By Mark Waite
The U.S. Forest Service has scheduled an open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Bob Ruud Community Center to get comments on the motor vehicle use maps for the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area.
The forest service issued a finding of no significant impact for the Spring Mountains NRA combined travel management project in 2008. The decision designated which roads and trails were open to motorized use on the Spring Mountains. In 2001, motor vehicle use maps were published.
The forest service said in a prepared statement the staff has received comments from the public there are roads that were overlooked in preparing the maps, roads that may not be passable to some vehicles and roads or trails that may need different designations.
The forest service is asking for public comments and participation to identify where changes may be needed.
Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said the Spring Mountains NRA travel plan was overlaid over roads inventoried by county consultants working on the minor roads project.
“There’s a couple, two, possibly three roads in that area, that the data we collected for the RS 2477 minor county roads was a little longer than what they’re showing on the maps. They were really very minor differences, one was 500 feet short, another was right around 1,000 feet short. So they’re insignificant,” Wichman said.
The county has used more accurate GIS equipment in their inventory than the forest service, which may have used older technology to map the roads, she said.
While there haven’t been problems in the southern part of Nye County, Wichman said at other public outreach meetings the public would mark roads that weren’t recognized by the forest service and they weren’t shown later on the revised maps.
Wichman plans to be at the meeting.
A forest service motor vehicle use map from 2009 lists major roads on the west side of the Spring Mountains popular with ATV users like Wheeler Pass Road, Carpenter Canyon Road, Trout Canyon Road and Lovell Canyon Road as well as the road up Wallace Canyon.
During a workshop in December 2007 at Mountain Falls Golf Course, representatives of off-road vehicle organizations were in attendance. Gary Clinard, founder of the Dunes and Trails RV Club, said the government builds more runways when there’s more airport traffic, builds more roads when there’s more motor vehicles, but when there’s more off-road use, attempts to close more access.
Gene Zimmerman, a member of the Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, urged attendees to join groups of off-road users and raise awareness about responsible off-road recreation.
Kevin Mayer, co-owner of Parker’s motorcycle and all-terrain shop in Pahrump, said motor sports was the fastest growing sport in America.
A consultant at the time said four-wheel drive enthusiasts had a median annual income of $79,000, over half will drive more than 200 miles to a destination. Off-road highway vehicle recreation brought in $215 million to the state of Colorado.
Pahrump resident Mike Norton helped the county consultant identify some of the minor roads in this area. He said the county project is important.
“Without ascerting these roads, the forest service or BLM could shut them down as they please. As long as these roads were established before 1976 and they were on a map somewhere and we ascert them it will be hard for the forest service, because they’ve done this in Utah and California,” Norton said.
“These are all roads that have been used by mining, water access or hunting. There’s not a road out here that doesn’t go someplace,” Norton said. “Some of the roads are what they’re called maintained by use.”
Off-road enthusiasts, like Mike Zaman, secretary-treasurer of the Pahrump Valley Fourwheelers, Bob Adams, chairman of the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Board and Dawn Mayer, the co-owner of Parker’s motorcycle and ATV shop, were all unaware of the Aug. 1 meeting when contacted by the Pahrump Valley Times.
Zaman said the Public Lands Advisory Board was trying to put maps together to mark them in the hopes of attracting tourists. The problem has been dealing with the turnover at the forest service, he said.
“We want to adopt some trails up there and it sounds like they’re willing to do that. If we adopt them and keep them open, then people can enjoy them. Then they won’t close them,” Zaman said.
When the travel plan was announced in December 2003, the forest service talked about closing all but 70 miles of roads and trails to off-road use in the Spring Mountains, due to the fast-paced growth in Las Vegas and Pahrump that was closing in on the 493-square-mile recreation area and its fragile species and landscape.
“The whole purpose is to stop the creation of new routes,” former USFS district ranger Steve Holdsambeck said.
The forest service already held an open house at their district office at 1701 N. Torrey Pines Dr. in Las Vegas July 9. They will hold another open house in Las Vegas from 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 13.
The contact number for the U.S. Forest Service Spring Mountain office is 1-702-515-5400. The maps are available at the forest service district office or at the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest website at www.fs.usda.govcid=stelprdb5246242.