Pike and San Isabel National Forests Motorized Travel Management (Final) Record of Decision

The Final Record of Decision (ROD) has finally been made for the long-awaited Pike and San Isabel National Forests (PSI) Motorized Travel Management (MVUM) Analysis project.  The Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) has been involved in representing and preserving the sport of motorized single-track trail riding within the boundaries of the PSI and, specifically this project since the very beginning.

The area encompassed by this ROD includes approximately 2,206,400 acres and encompasses all US Forest Service (USFS) lands within the boundaries of the PSI in the six mountain Ranger Districts—Leadville, Pikes Peak, San Carlos, Salida, South Park, and South Platte.  The PSI is spread over 15 counties in Colorado: Chaffee, Clear Creek, Costilla, Custer, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, Las Animas, Park, Pueblo, Saguache, and Teller.

The USFS started issuing Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests (PSI) in 2009, graphically depicting updated routes open to public motor vehicle use. The PSI was subsequently challenged in court by conservation and environmental centric citizen groups contending that the USFS did not meet its agency obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal legislation to analyze the impacts of designating routes on the PSI MVUMs. Parties to the lawsuit eventually reached a settlement agreement in 2015.  In response to this settlement agreement, the USFS conducted the NEPA analysis in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests Motorized Travel Management (MVUM) Analysis. This ROD finalizes the Decision on this analysis and selected Alternative C with some modifications.

From a global, overall sense, the TPA is pleased to report that the ROD maintains the majority of current routes, roads and trails open for recreation and forest access, especially motorcycles and the network of routes (roads and trails) remains much the same as it was when the project began back in 2015.  However, there is in fact a net loss of miles of routes open to recreational uses by approximately 4% when compared to the miles of routes that exist today or to the No Action Alternative (Alternative A).  Many of the routes that will be lost to public use provide access to private lands/in-holdings or to utilities, are dead ends or are redundant.  The TPA does not condone or support the closures, however, the ROD could have been much worse for motorcycle recreation that it is.  All of the significant and destination riding areas like North Rampart, Rainbow Falls, North Divide (i.e., 717 system), The Rainbow Trail, Greens Creek, Continental Divide Trail, Four Mile, Badger Flats remain accessible to motorcycle and OHV recreation and remain very much the same as they were before the project began.  There are however more significant losses to recreational uses by full size 4WD vehicles, UTV’s etc. such as the permanent closure of The Gulches (Longwater, Metberry and Hackett Gulches) beyond where the roads change from Teller County jurisdiction to USFS jurisdiction.  Probably the most significant change that supporters of the TPA will notice because of this ROD, is a considerable number of routes that will now be affected by Seasonal Closures. For example, over 575 miles of routes will now have Seasonal Closures added and almost 243 miles of routes that were subject to Temporary Seasonal Closures (e.g., Rampart Range Road, Mount Herman Road, etc.) will now have Permanent Seasonal Closures.

Some notable positive aspects of the ROD included the conversion of select “roads” to “trails open to vehicles” rather than being closed or decommissioned.  The recently relocated Captain Jacks’ trails (near the Bear Creek Watershed area) will remain open to motorcycle use, only 1.73 miles of motorized routes were lost/converted to non-motorized use and existing motorized uses on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) will continue as is.

The TPA’s comprehensive and meticulous efforts and involvement since the project began (which included joining the original lawsuit as an Intervening Party on behalf of the USFS) coupled with our expansive local knowledge of the routes and PSI landscape by both the TPA and our affiliated clubs proved to be tremendously beneficial.  Likewise, the TPA’s forging new partnerships with other OHV user groups like Colorado Off Road Enterprise (CORE) and Colorado Off Road Trail Defenders amplified and improved our effectiveness in guiding and influencing the Decision and protecting our access to PSI lands for motorized recreation.  There should be no doubt the Decision would have been much different (i.e., worse) and the closure of routes much more prolific without the efforts of your TPA, our staff, our consultants, our clubs and our partners.



