FOREST SERVICE RULES FOR ORV USE
Citizens concerned about the environmental impacts of off-road vehicles
(ORVs) in the national forests now can have a hand on the steering
The U.S. Forest Service has begun the process of implementing its
new off-road vehicle use rule, which will end unregulated cross-country
travel by All Terrain Vehicles, dirt bikes, jeeps, dune buggies
and other noisy, polluting pleasure vehicles.
Under this rule, all 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands
soon will begin the process of deciding which roads, trails, and
areas will be open to ORV use. The discussion will be open to public
input, and the national forests will work with federal, state, county
and local governments. The Forest Service expects that the whole
process will take four years.
When the designation process is complete, each national forest will
publish a map showing the designated routes and use areas. All ORV
travel will be prohibited off these routes.
The new rule, “Travel Management: Designated Routes and Areas
for Motor Vehicle Use,” was first issued in November 2005.
Currently there are about 300,000 miles of roads on the national
forests open to motor vehicle travel, and about 133,000 miles of
trails. In addition to these official roads and trails there are
unofficial “user-created” trails. The Forest Service
has not surveyed these rogue trails, but estimates that there are
“tens of thousands of miles” of them.
ORV use has been steadily growing. According to the Forest Service,
from 1982 to 2000 there has been a 109-percent increase in people
driving motor vehicles off-road.
The noise and exhaust from ORVs can destroy the wilderness experience.
Off-road vehicle abuse increases soil erosion, pollutes streams
with gas and oil, churns meadows and streams into mud bogs, and
kills or scatters wildlife.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The route designating process in each national forest is open to
public input. If you are concerned about the growing presence of
ORVs in the national forests, this is a good time to become involved.
Contact your local national forest and get your name on the list
for public notification for their route designation process under
the new travel management rule.
Forests Forever’s website has a list of all the national forests
in California here:
Also, the Spring ‘06 edition of The Watershed has an article
on ORVs in the national forests, “The road mistaken.”
You can read the newsletter at:
For more information:
The Forest Service ORV pages:
The Natural Trails and Water Coalition website has a lot of information
Enjoy your holiday weekend!