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ACTION NEEDED no later than 9/13/04 Forest Service OHV routedesignation rule
FROM: UNITED FOUR WHEEL DRIVE ASSOCIATIONS
Carla Boucher, Attorney
P.O. Box 15696
Chesapeake, VA 23328
(757) 546-7969


WHAT: The U.S. Forest Service (FS) has proposed a new rule to
establish a policy for managing motor vehicle use, including OHVs, in
our national forests.

HOW IT AFFECTS US: Generally, the proposal is a good idea. The FS
has outlined a process to designate roads, trails, and areas for OHV
use. The designation will be done at either the forest level or at
the district level, to be determined by the FS. The process requires
the responsible official (RO) to "consider" both general criteria and
specific criteria when evaluating each road, trail, or area for OHV
designation.

General criteria for ROADS, TRAILS, and AREAS: RO must consider
- Protection of resources
- Promotion of public safety
- Provision of recreational opportunities
- Access needs
- Minimization of conflicts among uses
- Need for maintenance and administration that would arise if designated
- Availability of resources for that maintenance and administration

Specific criteria for TRAILS and AREAS:
RO must minimize the following:
- Damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, other resources
- Harassment of wildlife and significant disruption of wildlife habitats
- Conflicts between motor vehicle use and existing or proposed
recreational uses of this land or neighboring lands
- Conflicts among different classes or motor vehicle uses
RO must also consider
- Compatibility of motor vehicle use with existing conditions in
populated areas taking into consideration sound, emissions, other
factors
- Trail Management Objectives

Specific criteria for ROADS:
Designation must be consistent with
- Speed, volume, composition, and distribution of traffic on roads
- Road management objectives

Use will be designated by vehicle class and if appropriate by time
of year. "Classes of Vehicle" may include, but are not limited to
distinguishable groupings such as passenger cares, buses, trucks,
motorcycles, automobiles, 4-wheel drive vehicles, off-highway
vehicles and trailers.

DEADLINE: Comments must be received by September 13, 2004

MAJOR CONCERNS: Our major concerns are outlined in the form letter
that follows. Briefly, they include failure to provide for a time
period for which emergency closures can be effective; confusion over
the use of the term OHV, 4-wheel drive vehicle, and SUV; lack of
clarity that a "trail" can be used for 4-wheel drives and other
vehicles over 50" in width; lack of clarity that non-street legal
vehicles may be used on "roads" where appropriate; and lack of
certainty that the agency will conduct a robust route inventory. I
have completed a complete assessment and explanation of the rule and
will post it on our website shortly.

United has been working closely with other motorized recreation
groups such as the American Motorcyclists Association, ARRA,
BlueRibbon Coalition, COHVCO, and the MIC to develop a comprehensive
and unified position on this rule. I am very pleased with the
outcome of this cooperative working group and would like to
especially thank Pat Holtz with the AMA and Brian Hawthorne and Paul
Turcke with BRC for their expertise and collaboration on this effort.

FORM LETTER:

Proposed Rule for Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use
c/o Content Analysis Team
P.O. Box 221150
Salt Lake City, UT 84122-01150
Via e-mail: <mailto:[email protected]>[email protected]

September 10, 2004

Dear Content Analysis Team,

I am an avid four wheeler and frequent forest visitor.
As such, I am dedicated to working with the Forest Service to develop
a workable policy to amend regulations regarding travel management on
National Forest System lands, including the use of off-highway
vehicles. Please accept my comments below.

Please ensure that temporary, emergency closures are limited to a
term of one year.
In order to avoid the confusion of which class of vehicle(s) is
designated for use on roads, trails, and areas, the term off-highway
vehicle should be defined in Section 212.1 as: "Any motorized
vehicle designed for or capable of cross country travel on or
immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or
other natural terrain."
Please ensure that the responsible official thoroughly investigates
opportunities for volunteers and cooperative agreements when
considering the availability of resources for the maintenance and
administration of designated OHV routes.
Please ensure that the final rule, the Forest Service Handbook, or
the Forest Service Manual directs the responsible official to
consider amendments to the forest plan as part of the OHV designation
project to ensure that needed changes to forest plans are not
categorically considered "outside the scope of the project".
Please ensure that the policy is clear that the term "trail" does not
by definition eliminate designed or managed use for 4-wheel drive
vehicles and other vehicles over any particular width.
Please ensure that the policy encourages each responsible official to
conduct a robust inventory for all OHV route designation projects,
including input from user groups and the public.
Please ensure that segments of any road may be designated for use by
non-street legal vehicles where appropriate to avoid blanket
prohibitions of non-street legal OHV use on roads such as Level 3
roads.
Please ensure that any trail may be designated for use by street
legal vehicles where appropriate to avoid blanket prohibitions of
street legal OHVs, particularly 4-wheel drive vehicles and SUVs, on
all trails.


Thank you,
[Name]
[Address]
[Telephone number]
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Sent.
 

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Me too with some local concerns added and cc'ed to my local FS office.
Let's keep our National Forest ours.
 
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