Forest Service Wants Groups to Work Together

(Cody, WY) Tonight's "Travel Management Meeting" at Cody library's Grizzly Hall was packed with people looking to understand how Shoshone National Forest intends to change trails, roads, and other access for motorized vehicles. Those who are fans of ATVs and snowmobiles were equally represented among those who prefer not to encounter motorized vehicles, such as back country horse riders. At times, however, these groups can be at odds. "One group wants a road closed and another wants that same road added to," said Rob Robertson, the south zone coordinator for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). "If those groups could talk to each other and discuss their needs and concerns, it would be helpful." The meeting tonight showed everyone proposals so far for the summer and explained the process they will now use to go through each one in detail. In their current state, these proposals are just "brainstorms" and "ideas", according to Forest Supervisor Joseph Alexander who led the meeting. A long list of "filters" will be used to first determine if a proposal is even possible. They are not currently taking public comments because, "you may be commenting on something that may never see the light of day," Alexander said. For example, if a proposal includes opening an ATV trail that goes through a piece of private land, the Forest Service will reject the proposal outright if they don't have an agreement with that land owner for use. They can't use land that isn't under their jurisdiction. The next step is for the Forest Service to comb through each "Summer Use" proposal and then they will come back to the public with the ones that are possible. This is a lengthy process. In the meantime, proposals for "Winter Use" are in the works. All proposals for winter use need to be submitted by January 22nd. All of these proposals are being made possible by the new Forest Land Management Plan that was just implemented within the year. The old plan was from 1986 before ATVs and snowmobiles were popular. This new management plan wants to take current uses into consideration and this "Travel Management" focus is something the public asked for more than any other issue. The Forest Service greatly appreciates this kind of engagement with the public. "This was the best attended meeting to date, of all the counties, with 71 people," said Kristie Salzman, Public Affairs Officer for Shoshone Forest Service. The next public meetings will be February 2-4 where they will present all the winter use proposals as they did tonight for the summer use plans. We'll let everyone know when the Cody date is set. #reboot #news