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Forest closes 5,000 miles of roads, trails to vehicles
New maps will take effect in February
by TY BEAVER, Herald and News 10/26/11

About 5,000 miles of roads and trails in the Fremont-Winema National Forest previously open to off-road vehicles will be closed next year under new U.S. Forest Service rules.

New road and trail maps will take effect Feb. 14. It will be up to forest users to know which roads and trails they can and can’t use.

“This gives people a chance to acquaint themselves (with the map) before spring,” said Rick Newton, deputy forest supervisor.

Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts were not pleased with the changes and called attempts to work with the Forest Service frustrating and the review process complicated.

The maps detail the more than 6,400 miles of roads and 173 miles of trails that can be used by off-road vehicle enthusiasts, forest officials said. Maps will be available for free at U.S. Forest Service offices and online. The maps don’t apply to snowmobiles.

Officials: Change necessary

Forest officials said the new rules are necessary to protect the forest and are part of a nationwide initiative. However, OHV enthusiasts have been critical of the travel maps and other changes.

Marvin Schenck, a member of the Klamath Basin OHV Club, said the roads and trails authorized through the maps are well established roads that can be used by a four-wheel drive vehicle hauling a trailer. OHV enthusiasts want more challenging routes, perhaps with some rocks, logs and other natural challenges.

“We don’t have a single trail out of this,” Schenck said.

OHV enthusiasts attempted to work with forest officials this summer to develop some OHVspecific trails, but nothing came from the efforts, Schenck said. There is supposed to be a second phase to potentially authorize additional trails, but Schenck said he’s concerned that will not happen.

The new rules could impact others using the forests as well, Schenck said, from disabled individuals who rely on motorized vehicles to get to remote fishing spots to the hunters who won’t be allowed to drive to dispersed camping sites.

Onus on users

It will be up to forest users to use the maps to determine which roads and trails are open to motorized use.

Newton said the maps take the onus off forest officials. In the past people were notified of authorized trails through signs and notices posted throughout the forest.

Erica Hupp, spokeswoman for the Fremont -Winema, said efforts were made to meet with OHV enthusiasts this past summer but staff changes and other constraints halted the meetings.

Second phase

Forest officials still plan to have a second phase in developing more trails through the forest and a schedule of meetings regarding that should be available in about a month.

“ We did drop the ball but we’re picking it up,” Hupp said.




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