Closed Roads

Just a heads up to all sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts that the National Forest Service is alive and well and working against our interest as forest users. They are in the process of closing roads and camping areas throughout the west.

I was out the other day with a buddy sighting in his new Winchester .22-250 varmint rifle at a place that shooters have been using for years. I’ll admit the place does get trashy from time to time by those slobs that have little or no common sense. But there are those of us that usually take out more than we bring in so all in all it stays pretty clean. But I digress, while we were shooting a guy came walking by exercising his German short hair bird dog and he told us that the road we had used to access the shooting area had been closed. He said we could be facing large fines if we were caught using the road. I had wondered why most everyone had started shooting just up the main road from where we were now, well now I know.

It got me to thinking as a sportsman who uses the national forest a lot, how we as outdoor enthusiasts have been asleep while the forest service just keeps closing roads and making it harder for older people and those with disabilities to enjoy our public lands.

Here’s where I put in a plug for wildlifelawyer.com, keep their phone number in your wallet as it may come in handy if you are ever caught on the wrong road (it is your responsibility to know which roads are closed even if they are not marked) the fines could be stiff and if you are hunting at the time there could be points added against your hunting license. It seems to be a trend with state and federal game and fish agencies to pile on charges whenever possible.

Here in Arizona the forest service has made some peculiar exceptions, if you shoot an elk you can use a closed road or even go off the road altogether with your ATV to retrieve it. That exception doesn’t work for deer, bear, or mountain lion you have to pack these out on your back. Also, woodcutters get a pass, they can drive where ever they like as long as they can demonstrate that there is a dead tree to be cut. Campers are restricted to camping no more than 30 feet off the road in long stretches of open forest roads.

Have you ever been camping off of a forest road when there is a slight breeze blowing from the road toward your campsite? Well if so you know that the dust can be horrendous at times even when you are 100 feet off the road let alone 30 feet. This rule will make it nearly impossible to camp along many miles of forest roads.

It’s time to take a stand and let our voices be heard, it’s important that sportsmen, whenever possible, attend state fish and game and USFS public meetings because without our input they are implementing rules that negatively affect us now and for the future generations of hunters.