Talimena trails

sgifford

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#1
It appears that OHV access to our beloved trails in/around the Talimena state park in SE Oklahoma are under attack.

Here's an email I sent today to those responsible for managing those shared public resources. I would encourage everyone who wants to keep those trails open to send an email as well. Be polite and courteous.

travel-ohv-ouachita@fs.fed.us

kmrussell@fs.fed.us

My email:
To whom it may concern,

I wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I enjoy riding my off-road motorcycle in trails surrounding the Talimena State Park. I am a software development manager and a father. I have enjoyed many wonderful hours riding the trails and enjoying the great outdoors with my sons, and with friends.

I and my sons ride quiet motorcycles (below 95db each), and I teach them to respect the areas we ride in. We are courteous to those we share the trails with. Whenever we encounter horses, which is pretty rare, we pull off the side of the trail and turn off our engines. Most of the trails we ride are so remote that we never see anyone else at all.

Please keep the trails open for responsible OHV usage. I would also like to be notified of any public meetings that are held concerning the status of trails in the S.E Oklahoma area.

I appreciate your work and efforts in managing our valuable shared public resources.

Sincerely,
Seldon Gifford
898 Legend Trail
Wylie, TX. 75098

Here's the response I got back:
Thank you for writing with your concerns regarding travel management on the Ouachita National Forest. We have heard from a number of persons who have expressed the same interest in having a system of routes in and around the
Talimena area.

We are in the beginning stages of designating a system to routes to provide access to the Forest. We will keep your comments in our official record. As we work through all of the comments and ideas we have received, we may need to contact you for clarifications.

We expect to finalize our review of public comments by the end of this year. After all comments have been reviewed, we will publish a proposed action and invite the public to review and comment on that proposal.

Again, thank you for taking the time share your concerns.
 
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JMD

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#2
Excellent email, Seldon. I sent one or two off as well. I hope lots of folks will get involved and save this jewel of a riding area. By the way, Jimmy, Jimbo, Josh, and I had an epic ride there Saturday. We were hauling that day. The traction was perfect, no dust, mud puddles to dodge. We did the One Mile of Hell and the White Rocks, then to Muse. Back on the INT and some ATV trails. Sixty-two miles before 3:30, so we got home early. We met several parties of horsie folks, and the encounters were all friendly. We even stopped and visited with them at the Falls (about halfway from Muse), and Josh rode one of their horses while we snapped pictures. Good PR opportunity. We'll probably send the pics along with an email to the Forest Service.
 
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#3
Bad News. I will have to send a letter also. Someone needs (me) to post something on the other web sites also. Hopefully it is not more than a handful of folks rasing the stink about bikes in the area. The last time I ws up there, there were quite a few bike riding in the area. The area is gaining popularity. That could be part of the problem.
 

JMD

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#4
What we really need is to get as many trails marked on GPS as possible, and turn those in for designation. I may have to spend some time out there just exploring, riding new stuff, to get it preserved.
 

sgifford

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#5
Mudd Slinger said:
The area is gaining popularity. That could be part of the problem.
The BlueRibbon Coalition magazine has an interesting article that touches on this. Rather than wring our hands and hope that they leave us some trails when they're done, we need to insist (politely) that they at least retain comparable levels of access to what we have now, if not even more/better access. Travel management plans for public lands need to reflect the fact that OHV use is GROWING among the public that they serve.

Here's the article: http://www.sharetrails.org/magazine.cfm?story=1012

And like Jim said, it would be a very good thing for us (OHV enthusiasts) to provide them with as complete a map of the trails we use/want (GPS routes, etc.) as possible. We don't want to just hope they include some of the trails we use.
 

sgifford

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#6
JMD said:
I may have to spend some time out there just exploring, riding new stuff, to get it preserved.
I'm somewhat limited because of work right now, but I would be interested in doing whatever I can to assist in this. Maybe ride along behind and make comments like "I think we're lost."? :whoa:
 
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#7
I sent in a letter last night. It was more praise for opening up the area and trails to motorcycles and thanking them for letting us ride in the beautiful remote areas of the mountains. I also included it was a family outing that we all looked forward to several time a year so please don't close down the area. I used a lot more words to get my message across. ask for any notices or meeting so we could support riding in the area.

I also added a posting on the other forum I visit.
 
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#8
Letter From travel-ohv-ouachita@fs.fed.us

I received a return letter for my efforts. It sounds like they are listening. I edited some of the personal info out.


Thank you for writing with your concerns regarding travel management on the Ouachita National Forest. We have heard from a number of persons who have expressed the same interest in having a system of routes in and around the Talimena area.

We are in the beginning stages of designating a system to routes to provide access to the Forest. We will keep your comments in our official record. As we work through all of the comments and ideas we have received, we may need to contact you for clarifications.

We expect to finalize our review of public comments by the end of this year. After all comments have been reviewed, we will publish a proposed action and invite the public to review and comment on that proposal.

We will add you to our mailing list so that you receive updated information, notice of future meetings, etc. Again, thank you for taking the time share your concerns.



