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Contact: Bill Dart - BlueRibbon Coalition -- 208.237.1008

Don Amador - BlueRibbon Coalition - 925.625.6287

Date: Dec. 2, 2003


ONTARIO, CA -- A national recreation group says current Forest Service efforts to inventory and eventually designate off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in California and elsewhere is good for recreation and will help to protect valuable resources. On November 20, the BlueRibbon Coalition, a trail-based access group, attended a meeting in Ontario, California where officials explained the agency's plan to better manage forest trail systems for motorized recreationists.

In July, Region 5 of the Forest Service signed a Memorandum of Intent with California State Parks and the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission for funding to perform a statewide inventory and designation of roads and trails for wheeled vehicles on National Forest System lands. The inventory and eventual designation process is scheduled for completion by September 2008.

“The BlueRibbon Coalition supports designating roads and trails and eliminating cross country travel on most national Forest lands. However, the agency must start with the acceptance of all of existing or established routes of travel,” according to BlueRibbon Public Lands Director, Bill Dart.

“The agency learned long ago in their 'National OHV Review' that providing adequate quantities of diverse and quality routes of travel is the best way to control illegal use and route proliferation” added Dart.

“Additionally, the agency should not limit their planning to existing routes of travel, but should broaden the scope to consider building new routes to connect existing trails to make loop routes, or to replace existing routes that are not sustainable. Too often, the process is focused only on closure of existing routes and not on improving the opportunity.” concluded Dart.’

Don Amador, the western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition said, “I know a lot of our members are concerned that their favorite non-designated backcountry trail -- once identified during the inventory process -- will be immediately closed. The meeting at Ontario between the Forest Service, a number of OHV groups, and the environmental community gave me assurance that the agency is committed to treating the public in a fair manner.”

“A few Ranger Districts in California were far-sighted long ago and completed site-specific trail programs which followed the guidelines of the National Environmental Policy Act. Both the Mount Pinos Ranger District on the Los Padres National Forest and the Mad River Ranger District on the Six Rivers National Forest realized that a designated trail system was best for the resource and improved the quality of the recreation experience. They are both good case studies regarding how this effort can benefit recreation and the environment,” Amador stated.

“The success of this inventory and designation process is based on the partnership and trust that the agency must continue to build with the trail community and the general public. With more and more families accessing the National Forests using an SUV, pickup truck, mountain bike, ATV, horse or dirt-bike, it is important for all of us to work together in a cooperative fashion so that both our recreation opportunities and our natural resources can be protected for future generations,” Amador concludes.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public lands. It represents over 1,100 organizations and businesses with approximately 600,000 members.
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