The fight to Save Upper Tellico has been joined. Here's how YOU can help!
On Thursday, May 22, 2008, The Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) along with United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) filed suit in US District Court Western District of North Carolina against the US Forest Service to restore access to improperly closed off-highway recreation trails located in the Upper Tellico Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) Area in North Carolina.
On June 28, 2007, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a "notice of intent to sue" the USFS on behalf of the North Carolina and Tennessee Councils of Trout Unlimited, as well as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. SELC's threat demanded that the Forest Service permanently close trails, and seasonally close the entire system.
Caving under the pressure of SELC and TU, the Forest Service announced on December 18, 2007 there would be a seasonal closure of the entire trail system and Trails Lower 2, 7, and 9 would be closed for a year to assess the condition of the trails to see what needs to be done.
Closing trails does not address the issues and SFWDA feels that the Forest Service took steps that are not correct. This lawsuit is intended to reopen the trails that were improperly closed. SFWDA has worked with the US Forest Service in the Tellico OHV area for over 20 years, providing free maintenance and restoration work to address the agency-wide maintenance backlog estimated nationwide at over $100 billion. The trail maintance, clean up, and volunteer work we have donated to the area is well over $100,000 just in the past few years. SFWDA values the relationship we have with the US Forest Service and plan to continue the work, volunteering and cleaning up as we've done in the past.
At the very least, these folks need your membership. SFWDA, UFWDA, and BRC are fighting to keep trails open so we have places to ride, so if you are not a member of a nationwide club or 4x4 advocacy group, please consider joining now and help these guys out! Lawsuits aren't free, so make a donation today. Please spread the word. This is not only a 4x4 problem but ATV, Motorcycle and UTVs are affected as well.