To: <travel-ohv-ouachita@fs.fed.us>, <kmrussell@fs.fed.uset.com> cc:

Subject: Talimena State Park and Ouachita National Forest

06/20/2007 01:46 AM

(Embedded image moved to file: pic05963.jpg)
Dear Sir:

I was notified that there may be some changes to the use of the recreational area in the Ouachita National Forest. My family and I have been riding motorcycles on the designated motorcycle trails while camping at the Talimena State Park and surrounding areas for several years now. We simple love the area and spending the time in the outdoors. We make several trips every year to the forest to ride our bikes. We noticed that it is becoming quite a popular area and more and more riders are in the area and mostly for the same reason.

It is one of the few unspoiled areas to enjoy such a remote and beautiful wilderness. Riding the bikes allows you to cover much more area while still being close to everything (unlike a car) and without the level of effort needed on a mountain bike (I am too old for that).

The trails are not always marked clearly and easy to follow but we do
our best to stay on the designated trails. I have been with other riders in the area also and most of us will turn around if we find ourselves on a trail where we think we don’t belong. If we run across a horse and rider, we shut down our engines so we don’t spook the horses and usually have a conversation with the riders. We all appreciate riding and sharing the Ouachita National Forest and greatly wish to keep the area open to motorcycles. In fact, we would really like to see additional trails with various degrees of difficulty (easier for the kids).

I grew riding in the Pennsylvania Mountains and it is great to share the same experiences with my kids. Please keep the designated trails open to the motorcycles. Thank you for your time.

Please let me know if there is any meeting or anything I can do to support keeping the forest open to motorcycles.

Sincerely,
 

JMD

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#9
Good job, Randy. We'll all keep fighting. Next is to get lots of trails mapped and submitted.
 

tx246

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#10
jim,

We really need to get Art and a gps unit strapped on him. He knows that place inside and out.
 
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#11
I am due for a ride. If you want to make a trip to do some mapping, let me know a little in advance. My riding time has been cut drastically since I was banged up a little and started building up the inside of my shop. I am now working on my box van so I can pack my bike and stuff during the week and leave after work on Friday night. Getting up early on Saturday after a long night and week does not always work for me (old fart thing).
 

Tony Eeds

Godspeed Tony.
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#12
Guys:

Get as many of these trails on GPS as you can.

Document with photos the condition of the trails and coordinate them back to the individual trails by number or something.

One thing we must do is have an accurate accounting of the location and condition of the trails. We might well lose a little used trail if we don't get it located. The more we locate the more traction we have in the discussion.

I will soon have GIS software on my laptop, so I can compile the map of our efforts. I wish I could say that I had time to ride with y'all, but my time is limited with TMTC and work. I will be the back of house for this effort and use my professional talents to make sure that we appear to be as professional as a bunch of riders can be.

May I suggest that you always document and archive your emails and responses. Print them out, keep them together and be ready to turn them over to someone when the day of the meeting comes, as it someday will. Do not wait as your computer might die, taking a great deal of history with it.

Also, please subscribe to these threads to keep the discussion alive. There are a number of email threads going on on this same issue and I know many of you are on some, if not all of those lists. Please pass this link and all the treads on to others interested in the area, riders or otherwise.

This can be turned into an economic discussion, as this is one of the few areas in America where we are welcomed for what we leave behind ... MONEY!
 

sgifford

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#13
Travel management plan

I received the attached pdf file from the Forest Service in Oklahoma regarding the pending travel management rules for the Ouichita National Forest. It's contains some important information. A few noteworthy items:

- The initial comment period has been extended through July 27, 2007. Not much time left to view their proposed trails and make comments.

- Maps showing preliminary proposals for route designations are available for review at the Ranger District offices listed below (in the attached document).

- Comments are due by July 27, 2007, and can be mailed to the Ouachita National Forest at: P.O. Box 1270, Hot Springs, AR 71902; faxed to: (501) 321-5353; or emailed to: travel_ohv_ouachita@fs.fed.us

There isn't much time left to take action and influence the outcome of this process. Any GPS trail maps we have need to be taken to one of the offices listed in the pdf file (perhaps the Talihina office) for review with the Park Rangers and submitted for inclusion in the travel management plan.

The Talihina office will be open extended hours on July 12 (3:00-7:00 pm). That looks like the best time to be able to meet with a Ranger in person, discuss our concerns, and provide copies of our trail maps.

Any volunteers to compile some maps and make a trip up there on July 12?
 

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JMD

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#14
Thanks, Seldon. I have a survey form I will scan and post. It would be good to get a hundred of these sent in. We should emphasize how often we go up there, how much money we spend in the area, the many trails we use, our good manners with horsie folks, our good conservation habits (stay on trails, no excessive wheelspin, etc.). And Eugene, the Talimena park ranger, wants us to say that we also ride ATVs, if we ever do (and who hasn't, one time or another). We need to stick together on this.
 
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#15
Has anyone seen the maps showing preliminary proposals for route
designations yet? Jim is talking about a survey form. What is that? I did not see it in the newletter that is posted above.

If there more I can do since I can't be there to put more effort into this. I envy you guys who can go riding several times a month. I cannot get away and go riding or as much as I would like to so if there is more that I can do, please speak up.