USFS - San Bernardino National Forest
I am making comments regarding the Grant Application that the Forest Service is applying for at Baldy Mesa Trails this spring. I have read over the entire grant application and there are things that I agree with and items I think you need to further address. It would be very beneficial if the Forest Service could install the large steel pipes that would be cemented into the ground and have road crossing barriers set up so that OHVers could not cut through the fencing to get onto the trails except at designated areas. The other item that is positive would be hiring more law enforcement officers that would be on foot to enforce the rules at Baldy Mesa Trails. These officers need to be there on a regular basis if the Forest Service expects the trails not to be destroyed. Also they need these officers to keep the OHVers off the closed trails that the Forest Service is going to set barriers up at, if they are going to successfully revegetate those trails. The grant is addressing these concerns and that is a positive step.
The Forest Service is still not addressing the problem concerning the bisecting of the Mormon/Sanford Trail which is an historical trail. This trail needs to be preserved and not allowed to be used by OHVers. I still have concerns about the second loop trail that you are making which will go closer to the Phelan residents property than it is at the present time. This trail will cause additional noise for the residents which is already an existing problem. Don Fischer, Sierra Club Representative, San Gorgonio Chapter - 3/11/14
BALDY MESA PROJECT
Petition to deny funding by the State of California or scale back the Baldy Mesa OHV trails and staging area.
The above signed opposes the proposed expansion and enhancement of the Baldy Mesa OHV Trails.
We oppose the proposed OHV Baldy mesa trail and request that grant funding be denied by the state of California or the project be scaled back to allow access to other than OHV and prevent further destruction, erosion and deterioration of a Significant US and Mormon Historical Site.
The FS is on the verge of creating a permanent recreational OHV trail system such that the Sanford/Mormon trial will be bisected twice by one of the loops of the OHV trail. This will make access on the trail not passable to historians, local pedestrians, Mormons and horseback riders. It also will block viewing where the wagons were descended into the valley by ropes. This will essentially obliterate the trail where it is crossed by the OHV loop. We are opposed to the project because it crosses the historic trail and request the State of California to deny grant funding and or the FS to either abandon the project at present location, or to at least plan a route that does cause further erosion or block patrons and other interested parties access. 3/14/14-4/6/14 - Gerald Jorgenson, Jennifer Samples, Terry Conan, Jill Conforti, Dean Bolen, Lana Samples, Edward Samples, C. Kathleen Corwin, Jason Stevenson, Andrea Jackson, Tim Jackson, Lesley Eblen, Gary whiting, Ale Pratt, Kristina Brown, Amy Tuttle, Thomas Payne, Mark Duncan, Larry Miller, David Merrigan, Gigi Perry, Warren Perry, Jon Wagstaf, Mickey Rudolph, Jill Conforti, Barry Conforti, Aaron Jackson, Walker Kilpatrick, Kemi Price, Robin Price, Michael MacKay, Ronald Chamberlin, Terry Pearson, Craig Farnsworth, Daniel Stevenson, Robert Gilmore, Ruth Ann Gabriel, Harold Gabriel, Carol Smith, Dina Velez, Matt Butcher, Shaun Miller, Steven Tuttle, Cheryl Tuttle, Daniel Oversby, Renee Price, Dave Kirby, Lisa H. Payne, Philip Clevinger, Cory Elvidge, Gary Payne, William Critchfield, Candice Juarez, Lyndsi Stock, Bert Ellsworth, Jody Holton, Joyce Mooberry, Constance Cannon, Kristen Moncayo, Bruce Carr, Lynette Mills, Truman Clawson, William Bridgers, Kirt Harrison, Kaitlin Demartini, Lloyd Carlson, Maura Carlson, David Troxell, Michael Briney, Coleen Stout, Roger Ard, Susan Walker, Dixie Kirby, Mary Pritchett, Martha and Dan Okerlund, Venita Roylance, Ray Furner, Cheryl Ferrato, Robinson Pereyra, William Linn, Thomas Urban, Janna Morrell, Tatia Hansen, Lauri