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Stop Siretta Peak Trail Closure

4 posts in this topic

Another great trail in the Kennedy Meadows area is threatened by closure. 

 

Please call, email, pass it on. Siretta Peak is already a one way in and out trail due to land grabs by previous administrations. Let's not lose the entire thing.  

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Yesterday I contacted District Ranger Al Watson to find out why this No Motorcycle signs had been posted on the Sirretta Trail in Kennedy Meadows. I was stunned when he told me he had closed the trail, but had no specific reason or documentation to justify the closure. When I asked for a copy of the Forest Order that is required prior to any closure Ranger Al informed me there was none. He said there had been some verbal complaints but nothing specific.

He stated that trails in Sequoia National Forest were being managed undet the 2010 Motor Vehichle Use Map. However I pointed out that map showed Sirretta Trail is open to motorized use.

I informed him the Forest Service has been analyzing OHV use on the Sirretta Trails for more than 25 years, but has yet to complete the process. So why the sudden closure to motorcycles and without a Forest Order? He could not answer

To discover the Forest Service has closed the Sirretta Trail to the very folks who have volunteered to keep it enjoyable for everyone is a real blow for all forms of recreation. This illegal closure is totally unaceptable and a slap in the face to Stewards volunteers who maintaine the trail.

In 2005 the Forest Service illegally closed the Portugese Pass Trail and Stewards of the Sequoia was able to get the trail reopened. We can do that again with the Sirretta Trail, but your help os needed..

TAKE ACTION NOW - Everyone who enjoys Sequoia trails needs to complain about the illegal closure of the Sirretta Trail. It does not matter if you have ever been on the trail. You are helping to stop trail closure.
We need to flood them with emails and phone calls
Feel free to change or add anyting you like to the preformatted emails or write your own. 
Please be POLITE but FIRM.

  1. Click here to urge Sequoia Ranger Al Watson to reopen the Sirretta Trail
    (Be sure to add your name and address including zip code at the end of the preformated email)
     
  2. Click here to ask Congressman McCarthy to investigate the illegal clsoure and begin oversight 
    (Be sure to add your name and address including zip code at the end of the preformated email)
     
  3. Be sure to send an email but it would also be good to CALL Ranger Al at (760) 376-3781 extension 610 (Leave a message if you get his voice mail)

AND after send your above emails, if you like you can also call Congressman McCarthy (661) 327-3611

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW. They need to receive a flood of emails and calls now before their meeting.

For more information read the Stewards letter of objection to Sequoia Ranger Al Watson

Member donations are what enable Stewards of the Sequoia to continue fighting to keep your trails open. If you have not donated please CLICK HERE to do your part now.

Together we can keep our trails open

[www.stewardsofthesequoia.org]Stewards of the SequoiaChris Horgan
Executive Director
Stewards of the Sequoia
Division of CTUC 501c3

 

 

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I just sent my emails. Just in case the links in the email don't work for you.

 

District Ranger Al Watson: awwatson@fs.fed.us

Dear District Ranger Watson,

I am greatly disturbed at your attempt to close the Sirretta Trail 34E12 to historic motorized trail bikes. Motorized volunteers and OHV funds have maintained the trail for decades, without them the Sirretta trail would soon be impassable to everyone.

The Forest Service has yet to complete the ongoing Sirretta Trail plan to determine future management of the trail. I am dismayed you have signed the trail closed without completing that plan or engaging the public or your partners like Stewards of the Sequoia who have adopted the trail. 

The Sirretta Trail closure was done without required documented justification. Furthermore this is not a unique occurrence as there have been several similar examples of motorized routes being closed without proper process and without a Forest Order. 

This kind of thing destroys public trust in the Forest Service and brings into question the need for the public to comply with Forest Service regulations if the Forest Service picks and chooses when to follow their own regulations.

The Sirretta Trail is one of the last scenic trails left to motorized trail bikes in the area and is in great condition. The Forest Service needs to help keep existing motorized trails open to disperse use, reduce environmental impacts and provide a great trail experience. The Sirretta Trail needs to remain open to motorized trail bikes.

