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Latest from BRC - BRC CRITICAL ACTION ALERT

THEY WANT TO CLOSE TELLICO!

You MUST take action to Rescue Tellico NOW! The Forest Service has told us what they want to do and it is incumbent on the OHV community to change their mind.

Background:

On Friday, February 27, the USDA Forest Service rolled out the draft Environmental Assessment for the Upper Tellico OHV trail system. The OHV community has been extremely dismayed to learn that while there are six alternatives the Forest Service is considering, the Forest Supervisor, Marisue Hilliard, made it very clear that her preferred alternative is to CLOSE TELLICO. While we know that this is completely unacceptable and will cause immediate and intense emotional reaction, we are asking that everyone maintain a level head and concentrate on what our task is now.

In addition, the USFS Forest Supervisor issued a TEMPORARY CLOSURE ORDER that will keep Tellico closed until they decide what the fate of the area will be. This means that if the temporary closure order stands, TELLICO WILL NOT REOPEN ON APRIL 1ST!

What we are doing about it:

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA), and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) have teamed up to fight this and we are working as aggressively as we can to get you the right information. We have spent the last week "scrubbing" through the draft EA and developing a plan and now WE NEED YOUR HELP AND HERE IS HOW YOU CAN BE MOST HELPFUL:

STEP 1: The week of March 9th, THIS WEEK, we need you to call, write or, even better, visit your congressman, senator, state and local representatives. They need to know you feel angry, hurt and betrayed by the Forest Service. They need to know that the Forest Service is going to affect jobs and the economy in this difficult time. They need to know the real science and that the water is not bad. See the sample letter below for talking points. Feel free to copy and paste the letter, but be sure to personalize it with a short paragraph on why Tellico is important-what it represents to the OHV community and to you. Help your representatives understand how important Tellico is.

Please forward any positive or negative reactions you get to Jay Bird at [email protected]. We want to know who our friends are and follow through with them.

STEP 2: Beginning the week of March 16th, BRC, SFWDA, and UFWDA will have a letter generator up with comments you can make to the Forest Service about the EA. If you have already made comments, make some more. Each time you find out some new information, send it to the Forest Service. We need letters. We are currently refining our comment bullet points and will send out and post more information to help with your letters as we complete that process. But don't let that stop you from doing background preparation and comments yourself. WE NEED to have as much enthusiast involvement as we possibly can muster from the OHV community.

BRC and UFWDA will be following through for us in Washington DC, working from the top down. They will meet with the Forest Service as well as other national organizations and some of those friendly representatives.

Please read the Forest Service documents on their website at: Upper Tellico OHV Area

Then take the time to review the independent scientific study SFWDA had commissioned at: Recommended Trail System Repair and Maintenance Plan Upper Tellico OHV System.

If you see anything in the EA or Caliper report, or you have information that you want to make sure we don't overlook, please notify Heather Royston at [email protected]

We each need to do our part to RESCUE TELLICO and YOUR INVOLVEMENT IS CRITICAL!

Thank you for your help!

SFWDA, UFWDA, and BRC

A SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE CAN BE FOUND HERE FOR COPY AND PASTE. OR THERE ARE GENERAL TALKING POINTS TO USE BELOW... You can find out your representatives' contact information and where to send your letter or email to by visiting the BRC Rapid Response Center at Rapid Response Center - BlueRibbon Coalition simply typing in your zip code.

Upper Tellico OHV Area
Proposed Closure Order
TALKING POINTS

Congressional attention to this problem cannot wait.


The USFS has issued a proposed temporary closure notice prohibiting all use of the Upper Tellico OHV system effective April 1, 2009.


REPAIRING THE AREA IS THE BEST SOLUTION:
o OHV enthusiasts spend 4 times more money on lodging, food, and gas than other outdoor sportsmen
o $4.8 million annually in tourism revenues by OHV users
o Repairing contributes $1.5 - $2.6 million in OHV revenue annually
o Repairing would create more than $1.4 million in local jobs
o Nearby streams are currently healthy
o Nearby streams have excellent water quality per North Carolina standards
o Nearby streams are capable of sustaining viable, reproducing native trout populations
o Nearby stream channels are very stable
o Nearby stream channels convey stream flows without streambed erosion
o The trails are repairable and very much maintainable/sustainable after repair


CLOSURE IS A BAD SOLUTION:
o Closure creates ZERO OHV tourism revenue
o Degradation of water quality and degradation of aquatic habitat in Upper Tellico is non-existent
o Historic clear-cutting of land in Upper Tellico has contributed more to the off-site sediment transport than the trail system
o Closure of trails is neither warranted nor recommended by USFS trails experts!
 

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the letter I just sent

March 16, 2009

National Forests in North Carolina
Attn: Candace Wyman
160 A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

Re: Temporary Closure of the Tellico Upper OHV Area

Dear Ms. Wyman

I am sure that you and your office have been inundated with letters concerning the above referenced matter. These letters, I would imagine, advocate one of two positions: (1) those that favor the temporary closure of the Tellico Upper OHV Area; and (2) those that oppose temporary closure. I support the latter.

Over the past several weeks, I have had the privilege of reading many of the letters sent to you by those who oppose the suggested “temporary closure” option (available at Pirate4x4.Com - The largest off roading website in the world.). Many of these letters address the Environmental Assessment (“EA”) and the Southern Independent Trail Assessment (“SITA”) and the apparent discrepancies between the two. Thus, it would be redundant for me to point out the conflicting conclusions reached by these two studies. Therefore, I will focus primarily on my own, personal reasons for opposing the temporary closure.

