Center for Biological Diversity

Help Stop ORV Plan That Puts Habitat and Hiking Trails at Risk

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After nearly a year of public input and environmental analysis, the Forest Service has developed four alternative plans to manage off-road vehicles in the New Mexico’s Mountainair Ranger District. Only one plan -- Alternative 4 -- even comes close to identifying a responsible road system and protecting the forest.

While Alternative 4 could protect vital habitat for the imperiled Mexican spotted owl and southwestern willow flycatcher, the Forest Service could choose Alternative 3, which includes a 25-mile motorized trail system that would put all of the district's hiking trails at risk. More than 85 percent of the money the district uses to maintain all hiking trails would be needed to keep up this one motorized trail. Enforcement of rules is very difficult on these narrow, dangerous trails, making them easy targets for lawless activities.

Like all national forests in New Mexico, this district receives just a fraction of the money needed each year to maintain more than 480 miles of roads. Even the best choice, Alternative 4, reduces the number of miles of road by just over 1 mile. If you managed your household the way the Forest Service manages its road system, you would soon be in dire trouble.

Please send a letter asking the Forest Service to make responsible management a priority, which will help protect habitat for the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, peregrine falcon, and southwestern willow flycatcher. Comments are due April 4.

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Please submit comments by April 4, 2010.

Mountainair Ranger District photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

The Center for Biological Diversity will continue to keep you informed about travel-management planning in New Mexico's forests. The Santa Fe National Forest will be asking for your input this summer and we’ll make sure to send you the best information about that plan when the time comes. If you would like to receive regular updates on travel-management planning in New Mexico, please contact Cyndi Tuell at

Read the Forest Service plan here: