The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has announced its decision to permanently close the popular 39-mile Upper Tellico River OHV trail system in North Carolina due to erosion concerns. The decision follows a heated debate between the USFS, off-highway vehicle (OHV) groups and environmentalists following the February release of the USFS environmental study on the area. The USFS contends that the OHV trail systems contributes unacceptable levels of sediment to the Tellico River and its tributaries, causing water-quality concerns. SEMA and a number of OHV organizations and enthusiasts had urged the USFS to take a more measured response instead of simply closing the off-road recreation area.
Congressman John Salazar (D-CO) has introduced the “San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act” in Congress. The bill would designate as wilderness 61,682 acres of public land in southwestern Colorado, in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison and San Juan National Forests and the San Juan Bureau of Land Management Resource Area. Rep. Salazar claims the legislation has the support of local towns, such as Ouray and Telluride, and the County Commissions of San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan Counties. SEMA is in the process of reviewing the legislation to determine its potential impact on the local OHV community. A wilderness designation prohibits the use of motorized or mechanized vehicles. For more information, contact Ethan Landesman at firstname.lastname@example.org.