Chamberlin, Lawrence Steimle, G. Mardsen Blanch, James L. Anderson, Gayle Turner, Christine Corsaro, George Morrison, Gregory Flinders, Inger Orr, Kathryn Gardner, Diana Schultz, Bob Westover, Sherrie Westover, Robin Price, Phyllis Bessenaire, Francis Rogers, Elena Rogers, Margaret Steward, Kay Durrant, Kirkland Stout, David Crookston, Charles Busath, Robert Hild, Sidney Hall, Vergilia Copenhaver, Grant Childs, Sandy Lamb, Alice Osborne, Dana McAdams, Wade Miller, George Hisamoto, Jay Follett, Daniel Valadez, Joseph Wright, Alexis Dorny, Alex Roylance, Nina Peterson, Merlene Lindow, Stephen Pulley, Leslie Markle, Bob Markle, Robert Robb, H. Diane Nielsen, Heather Miller, Bart Kowallis, Lucy Jane Busath, Gloria Bell, Ceteka Troxel, Sophia Scherman, Blake Miller, Nancy Nilson, Kent Morrison, Ann Morrison, Steven Adams, Mick Starns, Brian Craig, Maggie Scott, Marlo Anderson, Arlene Frandsen, Elena Brooks, Cherise Nielson, Lyle Nielson, Mack Smith, Greg Barnett, Esther Williams, Chelise Baird, Jack McEwan, Joan Virgo, Fred Birgo, Patricia Miller, Keri Cole, Gary Ricks, Leah Chapman, Sharon Allison, Monty Beasley, David Crookston, Marilyn Cobb, Betty Morrison, Andre Morrison, JoAnn Olsen, Bonnie Inskeep, June Wallace, Cheryal Kuhn, Alyson Wozniak, Sheryl Frank, Nancy Penrod, Lisa Hanson, Linda Robison, Elaine Seipp, Myrtle Melville, Frances Hodgson, Angela Simms, Susan Altop, Olga Phillips, Lindsay Perry, Steve and Marion Robinson, Rolls Tischner, Dave Tischner, Bonnie Hedrick, Julie Reed, Michael Bozzuto, Donna Bender, Don Inskeep, LaRae Valencia, Harry Terrill, Taunie Womeldorf, Joseph Sosa, Darlene Anderson, Nancy McConnell, Charlene Pace, John Dahl, Tony Bozzuto, Brooke Trogdon, Sandie Jordan, Stella Perdomo, Doug Felder, Stephanie Rouse, Betty Jo Colbert, Penny Barth, Erin LaFever, Diane Berg-Johnston, Dennis Clark, Patricia Sanderson, Roger Cass, James Mueller, Sandy Kotes, Julie Berthelsen, Kathryn Griffiths, Iris LeCheminant, Elene Porter, Robert Lewis, Jean Lewis, E. Pearce, Craig Steward, Lamont Carr, Colleen Mathews, Cleo Fedje, Juleen Clift, Uati Suafoa, Ed Porter, Robert Query, Bob Trythall, Fred Ash, Gary Winn, Lucille Rizo, Nina Andrews, Germaine Dixon, Mark Crowe, Yvette G. Crowe, Ron Dixon, Marcia Turner, Beverly Woods, Eileen Lewis, Susan Secrist, Pamela Lee, Scott and Melinda Deffendol, Matthew Butcher, Richard Ohlmann, Claudia Ohlmann, Tiffany Boyle, John Hasler, Franc Mendicino, Scott Bunker,
Monita Swank, Stephanie Denhalter, Lygeia Gerard, Sandra Brass, Roger Brass, Buddy Gabriel, Donald Fischer, Jennifer Wilkinson, Delores Stone, John Tevis, Frank Larson, Frank Larson, Emmy Jo Lakata-Long, Douglas Clark, Don Peterson, Melva Kelly, Beryl K. Nickolaisen, Steven Earl, Quintin Lake, Susan Stueber, Gene Norton, Jeff Stout, Christine Berry, Matt Butcher, Poppy Thatcher, Sonny Martin, Phyllisa Conlin, Jason Ramirez, John Corless, Donna Bell, Harry Smith, Mark Pederson, Carl Simpson, Morris Rudometkin, Evelyn H. Moody, Ramiona Phillips, Russell Linford, Alvin Smith, Melissa Smith, Steven Horne, Michael Waldron, John Rokus, Gina Ard, Timothy J. Strazzo, Robert Farnsworth, Lynn & Cindy Stout, Steven Kohlert, Samantha Rugh, Harry Woodward, Joel Anderson, Marolyn Kayser, Harold Earley, Norene Taylor, Anthony Russo, Willis Abner, Lorraine Gilmer, Cherryl Hammon, Lee Lloyd, George Kayser, cay McKee, Terry McKee, K. Spence Bingham, Sam Hales, Linda Curry, Andrea Pederson, Aldine Paskett, Scott Larson, George Naas, Cindy Love, Tisha McCorkell, William Naylor, John Brown, Kathy Smith, Rebecca George, Kim Jackson, Valerie Piorkowski, Gail Nieto, Linda Tarnoff, Sandra Brass, Sue Rau, Michael Rau, James Washington, Janet Burch, Lawrence Case, Mary Estrada, Ron Stewart, Dawn Case, Makiyla Case, Roxanne Case, Dylan Snyde, A. Hyde, Alan Phister, Jenny Wilder, Mary Jo Steele, Marilyn Mills, Norman Eide, Lisa Frye, Merrill Oaks, Susan Tarr, John Dahl, Jeffry Allred, Karla Alvord, Sheila Garrison, Laura Cunningham, Erica Goulding, Robin Miller, Joe Pauley, Sue Martzolf, Kim Beck, Alan Brechlin, Larry S. Olsen, Brittney Anderson, James Stokes, Bruce Olsen, Richard Sloan, Michelle Page, Annelle