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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, John Barrasso and Representative Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., took action on behalf of southwest Wyoming residents today who want ample time to comment on a plan that could significantly impact the recreational way of life in the area.

In a May 21 letter to the Supervisor of Ashley National Forest, the delegation asked for a 45-day extension to the comment period deadline. The request would move the deadline from June 1, 2009 to July 15, 2009.

“Most of Sweetwater County and southwest Wyoming residents consider Flaming Gorge their backyard and it is, for many, the only place they recreate. This Travel Plan will have long-term impacts on their ability to fish, camp, and use passenger vehicles and all-terrain vehicles on the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. It was clear from the May 19th public meeting that many residents have continued concerns about the clarity of maps provided by the Forest Service and the challenge of pin-pointing exactly which roads and trails will be opened or closed. For these reasons, we believe it is imperative that the Forest Service provide an additional opportunity for the public to analyze the draft plan and provide substantive comment,” wrote the delegation.

The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area Motorized Travel Plan Draft Environmental Impact would design a road and trail system through the forest which could close some existing roads and trails.

A copy of the letter is below.
 
                                                                        Kevin B. Elliott
Supervisor
Ashley National Forest
355 North Vernal Avenue
Vernal, UT  84078
 
Dear Supervisor Elliott:

We appreciate the decision of the Ashley National Forest to grant a request to hold a public meeting in Sweetwater County on May 19 on the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (NRA) Motorized Travel Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The well-attended meeting demonstrated strong interest and concern regarding the impacts of the proposal to local communities and recreation users.  While we appreciate the efforts of you and your staff to explain and clarify the draft Travel Plan at the meeting, many residents expressed the concern that they will not have adequate opportunity to provide in-depth comments in the short time remaining before the June 1, 2009 comment deadline.  Therefore, we request that you extend the comment period for an additional 45 days, until July 15, 2009.

As you know, most Sweetwater County and southwest Wyoming residents consider Flaming Gorge their backyard and it is, for many, the only place they recreate.  This Travel Plan will have long-term impacts on their ability to fish, camp, and use passenger vehicles and all-terrain vehicles on the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (NRA).   It was clear from the May 19th public meeting that many residents have continued concerns about the clarity of maps provided by the Forest Service and the challenge of pin-pointing exactly which roads and trails will be opened or closed.  For these reasons, we believe it is imperative that the Forest Service provide an additional opportunity for the public to analyze the draft plan and provide substantive comment. 

Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of our request.  The citizens of Sweetwater County and southwestern Wyoming stand ready to assist the Forest Service in the preparation of a sound environmental document.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Enzi                    John Barrasso, M.D.            Cynthia M. Lummis
United States Senator         United States Senator         Member of Congress