04-01-2009, 10:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seymour Tn
Best management practices are currently failing.
BMPs are not sustainable due to severely erosive soils and heavy rainfall.
- Best management practices (BMPs) include 2000 trail drainage features- waterbars, broad-based dips, grade sags, ditches, cross drain culverts, outsloping, and sediment traps.
- Less than half of the trail drainage features are functioning properly.
- Poorly designed, located, and maintained drainage features coupled with excessive use has resulted in significantly deteriorated travel-ways to the point that regular road or trail BMPs are no longer adequate to protect trails from erosion and stream channels from sedimentation.
North Carolina standards for turbidity are being exceeded.
- The area receives greater than 80 inches of rainfall per year with the wettest period occurring during the winter months.
- All trails on the system are classified as severe hazard by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A rating of severe indicates that erosion of the trail is expected, the trail requires frequent maintenance, and costly erosion control measures are needed.
- About 75,000 tons of soil has eroded from the existing trail system since the old logging transportation system was put in place.
- The effectiveness of the BMPs is continuously compromised due to the sheer number (2000) that must receive very frequent maintenance due to the severe soils and heavy rainfall.
- It is virtually impossible to remove the water from deeply entrenched trail sections using standard road and trail engineering or drainage structures. If the trail becomes worn down to bedrock it may also expose springs that add to water flow and thus potential sedimentation. Several trail sections on the OHV system exhibit this deeply entrenched condition, making it difficult to manage the runoff without closure and rehabilitation.
- The trails are highly susceptible to damage from traffic during the winter months when the soils are moist and experience frequent freezing and thawing.
Brook trout habitat is being negatively affected.
- In 1991, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission classified the Tellico River as ‘Wild Trout Waters’.
- The state of North Carolina’s standard for turbidity states, “the turbidity in the receiving water shall not exceed…10 NTU in streams, lakes, or reservoirs designated as trout waters…Compliance with this turbidity standard can be met when land management activities employ BMPs…BMPs must be in full compliance with all specifications governing the proper design, installation, operation and maintenance of such BMPs.”
- Turbidity measurements from the Tellico River have been recorded up to 370 NTU at the state line during storm events.
- During a run-off event occurring on March 4, 2008, the 10 NTU state standard was exceeded in virtually all surveyed streams.
Forest Plan direction regarding level of challenge is being exceeded.
- Improving brook trout habitat is a Forest Plan standard. All streams within the Upper Tellico River watershed are suitable for brook trout.
- There are elevated fine sediment deposits in the Tellico River and its tributaries compared to nearby reference streams that are not impacted by the trail system. Brook trout spawning is reduced by increases in fine sediment deposits.
- Toxicity tests near three high challenge areas show elevated levels of petroleum products. Research has shown that these toxic substances can inhibit reproduction and recruitment of fish populations.
- The Forest Service has no control over the effects of droughts, floods, geology, or acid deposition within the Upper Tellico River watershed that may affect brook trout. As land managers however, we can reduce the human induced sedimentation from the trail system and thus eliminate an environmental stressor and provide the greatest opportunity for long-term persistence of brook trout within the watershed.
Forest Plan direction regarding trail density is being exceeded.
- The Forest Plan direction for all OHV trails on the National Forests in North Carolina calls for providing “easy to moderate levels of challenge.”
- Several trails on the Upper Tellico system provide a high degree of challenge and do not meet the Forest Plan direction.
The Proposed Action is needed to implement immediate resource protection measures. These trails have been identified as contributing sediment to the Tellico River system. The closure will protect the Upper Tellico watershed from further resource degradation while allowing time to complete environmental analysis, public review and comment prior to implementation of a long term management decision.
The actions will be implemented pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 261.50 (b) which states, “The Chief, each Regional Forester, each Experiment Station Director, the Administrator of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and each Forest Supervisor may issue orders which close or restrict the use of any National Forest System road or trail within the area over which he has jurisdiction.” In addition, these actions are being executed in accordance with 36 C.F.R. § 212.52.
- The Forest Plan direction calls for providing approximately two miles per square mile of OHV trails.
- The current system is currently over four miles per square mile.
- The Forest Plan would need to be amended to allow a higher density for the Tellico OHV area.