November 4, 2010
The JAG was charged with providing input on:
The process of
conducting a recreation users survey, establishing a recreation user
group, and developing a new recreation plan for the Forest.
The JDSF Management Plan goal for recreation is:
AESTHETIC ENJOYMENT: Plan for and provide enhanced levels of low impact
recreational opportunities that are compatible with forest management
objectives and healthy ecological processes, that are consistent with
historic recreational use characteristics, and that allow for engagement
of recreation user groups.
The JAG generally endorses this goal, while
recognizing that some accommodation may be necessary to reduce the
current substantial amount of illegal off-highway-vehicle (OHV) use of
The Management Plan proposes initially to
maintain existing recreation facilities until a new recreation plan is
developed. Prior to the creation of the recreation plan, JDSF is to
establish a Recreation Task Force with members from the recreation
community and to conduct a user survey.
The JAG assisted JDSF staff in forming the
Recreation Task Force. The Task Force was established in mid-2009 and
has met monthly since that time. It has produced a preliminary set of
recommendations for expanding recreation opportunities and use in the
The JAG Recreation Committee provides liaison
between the Recreation Task Force and the JAG . We recognize that the
Task Force is the primary source of user recommendations to JDSF with
respect to recreation. At the same time, the JAG has the responsibility
to express its opinion on the appropriate management priority given to
developing recreation enhancements and to facilitate the timely
development of the new recreation plan. Also, because the JAG members
were chosen from a broad range of backgrounds, the JAG is best equipped
to recommend policies to minimize potential conflicts among timber
management, research activities, and recreation use.
The recreation plan for JDSF should incorporate
to the extent feasible the recommendations of the Recreation Task Force,
recognizing that the recommendations are preliminary and in some cases
conceptual and, therefore, will be subject to revision during
development of the recreation plan.
The JAG favors expansion of recreation
opportunities in Jackson Forest. Recreation is one of the cornerstones
of public support for the forest.
Taken together, the recommendations of the Task
Force provide a practical vision for long-term future expanded
recreation that is consistent with the recreation goal of the management
plan. The JAG endorses that vision.
Key elements of the Task Force recommendations
Provide dedicated funding and staffing for recreational and
educational projects, maintenance and programs.
Designate an experienced, enthusiastic staff member responsible
for education and recreation in the JDSF.
Develop three sets of looped multi-use trails, each in different
areas of the forest.
Increase the number of access points with sufficiently large
parking areas to accommodate equestrian trailers.
Expand and modernize existing camps; provide backpacking camps;
make group camps available throughout the year.
Establish a target shooting range. This range would make it
feasible to request legislation to prohibit target shooting practice
outside of the range.
Increase promotion of recreation and education, including
development and maintenance of a JDSF recreation website, contact with
public schools throughout the state, and by establishing and maintaining
informational kiosks in the forest for easy access by visitors.
Help establish an unaffiliated but cooperating non-profit
“Friends of Jackson Forest” to gain grant funds and facilitate volunteer
support of recreation facilities.
Consider developing legal OHV use, with careful attention to
potential environmental, potential user conflicts, and other regulatory
As soon as possible, JDSF should hire a single
contractor to develop a recreation plan and associated user survey.
At present, JDSF staff is preparing a request for
proposal (RFP) for development of a user survey, but not including
development of the recreation plan. We believe there will be substantial
economies of time and money in hiring a single contractor to develop
both the user survey and the recreation plan. The RFP process itself is
time consuming, taking many months from start to finish. There will be
substantial duplication of learning and delay in completion if separate
contractors are hired for the survey and plan development.
It is common practice to have the user survey and
recreation plan done by the same organization. This was the case for the
previous recreation survey and plan for Jackson Forest done about 1990.
It has been 3
years since the management plan has been approved. It will help to keep
public trust to demonstrate, now that funds are available, that the
department is acting to complete the recreation plan quickly.
Recommend that JDSF proceed, prior to the
completion of Recreation Plan process, with recreation maintenance and
improvements to existing trails and facilities as needed or as
recommended by the Recreation Task Force.
The management plan is vague about the extent to
which recreation trails and facilities can be improved prior to
completion of the recreation plan described in the management plan. The
position of the department, as stated in a letter from the Director of
Cal Fire to the JAG is:
The activities of the
Recreation Committee should not get ahead of the recreation planning
process that is described in the Management Plan and the Charter. It is
intended that major decisions about recreation management on JDSF
are to be developed through this recreation planning process.[Emphasis
The JAG concurs with this position, but
improvements to existing facilities and trails are not major decisions.
The management plan will soon be in place for 3 years and it is likely
to be several more years before the recreation plan is approved. Revenue
generation in the forest is recovering to reasonable levels. JAG
supports beginning to maintain and improve existing recreation
facilities as needed or as recommended by the Recreation Task Force.
Develop and apply measurable guidelines for
protecting recreation resources wherever located in the forest and for
protecting aesthetic resources along highly traveled roads (e.g., Hwy 20
and Road 350).
The JAG believes that recreation, timber
harvesting, and research can all occur throughout the forest, with
appropriate protection measures for heavily used recreation trails and
campgrounds. Therefore, the JAG recommends adopting protection
guidelines to be applied wherever appropriate.