Record of Decision PSI MVUM Analysis – USFS Project 48214

Prepared by W. Alspach, Trails Preservation Alliance, October 2022

  1. The Record of Decision (ROD) was issued on 26 Sep 2022.
  2. The ROD covers 2,206,400 acres of USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forest lands, managed by six Ranger Districts – Leadville, Pikes Peak, San Carlos, Salida, South Park and South Platte.
  3. Selected Alternative in the ROD: Alternative C with modifications.
  4. Public involvement: Three meetings held in 2016. 3,870 discrete and unique comments received during the Scoping Phase.  3,148 individual comments received during the 45-day comment period for the Draft EIS (DEIS).  2,007 unique statements were considered to be “substantive”.
  5. Summary of changes promulgated by the ROD to the current USFS Route System:
Changes to NFS Route Classifications
Change in Use Distance  (Units=miles; ROD/Draft ROD) Notes
Convert from non-public routes to Amin Use Only Roads 25.02/25.02 e.g., special use permit only, & ML1 roads
Convert from non-public routes to Special Use permit Only Roads 20.88/20.88 e.g., admin use only, special use permit only & ML1 roads
Convert from Mixed use Roads to Roads Open to Highway-Legal Vehicles Only 29.78/29.78
Convert Roads to Trails Open to All Vehicles 86.1/84.92
Convert route to 62-inch wide or less open to OHVs 1.35/1.35
Convert route to 50-inch wide or less open to OHVs 1.61/1.61
Convert route to Trail open to motorcycles only 3.63/3.63
Convert non-public routes to Non-motorized Trail 0.89/0.89 e.g., admin use only, special use permit only, & ML1 roads
Decommission non-public routes 86.34/86.34 e.g., admin use only, special use permit only & ML1 roads
NFS Route Additions
Add New roads open to all vehicles 8.05/9.81
Add New roads open to highway-legal vehicles 0.03/0.03
Convert routes to Road Open to All Vehicles 0.52/0.52
Convert routes to Road Open to Highway-legal Vehicles Only and eliminate mixed use 0.07/0.07
Add New Trails Open to All Vehicles 0.47/0.47
Add New Trails 50-inches or less 0.17/0.17
Add New Trails Open to Motorcycles only 0.06/0.06
Convert Roads to Trail Open to All Vehicles 1.29/1.86
Open Admin Use Only road to motorcycle use only 1.06/1.06
Add new parking locations 85/85 Approx. 37 acres
NFS Route Subtractions
Convert routes to ML1 roads 2.58/2.58 ML1=Maintenance level 1 roads are closed to motor vehicle use
Convert routes to Admin Use Only 25.31/28.63
Convert routes to Special Use Permit Only 26.31/26.31
Convert routes to Nonmotorized Trail 1.73/1.73
Decommission routes 64.46/64.31
Decommission route and add new Parking Area in same location 2.46/2.46
Change in NFS Route Maintenance or Mitigation Techniques
Change NFS Route Maintenance or Mitigation Techniques 108.06/108.06
Changes in Seasonal Closures/Use
Add Seasonal Closure 575.72/505.09
Remove Seasonal Closure 0.95/0.95
Change Seasonal Closure 242.61/161.78 e.g., make a temporary seasonal closure permanent


