The Pike and San Isabel National Forests (PSI) are planning to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) for travel management as the result of a 2015 settlement agreement. Analysis in the EIS would determine which roads and trails are open for public motorized use and included in future Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs).
The current PSI Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) dates back to 1984. Many changes have occurred since that time, with new types of use, increased user volumes, general population pressures, wildland-urban interface developments, and other factors. The PSI issued revised MVUMs in 2009 reflecting updated routes open to the public for motorized use, but was subsequently challenged in court by various environmental groups contending that the Forest Service did not meet their agency obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal legislation. Parties to the lawsuit eventually reached a settlement agreement in 2015, which they believe is in the public interest and a fair and equitable resolution of the dispute.
As a result of the settlement agreement, the PSI is conducting travel management planning to designate roads, trails, and areas open to public motorized vehicle use on the six districts of the PSI National Forests pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 212.55(b). Scoping for travel management began on July 25, 2016 with publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). Scoping is a process used to identify important issues and determine the extent of analysis necessary for an informed decision on a proposed action. Input is crucial to the scoping process and public meetings occurred on August 23, 24, and 25, 2016 in Pueblo, Salida, and Colorado Springs, with the scoping period ending on September 23, 2016. There were multiple ways the public submitted comments on the scoping process, and the PSI continues to welcome comments as the scoping report is being prepared.
The NOI included detailed information such as the project's purpose and need, the proposed action, and the four alternatives developed thus far. Development of additional alternatives could result from public input in the scoping process; however, the alternatives summarized in the NOI include:
- Alternative A is the no-action alternative and consists of the public motorized routes on the latest MVUMs described in the settlement agreement, less the 30 National Forest system [NFS] routes or route segments that are either already decommissioned or would be temporarily changed to administrative use. See the maps or spatial data for this alternative →
Alternative B includes the routes in the PSI’s infrastructure database (INFRA) as of June 16, 2016, less the contested routes identified in the settlement agreement. See the maps or spatial data for this alternative →
Alternative C includes the routes in INFRA as of June 16, 2016, plus certain additions, modifications, and changes in status or maintenance levels to routes identified as urgent priorities by the PSI in their Travel Analysis Process (TAP). The goal of this alternative would be to move toward a safe, affordable, and environmentally sound transportation system, while leaving room for future site-specific revisions as needed. See the maps or spatial data for this alternative →
Alternative D includes all the routes in Alternative C, plus additional, non-urgent changes that would move the PSI toward the minimum NFS network needed for safe and efficient travel, and for administration, utilization, and protection of NFS lands per 36 CFR 212.5(b)(1). See the maps or spatial data for this alternative →