PHOENIX, June 8, 2017 — The Tonto National Forest has begun the process of preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Travel Management on the forest. The travel management work is being completed to formally designate a system of roads, trails and areas suitable for motorized vehicle use within the Forest’s 2.9 million acres. This SEIS will develop additional analyses and rationale to show compliance with a variety of regulations and also address individual routes brought forward during the objection process for the Draft Record of Decision (DROD).
“After meeting with the individuals and groups objecting to the Draft Record of Decision (DROD) issued in June of 2016, Deputy Regional Forester, Jim Upchurch, directed me to complete additional work to show compliance with applicable laws and regulations and to be responsive to individual route concerns identified during the objection process. The Tonto National Forest is complying with this direction by developing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement,” said Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor.
It is expected that the level of effort to complete the SEIS is significant and will require considerable time to complete. A project team has been assembled and a project timeline is being developed that details when products will be available for public review and comment. Similar to the process used to develop the original DROD, a formal objection period will be made available after completion of the SEIS.
Until the SEIS and a subsequent Record of Decision is made that formally designates a system of roads, trails and areas suitable for motorized vehicle use, the existing system of approximately 5,000 miles of roads will remain available for use and managed as required per existing regulations and policy. Existing off highway vehicle areas and overland cross-country travel on the Payson and Pleasant Valley Ranger Districts will also remain unchanged.
Public comments received during the development of the original Environmental Impact Statement, which included extensive public participation and review of more than 5,000 miles of forest roads and unauthorized routes, will be incorporated into the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The project schedule and points of contact, will be posted on the Travel Management Plan project website.