Friday, October 9, 2009

MVUM Implementation & Law Enforcement

As various Forests throughout the country produce or soon will produce MVUMs, the public will have questions about implementation and enforcement of the MVUM. The General believes the decision notice or ROD should have a narrative for how the agency intends to implement the MVUM.

I have received a number of emails from riders who want to know if the agency is going to immediately start writing tickets based on CFRs cited in the MVUM - as noted below:

Violations of 36 CFR 261.13 are subject to a fine of up to
$5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both (18 U.S.C.
3571(e)). This prohibition applies regardless of the presence
or absence of signs.

Or, will the agency coordinate a phase-in of law enforcement initially using education and outreach (instead of immediately citing users) such as land agencies did with the 2003 CA 96dBA OHV sound law or law enforcement agencies did with auto/driver cell phone ban?

I found an example of a coordinated/education effort on the Payette National Forest. In their ROD, the Forest describes how it will use a coordinated approach of education, outreach, signing, collaboration, functional maps, doing new trail projects etc. rather than immediately writing 5K tickets or sending people to prison. They will use exiting authority to cite for resource damage in the meantime.

See pages 29/30 for the ROD’s implementation narrative

Regardless of what approach (hard core enforcement v. education/phase-in) the agency adopts, there should be a narrative some place in the decision document or public notice (and clearly posted on the website) so that the public and user groups know where they stand and what to expect.
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