View Full Version : Motorized Recreation in National Forests

11-02-2005, 11:46 AM
Subject: NATIONAL-NEWS-RELEASE: USDA Forest Service Releases Final Rule for Motorized Recreation in National Forests and Grasslands

Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 11:37:27 -0500

From: "Heidi Valetkevitch" <hvaletkevitch@FS.FED.US>

To: USDA-FS-NEWS@newsbox.usda.gov



Release No. FS-0605

Contact: Press Office, (202) 205-1134

New Rule will Balance Best Possible Care of Land with Public's Enjoyment of
Recreational Vehicles through Local Collaboration

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2005 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest
Service today announced a new regulation for recreational motor vehicle use
in national forests and grasslands which will forge a sustainable system of
routes and areas designated for motorized use in the future.

"OHV and other motorized vehicles are fun and exciting ways to
experience national forests and we've seen dramatic increases in their
popularity in the last decade," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth.
"Land managers will use the new rule to continue to work with motorized
sports enthusiasts, conservationists, state and local officials and others
to provide responsible motorized recreational experiences in national
forests and grasslands for the long run."

The new travel management policy requires each national forest and
grassland to identify and designate those roads, trails and areas that are
open to motor vehicle use. Local units will seek public input and
coordinate with federal, state, county and other local governmental
entities as well as tribal governments before any decision is made on a
particular road, trail or area. Unplanned, user-created routes will be
considered at the local level during the designation process.

The agency expects that it will take up to four years to complete
the designation process for all 155 national forests and 20 grasslands.
Each unit will also publish a motor vehicle use map. The final rule
addresses the more than 80,000 comments received on last year's proposed
rule. Most comments strongly supported the concept of designating routes
and areas for motor vehicle use.

Once the designation process is complete, motor vehicle use off
these routes and outside those areas (cross-country travel) will be
prohibited. This prohibition will not affect over-snow vehicles, such as

The rule will impact motor vehicle use on roads, trails and areas
under Forest Service management. State, county or other public roads within
national forest and grassland boundaries will not be included in the
designation process.

Some national forests and grasslands already have established
systems of roads, trails and areas designed and managed for motorized use.
This rule does not require those units to change existing plans.

In 2002, the Forest Service had more than 214 million visits, with
about the same number driving through just to enjoy the scenery. More than
200,000 miles of forest roads are currently open to off-highway vehicle
(OHV) use as well as more than 36,000 miles of trails. In addition,
national forest recreation has become the biggest contributor to many local
economies, including rural communities.

Recreational motor vehicles include OHVs, all-terrain vehicles
(ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs), such
as 4-by-4 trucks or Jeeps.

A copy of the new rule can be found at www.fs.fed.us.


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Sedona Jeep School
11-03-2005, 06:41 AM
This has been in the works for some time now. I believe it was Oct.04 - Mar.05 (?) that the public comment period was open. I recall that I posted it at that time :confused: . I sent my letter then.

Now it is just a matter of getting involved in the "cataloging process".

Many of our local trails will not be affected, BECAUSE we are already restricted to established roads and trails here. HOWEVER, as many of us as possible must SPEAK UP AND GET INVOLVED in the "cataloging process".

Places which are the most likely to be affected, IF WE DON'T SPEAK UP AND GET INVOLVED, are sandy areas, washes, and other places where "established" trails are not so apparent to the non-OHV eye, especially our 3.0 and up trails.

Make no mistake--I believe that this "cataloging process" will be a power-in-numbers game. Don't sit back and think that "other people" are listing your favorite trails for you. One person calling a wash a trail will not get it catalogued--100 people calling it a trail, maybe.

11-03-2005, 08:38 AM
You have to watch them on the cataloging process. In recent years the AZVJC helped out cataloging trails that never made it on the list for consideration. BLM (I think it was BLM) "forgot" or "misplaced" our work or something. Local club in all areas will need to audit this "catalog" or we may be in for some surprises.

11-08-2005, 10:25 AM

Contact Carla Boucher (757) 546-7969


United has participated with the US Forest Service in the development of its OHV Route Designation Rulemaking. The concept of managing OHV use on National Forests is a great concept and the Forest Service has been working hard on this project since the Spring of 2004. However, “I have been comparing the proposed rule to the final rule and there are a few unwelcome changes that concern me”, stated Carla Boucher, attorney for United and an authority on Forest Service regulations.

United will be completing its audit of the rule over the next few days, and generally supports the overreaching goal of the program. A full report of the changes and their effect on access will be posted on the United website in the coming weeks at www.ufwda.org. “United wants to ensure that the time and effort spent by the Forest Service works for the betterment of 4x4 access and that we don’t end up experiencing wholesale road and trail closures or end up perpetuating unmanaged recreation when the rule is implemented in the field”, Boucher said.

Field training for agency personnel is expected within the Forest Service after the first of the year. United will also be reviewing agency Handbook and Manual implementation of the rule.

United Four Wheel Drive Associations is an international organization of four wheel drive enthusiasts dedicated to conservation of our public lands and enjoyment of the outdoors. For more information contact United at www.ufwda.org , 1-800-44-UFWDA, 7135 S. PR Royal Springs Dr., Shelbyville, IN 46176.

11-08-2005, 10:38 AM
Thanks for putting this out again Brad. The following are my thoughts on this:

This refers to the ‘2 Nov Press Release by the USDA Forest Service
[http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2005/releases/11/travel-management.shtml] and its
release to the Federal Register. We need to come together with a common voice and identify key issues that may affect us. In reading the press release and the “Final Rule’ as sent to the Federal Register on 2 Nov, its clear, we
need to arm ourselves with the information needed to work with the Rule and
be able to assist in its oversight by jointly setting objectives with the FS.

