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The third race of the ECORS season is coming up fast. This Saturday, April 17, ECORS travels to The Flats in Marion, NC. Like previous ECORS races, this event will be staggered-start endurance racing. Expect to see some rocks, a bit of mud, and everything in between. The course will be open for prerunning by registered racers on Friday.

Spectator fees are $10/person in advance, or $15/person the day of the race. You can purchase them online at the ECORS website. Children 12 years of age and younger are free.

Class A kicks off at 9AM, so be sure to arrive early if you're driving in on Saturday morning. If you'd rather spend the night nearby, there will be primitive camping available on-site. There are also two hotels near the race course.

As racers and fans gear up for the Flats race this weekend, we'll be taking a look back at last month's race. Stay tuned for a series of posts this week recapping The Second Coming race at the Devils' Playground.

Read Part One of the DPG Recap: Class A - Racing in a station wagon
Read Part Two of the DPG Recap: Class B - That Isuzu was too pretty anyway
Read Part Three of the DPG Recap: Class C - Big hearts and wide-open throttle
See all the ECORS Second Coming photos: Click here
Land of Many Uses
Off Season work is under way on the OHV trails system. NC Forest Supervisor Marisue Hilliard was in the Forest a few weeks ago to check out and approve plans and projects that Ranger Walker and her team at Uwharrie have in mind for this year and beyond.

Contract work funded by RTP funds (Recreational Trails Program, the RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund) is underway. Heavy equipment is being used to grade and fill some of the chronic problem areas such as the mud holes on Rock Mountain Loop closest to the double parking lot and the erosion taking place coming down to FS 553 from the Rocky Mountain Loop/Sawmill junction. The major erosion that has occurred in this latter section has caused several illegal bypasses to be created, which on that extremely steep slope is causing even more erosion. PLEASE. Stay on marked trails and practice Tread Lightly principles.

Off Season also provides an opportunity for Adopt-A-Trail clubs to do specific work on their trails such as repairing the corduroy (log) bridges, repairing fencing, erecting illegal bypass barricades and cleaning silt traps. CTB, C.O.R.E., Palmetto Jeep Club, CNC and other Adopt-A-Trail member clubs are hard at work, in conjunction with the Forest Service to repair and prepare the OHV trails for the 2010 season.

The OHV season workday schedule is now being firmed up. Ranger Walker is planning for the 3rd Saturday of the month, May thru October, to be general FS workdays. While some actual maintenance issues such as fence/guardrail repair, silt trap clean out may take place on these workdays, more often trash pickup and general maintenance will be on the schedule. The OHV season produces some of the heaviest traffic in the Forest and with that comes trash. Unfortunately too many of our fellow users of the OHV trails do not take out all they pack in and during heavy use months this can build up quickly. We can do our part in keeping Uwharrie clean by attending these workdays as well as by taking the time to fill a bag or two anytime we are on the Forest OHV trails.

The FS filed RTP requests this year (January 2010) for funding to EXPAND the OHV trail mileage at Uwharrie. This is a HUGE boost for the morale of NC 4wd enthusiasts, especially in light of the recent closure of the Upper Tellico OHV area. If funding is approved, the expansion process would probably be a 2-3 year project. 2010 - Funding request and approval, 2011 - Survey and trail layout, 2012 - Construction and opening.

Several of the trails in the OHV area are being surveyed during this off season for re-routing. Daniel Trail and Sawmill Trail have several areas where the trail is too close to sensitive environmental or archeological sites and re-routing options are being studied. Also, several illegal bypasses on Sawmill Trail are damaging sensitive environmental areas. These illegal bypasses are being closed by Sawmill Trail Adopt-A-Trail partner clubs Carolina Trail Blazers and Palmetto Jeep Club. Some re-routes on Daniel are also being looked at but will probably not take place until next year. Again, PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS and practice Tread Lightly principles. That one time that you "couldn't make it", "went around someone", "just wanted to see if your rig could make it", "it was too wet", "it was too muddy", etc, is just more ammunition for those intent on closing all or parts of our trails.

Badin Lake Group Camp, the site of CTBs Fun Caravan for years is being improved. Contracts have been let for the shower house which will add two showers as well as flush toilets to the facility. Funding for this project is coming directly from OHV trail user fees. When riding in the Forest, PLEASE make sure to purchase your permit. The more we ride and the more permits we buy; the more money is available for these types of improvements.

