache 4WD Road is a single point destination road of approximately 8 miles in length.  The road begins in the Sequoia National Forest and continues into and terminates inside the Inyo National Forest.  Approximately 3 miles of this road are in the SNF and the remaining 5 miles are in the INF.  This road is passable only by 4WD, ATV or motorcycle and is limited to these vehicles.

Over the past 10-12 years the SNF portion of this road has seriously deteriorated to near impossible conditions.  Two sections in particular in the SNF portion are extremely difficult and dangerous to both vehicles and recreationalists.  While the INF portion has seen major improvements (reroutes / wet land protection / restoration [Grant OR-2-1-76])  and is being maintained on a regular basis.  On the SNF portion maintenance has been nonexistent and their portion of the Monache 4WD Road has been left to deteriorate.  Simple efforts such as installation of water bars to prevent further damage and erosion or the removal of ATV size boulders in the roadway have not been done.  More and more, users are building alternate so called unauthorized routes to circumvent these unmaintained sections of the SNF portion of the road and to forgo further environmental damage.  The SNF Forest Service Trail Crew (most likely funded by CA OHVMR Grants) immediately comes in and blocks these less obtrusive and less damaging routes by rerouting over live tree roots and cutting down "live" trees to block these so called unauthorized improved routes.

A beautiful example of this misuse of Green Sticker funds by the SNF Trail Crew occurred two years ago.  The Inyo National had a major project to build a large OHV bridge over Snake Creek in Monache Meadow.  The construction was being accomplished by the United States Forest Service's "Trails Unlimited Enterprise Team".  In order to get their equipment and materials into the site it was necessary for them to make several repairs and reroutings to the Monache 4WD Road in the SNF portion.  After they had about half of their equipment on site, the SNF Trails Crew dug up their improvements and fell several large trees across the road in several places.  The USFS Trails Unlimited Enterprise Team had to spend over half a day removing these obstacles in order to get the remainder of their equipment into the INF Construction Job Site.

Why the Sequoia and Inyo National Forests don't communicate, cooperate and work together as brother and sister U.S. Forest Agencies is beyond belief. The common joke in the Meadow is that they are like Bosnia and Serbia. Always at war.

What the Kern River Ranger District of the SNF fails to acknowledge is the fact that the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Roads' primary purpose is as a destination road.   This is the sole vehicle access to Private Property (approx 35 individual owners), for Cattle Grazing Permitees, to Primitive Camping and Fishing on the So. Fork of the Kern River and for Hunters accessing these facilities all within the Inyo National Forest.  This road is also used by the OHV Community as an “easy” route for young children on ATVs and motorcycles and is the only legal ATV road in the area.  Therein lies the rub.  As can be seen in the SNF justification for these funds is that the Kern Plateau has become a very popular OHV riding area.  Thanks in part from the OHVMR Grant Program.  However, along with this popularity has come the collateral damage caused by the excessive OHV use of the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road and the total lack of maintenance on the part of the SNF of the USFS to mitigate this damage.

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 improvements and maintenance was being performed by the Inyo National Forest on their portion of this road.  Again this Bosnia and Serbia thing.  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, fisherman and hunters. No one whom I contacted was asked or were aware of any kind of Forest Service conducted survey.

By Federal Law, the USFS must provide reasonable access to private property owners to access their property.  With respect to the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road the Inyo National Forest has complied fully.  The Sequoia National Forest has failed and has left unchecked the OHV damage to this critical access road in addition to undoing many small road improvements made by local users even to the extent of cutting down live trees to block portions of the road.  It is my understanding this would be considered a federal offense if done by a civilian such as myself.


As the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road is primarily a destination road to access private property, for cattle permitees operations, for fisherman, for campers, for hunters and for light beginner type off road experience and its' primarily use is for access into the Inyo National Forest we request that all Grant funds directed to the Kern Plateau within the Kern River Ranger District be with held until the SNF portion of the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road is repaired and annually maintained.  The Monache 4-Wheel Drive Road should remain as a 4WD Road as it has always been but not the vehicle buster it has become in the last 10-12 years under Sequoia National Forest management, or lack thereof.

We are specifically requesting a reduction of $427,834 in requested Grant Funds designation to the Kern Plateau Area of the Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forrest.  We thrust you will give serious consideration to our request and issues and recommendations we have raised.

P.S.  I personally am an OHV (m/c) rider with 5 "'Green Sticker" licensed vehicles and have been riding this area for the past 43 years.  I was part of the original volunteer OHV trail maintenance program on the Cannell Meadow RD prior to the their conversion to USFS staff.  And, I am currently an active California State Parks Volunteer OHV Patrolman at the Hungry Valley OHVRA State Park. [Dion Salfen - 3/30/12]

Sequoia NF has submitted a very detailed ground ops request again this year.  We support this application.  Sequoia has a very large and high quality OHV system that is a boon to the local economy as the area is rather isolated, yet close enough to population centers to attract a lot of visitors.
The Forest also maintains a very high quality OHV workforce that is highly experienced.  This is a rarity on most Forests now days and cannot be maintained without external funding sources such as the OHV grants.
The application requests a level of staff funding that is similar to other Forests.  The supply and equipment requests are very detailed but include almost no match. A major portion of the match comes from indirect expenses.  This reduces the grant score to only 2 points which is not good strategy under the present circumstances.  It may be that the score could be raised if the Forest would supply more staff time, some vehicle expenses and some basic supplies.  The grants will be very competitive this year and I  would not want to see Sequoia fall below the cutoff due to  a low score.
Regarding the Restoration grant, this seems like a worthwhile effort, but it appears to be more of a planning grant request than a restoration project.  It might be better if the application requested funding for the first phase, i.e. planning, with the actual restoration work to follow as the second phase within the same proposal.  Again the match is low, but restoration grants are usually funded so this may not matter. [Bruce Whitcher, CORVA - 3/28/12]