Collaboration Example: Black Hills Travel Management with FACA Committee
If, as stated by many, collaboration is a tool of “industry”, what industry are we talking about here?
Here’s an example of how the recommendations and agency action interrelate on the draft Travel Management Plan.
Early development of the proposed action involved extensive consultation with many individuals and groups. Some of this work was conducted by the National Forest Advisory Board. Other efforts were conducted by the Forest Service. The following section summarizes these efforts.
National Forest Advisory Board Efforts
The Forest conducted preliminary public involvement from April 2003 to November 2007 through the work of the Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board (NFAB). This board was chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 2003. In March 2005, the Board established the Travel Management Subcommittee (the Subcommittee) to develop recommendations to the larger NFAB for travel management on the Forest. It was intended that advice provided by the NFAB would be used by the Forest Service to develop a proposed action or alternatives to be considered in the EIS. Members appointed to the Subcommittee represented a wide variety of interests, including both motorized and nonmotorized recreationists.
To assist their efforts in evaluating the potential for establishing a designated OHV trail system on the Forest, the Subcommittee distributed a User Needs Questionnaire to solicit input from both OHV and non-OHV users. By December 2005, some 559 responses had been received. To supplement the information received from this effort, the Subcommittee also conducted four public meetings in South Dakota and Wyoming in which they listened to ideas, suggestions and concerns from off-highway vehicle users, outdoor recreationists, interested stakeholders and community members.
NFAB Recommendations – Based on public input solicited and received, the Subcommittee issued a report on June 8, 2006 (Blair et al. 2006). The report contained eleven core recommendations regarding design and management of a designated system of roads, trails, and areas. The report made it clear that these recommendations “are intended to be general in nature.” The eleven recommendations offered by the Travel Subcommittee to the NFAB are incorporated by reference in this analysis, and are summarized as follows:
Black Hills National Forest Travel Management Plan
1. Our Setting/Niche – “The Subcommittee recognizes that motorized vehicle use including OHVs is an important part of the recreation experience on the Black Hills. The Subcommittee recommends that an OHV trail system be developed, within the context of overall motorized uses, which provides for a variety of opportunities but does not dominate or unreasonably interfere with other multiple uses on the Forest.”
2. Active or a Passive System? “The Subcommittee recommends an ‘active’ system versus a passive one. A passive system is similar to what we have today—routes and areas are designated as open or closed, and people use these routes/areas as desired. An active system is one that is specifically designed, maintained, and enforced to provide for specific uses. The Subcommittee recognizes that funding would play a large role in the size and nature of the system.” (Emphasis added.)
3. What are the economic and funding issues? “The Subcommittee recognizes that the size and nature of an OHV system will depend substantially on the funding sources available. The Subcommittee supports pursuing all possible funding options.”
4. What would be the role of the States and local communities in developing and managing an OHV trail system? “The Subcommittee recommends that OHV management on the Black Hills National Forest be a cooperative effort between the Forest Service, the States of South Dakota and Wyoming, and local counties. The Forest Service would have primary responsibility for an OHV trail system (as well as other transportation systems) on NFS lands.”
5. What should the system look like/consist of? “The group likes the concept of “Gateway Communities” or of at least connecting/tying in communities in some fashion. In general, the system should consist of a main arterial system extending throughout the Black Hills and a network of routes branching off the main system. The focus would be on multiple scale loops as opposed to dead-end spurs. Many of the routes would be shared by multiple users… The group recognizes that, for the most part, there are already an adequate number of routes on the Forest that could be developed into a system [and that] some current, non-system routes may need to be included in the system.” The Subcommittee stated that they did not envision that a large number of new routes would be developed, and that the development of new connections or “limited new routes…should be off-set by the removal of other existing routes. In the end, there should be less ‘tracks on the ground’ than currently exists.”
6. How do we address populated areas? “General consensus was that it is important to limit the amount of noise and potential conflicts adjacent to communities/ subdivisions, and that an OHV trail system should focus more on areas away from populated areas.” The Subcommittee recognized that concentrating motorized use near populated areas “can be a nuisance for some and cause conflicts” and that efforts should be made to reduce this nuisance and conflicts. The Subcommittee noted that providing motorized access from these areas while reducing conflicts could be “the most difficult aspect of the entire process.”
7. Game Retrieval – “The Subcommittee recommends that allowances be made for game retrieval as part of the motorized use designation process.” The Subcommittee recommended further that the program on the Forest should be consistent with other Federal and State agencies, notably Custer State Park, and that “No unacceptable 10
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
resource damage, as defined by the Forest Service, will occur as part of retrieval operations.”
8. Firewood Collecting – The Subcommittee recognized that many residents collect firewood on the Forest to heat their homes, and recommended “that motorized use to collect firewood:
a. Require a firewood permit.
b. Be limited to areas designated by the Forest Service which can be modified as needed.”
9. Dispersed Camping – “The Subcommittee recommends that dispersed camping using motorized vehicles off designated routes be allowed, but motorized vehicles be restricted to within 300 feet of an open, designated route using the most direct route to the camp site.”
10. Cross-Country Motorized OHV Use – “The Subcommittee recommends that cross-country motorized OHV travel be allowed only within designated areas. Exceptions to this would be for administrative and permitted uses, public safety, fire suppression, and search and rescue.” The Subcommittee offered no recommendation as to the size and nature of these designated areas.
11. Mud-Bogging – “The Subcommittee recommends that no mud-bogging be allowed on National Forest System lands,” noting the resource damage that accompanies such use.
Forest Service Efforts
The Forest Service also conducted work outside the framework of the NFAB. During this preliminary public involvement stage, Forest leadership met with Indian tribal leadership to consider the travel planning process. The Forest Service also sponsored and conducted workshops. The Forest, in cooperation with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) conducted an OHV Route Designation Workshop in October 2006 for agency personnel and the public. The purpose of this workshop was to acquaint agency personnel and the public with the Travel Management Rule and its implementation. In November 2006, the Forest conducted four “Travelways” workshops. The purpose of these workshops was to gather public input and ideas for developing a proposed action. Individuals attending these workshops identified routes they felt should remain open for public use on Forest lands, and suggested changes or additions to the travel system. Participants at these workshops contributed site-specific information that was used to develop the proposed action.
The Forest then convened decisionmakers and resource specialists from the Supervisor’s Office and all four Ranger Districts, to design and display a motorized travel system that would follow the NFAB recommendations and meet public desires expressed up to that time. The aim was to develop a system that a system that would also reduce or minimize potential resource damage, and be practical to implement.