Doxey, Verla Jackson, Albert Allred, Alex Doxey, Kate Podegracz, Glenn Brush, Rosemarie James, Marcia Tuener, Annadee Freestone, Donna Wilson, Richard Garrison, Cindea Lindley, Jeffrey Morgan, Pam Nelson, Tiffanie Nicolia, Melody Nichols, Kenneth Vernon, William Lundelius, Gary Olsen, John Bascom, Gae Griffiths, Lisa Bascom, Juliette Bascom, Bridget Olsen, Clive Romney, George Cannon, Brian Bascom, Dawn Walker, Philip Etchells, Diane Etchells, Barbara Betterley, Blair Bell, Errol Bechtel, Stacy Plaziak, Robin Arnold, Douglas Walton, Alice Benson, Dave Polson, Lois Polson, Nancy Whitcomb, Deborah Turner, Milton Wyatt, Laura Young, Dave Henry, David Faylor, Sheila Shull, Larry Schultze, Cheryl Elsmore, Markley Chaffin, James Butler, Eli Sanchez, Tina Glidden, Bob Tait, Carol Hamilton, Montelle Butcher, Richmond Doxey, Kim Floyd, Ronald Vern Smith, Laverne Booth, Rocky Comberiati, John George, Twylla Cameron, Kenneth Vernon, Kenneth Bingham, Gene W. Waggoner II, Jen Finch, Shannon Finch, Katie Christman, Art Bishop, Kevin Lloyd, Jon Elliott, Pearl Heft, Jan Woodfill, John Beck, Jonna Kemper, Brent Lloyd, Gregory Oaks, Jack Betterley, Linda Sewell, Melanie Sewell, Glen Sewell, John Pilcher, Dianne Dwyer, Patricia Cobia, Vicky Rinek, Delores Nelson, Alisa Call, Ann Cook, Ned Morrison, Susan Zurawik, Sara Weithofer, Lauri Abed, KT Gates-Waldrup, Brenda Cronk,
Nancy Beck, Selia Bingham, Lewis Griggs, Donna Huston, Dennis Cobia, Leslie Cobia, DH Cobia, Elaine Fontana, Eva Malone, Sal Malone, Robert Alsup, Diane Brown, Sheri Roll, Tony Jackson, Warren Archer, Lisa Tovar-Trujillo, Glen Deeben, M. Lee Robison, Gilbert Jarrell, Ina Robertson, Dale Mishler, Richard Savage, Karen Young, Earlene Tiffany, Gloria Winkel, Annika Malone, Elof Nordman, Monica Unander, Frank Benson, Diane Minzey, Gereld Pell, Diane Hayball, Lynda Monds, Gary Flowers, John Hayball, Sandra Moseley, Jeri Call
View public comments. Congressman Paul Cook - 3/19/14
View public comments. S. Dennis Holland - 3/24/14
My name is Markley Chaffin and I live near the proposed site for the OHV project. I really enjoy the rural aspect of living here as well as the historical value of some of the trails within the proposed area. I am concerned that we, the residents, haven't had enough notice and time to fully understand this proposal. It also seems apparent that the park service needs to spend some more time planning their course so as to include input from concerned residents. Markley Chaffin - 3/25/14
As current president of the Mohahve Historical Society, headquartered in the Victor Valley, I have been asked by the MHS Board to represent them in expressing and conveying our disfavor and disapproval of the proposed OHV course in the Phelan area.
Specifically unacceptable is the proposal to having two OHV crossings of the historic 1851 Sanford/Mormon Trail or Utah Road in the area of what is sometimes called Mormon Gap or the "hogs back."
The proposed OHV course with its crossings of the Sanford/Mormon Trail is completely incompatible with the educational use of this historic trail by elementary school children, Boy Scouts and families as well as historical societies, equestrian groups, horse and wagon trekkers and casual hikers.
On-site inspection of this historic trail shows existing illegal OHV use to the extent that normal hiking and wagon treks are impossible. Stopping illegal use of this historic trail has been the failed responsibility of the Forest Service.
Restoration of this historic trail has also been the responsibility of the Forest Service, but there has been no restoration even attempted within the last 30 years. Volunteer groups have asked, even recently, for permission to work on the trail restoration, but have been refused such permission by the Forest Service. The Board of Directors of the Mohahve Historical Society believes that the preservation of the area’s historical sensitivities, as well as the protection and safety of those who use and appreciate the trail, should be paramount. And as such we propose that the OHV course not cross the historic trail, but rather return to its beginning before reaching the trail.
