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Letter Re: National Forest Road Closures in Arizona

My wife and I were heading back from cabin in the Northern Arizona mountains Saturday (July 7) afternoon and were stopped by a nice elderly lady who worked for the Forest service (vehicle
parked across from her) on a forest road. She handed me a new Coconino National Forest map and said “if the roads are not shown on this map then it is closed and that each year they will come out with a new MVUM (motor vehicle use map) and the same applies. So, if the road is not shown, then it is consider closed. I said why not put up closed signs or barriers so we can see and she said they will just get moved or destroyed. She also said it is your responsibility to know which roads are closed via their maps. Rather than sit on the road questioning/argue with her (just the messenger) I figured I would look over the map when I got home.

After getting home I looked over the map and its purpose (written rules) and what it says: Violations of 36 CFR 261.13 are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both (18 U.S.C. 3571(e)). This prohibition applies regardless of the presence or absence of a sign.

It’s a National Forest and they will close forest roads (no signs/marked) which they deem and we are responsible to know by it not being shown (drawn) on their maps. Just out diving I do not look at a map. I just take whichever road is there and drive. I do not make new ones or drive across fields unless to retrieve downed game which is authorized. I could see if they were doing it for reclaiming the forest to it’s natural order or fire restriction however if you read into the rules and such (on the map) it outlines a lot more plus where you can camp. A lot of roads are missing from this map (Flagstaff, Arizona area) so if you hunt, camp or sight see look out because it is already in effect, as of April 2012.

Again, it is our National Forest (tax dollar funded) and they are going to tell us what roads to drive and where we can/can’t camp? Whether you agree/disagree with off road travel, camping and quads this is pure crap.
Install barriers (post/rocks) up on areas you wish to reclaim not just delete the road from a map (only theirs) which will change yearly and make it the public’s responsibility to know. I am sure this is happening in other
national forest however I just happened to be traveling through Coconino National Forest. I am writing to the forest heads and our congressmen because soon we will lose all rights of our National Forest! It’s just the beginning of our limited use of our forest in which we pay for along with their paychecks!

For more information, see this editorial in The Arizona Republic Friday, July 13, 2012: Rules a burden for hunters [1]. – Regards, – Steve E.