Placerville, CA (May 24, 2007) - Visitors to the Eldorado National Forest need to keep in mind that the national forest remains under a 2005 court order that restricts wheeled motor vehicle travel to routes identified on the Motor Vehicle Restrictions map. Travel off of routes identified on the map is prohibited. The restriction map is available free-of-charge at all Eldorado National Forest offices.
Forest Supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo says that visitors who plan to camp outside of developed campgrounds must park their wheeled motor vehicles on a route identified on the map, or within a reasonable distance of the route so as not to block the travel way, create a safety hazard, or damage vegetation and other forest resources.
"People have done a great job adjusting to the new restrictions over the past two years," said Villalvazo. "Visitors have generally responded well to the restrictions as we continue to help them understand how to comply. However, when violations of the restrictions occur we will issue citations."
The Eldorado National Forest continues to move forward toward completing a new wheeled vehicle management plan that will designate a system of routes throughout the national forest as ordered by the court in 2005. For the past two years, the Forest Service has been developing and evaluating a preliminary range of alternative options to manage wheeled motorized vehicles on existing routes throughout the national forest.
Eldorado National Forest Route Designation Team Leader Anthony Scardina, says that a preliminary range of alternatives was discussed at public meetings last summer and that changes were made to these preliminary alternatives before moving forward with the environmental analysis.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be ready for review in early July. The Forest Service's preferred alternative will be identified in the DEIS. The Forest Service says all of the alternatives were developed to be consistent with current federal laws, regulations, and policies; to create a system of routes that can be better maintained and enforced, while providing high quality and diverse motorized recreation opportunities; and to minimize impacts to forest resources.
"The route designation process has placed an emphasis on developing a system of routes that create quality recreation experiences," said Scardina.
A 45 day public review and comment period will follow the official release of the DEIS. The information learned from the public will be evaluated by Ramiro Villalvazo who will issue his final decision before December 31, 2007, the deadline set by the court in 2005.