We also propose that a far more compatible and suitable use of this historic area would be the establishment of a regional park which would serve far more people in a positive way and still preserve the historic trail. John A. Bascom, President of the Mohahve Historical Society - 3/26/14
See public comment. E. Porter - 3/26/14
The Baldy Mesa area has historically been a popular hiking and equestrian use area - until OHV destruction and lawlessness was introduced:
The SBNF and SCMF installed t-post fence and restored many unsightly hill climbs in the Baldy Mesa area starting in 2007, however the intense unlawful use of this area by OHV enthusiasts requires continued extensive maintenance due to fence theft and continued unlawful access.......
Law Enforcement officials from the San Bernardino National Forest stated that unauthorized routes throughout the National Forest have become a “lawless” condition (2009). According to the Forest Service, most all of these unauthorized routes have been created by off route travel from motorcycles, ATVs and visitors that depart from authorized trails.
To reward this unlawful activity with increased trails does not fix the problem. Rather, it encourages it.
Can the restoration part of this project go forward without expanding the trail system and without expanding the staging area. Can the staging area include an equestrian unit?
More work needs to be done on a plan to encourage legal and varied use including re-establishing hiking trails and equestrian trails and working on an interpretive program.
Evaluation criteria: #9 -
9. The Project improves or creates a new trail that provides motorized access to the following nonmotorized recreation opportunities:6
This answer and 6 points must be reevaluated as there are no designated hiking or equestrian trails in the area and there is no new trail to encourage hunting.
Hikers and equestrians are not served by an invitation to use the green sticker OHV trails. They are not served by allowing them to use no trail and bush whack through the chaparral.
Although when you look at the damage it may seem that the area is used only by OHVs, the extensive comments from neighbors and others shows that low impact recreation is being displaced by the inclusion of OHV use.
Green sticker OHV use has a huge negative impact on and deters other types of recreation because of the noise, dust, destruction of viewshed, destruction of natural resources, destruction of historical resources, unlawful activity (off trail riding etc.), erosion etc.
Evaluation Criteria #10. Underlying Problem - Q 10.
10. The underlying problem that resulted in the need for the Restoration Project has been effectively addressed and resolved prior to this Application:3
Unauthorized routes in this project area were closed as a result of SBNF Travel Management NEPA in 2009. This NEPA identified the problem and authorized closure and restoration. The 2013 Baldy Mesa Environmental Assessment and Decision Notice of No Significant Impact addressed and approved restoration activities.
This project will utilize extensive permanent barricades to reinforce existing closures. In addition to barricades, over the performance period we will decompact soils and revegetate these routes. This location has also recently become a priority for SBNF law enforcement and monitoring staff to ensure riders remain in designated routes, thus the underlying problem has been resolved. The forest is also working with county law enforcement to increase management of the area.Is this question correctly answered? In another statement, the applicant has mentioned failed restoration with fencing in 2007. The applicant states briefly that the area has been identified as a problem area and that the problem has been resolved by recognizing it as a priority. But what IS the problem? I think the problem is that the area is not suitable for sustained OHV use. It has little potential for OHV use, and it is too limited for the desires of many OHV riders. Expansion may seem appropriate, but that expansion will still not be enough and there are too many biological and archaeological sites to take into consideration. Expansion will negatively impact private properties along the boundary and also it will have a negative impact on other types of recreation.
This is an area that has habitat for more than 10 special status species, extensive cultural sites from different ages in history, and a wash/riparian area that has been impacted by illegal riding.
This is a small area for OHVs, but one that is quite adequate for hiking and equestrian use as well as RC flying and other low impact recreation. I do not believe that the planned expansion of trails for green sticker use will solve the problem of riders unlawfully creating trails and engaging in hillclimbing.
Is it possible to close the area to green sticker use while the miles and miles of illegal trails are restored and protections put into place for the private property boundary, many biological and archaeological resources in the area?
Monitoring and patrol needs to take place on weekends, holidays and evenings. Jenny Wilder - 3/28/14
See public comment. Tom Sutak - 3/31/14
View public comment. Marilyn Mills, President, Heritage Trails Association - 4/1/14
Please see my comments on G13-04-02-R01 and G13=02-14-D01 below:
The Baldy Mesa area has (was) been a favorite and historic hiking and equestrian site, but over the recent decade inconsiderate and unlawful OHV users have "trashed " the area. Even after several attempts at restoration using taxpayer dollars, the area is still vandalized by these users.
I believe these grant proposals are valid attempts at trying to remedy a criminal situation, but they are going at it in the wrong way. Rewarding illegal acts with a trail system and an expanded area where the use is not sustainable is a waste of taxpayer's dollars and an offense to private property owners, public land stewards as well as anyone that appreciates our public lands.
