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Old 08-09-2007, 07:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Rescue Tellico - Official Thread

THREAD UPDATED - Please go to the end of the thread for the Tellico Closure Order!

So, many of you have been showing your support on the various boards with posting articles you see and calling for supporters to comment on them. We have also seen a lot of questions asking how you can help. I have a list of things here that you can do to help. The only thing we ask is that you maintain professionalism whenever speaking or writing in a public forum. This board included. Remember that anyone can read what is written on the internet and in a paper and we need to maintain the moral highroad in order to keep the respect and trust of the USFS that SFWDA has worked so hard to gain over the years. This is an emotional issue for most of us, I know it is for me. But try to remember that if we are perceived as hot headed or aggressive, it will not serve us well in the end.

Things you can do to help save Tellico:

1) Support Rob and the folks on the ground working so hard with the USFS on a day to day basis. Please volunteer your time and resources to go to help on work days. I know it's hard to get away for a weekend or during the week for a few days, but your sacrifice now will help ensure access for the future.

2) Monitor the media. There is no way that we can see every article that comes out in the media. If you see something, please post it up here so we can read it and react if necessary.

3) Pay attention to the updates that we'll post up. There will come a time when we will need you to write letters to the FS expressing your concern for their actions and suggesting alternatives for them to consider. Again, professionalism is a must.

4) Join SFWDA. If you haven't already, please consider joining SFWDA. Donate money to help fund the fight to protect Tellico. http://www.sfwda.org/

5) Join BlueRibbon Coalition and United Four Wheel Drive Association. BRC and United have jumped in and are helping us at SFWDA through the legalities. Their resources are not bottomless and they need our support to continue fighting for true public access to public lands. http://www.sharetrails.org/ and http://www.ufwda.org/index.htm

6) TreadLightly! We need, more than ever, to practice sound environmental wheeling. But don't stop at just holding yourself to these ethics, hold others to them too. We need to be self policing. If you see folks out on the trails that are behaving irresponsibly, educate them as to what could happen if they continue their behavior. Remember that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

As I said above, there will come a time when we need more help. I will try to keep this thread up to date as things happen. I can’t tell you how much your support and help means to this effort, and I (and I think I speak for SFWDA as well) really appreciate your support as we move forward.
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Heather, thank you for updating us and look forward to hearing from you soon.

I only get to run Tellico 2 or 3 times a year but it is one of my favorite places to ride. What I don't understand about the trout guys, is they seem to forget that many of us are also fishermen...and fisherwomen...and we care about our streams as much or more than they do. I've worked on some of the trash clean ups and I have never seen any of them walking the creek banks picking up trash that was over a 100 yards away from any trail...so doubtfully it came from a trail rider. Anyway, they need to understand that they may be next on the chopping block. As soon as they eliminate thousands of people that would stand and fight with them, groups like PETA will have a much easier task with eliminating them.

I’ll do what ever is necessary to help…just let me know.
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks again for everything you guys do.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Article in Chattanooga Times Free Press

Forest Service under fire
Conservation groups threaten to sue about erosion problems caused by off-road vehicles.