Plans are in place to construct two actual bridges in the OHV area. One is being planned for Dickey Bell Trail at the Green Gap Road creek crossing. The other is being planned for Dutch John Trail. While these bridges may be unsightly from the 4wd enthusiast perspective and will take some of the fun and challenge away from these two creek crossings, the district Ranger, who at this time is sympathetic to 4wd interests, feels that this is preferable to closure and or re-routes of these trails.

The 2010 OHV Season is almost on us. Trails will open Thursday, April 1st and will close Wednesday, December 15th. Trail permit fees will remain unchanged from 2009. Daily use fees are $5 and yearly permits are $30 and are available at The Eldorado Outpost as well as other local merchants.
WE Rockis drumming up support for an East Coast Put Up or Shut Up in Dayton, TN on April 9-11, 2010. Tech and Registration will be Friday night from 4pm to 8pm. The competition will run Saturday and Sunday.

This will be a "run what you brung" format. Competitors will run four courses each day with the top six finishers qualifying for the shootout.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the WE Rock website or by clicking here. The event has a $300 entry fee with 80% payback.

Check out this PBB thread for some more info.
Friday night at 7pm, 4x4Cross kicks off the 2010 season with a Straight Diesel Drag Race and Back-to-Back Truck Grudge Pull at Mooresville Dragway!!

Starting on Saturday the 27th at 9am, 4x4Cross travels to the Mud Devils Playground for an Open Invite and a FREEROCK competition, all in an effort to raise funds for the Efird Memorial Project.

Come out to either event and help raise funds for the cause. 4x4Cross will have a special Efird Memorial Shirt for sale at both events. All proceeds from the shirts will go to the cause as well.

It's gonna be one sick event! All for a great cause! For more info, check out this threadin the forums or the 4x4Cross website.
This is a statement from Blueribbon Coalition lawyer Paul Turke dated 2-17-10:

"The BlueRibbon Legal Team, in conjunction with Rescue Tellico and other interested parties, is in the process of implementing a multi-faceted response to the Forest Service appeal decisions dated January 15, 2010. These decisions affirmed the Forest Supervisor's decision to continue closure of the Upper Tellico OHV Area to meaningful vehicle use. Federal court litigation, particularly in this setting, requires experienced counsel and other professional staff able to create or take advantage of unique circumstances to allow for any likelihood of success. Such a challenge will be heard not in a court of opinion, fairness, or even justice, but one of law. These steps cannot be properly taken in the heat of the moment, and we ask for the understanding and patience of our supporters as we proceed in this important effort."

SFWDA and the Rescue Tellico Committee are proud of the efficiency of our legal effort and what we have done with limited resources. Any future success at Tellico will require further support from the OHV community and others implicated by the Tellico closure. To assist these efforts, you may make a contribution which will be fully dedicated to project Rescue Tellico via the following portals:
The Forest Sevice Deciding Officer for the administrative appeals filed against Forest Supervisor Hilliard's decision to close the Upper Tellico OHV Area has released his decision.

The Deciding Officer has decided for the Forest Service, concurring with and affirming the ARO's, Supervisor Hilliard, October 14, 2009 decision for closure of the Upper Tellico OHV trails!

This constitutes the FINAL administrative determination on this issue by the Department Of Agriculture. Those who filed appeals are now free, under due process, to file suit in federal court.
As someone fairly new to the public lands access fight I continue to be frustrated and disheartened with the malfeasance exhibited by the Forest Service in relation to their Decision Notice to close the Upper Tellico OHV Area.

At issue at the moment is their blatant malfeasance in not following their own mandated Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 215, in deciding the administrative appeals that were filed following the Decision Notice.

According to 36 CFR 215, and the time line as I understand it, the Forest Service Appeals Deciding Officer should have made a decision on the appeals by January 14, 2010. We have heard nothing from the Forest Service concerning this decision. Are these public servants not responsible to follow the same regulations that ordinary citizens are to follow?

Who is watching out for the American public’s interest in this attempt to close public lands to public use? Who will hold these employees of the American public accountable for doing what they are supposed to do? Why are the rules and regulations not being followed by those that work for us? Who will stand in the gap?

I continue to urge you to not let this issue be swept under the rug! Call, write or email your elected representatives, both state and federal! Call, write or email the NC Forest Service Supervisor and her managing agency, the US Department of Agriculture!

Continue to support, both financially and with your membership, those organizations that are fighting for YOU! Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, Blueribbon Coalition and United Four Wheel Drive Association need your voice to make them a strong and viable advocate for 4wd rights!