Williams Ranger District to implement temporary travel restrictions
Roads will re-open when forest dries out
Feb. 27 - Due to warmer temperatures, melting snow and muddy conditions, Kaibab National Forest managers will implement temporary wet weather motor vehicle travel restrictions on the Williams Ranger District at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
The wet weather restrictions include the temporary closure of many roads and the prohibition of cross-country motor vehicle travel when soils are saturated and resource damage is occurring. When the restrictions go in effect tomorrow, a backbone system of roads will remain open to allow motorized forest access. The roads that remain open are those that are most suitable for motorized travel during wet conditions and are strategically located to provide reasonable access to the forest. Green dots on carsonite signs indicate routes open to vehicle travel during wet weather restrictions.
"We don't expect to have these wet weather travel restrictions in effect for very long," said Williams District Ranger Martie Schramm. "This is a temporary measure we are taking due to the hazardous conditions that exist right now and the potential for long-term damage to forest roads and resources."
The goal of the wet weather travel policy, which was developed in 2005 in collaboration with the Coconino National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is to provide reasonable motor vehicle access during times of extremely wet and muddy conditions while also protecting forest roads and resources and providing for public safety.
Information on wet weather travel restrictions, including maps showing open routes, is posted to the Kaibab National Forest Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai and is available at forest offices. Also, signs reading, "Entering wheeled motorized restriction area. Use only roads and trails shown on official map," along with a second sign displaying a map showing open routes in the area are posted at strategic access points on the forest. Motorized travelers are required to stay on those designated routes until the soils dry out and the restrictions have been lifted.
"We will lift these travel restrictions as quickly as possible," Schramm said. "Forest employees will be monitoring forest conditions daily, and we will lift the restrictions when the soils have dried out."
Wet weather travel restrictions are implemented in a similar way to fire restrictions and area closures. Based on conditions on the ground, an official order is issued that restricts use to those roads that are most suitable for travel. The restrictions are lifted as soon as conditions allow. Just as with fire area closures, wet weather travel restrictions are only implemented when conditions create hazards to public safety and forest resources.
This is the first time the Kaibab National Forest has implemented its official wet weather travel policy. The policy was developed in 2005 following a winter of very wet weather and damage to forest resources.
During fall 2004 and winter 2004/2005, forest roads, soils and vegetation sustained damage from motorized vehicles following periods of very wet weather. Some forest travelers continued to use forest roads despite extremely wet and muddy conditions, which led to deep ruts and, in some areas, the creation of alternate routes around problem spots.
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