Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less