SettLEMENT AGREEMENT BACKGROUND
There are several important documents related to the 2015 settlement agreement between the PSI and various environmental groups regarding motorized vehicle use and travel management, including:
- Settlement agreement (November 13, 2015)
- Court order dismissing the case (November 16, 2015)
- Interim Forest Order closing 20 route segments to public motorized use as required in the settlement agreement (February 8, 2016)
- Baseline spatial data for the PSI MVUM routes in the settlement agreement
COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS about THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
- Q: The original lawsuit states that the PSI did not complete the required environmental analysis and public input on certain roads and trails. Is that correct?
A: Using a travel map from the 1984 Forest Plan as a baseline, the lawsuit plaintiffs felt that motorized vehicle use of certain routes was illegal because the routes did not clearly appear on the 1984 map and specific documents related to environmental assessments (EAs) and public input could not be located (possibly due to the Forest Service only requiring EA documentation be retained for fifteen years). The 1984 travel map was published at a scale that precluded accurate and complete depiction of the entire transportation system and the PSI felt they acted appropriately with consideration of all environmental laws when they published the new MVUMs in 2008 with the routes contested in the lawsuit. Without admitting fault on either side, the negotiated settlement agreement led to PSI agreeing to evaluate all of its public motorized routes in a comprehensive fashion.
- Q: Is it true that the PSI will no longer allow motorized vehicles on the contested routes identified in the settlement agreement?
A: The settlement agreement doesn’t require the PSI to close the contested routes, although the PSI does need to include the potential closure of the contested routes as an alternative in the travel management EIS. The EIS will also include other alternatives, including those potentially developed from feedback during the scoping process.
- Q: Where can I find a list of the contested routes?
A: The settlement agreement has a summary of the contested routes listed by Ranger District.
- Q: Are the National Grasslands included in the settlement agreement?
A: The Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands are not included in this settlement agreement and will not be part of the travel management EIS.
- Q: What short-term actions will the PSI be taking as a result of the settlement agreement?
A: The PSI will be following the terms of the settlement agreement, and, as of February 8, 2016, has closed all or portions of 20 routes to motorized public use (totaling less than 16 miles and representing less than 1 percent of the PSI routes) on an interim basis and decommissioned 10 routes as described in Exhibit B of the settlement agreement. The PSI conferred with Colorado Parks & Wildlife in January and February of 2016 regarding potential seasonal closures within areas designated for big game winter range habitat, and implemented these closures as of November 2016.
- Q: What long-term actions will the PSI be taking as a result of the settlement agreement?
A: With the June 25, 2016 publication of a Notice of Intent to prepare a travel management EIS, the PSI is beginning the scoping process to develop alternatives for motorized travel on the Forest. This analysis is expected to take less than five years and will include public meetings and others opportunities for the public to comment.