  1. Summary of Modifications to Alternative C from Draft ROD:
    1. The Badger Flats area is omitted from this Decision and will be designated as per the separate Badger Flats Decision Notice, 14 Jun 2018.
    2. The Sheep Mountain Management Project (e., Sheep Mountain motorcycle single-track trails) has been removed from this Decision and will be managed per the Sheep Mountain Management Project Final Decision Notice, 29 Jun 2020.
    3. The majority of the changes are otherwise related to seasonal closures.
      1. Changes related to seasonal closures
        1. Add a seasonal closure to 9 miles of routes.
        2. Add a seasonal closure to 1 miles of a new NFS route.
        3. Define dates public motorized use is allowed on 7 miles of routes having seasonal closures.
        4. Define seasonal closures on 16 miles of routes previously selected for closures in the draft ROD.
      2. Changes related to the forest plan amendment
        1. Adjust the boundary of the Management Area 3A (MA-3A) outside of the NFSR 126 (aka Twin Cone) route to the end of the segment open to public motorized access. The last segment of NFSR 126, which will not be open to public motorized access, will remain in MA-3A. This will result in approx. 13 acres of MA-3A being converted to MA-7A.
        2. Reduce the buffer around NFSR 398 (aka Lost Canyon) and NFSR 398.B (aka Lennie’s Overlook) to 300 feet on either side of the road center line, resulting in approx. 173 acres of MA-3A being converted to MA-2B.
  2. Summary of other considered Alternatives: Alternative A, the no action alternative, would have provided the most motorized recreation, as it includes the most miles of roads and trails open to public motorized access. Of the action alternatives, Alternative D would provide the greatest number of roads, trails, and areas open for public motorized access, but it would reduce the number of miles by about 3 percent, compared with Alternative A. In contrast, Alternative E would reduce the miles of routes available for public motorized access by 50 percent compared with Alternative A.
  3. Alternative C will not close every route that was suggested by some public comments, nor does it expand the number of routes open to the public to the extent requested by other public comments. Modified Alternative C will reduce the miles of routes available for public motorized access by around 4 percent {4%} compared to Alternative
  4. Per page 20 of this Decision, the modified Alternative C will provide reasonable recreation opportunities while providing for resource protection, as is required under multiple use management”.
  5. Regarding an aging population [per page 21]: “I recognize motorized recreation accessibility for an aging population may be affected by the increased restrictions on motorized use. Similarly, those with ambulatory difficulty may be affected by the reduction in motorized route access; however, while motorized access may be reduced in some areas, designating 85 parking locations under the modified Alternative C will support access and recreation opportunities for forest users”.
  6. Regarding E-bikes [per page 21]: “In the years since the Notice of Intent to publish an EIS for this project was published in the Federal Register, electronic bikes (e-bikes) have gained in popularity and use on National Forest System lands. The US Forest Service recently released new directives for the management of e-bikes on roads and trails (FSM 7710). The directives confirm that the agency will manage e-bikes as motor vehicles under the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR 212, Subpart B) and Executive Order 11644 (as amended) and added definitions of e-bikes (including three different classes) to the agency policy (FSM7700). Consistent with the new directives, this decision recognizes e-bikes are included as motorized vehicles on routes identified as open for public motorized access. Also consistent with agency directives, future projects may identify routes open only to e-bikes or designate some non-motorized routes as open to e-bikes after additional environmental analysis. Given that the final directives regulating management of e-bikes on NFS lands were published in March 2022, after the draft Record of Decision was released, this Travel Management decision is not the appropriate time to consider the use of e-bikes on the PSI”.
  7. National Trails System Act, Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) [per page 32]: “This act established the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, (CDNST) which passes through the PSI. Though the National Trails System Act intends that National Scenic Trails be established for hiking and horseback use, the 1978 amendment specifically provides for limited motorized use. According to policy, motor vehicle use by the general public is prohibited on the CDNST unless that use is consistent with applicable land management plan, is designated in accordance with 36 CFR Part 212, Subpart B, and the segment of the CDNST was constructed as a road prior to November 10, 1978. A detailed description of the number of miles of roads and trails intersecting or co-locating with CDNST segments is provided in Appendix B of this document. My decision to designate the modified Alternative C does not change any National Recreation Trail management and complies with the National Trails System Act”. 
