Travel Management Plan
Creating an off-highway management rule to manage travel and recreation on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Designating motorized use routes
Update May 4, 2009: Take action on-line today for a balanced travel plan.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest will soon see a new National Travel Management Rule (also known as the Off-Highway Vehicle Rule) implemented. The new Travel Management Rule calls for the designation of routes for motorized use and prohibits cross-country travel. It is a fundamental change in the way off-highway vehicle (OHV) uses are currently managed and permitted on the national forests. All areas open and closed off to motorized travel will be clearly displayed on a map, currently being drafted.
Recreation for all
Recreation and roads management is important to maintaining healthy wildlife populations, clean water, well-managed trail and road systems, and recreation opportunities for all. The planning process is an important first step toward better forest management. Public use and access for recreation are important features of our national forest but must be properly maintained so that the forests can be enjoyed for generations to come.
The good and the bad
Roads and motorized trails provide enjoyment for many, but also have negatively impact our national forest. They often conflict with human-powered users, such as hikers and mountain bikers. Roads are also known to increase the spread of noxious weeds and fragment wildlife habitat. They also open more remote areas to human access and activity, which can heighten fire risk in dry forests and drive away wildlife.
Once constructed, roads and trails can be expensive to maintain. A specific example of an area that cannot sustain current travel conditions is the Teanaway watershed in the Cle Elum Ranger District. In 1998, the Forest Service found that “road and trail location and design are presently the greatest contributor to water quality degradation” and the “spread of user-developed, off-road travel routes in the Riparian Reserves, to access undeveloped recreation sites is the most severe and growing impact.”
Creating a motor vehicle use map
Instead of relying on a system of signed routes, backed by individual closure orders, all the information on routes open to public use will be on a new Motor Vehicle Use Map. The map is projected to finish by 2012, with free, yearly updates. Visitors will be expected to know which road or trail they are using, and understand whether those routes may or may not be used for motorized use. Unless designated as available for OHV use on the map, a road or trail will be closed to motorized travel.