I appreciate the response from Monongahela Forest Supervisor Clyde Thompson about our proposal to allow ATVs on existing forest service roads that are presently open to all other motor vehicles.
I believe that Mr. Thompson now realizes that there is a real need to open areas of our national forest to seniors like me and disabled West Virginians who cannot hike the trails anymore. He knows that the majority of other national forests in our area and across the country have already opened areas for ATV access.
The Open Trails Association has demonstrated support for this project. We have resolutions supporting this effort from five county commissions, representing over 62,000 people that live in and around the Monongahela Forest.
The consensus that Mr. Thompson wants is from organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Coalition. That is like asking Sen. Manchin to get consensus from these organizations before working to save the oil, gas and coal industries in our state to secure well-paying jobs.
The West Virginia Open Trails Association has been working with the management of the Mon Forest for about two years, and for reasons I do not understand, they have rejected our proposals. Mr. Thompson says that they cannot revise the Land Management Plan without doing another Environmental Impact Statement, which is not in the present budget. We have obtained copies of the Environmental Statement and the Land Management Plan and have found nothing in either document that would restrict ATVs from using existing forest service roads that are presently open for all other motor vehicles.
There are over 1,000 miles of forest service roads that senior citizens and the disabled could enjoy by riding their side-by-sides with their grandchildren.
I bought an old Jeep, took the doors and top off and put big knobby tires on it so I could legally ride in the forest. The ruling to ban ATVs from using existing forest service roads makes no sense.
For the sake of our senior citizens and the disabled, please help us make this happen by contacting your county commissioners and Sen. Manchin's office, and request their continued support.
West Virginia Open