Evaluation #9 received 6 points. This is far too high since the proposal results in pushing hikers and equestrians away due to OHV nuisance.
Evaluation #10 received 3 points. This is invalid since the area should be closed to OHV use. It is setting up this area for destruction of cultural and archeological artifacts, user and neighbor conflicts, erosion and habitat destruction.
In summary, the proposals should close the area to OHV use, restore the habitat and the hiking and equestrian trails and make a suitable staging area for those low-impact activities. Pam Nelson, Santa Margarita group/San Gorgonio chapt./Sierra Club Chair - 3/29/14
View public comments. Joseph Sestay - 4/2/14
View public comments. E. Porter - 4/2/14
We strongly oppose the Baldy Mesa Trails and Staging Area Development Grant Request. This absurd project needs to be aborted. Instead of promoting new OHV trails, the USFS needs to focus their attention to the 55 miles of illegal OHV trails that have proliferated under their watch.
This project doesn't pass the sniff test on many levels.
First of all, the proposed trail interfaces with the historic Sanford/Mormon Trail. OHV use and quiet recreation are incompatible. OHVs crisscrossing the trail will not only cause damage and deterioration to the Mormon Trail, but also place hikers and equestrians at tremendous risk of injury.
Most importantly, there needs to be a moratorium on new OHV opportunities in the SBNF until it can be demonstrated that illegal OHV use has been controlled. Evidence clearly reveals that severe dirt bike damage to sensitive habitat and hiking trails in the national forest has sharply increased over recent years. Attempts to curtail "user created" routes with barriers and cables have thus far been largely unsuccessful.
Bury this grant request in a deep grave where it belongs. Jan Alford, Jon Rogers, Sandi Tardiff, ORV Watch Steering Committee - 4/2/14
I have attached my letter giving additional information that the Forest Service has not included the Sanford/Mormon Trail historical site in their planning process, and specifically not consulted with credible local historians and historical societies as per their application. I am requesting that the attached letter be placed in the public comment record and for the project to be delayed until the concerns for the preservation of the trail and the safety of the users of the trails have been resolved. Marilyn Mills, President, Heritage Trails Association - 4/3/14
Please accept the attached letter as my supplemental comment to be included in the public comment record for the above project. Joe Sestay - 4/3/14
I herby submit my 2nd supplemental comment letter regarding the above project.
Attached is an alternate proposal for consideration prepared by a concerned local citizen. He has authorized me to submit it as a public comment. This person has obviously invested considerable time and effort in formulating the attached proposal, and I wholeheartedly applaud and support those efforts.
While the attached alternate proposal obviously would need refinement prior to implementation, the point is that the many local residents and historians who oppose the project as currently planned are not simply opposed to anything and everything having to do with OHV's (or the FS for that matter). The attached plan outlines a project that I think we could support: it respects the Sanford/Mormon trail while providing reasonable use by both OHV and non-OHV users.
It is not too late for the FS to work meaningfully with the community to come up with a mutually agreed-to plan for the area. Again, please delay funding for this project until the FS has satisfied at least the basic minimum requirements with respect to listening to and meaningfully considering local input and the historic/heritage issues. Joe Sestay - 4/4/14
I herby submit the attached as my 3rd supplemental comment letter regarding the above project. This comment letter address certain specific questions and USFS answers in the grant request. Joe Sestay - 4/7/14
I attended one of the noticed public grant meetings and as someone with formal training on trail system lay out and design I just have to say a few things, first of all I simply fail to understand how bring some management to the Baldy Mesa area could possibly cause any problems for area residents or threaten any historic resources. Local residents do have the right to be concerned about the environment around their property but everything they have been saying is in my opinion completely unfounded, however I would like to say a few things that I think would improve the project.
A pipe barrier at the Forest border most likely will be of little value there needs to be a buffer zone between 1/4 and 1/2 mile wide (would say 1/8 to 1/4 mile wide if sound was lower) with a t-post fence and a dirt road running along it for patrols, also serve as a catch road and a solid boundary for anything coming off the OHV system, also there needs to be a staging area at the North Forest boundary with a though fare to access the system from the North. Money needs to be set aside for fence repairs and restoration on the spot of any proliferation into the buffer zone, there also needs to be Law Enforcement money specifically earmarked for noise enforcement very few if any citations get issued for excessive noise if it's not earmarked for that it wont happen. Tom Tammone 4/5/14
View public comments. Matthew Butcher - 4/4/14
Baldy Mesa Trails/Staging Area Development G13-02-14-D01
I support this proposal and the multifaceted approach the USFS is taking with partner organizations to improve the management of the Baldy Mesa area. There are many unauthorized routes impacting the forest that originate on private property and areas outside the forest boundary. I would suggest updating your map attached to this proposal to show the intensity level of trails originating from areas adjacent to the forest boundary. I would also suggest that the USFS try to utilize recycled materials while developing this area, for example you could utilize recycled materials for construction of the loading ramp, retaining wall and for signs. Sustainable technologies should also be identified such as utilizing paint with low VOC's.
