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Don't Be Cherry-Stemmed Out of Access
Be In-touch; Informed; and Involved
By Del Albright

cherry-stem v. to extend a spur of unprotected non-wilderness land, especially a dead-end road or trail, through a protected wilderness area. Also as a noun and as the form cherrystem. (source:Double-Tongued Dictionary)

"Cherry Stem" roads are generally classified as "allowed" use and NOT "prescribed" use. Meaning, therefore, that "cherry stem" roads can easily be closed when they do not fit nearby "Wilderness values," such as what happened in the Gasquet-Orleans road in the Six Rivers National Forest (read congressional testimony about this from BlueRibbon Coalition here:

(More on BRC working to ensure "cherry stem" is understood in Congress:

Do not be fooled that leaving your access as a "cherry stem" through Wilderness will ensure future use….something as simple as a landslide washout of your "cherry stem" will defacto close that route when the land owning agency tells you that you can't take heavy equipment in to repair your trail or work off trail to clean up a wash out. I have personally experienced this in Death Valley National Park years ago.

If you're going to buy into cherry stem routes, then be sure the language in law and rule is such that you are assured some long term use, repair, maintenance and access. I can fairly well predict you will have a hard time achieving this….but you can try. The stronger your language in statute, the better your chances of having that "stem" still be there in the future.

BlueRibbon Coalition worked long and hard with politicians on HR233 which gave some protection to cherry stem roads. Here is the language:

HR233 where it states the following:

(1) DEFINITION.-In this subsection, the term ''cherrystemmed
road'' means a road that is excluded from the wilderness
areas designated by section 3 by a non-wilderness corridor
having designated wilderness on both sides, as generally
depicted on the maps described in such section.

(2) CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS.-The Secretary shall
(A) close any cherry-stemmed road that is open to
the public as of the date of the enactment of this Act;
(B) prohibit motorized access on a cherry-stemmed road
that is open to the public for motorized access as of the
date of the enactment of this Act; or
(C) prohibit mechanized access on a cherry-stemmed
road that is open to the public for mechanized access as
of the date of the enactment of this Act.

(3) EXCEPTIONS.-Nothing in this subsection shall be construed
as precluding the Secretary from closing or restricting
access to a cherry-stemmed road for purposes of significant
resource protection or public safety.

Again, the key is for recreationists to stay in touch, involved and fully informed as to the outcome of political decisions and land use designations that affect access to your recreation.

BRC, your champions of responsible recreation: Home | BlueRibbon Coalition

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