Access to public lands, it’s more than just OHV recreation…
- Many forms of recreation on public lands depend upon “access” by motorized vehicle to reach the desired recreational opportunities, activity and experience.
- Travel Management on USFS lands and similar processes on BLM lands do not exclusively affect Off-highway vehicle (OHV) users, the process affects anyone and everyone who travels upon roads and motorized trails on public lands. Driving to a trailhead, a fishing spot or just driving to sightsee puts the act of driving to the destination into the category of “motorized use” and subject to all of the benefits and restrictions that result from the Travel Management process.
- USFS and BLM roads and motorized trails (aka routes) serve many purposes, just to name a few:
- These routes provide access for public land visitors to travel to the point where they can begin their desired recreational activity,
- These routes by themselves provide recreational opportunities for visitors to recreate upon the route and
- These routes provide access to forest/land management activities, access to property, access to utility infrastructure, firefighting tasks, etc.
- Motorized use on public lands is not an activity limited to Off-Highway vehicles (e.g., motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, 4WDs, etc.) but is an activity that nearly all public lands visitors participate in. Driving to a trailhead to begin a hike, driving to a stream to fish, to begin a bicycle ride, to access a picnic area, to explore the surrounding environment along with the many other activities that require visitors to use motorized means and travel using the variety of roads and or motorized trails to gain access to the chosen recreational activity.
- Very few will be able to enjoy the forest and all of the resources the forest has to offer if adequate motorized routes and access is not provided. Multiple-use and motorized recreation is indeed a bona fide form of recreation on public lands and not an activity to be minimized or eliminated on public lands. Just as it is important to maintain the quality of visitor experiences for non-motorized use, it is equally important to maintain the quality of visitor experiences for motorized use.
- USFS Travel Analysis is the Forest Service’s science-based process developed in response to the 2005 Travel Management Rule 36 CFR 212. The Rule has three subparts: Subpart A — Administration of the Forest Transportation System; Subpart B – Designation of Roads, Trails and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; and Subpart C — Use by Over-Snow Vehicles. The Rule has existed for many years with varying subparts prior to the 2005 Travel Management Rule, and it has been updated several times, most recently in 2005. Along with Part 212, Parts 251 (Land Uses), 261 (Prohibitions), and 295 (Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest System Roads) were updated to provide national consistency and clarity on motor vehicle use with the National Forest System.
- All OHVs owned and operated in Colorado must display current Colorado OHV registration or permit stickers when in an OHV staging area or operated on any designated OHV trails or routes in Colorado.
- Roads open to OHVs means federal roads specifically open (through MVUM or RTMP) to OHV use or state, county, or municipal open to OHV use through ordinance and signage.
- The designation of “Jeep trails” means trails as noted by MVUM or RTMP as being “open to any full-sized vehicles” and labeled as trails and specifically not as roads.
- Any vehicle traveling on a designated OHV trail or route is considered an OHV and is therefore required to display a current Colorado OHV permit or registration sticker. This can include vehicles traveling to trailheads or other destinations on designated OHV routes and are not necessarily exclusive to OHV recreation.
- Per the Stay the Trail website, in addition to the many miles of Off-Highway Vehicle trails and “roads open to all vehicles”, there are a number of Full-Size Trails open for recreational travel in Colorado. Although these trails allow for full-width vehicles, they differ from most BLM and U.S. Forest Service roads as they are designed for recreational, motorized use rather than simply for transportation. A Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Permit is required on any licensed/plated vehicle that is used for recreation on these trails. A list of these trails can be found at the following web link: http://staythetrail.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=266593&module_id=247561
- Stay the Trail provides additional information regarding OHV Permits and Registrations at http://staythetrail.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=266593&module_id=228438