New land-use plans for four Southern California national forests would allow expanded off-road vehicle (ORV) use and electric transmission towers, toll roads and hydro projects, while only designating a tiny amount of wilderness.

The U.S. Forest Service released its final management plans for the four forests on Sept. 22. They are Cleveland, Los Padres, Angeles, and San Bernardino national forests.

These plans map out the potential uses to which sections of the forest may be put, including decisions about where development and ORV trails may be built. They are in effect zoning maps of the forests. The plans must be renewed every 10 to 15 years.

The combined plans for the four national forests cover more than 3.5 million acres. This includes a million acres of untouched, roadless wild lands. These forests contain nearly a quarter of the roadless areas in the state (now unprotected).

But out of the total acreage covered by the plans, only two percent is recommended for wilderness designation.

Under these plans, ORV trails could be expanded, and "user-made" trails legitimized. And, while the Forest Service intends to restrict ORV use to its designated trails, it admits that it lacks the resources to oversee the areas already open to ORV use.

These forests face numerous threats which the Forest Service plans do nothing to address. These threats include:

• Cleveland National Forest is threatened with highway expansion, electric transmission towers marching through scenic vistas, and a plan to flood Morrell Canyon for a hydroelectric generation project.

• Oil and gas drilling and ORV use threaten Los Padres. (See our Fall 2005 issue of The Watershed, page 6, for a story on this continuing controversy: https://www.forestsforever.org/archives_resources/newsletters )

• A toll road has been proposed through Angeles National Forest.


Call or write Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger by Dec. 29 and let him know that you think California’s national forests deserve plans that will adequately protect wilderness, wild rivers, and wildlife. Accordingly, ask him to file an appeal on the forest management plans for Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests to the Forest Service. Tell the governor to live up to his declaration that roadless areas in California should remain roadless.

Call Gov. Schwarzenegger at (916) 445-2841.

Write him at:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-445-2841


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places