By: Robert Janis
A Q&A With The U.S.
The United States Forest Service is another
federal agency that gets involved in ATV
recreation. ATVSource recently had a chance to
submit questions concerning the Forest Service
and its policies toward ATVs. The answers appear
below. Several members of the Forest Service
staff participated in answering the questions.
We at ATVSource appreciate the time.
ATVSOURCE: How many acres does the Forest
Service have jurisdiction over?
FS STAFF: The Forest Service manages almost 193
million acres of National Forest System (NFS)
ATVSOURCE: How much of that is for trail use?
FS STAFF: The Forest Service manages an
estimated 148,000 miles of National Forest
System trail and 375,000 miles of National
Forest System road.
ATVSOURCE: How much of that is open to ATVs?
FS STAFF: Approximately 32,000 miles of National
Forest System trail, and 275,000 miles of
National Forest System road are open to various
classes of motor vehicles.
ATVSOURCE: What are your plans for trail
development for 2010?
FS STAFF: The American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) funded many trails related projects.
All ARRA funded USDA Forest Service projects can
be viewed at:
ATVSOURCE: What is your policy toward opening up
land for ATV recreation?
FS STAFF: Off-highway vehicles are a legitimate
use of National Forest System lands, when
properly managed and in the right locations.
ATVSOURCE: Off road enthusiasts are concerned
about losing the land they now have for ATV
recreation. What is your policy concerning trail
closings? Are there plans to review the current
FS STAFF: The 2005 travel management rule
requires all national forests and national
grasslands to designate those NFS roads, trails,
and areas on NFS lands that are open to motor
vehicle use, by class of vehicle and by time of
year if applicable. This designation process
identifies which NFS routes and areas on NFS
lands are open to ATVs, as well as other types
of motor vehicles. Decisions on which routes and
areas to designate for motor vehicle use are
made at the local level, by District Rangers or
ATVSOURCE: It has been assumed that the Travel
Management Rule would be complete by 2010. There
are a lot of people in the OHV community who
look at it as a closure rule. Do you want to
FS STAFF: The Forest Service plans to complete
the designation of those NFS routes and areas on
NFS lands that are open to motor vehicle use by
December 31, 2010. Once designated, routes and
areas are identified on a motor vehicle use map
(MVUM), and motor vehicle use inconsistent with
the designations is prohibited. This prohibition
will largely curtail cross-country travel with
motor vehicles that is currently allowed on some
national forests and grasslands. Decisions about
which roads, trails, and areas to designate for
which uses will be made at the local level, by
District Rangers and Forest Supervisors.
ATVSOURCE: Once routes are designated as part of
the Travel Management Rule, are you committed to
follow through or are you done?
FS STAFF: Managing routes and areas designated
for motor vehicle use is a priority. The Forest
Service is currently preparing an implementation
guide to assist field units with managing such
use. The guide is organized around the 4 Es of
education, engineering, enforcement, and
ATVSOURCE: What new policies are being
considered concerning watershed and restoration,
and wilderness designations on Forest Service
lands as they effect OHV recreation?
FS Staff: The Chief of the Forest Service has
stated that ecological restoration is one of the
goals of the Forest Service. This means
restoring ecological functions associated with
healthy forest ecosystems. The Forest Service is
looking beyond its boundaries to take an “all
lands” approach, and will work with partners to
accomplish this goal.
The Forest Service identifies recommended
wilderness as a part of its land management
planning process. Each national forest has a
land management plan, and they are periodically
updated. Only Congress has the authority to
designate new wilderness.
ATVSOURCE: How can off road clubs and state
associations become involved in your
policy-making process concerning trail closures
or lands eliminated from recreational use?
FS STAFF: The Forest Service encourages the
public to participate in the designation of NFS
roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands for
motor vehicle use. Members of off road clubs and
state associations should contact their local
Forest Service office to determine the
opportunities for involvement in the designation
ATVSOURCE: What is the future of development and
expansion of trails on lands under your
FS STAFF: Future trail development may be
addressed strategically through the land
management planning process, and specifically
through local “project level” decisions. Such
decisions are typically made at the local level,
by District Rangers or Forest Supervisors.
Revisions to route and area designations for
motor vehicle use may be done at any time.
ATVSOURCE: Do you work with local off-road
groups concerning trail development, maintenance
and closings? If so, explain how?
FS STAFF: The Forest Service has multiple
volunteer agreements and other partnerships with
off-highway vehicle groups. Partners assist the
Forest Service with trail maintenance,
construction, and reconstruction, restoration
work, volunteer trail patrols, and educational
ATVSOURCE: Do you offer grants to local clubs to
help them with trail development and expansion?
If so, explain the programs.
FS STAFF: The Forest Service and the National
Forest Foundation manage a website that provides
information on grant opportunities from many
sources and for many types of work. The website
is found at:
to “Resources for Partnerships”, and “Funding.”
ATVSOURCE: There are many groups that offer
grant programs to help manage OHV use like
Yamaha and Polaris. Do you have some kind of
program that takes advantage of grant programs
like this or do you educate your people in
methods to take advantage of these programs?
FS STAFF: The Forest Service is currently
preparing an implementation guide to assist
field units with managing motor vehicle use.
This guide includes a chapter on implementation
strategies which includes a section on grant
ATVSOURCE: Do you have volunteer programs to
assist in providing more resource for the
management and maintenance of trails?
FS STAFF: Yes, the Forest Service works with
many volunteers in many different program areas.
Information on this program may be found at:
ATVSOURCE: How much of your budget is committed
to management of OHV recreation?
FS STAFF: OHV recreation management is funded
out of several categories including recreation,
trails, roads, and law enforcement. Other work
not related to OHV management is funded out of
these categories also. No budget category exists
that is used only for OHV management.