By Richard Simms Correspondent

Public lands and water resources are often classified as “multiple use,” offering a wide variety of recreational pursuits. “Multiple use” often means multiple problems, however.
On the lake, fishermen despise jet skis. On trout rivers, fly-fishermen scorn rafters, tubers and even “bait fishermen.” And in the Cherokee National Forest, it appears that lots of folks loathe off-road vehicles.
On behalf of several conservation groups, the Southern Environmental Law Center has filed a formal “Notice of Intent To Commence Civil Action” against the U.S. Forest Service. That is a required legal precursor to a potential lawsuit against the Forest Service.
The SELC is representing the North Carolina and Tennessee councils of Trout Unlimited, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. The groups say the USFS is violating the federal Clean Water Act, state laws and its own regulations in failing to prevent mud from severely eroded off-road vehicle trails from polluting streams in the Tellico River watershed.
Terry Seyden, a spokesman for the USFS, said the Forest Service agrees there are problems.
“We’ve been dealing with water-quality issues through a stakeholder process for many years,” Seyden said. “I understand people are frustrated that not enough improvement has been made fast enough. We haven’t gone as fast as we’d like, either.”
Seyden said at least part of the problem has been a lack of funding. The complaining organizations aren’t willing to let the USFS off the hook, however.
“The Forest Service has come up short in taking decisive action to fix this problem,” said DJ Gerken, staff attorney with the SELC. “We are letting them know that the law is unambiguous. Water quality and trout come first.”
Steve Fry from Chattanooga is the former Tennessee state chairman for Trout Unlimited.
“The Forest Service is responsible for what goes on there,” Fry said. “They have the task of managing the forest. We don’t have any problem with that form of recreation (ORVs) — we just think the runoff needs to be managed better.”
Most of the designated ORV trails in question are in North Carolina, but the runoff impacts the Tellico River, which is a favorite area for avid trout anglers in southeastern Tennessee.
“The streams running out of the Tellico area have 100 times more mud in them than similar streams unaffected by ORV use,” said Barry Sulkin, Tennessee PEER director and a former chief of enforcement for the Tennessee Division of Water Pollution Control.
The groups are calling on the Forest Service to close permanently the most environmentally damaging ORV trails and close the entire system in the wettest months.
ORV enthusiasts are ready to protect their interests, though. In a tersely worded news release, Heather Spivey of the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association said, “It appears at first blush that the erosion issues recently publicized by the involved parties are inaccurate. They failed to account for the significant investment from the (SFWDA) and their membership to improve erosion control measures and to remedy siltation issues within the Upper Tellico ORV area.”
Spivey said that in 2005 and 2006, SFWDA volunteers contributed labor, equipment and materials valued at more than $100,000 to help control and curtail erosion.
“We do feel the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association has worked very, very hard with what limited resources they have,” Fry said. “We’re not saying they’re bad guys. But we still feel the Forest Service needs to put more effort into it.”
Spivey said in a telephone interview that the SFWDA has about 850 members and most are family memberships, “so the number of participants is much higher than 850.”
As for the conservation groups threatening a lawsuit, she said, “We don’t intend to fight against each other. We’re both environmental proponents. That’s the message we want to get out to the public. We want to find common ground and arrive at an environmentally friendly solution.”
Both groups met independently with USFS representatives this past week in an apparent attempt to reach a compromise.
“Hopefully they’ll come to the conclusion,” Seyden said, “that a lawsuit is not the best way to achieve the objective.”
Said Fry: “They (USFS) have given us a proposal to basically try and settle this issue without going to court. We’re going to have to get together and discuss what they’ve proposed. No decisions have been made.”
Spivey said she hopes it does not come to a courtroom battle, but if it does, “I can tell you that we would get involved. It would be in the best interest of our folks who take part in this legal activity.”
Gerken said he expects a decision on whether to take the issue to court by the end of this month.
E-mail Richard Simms at [email protected]
ON THE WEB
Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility: www.peer.org Tennessee Trout Unlimited: www.tctu.org Southern Environmental Law Center: www.southernenvironment.org Southern Four Wheel Drive Association: www.sfwda.org Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project: www.sabp.netU.S. Forest Service in North Carolina: www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc

This story was published Sunday, August 12, 2007
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Article from The Clean Water Report

ACTIVISTS SEEK TO TEST CLEAN WATER ACT IN OFF-ROAD VEHICLE DISPUTE
______________________________________________
Date: August 20, 2007 -

Environmentalists are planning to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, claiming that the use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) in a national forest is damaging water quality, in a case that sources say could act as an important precedent for future claims in the increasingly common dispute between environmentalists and recreational users of federal lands.

A coalition of environmental groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue June 28, and will decide by the end of this month whether to accept an offer from the Forest Service, one source involved in the case says. The source was unwilling to discuss the terms of the offer during consideration. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. See page 2 for details.

SELC represents several chapters of Trout Unlimited (TU), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, who are alleging the roughly 2,000-plus ORVs each month in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina are polluting the Tellico River in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). TU claims that these violations are causing problems with the local trout populations.

Disputes over the use of ORVs on federal lands are not a new issue, but this is likely the first time the CWA has been invoked as a method to change trail use, one pro-ORV environmental consultant following the issue says.

“I do see the Clean Water Act as something that will come into play more and more,” the source says, noting that the growing popularity of outdoor recreational activities and increasing development diminishing open spaces will likely increase disputes over land uses. But, the source says, environmentalists’ claims in this case are “reaching” to invoke CWA violations.

“The success or failure of this lawsuit will be precedent setting as to what the Forest Service will do in similar situations” in the future, the source says, as well as whether groups will use the CWA as a legal driver to remedy disputes over ORV activities.

At issue is the water quality of the Tellico River, which runs through North Carolina and Tennessee. The complainants argue that the activities of the ORV users are harming the water with excess sedimentation and turbidity resulting from the large vehicles going through and near streams, as well as digging trenches with their wheels into forest lands, which reroutes waters. “Brook trout are highly sensitive to water quality and are especially vulnerable to excess sedimentation and turbidity,” the notice of intent to sue states.

