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, including at the meetings and via email, letter, and this website.
The NOI included detailed information such as the project's purpose and need, the proposed action, and the four alternatives developed for the scoping process. The alternatives summarized in the NOI and used during scoping 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 →
SCOPING RESULTS and INITIAL DEVELOPMENT OF A DEIS
The PSI prepared a final scoping report that provides complete text of all unique submittals, summarizes the comments by category, identifies public concern statements and issues that the PSI used to modify alternatives for consideration in the EIS, and provides next steps in the EIS process. Following scoping, the PSI began the initial development of a DEIS and prepared of a working draft of Chapters 1 and 2 (provided here) in late November 2017. These working drafts will be revised as appropriate throughout the EIS analysis, and are being provided to the public as an interim work product.
Along with draft Chapters 1 and 2, spreadsheets showing the routes and areas to be analyzed during the DEIS (provided here) were made available to the public as interim work products as of April 2018. In 2017, the PSI decided to analyze the minimum road system in this DEIS, therefore all the alternatives analysis now includes routes in INFRA that are not open to the public, such as administrative, special-use permit, or Maintenance Level 1 roads. Because Alternative A (the no action alternative) consisted of the public motorized routes on the latest MVUMs described in the settlement agreement and did not consider non-public routes, the PSI added all non-public routes from INFRA (as of March 2018) to this alternative for the DEIS analysis. Additionally, in June 2018 the PSI provided draft working maps of the DEIS alternatives approved by Erin Connelly, PSI Forest Supervisor, which are provided here.
The PSI is beginning to work on the specialist reports and the affected environment and environmental consequences analysis for the DEIS. More information will be forthcoming as these efforts progress.