To that end, some issues are significant and need to be at the ‘tip ‘o
spear’ of the OHV communities thoughts:
1. “off-road vehicles increased sevenfold to 36 million”
* One of the problems is the increased traffic and load on the road/trail
system. By the admittance of the CoFS it has increased by 7 X but trails
have not. Therefore, too many rigs for to few roads and trails that was
Only adequate to begin with.
2. “restricting off-road vehicles to designated roads and trails”
* As above this will only create more problems than it solves and becomes
The self-fulfilling prophecy of the Eco-Nazis.

Maybe I am wrong, off base and headed the wrong way on a one-way trail, but I see road/trail overloading as imperative. Growth in OHV using the public lands has not been met with increased road and trail support. The concern is this will lead to amplified pressure on the system and a subsequent failure of the contiguous environment.
Getting involved is important, but not having describable objectives will
only lead to a loss of interest in the OHV community. The resulting loss of
opportunity to set the agenda will put us in a ‘come from behind’ position

You can't stuff 10lbs of sugar in a 5lb sack, nor can you have an increase in trail use by a factor of 7 and not do damage. We must work towards more trails or we are doomed to fail...

Sedona Jeep School
11-08-2005, 12:14 PM
Even if we gain some "new" trails, (which is an uphill battle, I might add) are we going to gain 7 times the number of trails we have now in order to maintain a certain usage rate? No way. We would be lucky to increase trails by 10 percent, not 700.

Therefore, new trails forthcoming or not, we need to explore and develop effective methods of managing what we have now. That includes minimizing impact, managing usage rates, and participants giving back in time/money/effort to maintenance, enforcement, etc.

In the Coconino National Forest, we are already accustomed to using ONLY established roads and trails, so this new rule will not be new to many of us. Folks who are accustomed to riding "willy-nilly" all over the landscape will have more of a challenge.

I see a growing demand for "play areas" like Cinder Hills, but with private and/or better-developed facilities. I hate to use the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia as an example, but they do have some kick-***** OHV areas there: Hollister Hills, Hungry Valley, etc. This will alleviate some of the pressure on backcountry trails. What can we do to make this happen? Who has a couple of million bucks laying around? :D

11-08-2005, 12:36 PM
Who has a couple of million bucks laying around? :D

RTP Funds..

Arizona had $2.7 million available for allocation in 2005/2006. The rules vary by state but in many states it has been used to open and manage OHV areas. It's not a substitue for public lands by any means.. but it is an option that may be worth persuing.

Arizona Coordinator
Annie McVay, Rec Trails Coordinator
Partnership Division
Arizona State Parks
1300 W Washington St
Phoenix AZ 85007-2932
602-542-7116; Fax 602-542-4180

State by State Allocation:

State Website:

While today AZ says it's for Maintenance, other states have worked with their coordinators to create and maintain off-highway areas so check it out.

Sedona Jeep School
11-08-2005, 01:02 PM
Awesome, Shawn! (...as usual!)

I will get to work on it...Thanks, and happy trails!

11-08-2005, 02:42 PM
Agreed, that gaining new ground [trails] is difficult, but something needs to be done. That said:

Perhaps our toughest challenge is in accepting the fact that it is difficult and when one accepts that fact, the task becomes much easier.

The Feds have never been known for having much initiative; in fact, the system rarely rewards those that show it. We need to show leadership by taking control, showing the initiative and becoming pro-active in our approach rather than reactive. Question? How much of a problem today if the amount of OHV using the trails were the same as it was many years ago, before the 7x increase in OHV and usage?

Spin: It is all in the spin. I agreed with the FS, we have a problem and it is my contention that the prime reason is the use factor. Ask anyone in the cattle business about over grazing. On land that will support 5 cattle per acre you can’t graze 15 head and expect the cattle to get fat, in fact you can only expect them to starve.

A while back several of us attempted to discover an old trail that led to Crown King. I don’t know how long it had been since the trail had been driven over, but I can assure you it was difficult to even stay on the trail since it was so overgrown. Moreover, this trail is a good 20+ miles long; even then, we did not reach Crown King, by a long ways.

When I was stationed at Ft Hood, Texas, there were but a few trails that led into the training areas. During periods of heavy, use the trails being driven on 24x7 by very heavy tanks. After a while, the dirt would literally start becoming a liquid. You could drive thru it and see waves like a boat going thru water. A rock dropped would act as if it had been dropped in a pool of water, splashing and creating waves, it was amazing to see. This was caused by increased traffic because of training funds being allocated at the end of the year.

The FS and we have choices:
• Take no action which will only lead to further erosion of the surrounding environment or a negative solution
• Take action by limiting OHV to the original trail system. Again, a negative solution
• Take action by limiting OHV to the current trail system. Again, a negative solution
• Increase the amount of trails [bear in mind that over the time that has shown an increase in OHV use by 7x the amount of land that has been acquired by the Feds has also increased] providing a positive solution and meeting the prime mission which is to provide recreation for the public

Out of 4 possible solutions, 3 have a negative impact on the environment and fail to support the mission. Only 1 supports the mission and minimizes the impact on the environment

It is all in the spin…

11-08-2005, 02:57 PM
Or they could do the easiest thing "Outlaw all off road travel". Not on your list, but highly plausible.

IMHO the local districts need a direction that is consistent and firm from the USDA - without it everyone is simply in the middle of a guessing game.

- Shawn