The notice says sand and dirt, which are primary components of sediment, are specifically listed as pollutants under the CWA, but the Forest Service has not obtained a CWA discharge permit for the Tellico ORV area.

SELC argues the ORV activities violate sections 301, 401, 402 and 404 of the CWA. Section 301 requires effluent limitations for point sources, section 401 requires state certification that an activity complies with CWA discharge requirements, section 402 covers permits for point source discharges, and section 404 covers permitting of dredge-and-fill activities.

Surface runoff collected and channeled by human activity is covered by sections 401 and 402, while “the deposition of dirt and sediment by as many as 2,400 ORVs/month is a discharge and fill regulated” by section 404, SELC says.

Stakeholders are meeting to discuss the future of the Tellico trail, sources say, on Aug. 24, and SELC will decide then whether to file suit by the Aug. 28 deadline.
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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SELC must sue everyone they disagree with, I search it and lawsuits are nothing new to them. SELC means "Southern Environmental Law Center" and evidently ALL THEY DO is sit around and try to find things to sue people or entities about. It's big business to them, I'm sure.

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=sel...p=mss&ei=UTF-8

I found where they have filed lawsuits for USFS before, GA DOT, Army Corps of Engineers, the US Navy, VDOT.. theres plenty more.
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Old 08-25-2007, 06:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yesterday was the annual stakeholder meeting. This is something that has been done every year for a while, but this time it had a new slant with the threat of lawsuit. Here is the agenda.

Upper Tellico OHV Trails – Nantahala NF
9th Annual Stakeholders Meeting Agenda
Tellico River Corridor – Cherokee NF

August 24, 2007
Murphy, NC
09:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.

09:00 Welcome, Introductions, Review Agenda – Tina Tilley, USFS
Keith Lannom, USFS

09:15-11:00
Water Quality Protection - Forest Supervisor

Status of SELC/TU/PEER NOI - Forest Supervisor

Statement from SFWDA Jay Bird, President SFWDA

Statement from SELC Squeak Smith, T.U.

Questions/Answers Panel

11:00-12:00

Wild Trout Monitoring - Jason Farmer, USFS
Doug Besler NCWRC

Watershed Monitoring - Brady Dodd, USFS
Tyler Baker, TVA

Operations & Maintenance Update - Bill Champion, USFS


Partnerships – working for the future

Round Robin - All

Close Out - Tina Tilley, USFS
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Any news come from the meeting???
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, and I am working on a write up now. I promise you'll see it soon!
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Any news - did they close 2 & 7?
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:34 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I road Trail 2 this past weekend and it was open..
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:27 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Stakeholder's meeting summary and action items

No trails are closed as of now. The FS has said that they could do an emergency closure, but they are not going to. That is a small victory for us right now.

As for the meeting, it went well, we were very well represented and eveyrone was very professional and polite.

Only 3-4 TU people showed up at the meeting, which is interesting that they didn't have the support of their members there.

As far as content of the meeting, there are a number of items that the FS are starting right away including trail assessments, more maintenance, and some review of Trails within 100 feet of streams. Some of these items involve looking at closure of some trails (2, 7, 9) and/or seasonal closures. There are also longer term items that do include trail relocation, closures, and other management items. But these are just a list of things that the FS is putting out there (in my opinion) to dissuade TU from filing a lawsuit. What they have to realize is that if they close our trails, TU might not sue, but we will.

So, now that that's out on the table, the meeting was a meeting. Pretty much the same as what's happened year after year at the stakeholders meeting. But the important part this time is what is read between the lines, and here's my take.

If you ask me, there is going to be a lawsuit by TU. The FS seems to believe that their immediate actions and long term promise of actions will derail the suit. I disagree. I think TU will sue regardless. They want trails closed and if the FS does not cave, they'll sue. That's my opinion.

Now, that being said. Here's the important part for all of us. We will not cave either. The leadership of Southern Four Wheel Drive has engaged UFWDA and BlueRibbon and is prepared to do whatever it takes, in whatever arena, to keep Tellico Open.

In a nutshell, that will entail at least 4 things:

1) Fundraising - Yep, we're gonna be asking for money...and we're gonna need lots of it. We'll be paying for a portion of our legal representation as well as for trail maintenance now and in the future.

2) Awareness - Folks, it's time to get everyone on board and aware of what is going on. We will be putting together flyers for distribution, a website, and other ways to get the word out there. We'll need everyone's participation and support as we go forward.

