On Wednesday, June 3, the Fredonia Town Council met with representatives from the North Kaibab Ranger District to discuss the Travel Management Plan for the Kaibab.

District Ranger Tim Short began the meeting expressing his appreciation to the council members for taking the time to be a part of it. He explained that community heads are particularly important in the planning process.

Project leader Kevin Larkin then began a presentation explaining the crux of the rule passed down federally, which requires the Travel Management Plan. The rule was enacted in November of 2005, requiring the Forest Service plan, “provides for a system of National Forest system roads, National Forest system trails, and areas on National Forest system lands, that are designated for motor vehicle use… motor vehicle use off designated roads and trails, and outside designated areas is prohibited,” as written in the Federal Regulations Chapter 36. 

Larkin expressed his desire to stop any rumors stemming from misinformation that they may have a quota to eliminate a certain number of roads. He explained, the Forest Service must implement a Travel Management Plan as required by the federal government, while considering the affects on natural and cultural resource, safety, maintenance needs, etc…  However, there is no quota. 

During his power point presentation, Larkin explained the Kaibab’s current system of roads is 1876 miles. The proposed plan will close 380 miles of road, then add 26 miles of unauthorized routes (used for dispersed camping), which would leave 1522 miles of road open. 

Larkin stated the Forest Service had identified 435 campsites thus far deemed appropriate for use. The unauthorized routes leading to those campsites would be open to allow for the dispersed camping. 

According to Larkin, the Forest Service is also working to identify more of these campsites and believe there will be more than a thousand sites when the task is complete.

The proposed plan allows for motorized dispersed camping as follows:

On 101 miles of road, there will be 300-foot camping corridors.

On 104 miles of road, there will be 100-foot camping corridors.

The currently unauthorized routes leading to the more than 400 identified campsites will be designated and usable.

On any open road, parking and camping is allowed within 30 feet of the road.

Larkin expressed his confidence in this portion of the plan, “We feel pretty good about what we’re providing for dispersed camping.”

Council member Brent Mackelprang expressed his concern about the plan, fearing tourists and residents will suffer from it. He brought up the vast amount of campers during hunting season and especially the youth hunt. 

“There’s a difference between reality and a dream, and this here’s a dream,” said Mackelprang. He expressed concern there will not be enough sites to accommodate campers.

Larkin replied this was an enormous challenge, however, “this is the law and we have to implement it.”

District Ranger Short explained the Forest Service’s resources were limited, but they were doing their best to focus those resources to try to make available as much camping as possible.

Larkin moved on to the big game retrieval part of the Travel Management Plan.  The current proposal states, “Allow motorized travel up to one mile off of any designated road (except in Pedio cactus habitat), in order to retrieve a legally harvested elk or bison.”

In reviewing comments and concerns brought forth by citizens regarding the plan, the Forest Service is looking into the possibility of changing the plan to also allow retrieval of Mule Deer. This is currently in the analysis stage.

With regard to fuel wood cutting Larkin said, “This one is possibly the trickiest of all.” 

Short explained, “[There is] no move here to minimize or eliminate it.” He continued, “There will be changes, there will be effects [but] we want to do everything we can as a district to make that multiple use available.”

The district proposes fuel woodcutting by permit (as issued currently), in specific locations meeting the requirements set forth in the Travel Management Plan. 

Short and Larkin reiterated, the goal stated in previous meetings the Travel Management Plan and the work done with regards to it be completely transparent.

They again expressed their desire for community input about the plan and welcomed questions, comments and concerns from anyone interested. 

Mayor Dixie Lee Judd thanked the North Kaibab Ranger District representatives, “We certainly have enjoyed you coming tonight. We respect your challenges and the job you’re doing.”