Please let me know what I can do to help.

 

Congressman McCarthy: caseworkca23@mail.house.gov

Dear Congressman McCarthy,

I am greatly disturbed by Sequoia National Forest's attempted closure of the Sirretta Trail 34E12 to historic motorized trail bikes without following their own process for a Temporary or Emergency Trail Closure. Motorized volunteers and OHV funds have maintained the trail for decades, without them the Sirretta trail would soon be impassable to all.

The Forest Service has yet to complete the ongoing Sirretta Trail plan in order to determine the future of the trail. I am beyond dismayed that the Forest Service would sign the trail closed without completing that plan or engaging the public or their partners like Stewards of the Sequoia who have adopted the trail.

The Sirretta Trail closure was done without required documented justification. Furthermore this is not a unique occurrence as there have been several similar examples in the recent past of motorized routes being closed without proper process and without a Forest Order. This kind of thing destroys public trust in the Forest Service.

The Sirretta Trail is one of the last truly scenic trails left to motorized trail bikes in the area. The Forest Service needs to help keep existing motorized trails open to disperse use and reduce environmental impacts. The Sirretta Trail needs to remain open to motorized trail bikes.

Will Congressman McCarthy please contact District Ranger Al Watson to stop the illegal and inappropriate closure of this important trail for motorized trail bikes?

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Got an update email. Siretta is OPEN and an adjacent trail may be reopening.

 

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Stewards of the Sequoia Trail ALERT August 2017

Illegal ClosureSirretta Trail Closed Without Process

Recently Stewards members informed us that the Forest Service had signed the Sirretta Trail closed to motorcycles. Forest law enforcement was also telling riders the trail was closed.

Any trail closure is a concern, but this was particularly puzzling as Sirretta Trail is one of Stewards Adopt A Trails which we maintain each year. We knew of no problems on the trail and the Forest Service had not contacted us about any need for closure. So we thought there must be some kind of mistake.

After considerable back and forth with the Forest Service I was stunned when District Ranger Al Watson admitted he had closed the trail, but had no specific reason or documentation to justify the closure. When I asked for a copy of the Forest Order that is required prior to any closure Ranger Al informed me there was none. He said there had been some verbal complaints. He said the Forest Service was concerned the Sirretta Trail might not be signed appropriately and that the use might not be appropriate and that there might be motorcycles riding on the adjacent non motorized Machine Creek Trail.

He stated that trails in Sequoia National Forest were being managed under the 2010 Motor Vehicle Use Map. However I pointed out that map showed Sirretta Trail is open to motorized use.

I informed him the Forest Service has been analyzing OHV use on the Sirretta Trails for more than 25 years, but has yet to complete the process. So why the sudden emergency closure to motorcycles and without a Forest Order? He could not answer.

Ranger Al also said there were other groups who were interested in the Sirretta Trail besides Stewards of the Sequoia.

To discover the Forest Service has closed the Sirretta Trail to the very folks who have volunteered to keep it enjoyable for everyone is a real blow for all forms of recreation. This illegal closure is totally unacceptable and a slap in the face to Stewards volunteers who maintain the trail.

Ranger Al asked Stewards to wait a week so he and his staff could have closed door meetings about the Sirretta Trail issues. He would get back to me then with the documentation regarding the closure. We asked if Stewards could attend the meeting so we could better understand any issues with our Adopt A Trail and possibly help with solutions. Ranger Al insisted these needed to be internal closed door meetings

I was concerned that Ranger Al and his staff might be working primarily with one sided information so Stewards sent him a detailed letter of objection to the closure also felt that he needed to hear from our members to better understand how much motorcycle riders loved the Sirretta Trail. I decided to send out an Alert to a small segment of our members.

