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E-M:/ Forest Service Releases Draft Off-road Vehicle Rule



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne M. Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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In Michigan, off road vehicles have been a serious source of resource
damage -- the proposed federal rules offer a chance for the public to
comment at least on the regulations for Forest Service lands here and
across the country.  Each National Forest in Michigan has policies
relating to ORV's.  The Huron-Manistee National Forests policy on ORV's
is at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hmnf/pages/orving.htm , the Ottawa
National Forest policy is at:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/ottawa/recreation/rogs/orv_atv_rog.doc and the
Hiawatha Forest policy is at:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/hiawatha/recreation/atv_trails/ 

Anne Woiwode


For Immediate Release: July 7, 2004
Contact: Annie Strickler, (202) 675-2384
     Karl Forsgaard, (206)622-3536

           Forest Service Releases Draft Off-road Vehicle Rule;
  Proposal Must be Significantly Strengthened to Address Growing Threats

Washington, DC -- The Sierra Club joined recreation, hunting and other
conservation groups across the country in calling the Forest Service's
proposed rules for off-road vehicle use on America's National Forests
largely ineffective. The proposal, designed to govern use of all-terrain
vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles (ORVs) on
America's
176 National Forests and Grasslands, marks a small step forward but
still
needs significant strengthening.

"The Forest Service has taken a small step by acknowledging the serious
threat that unmanaged off-road vehicle use poses to America's National
Forests, wildlife habitat and the millions of people who recreate in
these
special places," said Karl Forsgaard, Chair of the Sierra Club's
national
Recreation Issues Committee. "However, the proposed rule falls short and
must be strengthened if it is to truly succeed."

Although some changes are positive, they alone will not solve this
growing
problem.  The Bush administration must include additional measures in
the
final rule to ensure basic protections for public land, wildlife and
other
types of recreation.  These include:
.    Within two years, designating roads and routes that are appropriate
for off-road vehicle travel.  At the end of this period, such use could
only occur on designated roads and routes;
.    Designating roads and routes based on a full and public analysis of
the site-specific environmental impacts and user-conflicts;
.    Immediately barring use of all unauthorized, renegade routes; and
.    Authorizing off-road vehicle use only to the extent that effective
monitoring and enforcement are annually funded and implemented.

The Forest Service is proposing several policy changes that would be
beneficial if effectively implemented on the ground.  These include:
.    Prohibiting cross-country travel by motor vehicles except under
limited circumstances;
.    Authorizing ATV and dirt bike use only on roads and off-road
vehicle
routes specifically designated as open for such use;
.    Enabling law enforcement officers to issue citations more easily.

"In order for real reform to succeed, the Bush administration needs to
include a two-year timeframe for implementing the rule on the ground,
and
they need to prohibit interim use of existing renegade, unauthorized ATV
and dirt bike routes," said Forsgaard.  "The upcoming 60-day public
comment
period gives people an opportunity to urge the Forest Service to improve
its proposed rule, to better protect the land."

Last year, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth identified unmanaged
recreation, particularly off-road vehicle use, as one of the greatest
threats to America's National Forests.  He described a litany of adverse
impacts to the land, wildlife and other visitors and highlighted the
proliferation of unplanned - or renegade - dirt bike and all-terrain
vehicle (ATV) routes that criss-cross many National Forests.

The proposed rule is available today on the Forest Service's website at:
http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/ohv/index.shtml.  Publication
of
the proposal in the Federal Register, expected in the next several days,
will begin a 60-day public comment period.   Comments can be submitted
to
the Forest Service via the following:
U.S. Mail:
Proposed Rule for Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use
c/o Content Analysis Team
P.O. Box 221150
Salt Lake City, Utah 84122-1150
Email:
trvman@fs.fed.us
Fax:
801-517-1014

For additional information, visit www.naturaltrails.org.




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