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Re: [RC] [RC] Mammoth Cave Trails in danger of being closed ? - Truman Prevatt

Issues like this point to the poor organization equestrians in general have. An organized group of equestrians should be working with the NPS to address the issues. Fifteen years ago - the science of trail building was not even on the radar. Many of the older trails were not put in locations that could sustain the use or they were designed and laid out in such a manner that they would not sustain the use. There are examples of this in just about every trails system - trails running down the fall line of hills that have become eroded, trails running through traditional boggy areas without any armor to keep the chewed up bog from getting larger and larger are but tow examples.

Instead of a fist fight with the NPS - equestrians should be working with the NPS to redesign a trail system that is minimizies the footprint, minimizes the environmental impact while providing for a positive recreational experience. minimizes Trails in many placed need to be rerouted and/or repaired - the reroute may be major or minor. But if we don't step up to the plate as a group - we will lose out.

The fist fight should not be coming from the equestrians but from the local business leaders and the congressmen in the area. As far as letters - they should be directed to the congressmen and local politicians in the effected areas. Western Kentucky is one of the poorer areas of the country and Mammoth Caves is a big draw for tourist dollars. The arguments of economic impact is a local issue and the congressmen and local politicians from the areas impacted will be the people with the most to gain or lose economically by actions of the NPS. While impassioned arguments from hoards of letters about "how I'll never set foot in Western KY again and will never spend another penny there" wouldn't make much of an impact on the NPS - they will make an impact on the congressmen and local politicians of the area. They also count the numbers of letters.

A good example of how organized numbers can make a huge difference. Some years back the local state forest was going to "throw out" all OHV traffic from the forest. They didn't even pretend to go through the necessary motions. With sufficient letters written to both state legislators and local politicans - DOF was forced to hold a public hearing on the matter. It was held in the Hernando county fair grounds outside of Brooksville, FL. The OHV people delivered six or sever bus loads of people for the hearing plus those that drove. The DOF (Department of Forestry) supervisor got up and basically said - the forest is closed to OHV. One person in the audience got up and started - you will create a special area for OHV in the forest. We will help you set it up. We will help you get grants to build a campground, etc. The DOF supervisor getting a little miffed asked "who the Hell are you." The guy from the audiance said I thought you would never ask and pulled out a petition with 34,000 signatures. It was the size of a phone book and said "this is who we are."

A local stat rep stood up and said we will work this out. Today there is a 2500 acre OHV area with a nice campground in one corner of the forest. For this resource the OHV groups agreeded to stay out of the rest of the forest with OHV's. agreed The OHV people help run the area and help maintain it. It is a for fee area and brings in about a million bucks a year. DOF still doesn't like it but they had no choice. It brings in a lot of money to the local economy because a lot of people come from all over to use this area.

This war has to be waged both on the political level and on the agency level. It just has to be wagged differently. If we are not there to aid the agency to make equestrian recreation more sustainable and have less impact on the environment (the trail science is here today to do that) we will lose. If we don't fight the political battle to put downward pressure on the land managers to make them want to love us because it is too painful if they don't we will lose.

The bottom line is we first have be willing to get out of our saddles and work. Second we have to become organized and become politically involved.


Dawn Carrie wrote:
Below is the reply I posted to the new 100 milers list, where this was also posted...
Just a word of advice, from someone who works for the federal government (Forest Service) and thus deals with public input on environmental assessments (EAs)/environmental impact statements (EISs). The number of "votes" for a particular alternative or option does not matter. *Especially* in the form of form letters such as this. The first one to arrive is read and any pertinent issues raised are noted. All subsequent ones are just added to the "pile," so to speak. No, they are not counted. This is not a voting contest. In order to have any effect, one needs to write original letters, raise pertinent ("significant" in govt. lingo) issues, offer alternatives that are reasonable, explain how the preferred alternative is unsuitable, etc. *A key tip*...read the first part of the EA or EIS, the part entitled "purpose and need." Make sure your offered alternatives MEET that purpose and need. For example, if part of the purpose and need of this project were to reduce conflict between bikes and horses, then building a separate bike trail (as noted below) would meet that purpose and need (just as the preferred alt. of closing the existing trail to horses meets it). If stopping excessive trail use/erosion is part of the purpose and need, then a separate trail might also work. But whatever you propose, make SURE it meets that "purose and need" stated in the document. Otherwise, your comments will appropriately be dismissed as "outside the scope of this project." Oh, and don't resort to any kind of inflamatory remarks, accusations, etc. in your letters. Stay rational, concise, and to the point. Your input will be received much better, and the equestrian community as a whole will be looked on as a serious, professional-acting community.

Best of luck,
Dawn Carrie, Texas


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[RC] Mammoth Cave Trails in danger of being closed ?, april
Re: [RC] [RC] Mammoth Cave Trails in danger of being closed ?, Dawn Carrie