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Tonto National Forest Travel Management Plan 'A Balancing Act'

Tonto National Forest 1
(Photo by Jimmy Jenkins - KJZZ)
Tonto National Forest encompasses terrain at high elevations ideal for pine trees.

The Tonto National Forest has released a final draft of its Travel Management Plan, an outgrowth of a 2005 rule for the national forest system, to implement plans for motorized vehicle use in national forests.

Several Arizona environmental groups are disappointed by the plan, the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity is one of them.

“The way that this project was framed and this plan was framed was with the knowledge that there was intense use and damage to natural resources occurring, but that the Forest Service seems to have acknowledged that is something that is going to occur and that they can’t do that much about," said Katie Davis, the group’s public lands campaigner.

Anne Thomas is the National Environmental Policy Act coordinator on the Tonto National Forest, and the project lead for Travel Management. She said the plan had to balance the interests of those who want to recreate with their vehicles and those who want a wilderness experience.

"It’s a balancing act," Thomas said. "It’s very easy to recognize that Tonto is one of the largest land-based forests in the system and then we’re also next to one of the top 10 or 15 urban centers in the nation."

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.