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National Forest Sets Meetings For OHV Input

The Forest Service today announced that three public participation meetings are to be held this month to review 2003-2004 accomplishments, and to gather input for the fiscal year 2005 off highway vehicle program, which includes summer off highway vehicles (OHVs) and winter over-snow vehicles (OSVs). The public´s ideas, suggestions, and comments are needed to help Forest managers develop Stanislaus National Forest OHV and OSV Cooperative Grant applications to be submitted with program proposals and funding requests to the California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR).

“We are listening to ideas, suggestions, and concerns from off-highway and over-snow enthusiasts, outdoor recreationists, interested stakeholders, and community members. This information is vital to the successful completion of our next OHV and OSV grant requests, and we need the public´s help to provide off highway opportunities, while protecting natural resources.” said Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn. The Forest Service is requesting input to help Forest managers identify key concerns, opportunities, and priorities that will enhance the Forest OHV and OSV program, protect natural resources, and maximize public benefits.

The Forest Service is asking the public to share information and contribute ideas, comments and concerns regarding the Forest OHV and OSV program. Ranger District and Forest Supervisor´s Office personnel will be on hand at the meetings to discuss and review the fiscal year 2004 OSV and OHV program accomplishments, and outline plans for the remainder of the winter. In addition, Forest managers will listen to the public´s ideas and gather input to develop the fiscal year 2005 (October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005) OHV and OSV grant applications.

The meetings are to be held at the following locations and times:

Summit Ranger District: Saturday, March 13, 2004 at 4:30 p.m., located at the Summit District Ranger Station Office in Pinecrest (park in the front lot, meeting located in conference room building).

Calaveras Ranger District: Saturday, March 13, 2004 at 5:00 p.m., located at the Calaveras County Branch Library in Bear Valley.

Stanislaus Forest Supervisor´s Office: Tuesday, March 30, at 6:00 p.m., located at the Forest Supervisors Office, 19777 Greenley Road in Sonora, CA.

This winter, the Forest has utilized OSV cooperative grant funding to provide more than 65 miles of groomed OSV trail, 50 miles of marked ungroomed trail, personal visitor information and education contacts in the field, information boards, directional signs, maps, and informational brochures. The grant also funds Forest Service law enforcement patrols to ensure compliance with state registration and safety laws, as well as federal regulations protecting wilderness from motorized OSV intrusion and trespass.

The Forest´s OHV program covers 105 miles of 4WD trails; 171 miles of ATV trails; 120 miles of motorcycle trails; 1,808 miles of Level 2 (unsurfaced) roads. More than 190,000 visitors annually enjoy this recreational activity. Although OHV grant funds were not received last year, the Forest continued to provide OHV information at Ranger District front desks, outdoor kiosks, bulletin boards, in campgrounds, and on the Forest website. The Forest provided for visitor safety by maintaining adequate trail signing, describing the level of challenge for individual trails, posting information for after hours access, and providing “on the ground” law enforcement patrols. Protection of resources was accomplished through seasonal closures where needed, with patrols and surveys to determine trail conditions.

Cooperative OHV and OSV grant funds are collected from California Greensticker license fees and from a state gasoline tax. The Forest Service applies for grant funding through the OHMVR to be considered by the California Off-Highway Vehicle Commission. The granted funds are used to provide planned opportunities and manage motorized vehicle use on the Forest. Sno-park permit fees are received through a separate and different funding program, and are utilized to operate Sno-park facilities, including snow removal in parking areas, and maintenance for visitor restrooms.

The Forest currently operates three winter Sno-parks at higher elevations, in three counties. The Alpine Sno-park is located at the HWY 4 winter closure gate, two miles beyond Bear Valley Village in Alpine County. The Spicer Sno-park is accessed off HWY 4 on Spicer Reservoir Road one mile below the community of Tamarack in Calaveras County. The 108 Sno-park is located at the winter closure gate seven and one-half miles above the community of Strawberry in Tuolumne County.

Information about the upcoming OHV and OSV meetings, and the public participation process the Forest Service is using to develop the 2005 program, may be obtained by contacting Steve Bailey (HWighway 108) on the Summit Ranger District (209) 965-3434, Lonnie Allison (Highway 4) on the Calaveras Ranger District (209) 795 1381; or Sue Warren at the Forest Supervisor´s Office (209) 532-3671.

Information about Stanislaus National Forest OHV and OSV opportunities, as well as a copies of the grant applications submitted for Fiscal year 2004, can be accessed at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/stanislaus. Information about the California State OHV program managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation OHMVR can be accessed at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov.