Quantcast

Off-Road Plan Puts Species at Risk in National Forest

Center for Biological Diversity

The Coconino National Forest announced a new off-road vehicle plan Nov. 3 that leaves open more than 3,100 road miles and nearly 1 million acres of forest to cross-country driving. Threatened species such as the Mexican spotted owl and Chiricahua leopard frog remain at risk from motorized corridors and driving off-road to pick up big game.

“Off-road vehicles in national forests are not only a blight on the landscape but also degrade the habitat of species already at the brink of extinction,” said Cyndi Tuell at the Center for Biological Diversity. “And from a fiscal point of view, the Coconino National Forest today can afford to maintain just 600 miles of roads annually, yet this decision leaves more than 3,100 miles of roads open to public motorized uses. It’s baffling to think that in these lean economic times a forest is planning for a road system it knows it can’t afford.”

Erosion from roads can also prevent the average forest visitor from accessing the forest. “A road that isn’t maintained can erode into streams like Fossil Creek or become too rutted for an average family vehicle—like Friedland Prairie Road on the San Francisco Peaks,” Tuell said.

Kim Crumbo of the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council has grave concerns about the continued impacts that off-road driving will have on habitat throughout the forest. “We had asked the Forest Service to protect forest resources by prohibiting all cross-country driving, including driving to pick up downed game like deer or elk. Unfortunately the decision allows hunters to drive off-road through nearly the entire forest.”

Under the new plan, more than 900,000 acres of Coconino forest land would be open to driving, resulting in continued spread of invasive plants and habitat destruction.

Invasive plants in southwestern forests are often linked to wildfires and displace native plants that wildlife rely on for habitat and food sources. Most game units in the Coconino National Forest will allow motorized big game retrieval and most forests in Arizona are planning to allow motorized big game retrieval nearly forestwide. The U.S. Forest Service’s decision notes that hunters wishing to have a primitive hunting experience are limited to a few hunting units in the Coconino National Forest or are forced to travel to New Mexico or other nearby states that are planning to offer quiet hunting experiences.

With this decision, all visitors seeking a quiet forest experience will struggle to find quiet places in the forest outside of the designated wilderness areas.

“Just one percent of the people visiting this forest are there primarily for ORV use, yet this decision allows ORVs on 80 percent of the roads,” said Tuell. “This plan denies access to a quiet forest experience for the majority of us and just doesn’t make sense for people or for wildlife.”

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More