This area is a popular multi-use area with many user conflicts. To improve your ability to inform and manage these multi-use groups, I would suggest adding additional funds for signs and kiosks that would inform different user groups of rules, regulations and to interpret important cultural sites, such as the Sanford Trail. I would also highly suggest working with local historical and equestrian groups during the development stage to ensure that messages on kiosks and historical markers are relevant to the issues in this area.
Specifically in reviewing the cost estimate for this project I have a few concerns:
1. Interpretive signs are missing, I would suggest adding at least 4 kiosks.
2. The Baldy Mesa staging area could use additional improvements then the ones listed in your grant. Are you planning on installing any shade structures, picnic tables, or installing permanent trash cans? Do you have enough staff to maintain these areas? Are additional funds needed to maintain the restrooms and empty trashcans more frequently? You should consider adding these to the proposal to make it a family friendly staging area. Please consider utilizing volunteers to install above listed additions to the staging area.
3. The public is very concerned about fires in the area. Are you planning on maintaining the brush along the trail after the initial development? You should consider utilizing volunteer support to help maintain a buffer around the trail annually.
4. I would highly suggest that the USFS include indirect costs associated with managing this project. The multifaceted approach will only work if there is enough staff to manage and implement this project over the next three years. I would also suggest including continued participation from the Forest Leadership. All of the projects outlined to improve this area, including the development grant request, require time from the District Ranger and Forest staff to ensure this project is a success and there is adequate time to work with all users to address and improve the management of this area. Please make sure enough staff time is dedicated to this project and included in your proposal.
San Bernardino National Forest Ground Operations G13-02-14-D01 & San Bernardino National Forest Patrol District G13-02-40-L01
I strongly support the San Bernardino National Forest Patrol District proposal and sections of their Ground Operations proposal that pertain to funding Forest Protection Officers to monitor and enforce OHV regulations. I encourage the State to fund them both in full. Please also consider the San Bernardino National Forest as a priority to receive additional Patrol District funds if they become available.
That being said, the grant proposal does not adequately portray the extent of the need for increased Law Enforcement Officers and Forest Protection Officers and the potential consequences to ongoing and future OHV opportunities on the San Bernardino National Forest.
Despite being an urban Forest surrounded by a southern California population of 24 million people of which 80 percent are located 90 minutes or less from the Forest and the high number of forest visitors participating in OHV recreation, large portions of the Forest are bordered by urban communities such as Hesperia, Phelan and Victorville, where residents have enjoyed long-standing, traditional patterns of both OHV and non-OHV recreation. In addition to the communities located adjacent to the Forest, large acreages of private-in holdings are located with-in the Forest boundary in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountain Ranges.
So in addition to hosting large influxes of recreation users from the southern California area, the Forest also provides substantial amounts of day-to-day use for local residents living within and immediately adjacent to the Forest. This creates issues such as travel on City/County roads and State highways to access Forest System roads and use of Forest roads and trails that are not designated for Green Sticker use. This raises a high level of alarm from local residents opposed to noise, dust and effects to natural resources from both managed and unmanaged OHV use on both Forest lands and their adjacent private property. This is one of the several situations that I anticipate could threaten current and future OHV opportunities across the Forest.
One of the biggest problems for Law Enforcement and Forest Protection staff is the expanded proliferation and use of unauthorized routes across the San Bernardino National Forest. A more focused effort by LEO's and FPO's is needed to enforce OHV regulations, stop unauthorized use and to promote a safer environment for other forest users.
Not only are natural resources affected by unauthorized OHV use, but members of the visiting public are increasingly photographing, writing about and informing others about the increase in illegal use and how it affects their forest experience, and/or their way of life on private property adjacent to the Forest. Not only are they outraged by the level of increased illegal use and the damage it has caused; they are also uneasy about their personal safety and the safety of the recreating public.
It is a combination of effects to natural resources and the concern for public safety on Forest lands combined with the frustration of noise level, dust and effects on private land within and adjacent to the Forest that I anticipate may put ongoing and future OHV opportunities on the San Bernardino National Forest in jeopardy.
Funding the San Bernardino National Forest applications for Patrol District and the Ground Operations would help to resolve some of the Forest-wide OHV related issues described above. I would also encourage the Forest to increase days and funding for OHV Law Enforcement and monitoring staff on both applications to assist with these issues. I anticipate with an increase in Law Enforcement and Forest Protection Officers presence and the resultant enforcement actions in priority locations, such as Baldy Mesa, to positively affect the non-motorized public's attitude toward OHV use across the Forest.
