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Settlement Regains Motorized Use of Two Tibble Fork (UT)


 
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2004 10:15 pm    Post subject: Settlement Regains Motorized Use of Two Tibble Fork (UT) Reply with quote

Two routes closed to single track motorized use in August 2003 in the Tibble Fork area of the Uinta National Forest have been reopened to motorized use as a result of a lawsuit filed by Utah Shared Access Alliance.

Routes 039 and 181, now reopened to motorized use, provide a loop and also provide more direct access from the Tibble Fork staging area to other portions of the Uinta National Forest motorized trail system.

When the Forest Service revised its forest plan, the Forest Service refused to accept USAALLís comments regarding proposed semi-primitive non-motorized (SPNM) Recreational Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) areas that would potentially eliminate motorized use of existing trails. The Forest Service said USA-ALL could comment later when a project-level travel plan would be considered. However, after refusing to consider USA-ALLís criticisms of SPNM ROS the Forest Service in August 2003 closed about 20 miles of trails in the Tibble Fork area because, the Forest Service contended, the SPNM ROS required such immediate action even before a project-level travel plan would be considered.

USA-ALL filed an administrative appeal and twice asked the Forest Service to stay its action to no avail. Then USA-ALL then filed a lawsuit in Utah Federal District Court. USAALL and the Forest Service entered into a settlement that provides that Routes 039 and 181 will remain open at least until the Forest Service completes project level travel plan that may or may not recommend leaving such routes open. The Forest Service agreed to attach errata sheets to its printed maps to show that the routes are open to motorized use. The parties also agreed that USA-ALLís administrative appeal remains viable. This means that if USA-ALL prevails on its administrative appeal all of the Tibble Fork routes would be re-opened to motorized use.

Aside from the determination to preserve motorized trails, the lawsuit reinforced USAALLís commitment to making federal agencies follow public participation requirements before closing trails. USA-ALLís attorney Paul W. Mortensen handled the lawsuit and is also pursuing the administrative appeal.
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