All trails and roads with significant recreation
use should receive at least the aesthetic
protection measures contained in the
JAG’s Recommended Late Seral Forest Development Prescription for
Brandon Gulch, August 8, 2008
These recommendations should be taken as a whole, but adapted to other
locations and their associated aesthetic values. Important provisions of
the recommendations are:
… JAG recommends
allowing a lighter-than-average prescription within buffer zones along
roads and trails, with the prescription and operations implemented with
the goal to recover visual quality in 3-5 years after harvest. The
buffers zones would be 100 feet or sight-distance from the edges of the
above roads or trails, whichever is less. All logging slash within the
buffer shall be uniformly lopped to within 30 inches of the ground.
Visual degradation from logging is a major
negative for recreationists. Although some impact is unavoidable,
sensible measures, such as those proposed for Brandon Gulch, can
substantially reduce public upset without major impacts on timber
Given the determination of the JAG that Jackson
Forest should strive to accommodate the multiple values of timber
harvesting, recreation, research, and education, JAG recommends that
aesthetic protection measures be part of all timber harvest plans that
contain trails or roads receiving recreation use. Those that receive
significant use should receive at least the measures recommended above.
Excerpt from Brandon Late Seral
Prescription Final Report, August 8, 2008
Recreation use on
Brandon Gulch consists primarily of two campgrounds and use of
recreational trails (Roads 360, 362, and 1000, see Figure 3) used by
campers, hikers, bikers, equestrians, shooters, and unauthorized use of
The direction given in
the Settlement Agreement (Appendix 2) is to ensure that:
Recreation use will be
considered when devising the THP amendments. Potential harvest
modifications to reduce visual impact on recreation users, including but
not limited to those provided by the Management Plan and the Forest
Practice Rules, shall be considered for incorporation in the THP
To meet this directive,
treatments should be applied in the close vicinity of campgrounds and
trails to mitigate the effects of timber harvest and to enhance vegetation
development that promotes desirable aesthetic and visual conditions.
Concerns and suggestions provided by recreation-user comments (Appendix 7)
should be considered in carrying out timber harvesting and mitigating its
effects. JDSF staff will work with timber operator to reduce the visual
impacts of the timber harvest.
The following elements
provide additions or emphasis to the recreation guidelines in the
1) Roads and Trails:
Roads 360, 362, and 1000, are used by hikers, equestrians, and trail bike
riders and are valued for providing aesthetic experiences and views of the
forest. JAG members agreed on the objective of maintaining high visual
quality for trails and campgrounds. JAG considered but rejected no-harvest
setbacks as a means to accomplish this objective, feeling that the adopted
approach would not produce significant adverse effects, setbacks would
unnecessarily constrain harvesting opportunities and operational
flexibility during harvesting. In addition, JAG found that ruling out
harvesting next to trails would, over the long run, prevent trail users
from being able to see into the more visually rewarding late-seral forest.
Thus, JAG recommends allowing a lighter-than-average prescription within
buffer zones along roads and trails, with the prescription and operations
implemented with the goal to recover visual quality in 3-5 years after
harvest. The buffers zones would be 100 feet or sight-distance from the
edges of the above roads or trails, whichever is less. All logging slash
within the buffer shall be uniformly lopped to within 30 inches of the
streamsides are especially scenic and buffers along Brandon Gulch and the
North Fork of the South Fork of the Noyo River may exceed specifications
of the Forest Practice Rules to protect particular identified values.
Sherwood Trail is of particular importance requiring special maintenance
to prevent erosion. Trails used by equestrians should provide adequate
width and overhead height clearance.
After harvest, all
trails should be restored as much as possible to their original or desired
condition. All trails and trailheads within Brandon Gulch should be well
marked and mapped. Opportunities should be taken to provide information to
the public on sustainable forest management, advancing late-seral stand
conditions, and balanced resource use on portions of trails from which
harvesting can be observed.
Existing Campsites and Day-Use Areas at JDSF provide a remarkable
sense of solitude and therefore careful attention is required to ensure
adequacy of setbacks. Setback size should be 200 feet within which
harvesting should be excluded (Management Plan, page 275) with added
sensitivity given within 300 feet (Management Plan, page 119). Prior to
harvesting, onsite evaluation of potential visible impacts should be
conducted by JDSF staff and one or more JAG representatives to ensure that
desirable visibility screens are prescribed. These will likely vary
considerably around campsites due to variability in terrain and
vegetation. Thinning near campgrounds and day-use areas should be limited
to enhancing understory development, future screening, and removing
potential hazard trees. Planning for thinning should be controlled by
visual confirmation from professional staff in the campground, possibly
with input from JAG in the initial phase of field implementation. Riparian
buffers may exceed standards of the California Forest Practice Rules to
protect special values at particularly important locations of recreation
Cable Corridors should be kept as narrow as possible and, if
practicable, aligned to minimize visibility. Care must be taken to avoid
injuring leave trees at the edge of corridors.
Tractor Logging should leave as much vegetation as possible for
visual screening from roads and trails. Tractor use should be restricted
when soils are moist to avoid soil compaction.
Landings and Access Routes should be limited to the minimum size
needed consistent with providing safe working areas. Landings (including
those from previous logging entries) should be cleaned up and planted
unless designated for reuse. All access roads and landings should be
decommissioned by covering with slash to limit non-authorized use,
stabilize surface soil, and enhance regeneration of native plants. Special
care should be taken to avoid conditions conducive to establishment of
Debris away from trails and visitor use will be treated using standards
within the Forest Practice Rules. Slash abatement may in places exceed the
normally-prescribed 50 feet from a road (Management Plan pages 119 and
273) to reduce fire risk or enhance recreation and aesthetic values.