I ask the State to please consider the future of ongoing and future OHV activities when determining funding selections allocations for Patrol District LEO/FPO funds and Ground Operations FPO funds on the San Bernardino National Forest. I ask the Forest to please consider these comments when reviewing your answers to their description regarding the effects of unauthorized OHV use on natural and human environment and how this could ultimately impact ongoing and future OHV opportunities across the Forest. Stacy Gorin, Director of Operations, Southern California Mountains Foundation - 4/7/14
View public comments. David L. Jones, Danny Bogner, Terry Bollin, Debbie Bollin, Bryan De Ghetto, Anthony Delmage, Terry Bollin, Debbie Bollin, Bryan De Ghetto, Anthony Delmage, Bogdan Maziarz, Rick Lavello - 4/7/14
I live in Phelan a few miles from the proposed project area. I hike in the Baldy Mesa every day with my dog. I am a Sierra Club hike leader and I lead hikes on the historic Sanford/Mormon Trail. This is my public comment on the above-referenced grant application.
The Forest Service gives inaccurate responses in several areas of their grant application. The most important of these is the Forest Service's response to Item 2.c. Cultural Resources on page 14 of the application. The Forest Service selected "Project would provide additional protection to cultural sites" as their response, and claim 5 points for that response. If the Forest Service were being honest, their response should have been "Project has unavoidable detrimental impacts to cultural resources." Therefore, according to the OHMVR's standards, the "Project application [should] be returned to Applicant without further consideration."
It is a well known and highly controversial fact that the OHV route the Forest Service proposes will cross over the historic Sanford/Mormon Trail twice. This historic Trail is more than a century and a half old. There is no way that OHVs driving across the Trail would not have a detrimental impact on it; therefore, the detrimental impact is unavoidable. There is no simpler way to put it.
A portion of the historic Trail will be enclosed within the loop of the proposed OHV route, where illegal OHV trails and damage to the Trail already exist. The Forest Service will provide additional protection to some Native American sites, but it does not offer any protection whatsoever to the Sanford/Mormon Trail. In their application, the Forest Service says in Item 11. 1) on page 17 that the Southern California Mountains Foundation will assist with protection of the historic Trail, but a search of the SCMF grant application finds no such reference. All that is found is a plan to install walk-overs for horses. While this would allow access to the Trail by equestrians and, presumably, hikers, it does nothing whatsoever to protect the Trail. Indeed, there is no way to protect the Trail when it is being driven over repeatedly by OHVs.
For this reason alone, the Forest Service's grant application should be rejected.
There is also a high concentration of Native American sites in the Baldy Mesa area, many of which are located virtually right next to the proposed new route. The Forest Service's plan to protect them includes covering them with a layer of "bio-cloth" and burying them. As far as the ordinary person is concerned, this is no protection at all. It is eradication. This area and these sites are part of American history and as such they should be protected and preserved in a way that allows them to be viewed, learned from, and appreciated by future generations.
In addition to the above, there appears to be a discrepancy between what the Forest Service has to say about special status species and what the SCMF says. The Forest Service says in Item 2.a. on page 13 that there are 1 to 5 special status species in the project area, while the SCMF says in Item B. on page 2 of their grant application that the project area has 2 threatened and endangered species, and 5 special status species. Unless "threatened and endangered" does not count as "special status," then the correct response should have been 7. Additionally, the Forest Service itself admits in Item 2.b. on page 13 that there are a total of 16 special status species habitats in the project area. Unless the existence of habitat does not denote the existence of the actual species, then there is a huge discrepancy between the Forest Service's responses on these items.
Because of the above, the Forest Service's Finding of No Significant Impact in their Environmental Assessment is suspect. Marilyn Mills' comments of 4/1/14 regarding the Forest Service's Environmental Assessment also casts further serious doubt upon the validity of the EA.
Further, in Item 9 on page 16, the Forest Service says the new OHV route will provide motorized access to hiking, equestrian and hunting trails. This is false. As someone who has hiked many miles on the Baldy Mesa, I can say firsthand that there are no hiking, equestrian or hunting trails out there.
In Item 13 on pages 17-18, the Forest Service says fugitive dust will be controlled by restoration of the 55+ miles of illegal trails. This is not even a proper answer. 55+ miles of illegal trails are far from being the only source of fugitive dust. The Forest Service forgets there will be fugitive dust coming from the newly developed 23 miles of legal trail. They don't even attempt to say how they will control that fugitive dust. In some areas, the new trail will run virtually right alongside private residences. The fact is, there is no way to control fugitive dust when it is right outside someone's back door. Likewise, under such circumstances, sound cannot be controlled either.
