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

Truman is right.  Equestirans do need to work *with* government agencies to help design AND MAINTAIN trails that are properly placed and built.  In the Mammoth Cave situation, the best approach *right now* is to work within the public comment system as I outlined previously.  If one of the problems noted in the purpose and need is that the existing trail is in bad shape, lots of erosion, poorly situated, etc., then proposing to build a new horse trail, to Trail Master standards, would be an excellent suggestion.
But Truman makes a good point about the economic impact.  It would also be a good idea to send a copy of your letters to the appropriate Chambers of Commerce (towns that could be negatively impacted by the loss of equestrian visitation).  State that if the preferred alternative is implemented, there will be a decline in equestrian visitation (thus less purchase of fuel, food, etc).  Anyone have info on the numbers of riders using the area annually?  If so, that would be good info to include...the Chambers would find that interesting.  It might even be in the Nat. Park Service's EA or EIS.  Include a cover letter to the Chamber, noting the importance of equestrians to the area, and that if this trail is closed without making alternative provisions for horse use, you will be forced to go elsewhere to ride.  Don't get nasty, just make your point that there's going to be a $$ impact if this goes through as proposed.  They'll get the picture.  And they will likely then contact the Nat. Park Service with their own imput...urging continued horse access.  Government agencies have to work with the communities that are ther neighbors...they can't "blow them off."  Use that to your advantage.  They aren't going to want to do something that has a big negative $$ impact on these communities.

On 3/21/08, Truman Prevatt <tprevatt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
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


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


"It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended
from man." H.L. Mencken

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