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[pct-l] re: comments from PCTers on GWT

Thanks so much to whoever posted the address for the
Great Western Trail (GWT) proposal.  I have only
browsed the comment analysis and the draft report
summary for the proposal, and it is quite
distressing.  Seems that this will not be a "trail" in
the same sense that the PCT is, but quite more like
the CDT, where there are many areas exempted from
off-highway vehicle/all-terrain vehicle (OHV/ATV)
access.  That is, the GWT "differs from the familiar
concept of a trail," in that at some points, it
becomes a braided route, incorporating everything from
single track trails to "busy, high speed paved
highways."  So, certain segments of motorized and
non-motorized use might (read "will") be combined.
The use restrictions on each segment will not be
determined on a comprehensive basis, either, but will
left to local forest service management.  Since NST
designation does not permit motorized vehicle use,
Congress will have to get an exception to the Nat.
Scenic Trails Act, as it did with the CDT, to allow
motorized vehicles where they were allowed prior to
designation so long as they don't interfere with the
substantial use of the trail.

Those who have hiked the CDT, do you think OHV use
interferes with the substantial use of the trail?
Those who hiked the southern sections of the PCT where
OHV abuse and misuse is rampant, do you think that
illegal use of OHVs on that trail interfere with the
substantial use of the trail?  Judging from some of
the comments, OHVers are really excited about the GWT
proposal.  Aren't there enough roads in nat. forests?
Isn't it ironic that the Forest Serv. declared a
moratorium on roadbuilding in existing roadless areas,
and now is looking to build one of the longest
national scenic "roads" on its public lands?

I'd urge folks to read the draft reports for
themselves and form their own opinions.  Mine is still
being shaped as I continue to read, but initially I am
quite appalled.  Unfortunately, I can't figure out
from the web site how much longer the comment period
remains open.  But I'd encourage people to submit
individual comments, identifying themselves as
long-distance or through-hikers, stressing the
incompatability of motorized vehicle use with a long
distance scenic trail and the integrity of the
surrounding forest and aquatic habitat.

No OHVer is going to gas it up to go all 4,455
proposed miles in one fell swoop, but many hikers just
might.  I don't meant to imply that I'm unsympathetic
to those with legitimate reasons why they cannot move
long distances on foot across our public lands.  I
generally support the idea of Yosemite's High Sierra
Camps, allowing users to ride horseback or hike short
distances between camps where they can sleep, eat, and
shower in remarkable comfort.  But just as
Congressional Wilderness designation does not make an
exception for motorized vehilces, Nat. Scenic Trails
designation should not do so, either.  Congress has
already spoken on the issue, saying in the NST Act
that there cannot be motorized vehicles on a NST.  As
with wilderness, accomodations for motorized users
(even physically challenged users who could not see
the wilderness on foot) would compromise the integrity
of the VERY thing that attracts people to these

Brian Toth,
PCT long-distance hiker (1999)

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