The Forest Service has failed in their management of this area. The 55+ miles of illegal roads is proof of this. Their 2009 Travel Management NEPA "closed" all of the unauthorized trails, but in the five years since then, the Forest Service has done nothing in the real world to close them. They are all very much open. In their grant application, they talk a lot about the restoration of these 55+ miles of illegal roads, but it should be stated and restated that it is the failure of the Forest Service to properly manage this area that allowed the creation of these illegal trails to begin with. Additionally, it will not be the Forest Service that actually does any of the restoration work, though they seem to want to take credit for it. The restoration work will actually be done by the Southern California Mountains Foundation, an entirely separate entity. Let the Forest Service rewrite their grant to focus on restoration themselves, to improve the staging area, implement law enforcement, maintenance, repairs, and then follow their progress on that before giving them funds to create new trails in an already severely abused, mismanaged area.
Finally, this is an area of great historic importance. It is an area of important species and their habitats. It is also an area of tremendous beauty, quiet and solitude. It should be protected and preserved, not sacrificed in the name of recreation. As I said in my comments to the Forest Service prior to their submission of their grant application, this area should be turned into a Historic Baldy Mesa Nature Reserve, which would include preservation and protection of the Sanford/Mormon Trail, the Native American sites, and sensitive plant and wildlife species and habitats, with displays, interpretive trails, interpretive signs, equestrian trails, and picnic areas, as well as restoration of illegal trails. Lygeia Gerard, Phelan Resident, Sierra Club Hike Leader - 4/7/14
My name is Carol Rosique and I wanted to share my thoughts with you about the proposed OHV area near my area. I am both a horseback rider AND an avid off-roader; both 2 wheels and 4 wheels. I have read with interest the on-going 'witch-hunt' by the equestrians in regard to those AWFUL offroaders.
I live in West Oak Hills and have for 10+ years and have on going contact with off roaders in this area. I have developed a pretty good repoire with the vast majority and we co-exist quite nicely. I have done training with my horses so they are used to the vehicles and bikes and in a friendly manner, have educated the people on the bikes.They are NOT the enemies!
There are a small handful of totally rude, clueless individuals in both camps.But my experience has been with a bit of effort and educating.horses;Hikers; dirt-bikers; and 4 wheelers CAN and DO coexist quite nicely in MOST cases.
I know some of the people protesting this and am real fed up with the rabid perspective.
I would like to see dirtbikers and off roaders learn how to drive around horses and horse riders to train their animals and stop treating ALL off roaders like they are the enemy!
In closing,I look forward to some new trails to ride on and will enjoy riding 2;4 wheeled vehicles AND ride my horse on these trails! Carol Rosique - 4/7/14
Please accept the attached public comment letter from Wagon Train Ranch, a local non-profit. As you are aware Wagon Train Ranch is primarily concerned with preservation and education regarding early American pioneer history and historical sites/trails. As such, Wagon Train Ranch is very concerned about the impact of the project upon the historic Sanford/Mormon trail. Joe Sestay - 4/7/14
G13-04-04-02-R01 and G13-02-14-D01 These two proposals compliment each other and I support both.
As a person who recreates in the San Bernardino National Forest and rides an ATV I appreciate the benefits these proposals will bring to the forest. The Baldy Mesa area is heavily used and the usage increases each year as more people take up motorized recreation. The Baldy Mesa area is very popular, in part, because it is very easy to access from local freeways, as well as, being close to a large semi-rural residential area with many ATV and motorcycle riders.
Folks from out of the area can easily trailer into the staging areas, while the local residents just drive to the end of their street and are on the forest. This ease of access has caused numerous problems for other local residents and lead to many user-created non-authorized “trails” being created, and often activly improved and maintained by users.
The recently approved new trail authorizations will increase the controllability of this activity. The restoration grant will significantly improve the safety and responsible use of the area. By increasing the control with better signage and increased monitoring and restricting the casual entry to certain authorized points all users benefit.
By restoring the user-created trails to a more natural condition there will be less likelyhood on those trails being re-established, thus allowing the areas to recover more rapidly and more fully.
In reading the comments of others, I notice that many seem to be arguing about the existence of ANY ATV usage in the area, rather than discussing the restoration or control of use proposals. I doubt that is the purpose of this comment area and period. CT Alderson - 4/7/14
I would like to comment on the OHMVR grants on behalf of the California Off-Road Vehicle Association.
San Bernardino National Forest Baldy Mesa Trails/Staging Area Development This project is what the grant program is all about. Creating a staging area and supporting legal trails. This is a very expensive grant. I would like to understand better what we get for the $364k for trail building San Bernardino National Forest Application: Ground Operations This is a good grant to support OHV in the forest. It is also a very expensive grant. $489k to support 221 miles of trail. That is $2,217 per mile! I see $50k for maintenance materials, seems over the top for trails that are already open. Help me understand what cost so much here. Ed Stovin - 4/7/14