As posted on www.rgj.com, in the local news section...
In an effort to address a ?free-for-all? situation damaging the landscape of Peavine Peak, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing a travel management plan to segregate differing types of vehicle recreation.
Under the plan, more than 100 miles of existing roads and trails would be kept open for Jeeps, motorcycles and mountain bikes. Seventy-five miles of roads would be closed, with the land rehabilitated as needed.
?What we?re trying to do is provide a quality recreation experience and still protect the resource,? said Larry Randall, recreation officer for the Carson Ranger District.
As the area grows explosively, Reno?s popular backyard mountain is suffering damage from increasing use and greater controls are necessary, Randall said.
?We have one of the fastest-growing areas in the country and Peavine is right next to one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods,? Randall said. ?If we don?t do something it will just continue to be a free-for-all.?
Currently, almost 200 miles of roads and trails criss-cross Peavine?s flanks and ridges, causing erosion and damaging meadows. Many roads lead to the same spot. Others ? such as old mining exploration routes ? are simply dead-ends.
The travel management plan would make the following changes:
* 46 miles of road would be designated as open to all motorized vehicles, with high-clearance vehicles recommended.
* 36 miles of two-track road would be open to off-highway vehicles such as Jeeps.
* Eight miles of single-track road would be open to motorized vehicles such as motorcycles.
* 22 miles of trails would be designated for nonmotorized uses such as mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. Cross-country travel by mountain bikes would be prohibited.
* Designated routes would be mapped and signed, with the area patrolled by the Forest Service to enforce closures. Volunteers would be solicited from recreation groups to monitor the area and help with public education.
Carl Adams of the Washoe County Backcountry Coalition ? an organized group of motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers and four-wheelers ? said he supports the proposal. The group was formed in early 2003 after the Forest Service announced preliminary plans to better manage Peavine recreation, with members demanding that access to the popular area be protected.
The new travel plan offers an acceptable compromise, Adams said.
?We believe the roads and trails they have designated are adequate for recreation,? Adams said, adding that the plan secures public access to the mountain and provides ?nice loops and breathtaking vistas.?
?We hate to have lost an inch of any roads or trails but on balance, we think it?s a good proposal,? Adams said.
Others view the idea with some concern.
Preparing for a mountain-bike ride one recent afternoon, Vincent Dercole of Reno said closure of 75 miles of roads and trails is too much.
And Dercole worries the move could lead to greater restrictions in the future ? particularly if recreation is concentrated in smaller areas and the land is damaged as a result.
?The more people you put into a small area, the worse it?s going to look,? Dercole said. ?Right now, everything is spread out.?
Dercole also said he is suspicious the government might ultimately aim to close access to the mountain altogether.
?They start small and then keep chipping away,? Dercole said. ?I think the whole purpose is to close the whole thing down.?
The Forest Service?s Randall insists that?s anything but the case.
?That mountain can provide a quality recreational experience for everyone,? Randall said. ?Now we?ve got some routes that make sense.?