Flagstaff, AZ – With the beginning of hunting season, more hunters and motorists are frequenting Coconino National Forest and scouting for good locations—both for camping and for hunting.
Many visitors are still unaware of the Travel Management Rule, which began in May that established a primary network of open roads for traversing the forest, prohibiting motorized cross-country travel in order to protect the natural resource.
On Friday, the first day of deer hunting season for archers, Coconino NF officials received many phone calls from the public regarding hunters and motorists who were driving in an area prohibited to motor vehicle use. With the recent monsoon activity and rain, the vehicles became stuck and caused considerable resource damage in a sensitive meadow area.
Law enforcement officers responded to a meadow just west of A-1 Mountain, where six individuals were given 10 citations for violations such as driving cross-country in a closed area and causing resource damage.
Forest officials urge hunters and motorists to keep motorized vehicles on open roads and out of closed areas and closed roads. Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at any ranger station and can also be downloaded to a smartphone, tablet and Garmin GPS receiver for use as a live navigational aid. For downloading, please visit http://go.usa.gov/PEa (Web link is character-sensitive)
“Requiring motorists to only drive on those routes and areas shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map is a big change,” said Jon Nelson, Coconino NF law enforcement patrol captain. “In the past, people were able to drive off of roads with their motor vehicles, which created new roads and impacted the natural and cultural resources of the forest. Travel management will help us balance the public’s enjoyment of motorized travel with the best possible care of the land.”
For photos of the damage caused, see http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/news-events?cid=STELPRDB5388217