Hope everyone can take a moment to read this important note from the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association on Tellico.
For those of you who dont know, SFWDA has lead the fight in land use and preservation of our rights to use and recreate on the Tellico OHV System in partnership with BRC and UFWDA. Please read the article below, and if you are able, contribute to the cause!
The fight for Tellico is not over by any stretch…
If ever there were a fight for public lands access, Tellico has certainly been that fight. What the Forest Service did in choosing to close Tellico was wrong, and the partner groups, SFWDA, BRC, and UFWDA, are holding them accountable for that decision. We will not and cannot abandon this fight. Tellico is important, not only as a trail system, but also to put a marker down for the Agency to understand that closure is the LAST OPTION for ongoing management FOR recreational access. If the administrative decision at Tellico is allowed to stand, where is the next place they will just decide to close without legitimate management?
We know that information on the Tellico battle has been sparse and we apologize for that. In today’s world of rapid communications, we hope you understand that strategy is a challenging thing to keep from your adversaries. But that certainly doesn’t mean we haven’t been diligent in the battle.
In this process, we meticulously exhausted every option throughout the administrative process, including appeals. In the end, it was to no avail. The Forest Service did not listen. Unfortunately, the partnership had no other option but to choose the route of legal action and, along with it, the challenging process of working through the court system. Throughout the legal process, we have continued our efforts to explore every legal avenue in an attempt to come to some amenable resolution with the Forest Service for the Trail System at Tellico—again to no avail.
The groups have decided that “enough is enough” and have now formally requested to put the issue in front of a judge to decide. As it stands now, all the briefs have been filed and we are awaiting our day in court this spring.
Not counting the twenty year history of working with the Forest Service with thousands of volunteer hours, the fight for Tellico has been long and arduous. Commendably demonstrating their resolve in Tellico, to date Southern Four Wheel Drive Association’s Rescue Tellico Fund alone has received $56,883.80 in support contributions and spent nearly $132,000.00 in professional and legal fees in the fight for Tellico, with over $75,000.00 coming from Southern’s normal income and cash reserves to make up the difference.
As we said, the fight is NOT over and our day in court is finally on the horizon. Win or lose in court, we expect there will be an appeal. We have come so far. Please help us push this fight to the finish with a generous donation to the Rescue Tellico Fund at: http://www.sfwda.org/reopen-tellico/