3) Volunteerism - Without what has been done to date by volunteers at Tellico, we would be NOWHERE! This and only this has given us a dog in the fight. We need to keep it up and show the FS and TU that we will not let this go.

4) Participation in Letter Writing - We will be asking people that love Tellico and want to keep it open to write letters to their congressional representatives and senators asking for things. We will also need for people to comment on any actions that the FS puts out there for public comment. We will provide form letters for your use when it's time.

Right now we are in a wait and see time. If TU files, we will also. If the FS starts closing our trails, we will take action. But regardless...we are getting ready for something...one thing or another.

SFWDA is actively forming teams to address all aspects of this threat. We are putting together a "Tellico Rescue Team" that will raise money, work with our legal team, look at the science of the complaints in the area, continue the trail work at Tellico, and support the fight to keep the area open.

I know that this is progressing slowly, but it will for a while. We need to let the NOI expire at the end of the month and be ready to jump in head first either when TU files the suit or when the FS takes an action we don't agree with. And we will be ready.

I hope that answers questions for you. I know it's not all inclusive and doesn't have something that everyone can go out and do RIGHT NOW. But have patience. You will be called upon to help and when we do, we will really need each and every one of you.

PM me with questions if you want.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Heather, once again...thank you. Please let me (us) know when and what we can do and it will be done. I'm going to be posting a link to this page on a few other sites to help draw attention to this.

Thank you...
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:27 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Yes, thanks for what you and all involved are doing.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:32 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Heather, once again...thank you. Please let me (us) know when and what we can do and it will be done. I'm going to be posting a link to this page on a few other sites to help draw attention to this.

Thank you...
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Yes, thanks for what you and all involved are doing.
Thanks y'all. I appreciate it. Kind words and good people are what keeps me going!
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:10 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Thanks for all your hard work. I will be posting the url for this thread on some other sites as well to help inform some of our fellow wheelers of what's going on.

I've only wheeled at Tellico three times, but every time I've been there I've had a great time. Hope we can keep it open for a long time to come.
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Old 08-28-2007, 03:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks Heather! I have sent my membership fee to SFWDA and BRC both. I will also make donations to the cause. I am a staff member at Zuwharrie.com's BBS and I personally invite you to join there. Getting the membership there involved has been a tough task. Please feel free to post requests for assistance there. I will support your posts 100%. I have this threads link added to my signature line also. Thanks for all you do to keep our trails open. It truly is appreciated.

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Old 08-28-2007, 06:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Good information. I just wrote both Senators Corker and Alexander of TN to see where they stand on this subject. As a disabled vet it really bothers me to see people willing to walk all over my, and your, rights to enjoy public lands. I will join the groups and make monetary contributions once I am able to get back to work.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Great Update and Thank you for all of your hard work and efforts!
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:35 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Other than joining the groups, is there a specific fund we can contribute to for the save tellico cause? Something you all will be establishing to raise money for legal costs, trail maint, etc?
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Old 08-29-2007, 01:27 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Other than joining the groups, is there a specific fund we can contribute to for the save tellico cause? Something you all will be establishing to raise money for legal costs, trail maint, etc?
YES!

But we don't have it up and live yet. Stay tuned and we'll have a fund up after our 3rd quarter meeting on the 8th when we form our teams for the effort!
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:10 AM   #22 (permalink)
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another article

http://www.thecherokeescout.com/arti...7138519745.txt
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:14 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Other than joining the groups, is there a specific fund we can contribute to for the save tellico cause? Something you all will be establishing to raise money for legal costs, trail maint, etc?
Along those lines, maybe someone could come up with a t-shirt design with a slogan like "responsible off roaders for environmental responsibility" or something along those lines. And all monies beyond the cost of production could go to the Tellico defense fund. Just an idea, but I know we've got some creative people on this board.

Maybe some vendors from this site could offer up some product for a t-shirt design contest?

Last edited by GSW; 08-30-2007 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:03 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I had an idea that I thought was good but never heard anything more about it after I sent it in to SFWDA. I thought they could design a sticker that said "Help Save Tellico ORV" or something along those lines and charge $5 a sticker. I think that it would really pull in a huge amount of money since I don't know too many rigs that are sans stickers. Hell, I'd buy 2 or 3 to put on the DD.
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Old 08-30-2007, 05:36 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I had an idea that I thought was good but never heard anything more about it after I sent it in to SFWDA. I thought they could design a sticker that said "Help Save Tellico ORV" or something along those lines and charge $5 a sticker. I think that it would really pull in a huge amount of money since I don't know too many rigs that are sans stickers. Hell, I'd buy 2 or 3 to put on the DD.
Excellent idea!
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