All-terrain vehicles restricted to only some terrain. Government limits off-road recreation

All-terrain vehicles restricted to only some terrain. Government limits off-road recreation. By Patrick O’Driscoll. USA Today.

The days of legal, recreational cross country travel on public lands of the United States (that is, off road or off trail) are just about over. Of course, there is little money to enforce it right now due to the failure of the Bush Administration to seek adequate funds for the agencies. On the other hand, the inexpensive way to write the rules if you have little money is to say “nothing off-trail” and a route is closed to motor vehicles unless a sign says it is open to them.

Related story in southern Idaho. Geared for conflict. Public land use evolves with high ATV traffic. By Matt Christensen. Times News.

Note: Congress actually appropriates the funds, but last year they could not produce a budget. So the government has been running for a year on a “continuing resolution,”or “CR.” which keeps the old budget figures intact (except for the “supplemental appropriations” Congress has since passed, mostly for the civil war in Iraq).

This year Congress has given the land management agencies a big increase, but Bush is threatening a veto and his stated that a CR might be OK for the second year a row.



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  1. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    This action has been in the works for a couple of years. The BLM Little Snake Field Office, in NW Colorado is revising their resource management plan. In the plan was a proposal for a 26,000 acre “open area,” where off-roaders can travel anywhere. the real upshot is the remaining 1.2M acrers of the plan would be designated as “existing routes only.” This is impossible to manage. Since public comment has closed, the plan has been circulating around the agency. The latest that I have heard is existing is out and designated is in. The open area has 5 years to be cleared of archeologic sites or it reverts to designated routes and the open area will be no longer.

    The Record of Decision for the plan is due sometime in early 2009, providing EPA is satisfied with an air quality study that the just insisted BLM undertake. The ROD was originally supposed to come out in November 2007.

    The ORV community will not be happy with the new revisions of the plan. They have had free access to anywhere in the resource area forever. Now they will be restricted to marked roads and trails only.



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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