Additional information is contained in Appendix A-1.
  8. Implementation [per page 35]: This decision will be implemented on the date of publication of the updated Motor Vehicle Use Maps [MVUM] for each ranger district. Although construction or other changes on the ground may begin immediately, the revision of the maps for all six districts is expected to take up to two years. Some changes may require additional time to be fully implemented”. 
  1. Responses to select TPA submitted Objections:
    1. Wildcat Canyon [See Appendix A-1, page A-4]: No change from Alternative C, all routes remain closed.
    2. Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) [See Appendix A-1, page A-7]: “I have determined that the draft ROD adequately discloses that establishing a management corridor for the CDNST is not within the scope of this analysis. ….. I am directing the Responsible Official to conduct site-specific analyses on routes open to motor vehicle use by the general public that cross the CDNST or co-align with the CDNST to disclose the impacts of the Selected Alternative on the CDNST”.
    3. Seasonal closures on Rampart Range Road (NFSR 300) and Mountain Herman Road (NFSR 320) [See Appendix A-2, page A-36]: “These segments of routes NFSRs 320, 300, and 307 [aka Schubarth] are not plowed or maintained during winter, and remain unpassable in places even when lower routes or south-facing slopes may be quite clear. As a result, public regularly venture onto routes in winter months, become stranded, and either damage the road or other resources or require assistance for extraction. The Forest has worked with the local Search and Rescue providers to determine these routes are not appropriate for year-round public motorized travel, and issued these winter seasonal closures for public safety and resource protection. When the road is used to access private lands, such as NFSR 307, the seasonal closures will be implemented past the private access points to insure landowners maintain access to private property”.
    4. Of the TPA’s 12 specific objections, not all received specific responses or acknowledgement in the Reviewing Officer’s Instructions. Notable exclusions were:
      1. The lack of new parking areas in the PPRD
      2. Adding new “Open Areas” open to motor vehicles
      3. Specific route closures (e.g., 336.A, 540, 322A, etc.)
  1. Overall Generalities and Observations:
    1. Positives:
      1. The network of routes, roads and trails open to OHVs remains pretty much the same, with some routes receiving seasonal closures.
      2. Some roads will be converted to Trails instead of being closed or decommissioned.
      3. Many of the routes being decommissioned are dead end spurs.
      4. Many of the routes converted to Special Use or Admin Use Only are spurs or have a parallel route that does remain open.
      5. The North Divide (e.g., 717 system), Rainbow Falls and North Rampart riding areas remain essentially unchanged.
      6. The Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project rerouted trails (i.e., 665, 667, 668) remain “as is” in their relocated locations and are not closed.
      7. NFSR 346 (aka Hotel Gulch) remains open despite being shown as closed in the Draft Alternatives.
      8. Some mapping errors/issues have that users identified with routes in the Salida and San Carlos Ranger Districts have been recognized, acknowledged and corrected (e.g., 348-Hope Gulch, 230C-Hoffman Park, 406-Hudson Ditch, etc.)
      9. Only 1.73 miles of motorized routes were lost/converted to nonmotorized use.
      10. Motorized uses on the CDNST will remain status quo.
      11. County Resolutions supporting OHV use on county roads (either on all county roads or select county roads) were likely to have been beneficial to OHV recreational uses on adjoining or connecting USFS routes.
      12. CORE’s comments and efforts were successful in causing some modification/adjustment to the 3A Management Areas for NFSR 398 (aka Lost Canyon), NFSR 398.B (aka Lennie’s Overlook) and NFSR 126 (aka Twin Cones).
      13. The scope and breadth of closures to motorized routes on the PSI sought by the plaintiffs in their original lawsuit was not achieved.
    2. Negatives:
      1. A number of routes, roads and trails will now have seasonal closures. The majority of changes in access to routes will be due to a plethora of new or permanent seasonal closures.
      2. What were temporary seasonal closures are now permanent. For example, Rampart Range Road, Mount Herman Road, the entire North Rampart Riding area.
      3. There were essentially no new or expanded recreational opportunities added.
      4. Hackett, Longwater and Metberry Gulches will all be permanently closed.
      5. Most comments and or objections submitted concerning the PPRD area were ignored, rejected or not accepted and reasons why have not been provided (e.g., parking areas, connector routes, new single-track, inclusion of SRTMP work, etc.),
      6. The miles of routes available for public motorized access will be reduced by 4% over the entire PSI area.
      7. The access for and restrictions on E-bike use on USFS trails is yet to be definitively resolved.