Motorized Travel Management Planning on the Santa Fe National Forest

The Santa Fe National Forest occupies approximately 1.6 million acres in northern New Mexico, contains four wilderness areas, covering nearly 300,000 acres, as well as two “wild and scenic” rivers prized for their hunting and fishing opportunities. The Pecos and Jemez Rivers also offer trout fly-fishing opportunities. The forest is home to Mexican spotted owls, goshawks, southwestern willow flycatchers, Jemez mountain salamanders, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and New Mexico meadow jumping mice.

After nearly six years of analysis and public involvement, the Santa Fe National Forest has released its new travel plan which designates a system of approximately 2,463 miles of motorized roads and trails but prohibits cross-country (“off road”) motorized travel. The decision also incorporates 137 miles of user-created roads and trails to the system for motorized use.

ORV pc Devin Fisher

The decision was made in response to a 1972 executive order from President Richard Nixon followed by a 2005, Bush-era regulation called the “Travel Management Rule.”

In the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Travel Management on the Santa Fe National Forest (FEIS), the Forest Service has "decided" on a modified Alternative 2, which they called Alternative 2M. It is disastrous for much of the forest and especially Glorieta/Rowe Mesa and the La Cueva area because unlike Alternative 2, it opens up essentially all roads to ATVs, dirt bikes, and other non-highway legal vehicles. The water and wildlife of the Jemez Mountains are also sacrificed.

The designated system of 2,463 miles is comparable to the driving distance between Las Vegas, NV, and Washington, DC.  The Forest Service can afford to maintain just 10 percent of the roads approved in the plan.

The plan also:

  • Sets seasonal closures for wildlife reasons only. Weather-related closures would be implemented via a closure order at any time of year needed.
  • Increases the managed motorized system trails from 27 miles to 208 miles.
  • Prohibits driving within 100 feet of water in all fixed-distance corridors and areas.
  • Establishes fixed-distance corridors for motorized dispersed camping and motorized big game retrieval at 150 feet from either side of the route.

Off roaders Santa Fe National Forest pc Bryan BirdWe are fighting this cave-in to the off-roaders who are less than 5% of the users of the Santa Fe National Forest, yet do the most damage and cause the most conflicts with other users. If you agree with us, please contact Santa Fe Forest Supervisor Maria Garcia and let her know that she should listen to non-motorized users and adjust her decision appropriately. Also, contact your County and State representatives. Please see the Contact List for names and contact information.

See the Forest Service's Press Release on their FEIS.



photo credits: Motorcycle: Devin Fisher. ATV and Campers: Bryan Bird.