Land Between the Lakes Back Country Horsemen
Roger Kendall, Board President
523 Bob Road
December 17, 2014
Dear Mr. Mitchell,
Land Between the Lakes Back Country Horsemen (LBLBCH) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the recently released DRAFT LBLNRA Scenery Management System Plan and Implementation Guide.
We have compiled our detailed comments and question in the attached pages,
– This plan creates an over-managed, non-natural scenery atmosphere that will require LBL to spend additional resources on maintenance.
– The suggestion of below-ground-level wildlife viewing bunkers also creates additional maintenance to keep critters dens, bees and wasps, and litter from accumulating.
– The plan focuses on ‘drive-by” scenic experiences, which are the anti-thesis for getting our obese population out of their cars and engaging in the natural world with all five senses.
– The evaluation of the scenic value of different places is out of synch with what the visitors are saying. More people would like to spend time in the woods than any other place, yet the woods are rated in the lowest scenic category.
– Mr. McDermott is from a western state and does not appreciate the landforms in western Kentucky. His emphasis on having “Dramatic” landscapes focuses on large elevation changes, bold outcropping of rocks, etc. These all occur in Western States but not in Western Kentucky.
– Mr. McDermott also referred to vegetation as “overgrown” which is a bias on his part due to his experiences in dry western lands where vegetation does not thrive as it does in Kentucky.
– Due to the placement of undefined “Lake Enhancements”, a number of existing horse trails are threatened. This is particularly disturbing after the closure of Trail #11.
– Wrangler’s Campground, the most popular of all campgrounds, depends on miles of trails and opportunities for forest and lake edge experiences, not drive-by scenery.
We would be glad to discuss any particulars with you. Thank you.
Roger Kendall, President
Land Between the Lakes Back Country Horsemen
DRAFT LBLNRA Scenery Management System Planand Implementation Guide December 2014
Provided by Land Between the Lakes Back Country Horsemen
Roger Kendall, President
P. 8 The objective to “Manage vegetation to increase sightseeing and wildlife viewing
opportunities along selected roadways….” is one which encourages visitors to stay in their cars to “enjoy” the natural world.
This reduces the impact of being in nature and adds to the obesity of the UnitedStates. USFS should be taking steps to get people out of their cars rather thanenhance the view from the car with “Drive-by” scenery.
The Edge Phenomena, Pro and Cons
Although edges provide scenic value to humans, and provide a desirable habitat for deer and rabbits, some of the possible negative effects should be considered,including the increased wildlife on the road (a safety issue) and the introduction of new vegetation which thrives on the increased sunlight introduced by the clearing of undergrowth near the road. This new vegetation may be invasive, non-native, or require more cutting back than what is growing on the edges currently.
On p. 30 the following statement is made:
Our typical guests are agreeable to more maintained areas or the appearanceof maintained and manicured areas.Was this a specific question in the inventory or was this a supposition by Mr.
McDermott? If visitors want to visit “natural places” and also enjoy being “in thewoods”, how would anyone conclude that they are agreeable to more manicuredareas?
P. 8 The management of vegetation for wildlife viewing should not include the introduction of non-native plants.
p. 14 The following is not true, yet is stated as fact rather than opinion:”The pre-European savanna-like grasslands condition is more desirable visually than overgrown naturally appearing woodlands.”
Desirable to whom? Certainly based on visitor surveys, this is not the case.The term “overgrown” is also a non-definitive term from someone who does notappreciate the lushness of naturally growing vegetation in a this of the countrywhere we have adequate water. How much growth is “over grown”?
Impact on Trails
The ‘visual quality zones’ will be kept 100 feet from trails. How does that affect current trails? Will there be additional trail relocation due to the proposed Visual Quality Zones”?
On the maps: A number of the proposed Lake Enhancements are on Equestrian Trails. What will happen to those trails? Most of the affected trails have beautiful lake views; will they be moved further back into the woods?
On p.22 , the scenic quality classification of woods v. open fields is not accurate within the perspective of the users.
“All trails for the most part go through wooded areas so they fall within Class“C”. However, when a trail comes within 100 meters and or enters open lands or the built environment elements it then falls within a Class “A” category.”If this consultant were to ask trail riders which atmosphere they would rather ride in, “the woods” would rank much higher than “open land”, due to the scenic nature of the woods and its water features, rocks, shrubs, flowers, towering trees, young trees, fallen leaves, etc. This scenic classification methodology does not represent
P. 27. Will the scenic and visual rehabilitation of these roads affect existing trails?
It appears as if Mr. McDermott does not have much woods experience, as they are generally rated as having low scenic value. In addition they are described as being “homogeneous” while in fact most forests are anything but that.
Clearing boundaries around roads will requires significant maintenance activities,since these areas are not being allowed to grow naturally. LBLNRA currently does not have sufficient manpower to keep trails maintained, so is this plan of action wise in a period of decreasing budgets?
The building of sunken viewing blinds, as referenced in the appendix, is also an additional maintenance demand.
What Visitors Enjoy
Although 24% of visitors prefer an experience “in the woods”, the table on 21 ranks these areas as Class C, because of their “indistinct atmosphere with weak or missing attributes.” It begs the question whether the academic approach to classifying beauty matches what human beings really feel when in an environment.
42% of visitors want to be either in the woods or on a trail. Yet there are no proposed plans in this document to supplement trails and trail quality. In fact, it appears that trails may be threatened by the “Lake Enhancements” or the Visual Quality Zones.
In Figure 6, “LBL Top Ten Activities”: Was horseback riding an option on the survey list? Were visitors at Wranglers asked to fill out this survey? Wranglers Campsite is one of the most popular places for LBL visitors. (p. 31, third highest location, and more popular than other campgrounds) It depends wholly on the quality and length of trails surrounding it. The changes proposed in this document should be analyzed to see if there would be any negative effect on any of the equestrian trails.
-END OF DETAILED COMMENTS-