I want to thank the hundreds of you who emailed and contacted Ranger Al over the past few days. He appreciated hearing from you and did respond initially to some of you. As the emails and calls continued to pour in Ranger Al said he was upset by what he called vulgar, disrespectful and unprofessional language. Stewards always asks our members to be polite and we are sorry to hear people were disrespectful with Ranger Al.

Respectful discussion is the best way to solve problems. There is nothing to be gained by disrespect or vulgar language. We continue to urge Stewards members to be polite and respectful when dealing with the Forest Service.

Stewards also contacted Congressman McCarthy and his staff were immediately concerned about the closure of Sirretta Trail to historic motorcycle use and that the Forest Service had not followed procedure or notified the public about the closure and could not provide a documented reason for the closure. Yesterday I met with Congressman McCarthy's Legislative Director and other staff who fortunately were back in the District from DC this week. They promised to contact Ranger Al later in the week to find out why the trail was closed to motorcycles and to urge him to reopen it.

Sirretta Trail Reopened

Later that same morning McCarthy's office received an email from Ranger Al informing them that the closure was due to a false allegation by someone claiming there was unauthorized motorized use of the adjoining Machine Creek trail. Forest Service had gone out but found no evidence of motorized use on Machine Creek Trail. We are happy the Sirretta Trail is reopened, however we are troubled by the Forest Service keen jerk inappropriate closure and concerned about how they are handling trail issues. Stewards has asked Ranger Al the following and are awaiting answers-

  • Shouldn't the Forest Service verify allegations prior to taking aggressive action such as closing a trail?
  • Wouldn't enforcement be the first step to ticket alleged law breakers rather than closing a different trail to everyone? There are speeders on our highways but we do not close the roads.
  • What is the threshold for violations prior to triggering the closure of a trail?
  • When was the last time any other form of recreation was held to this high of a standard? When are non motorized trails closed based on an allegation without verification? 
  • Had Stewards members not contacted the Forest Service expressing their outrage would the Forest Service have field checked the allegation or just left the trail closed?
  • Will the Forest Service be filing charges on the person who made the false allegation? 

Stewards have also requested any and all reports of the allegation including the name and information of the parties who made the false allegation.

We want everyone to keep in mind that Ranger Al has been a friend to motorized recreation in the past. So we all need to give him the benefit of the doubt now. It may be that his hands were tied on the Sirretta Trail closure. We urge Stewards members to not make this personal. Lets stick to the facts as Stewards continues to get them.

Some Stewards members may have posted our call to action on social media. With the trail reopened it is time to call off the dogs. Please remove those posts or add that the trail has been reopened due to protests by Stewards of the Sequoia, and there is no need to continue to contact Ranger Al.

Machine Creek Trail Possibly Not Legally Closed

The Forest Service is required by law to provide a Forest Order documenting the "extreme adverse effects" for the particular use being prohibited for any trail they wish to close.

Many years ago, long before Ranger Al, the Forest Service illegally closed Portuguese Pass Trail merely by posting closed signs. Stewards worked for two years to get them to reopen that trail. With the recent closure of Sirretta Trail there appears to be a trend.of closing trails without procedure merely by posting closed signs on them.

This got us to thinking was Machine Creek trail legally closed or just signed closed to motorcycles decades ago? This is the trail the Forest Service was using to justify the closure of Sirretta Trail due to motorcycles possibly trespassing on Machine Creek Trail. Stewards asked the Forest Service to provide the Forest Order closing Machine Creek Trail and the Forest Service informed us they have none. So it appears Machine Creek Trail was never legally closed.

Stewards will continue to work for the reopening of Machine Creek Trail to historic motorcycle use, as well as urging the Forest Service to be more forthcoming in future regarding any trail issues especially those for Stewards Adopt A Trails.

Your donations are what allow Stewards working and winning to keep your trails open. 
Stewards performs 83% of all trail maintenance in Sequoia to keep your trails open and enjoyable. 
Please consider doing you part by making a tax deductible donation to Stewards today. Please urge your trail friends to do their part by donating too.

 

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