Tell the Gila you Support Wildlife and Quiet Recreation!

You can draft your own letter to the Forest Service and email it to r3_gila_travel@fs.fed.us. Be sure to include “Travel Management” in the subject line.

If you prefer to mail your letter, address it to:

Gila National Forest
Attn: Travel Management
3005 E. Camino del Bosque
Silver City, NM 88061

Off-road vehicles have been running rampant in southwestern New Mexico, tearing up streams, crushing vegetation and ruining habitat for fish and wildlife. Right now, you have an opportunity to tell the Gila National Forest what you think of its new off-road vehicle plan.

Last month the Forest Service held a series of meetings to educate the public about the new plan. Conservationists showed up to learn about the plan and speak up for Mexican gray wolves, Southwestern willow flycatchers and imperiled native fish.

The Gila National Forest needs to hear your comments on the plan by March 7. Join us in letting the Forest Service know that we value quiet forests, clean water and protecting wildlife habitat, and that we don’t want places like the San Francisco River turned into motorized playgrounds. Please take just one minute to ask the Forest Service to prioritize the protection of wildlife and watersheds in their travel-management decision.

Sample letter:

Dear Ms. Mizuno,

I support protecting clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and rare desert riparian areas such as the San Francisco River from off-road vehicle use in the Gila National Forest.

The Gila National Forest should not allow motorized vehicles to drive cross-country to retrieve downed big-game animals because there are other less destructive and less harmful ways to pick up downed game, including using a game cart, horses, hiring an outfitter or quartering the animal in the field. Allowing the use of motorized vehicles for this purpose will continue the spread of invasive species of non-native plants, increasing habitat destruction, reducing biodiversity and increasing the risk of wildfire.

Driving motorized vehicles the length of a football field cross-country to camp will have similar effects on the forest. I support the use of designated areas for camping and allowing people to pull their vehicle off the road to camp. This will allow people to have ample options for camping while protecting the land.

I support the closure of Forest Road 4223L. This motorized route in the San Francisco River must be closed. This “road” is located within the bed of the river for much of its length and is causing erosion and soil compaction and destroying the river’s banks. This river is home to loach minnow, spike dace, Chiricahua leopard frog and Southwestern willow flycatcher. The Forest Service must protect these species and their habitat and must keep all motorized uses out of this river under federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Wilderness Act.

I also support the closure of routes GPR-14, GPR-15 and GPR-16, located within or near the San Francisco River, as well as Forest Road 68 where it is located within Big Dry Creek and Little Dry Creek. These closures will ensure adequate enforcement of the closure in the San Francisco River and will further protect fragile desert riparian ecosystems and ensure compliance with federal regulations.

I recommend the Forest Service adopt Alternative E in the final decision for this plan. This is the only alternative that will reduce motorized-route densities sufficiently to protect natural resources, yet still allow adequate motorized access to the forest. This alternative has more than 2,300 miles of road on the ground. Given that the forest receives just 20 percent of the funding it needs to maintain its current road system, choosing Alternative E will allow the Forest Service to make strides towards “right-sizing” its overgrown and unaffordable road system.

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