To fully understand the consequences of your decision, I should provide some context as to the importance of trail-riding to those of us who participate. We are not simply a small group of individuals playing with our “toys” on the occasional weekend adventure. We spend countless hours traveling around the country visiting off-road sites and trails; we work our jobs and spend part of our earnings, many times thousands of dollars, maintaining and improving our vehicles; and we religiously visit on-line forums and blogs to discuss possible trips and new opportunities. I believe I speak for all of my 4x4 brethren when I say that our weekend adventures are more than the proverbial “hobby.”

Our passion for trail-riding goes far beyond a leisure activity. We use our off-road vehicles as a means to break up the monotony of our daily lives. Rather than spend our hard earned money vacationing at a beach or ski resort, we prefer to pack up our families and friends, drive to locations like Tellico’s Upper OHV Area, and spend a long weekend socializing and trail-riding with others who have made the trip. Simply put, closing this area will greatly affect my life, as well as thousands of others. Factually speaking, I would have no reason to visit the beautiful state of North Carolina in the event Tellico’s Upper OHV Area is closed.

Notwithstanding my personal motives, there are a number of other reasons why Tellico’s Upper OHV Area should remain open. In the interest of time and space, I will address only one - the economic hardships the surrounding community will face in the event of closure. Suffice to say, the adverse economic effects the surrounding communities will experience are enough for keeping this area open for 4x4 use. As stated in the SITA, the surrounding communities receive over four million dollars annually on account of those visiting Tellico for trail-riding and 4x4 activities. One of the most cited legal figures in the country, the Honorable Richard Posner (7th Circuit), has opined that economics, as opposed to any other prospective, is the greatest tool for reaching a decision, so long as empirical data supports such a finding. Therefore, following Posner’s position, the empirical data reported by the SITA unquestionably favors keeping this area open for use. As this data shows, it is uncontested that the loss of business that will accompany the closure of Tellico’s Upper OHV Area will be drastic. Given today’s economic crisis, coupled with the threat of losing over four million dollars this year, the surrounding communities and businesses stand to lose more than the meager out-of-town customer. These businesses face the threat of dissolution; unless of course the state supplements this lost revenue with North Carolina’s tax payer dollars. Therefore, I find it reasonable to assume that the trail-riders and 4x4 operators are not the only ones with an interest in the continued use of this area. Without trying to sound overly dramatic, North Carolina’s businesses and its citizens may also feel the effects.

In closing, on behalf of myself and all others opposed, I plead with you to not close Tellico’s Upper OHV Area. I assure you my fellow trail-riders and I are fully invested in the continued health and sanctity of the environment, and thus will take all precautions to preserve the wildlife.
If, however, a course of action must be implemented, I support options E or F of the proposed alternatives. These alternatives are far less drastic than temporary closure, yet provide a remedy for those wishing to completely ban all 4x4 activities in the area.

I realize this is a delicate situation that must be handled with care and responsibility. It is my hope that everyone’s interest will be considered and ask only for a fair and impartial decision. Thank you for your time and understanding. I truly hope to visit North Carolina soon.

With Kind Regards, I am
 

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Hi guys

Sorry about another one of these but its brutal out here these days in LandUse/Access Rights.



BRC CRITICAL ACTION ALERT

Friends,

Time is running out--please help rescue Tellico today!

As we rapidly approach Tellico's effective closure date, April 1st, we need your help now more than ever to rescue Tellico. We do not yet believe we have generated enough letters from the OHV community to be most effective.

If you have not done so already, it is vital that you take 10 minutes of your time to write a letter to the Forest Service. You CAN make a difference. We have made this very easy with our online letter generator Comments on Upper Tellico System Draft EA - BlueRibbon Coalition . All you have to do is click here to begin the process. If you know a friend or family member who has not yet sent a letter, please encourage them to do so.

For more information and background, see our previous alerts here:
Please: Take Ten Minutes For Tellico Now! - BRC Action Alert
They Want to Close Tellico! - BRC Action Alert

As always, this has been a long and expensive fight and we ask that you help us to sustain the ongoing effort with your donations. You can donate simply and easily online at Contribute to Rescue Tellico - BlueRibbon Coalition

Thank you for your help!

Sincerely,

Greg Mumm
Executive Director
BlueRibbon Coalition

Del Albright
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition
 

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Discussion Starter #45

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Discussion Starter #47
Southern asked our consultant to review the EA and make comments. We also asked them to compare their report to the EA. Here is what they came up with. It's a 50 page document that takes the EA apart.

http://www.sfwda.org/trails/tellico/Caliber_SFWDA20090324.pdf

Pick a comment, write an email. Easy breezy!

And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has provided input!
 

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Southern asked our consultant to review the EA and make comments. We also asked them to compare their report to the EA. Here is what they came up with. It's a 50 page document that takes the EA apart.

http://www.sfwda.org/trails/tellico/Caliber_SFWDA20090324.pdf

Pick a comment, write an email. Easy breezy!

And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has provided input!

Wow! They pick apart the EA easily.

When should we expect to find out if the temp closure will stand and what the final outcome will be now that the comment period has expired?
 

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Discussion Starter #50
Wow! They pick apart the EA easily.

When should we expect to find out if the temp closure will stand and what the final outcome will be now that the comment period has expired?
We will know today. They have to make a decision whether to open it up tomorrow or not. The winter closure order (as well as the 1 year temp closure of select trails) ends tomorrow.
 
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