Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HQ Review of New FS 318-Page OHV GuideBook

Thanks to the AMA and BRC for making available the full 318-page guide published by the Forest Service called "A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Maintenance."

Link to Full Report including Appendixes (16.7MB File)

After a quick review of the full report, HQ believes there were a number of system errors and/or breakdowns in communication between the author, Kevin Meyer, the FS’ Missoula TDC, and the Washington Office of the FS.

1. The author failed to be humorous when he equated the management of OHV recreation to “herding dragons” (Introduction: Page 1) or “keep[ing] the [OHV] beast at bay…” (Chapter 16: Closing Thoughts, Page 156). This attempt at humor seriously undermines the credibility of the agency and the project. The humor also shows a lack of sensitivity or understanding of “OHV politics” by the author or editors at the Missoula office.

2. Having the National Park Service author an OHV Management Guide is confusing. Although NPS lands in Alaska do allow for some OHV use, the NPS is not currently a “recreation agency.” In the early days of the NPS “recreation” was part of their mission. Overtime, the agency has developed a preservation-oriented mission where motorized use of trails is largely prohibited and even non-motorized activities are closely monitored and regulated.

3. Most of the photos were of trails that would be closed to OHV use in the lower 48 states because of wet conditions. Second, many photos were of riders on mountain bikes or hikers. Very few photos were of OHVs using trails in an appropriate manner. HQ believes the photos created a collective unintentional or intentional negative image of OHVs.

4. The most egregious offense is the Guide’s adoption (Chapter 7: Environmental Analysis) of Best Management Practices (BMPs) developed by the Wildlands Center for the Prevention of Road (CPR). CPR is an extreme anti-OHV organization.

5.  Appendix D is where you will find CPR’s “BMPs.”  As you might guess, the primary management tool for OHV recreation is to close roads, trails, and areas. These BMPs (Bogus Management Practices) recommend that trails be closed in roadless areas, research natural areas, citizen or agency proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and other lands with wilderness character. If a public land manager used these new BMPs – basically all existing legal trails and dispersed campsites would have to be closed.


HQ believes the FS should have utilized and engaged their own OHV master performers and experts (I know a lot of them) in the creation of any new OHV “Comprehensive Framework.” Even though Meyer knows a lot about trails and compiled many useful ideas in the Guide, the NPS should not be the lead on any revision of FS OHV management prescriptions. The FS should review this breakdown in communication and assure the public that it will do a better job so that something like this will not happen again. Finally, the agency should use its own BMPs instead of using CPR’s (I never met an OHV trail that I did not want close) BMPs. HQ hopes this is a teachable moment for all concerned.


  1. I heard from one FS trail expert and he/she said that IMBA (e.g. mtn. bike) trail maint. guides don't work that well for OHV trail work.
    Maybe that is why most OHV trail books cite OHV trail maint/construction methods vs. using non-motorized guides to build motorized trails.

    1. And so here we go yet again...........
      Don has just verified that the phrase "All land use decisions are political decisions" and this OHV document proves out that mantra coming from very high places in our government.
      Well, I am off to Staples to buy 6+ reams of paper, and a good supply of ink to print out this monstrosity for a serious look see.........
      The words VOTE & Voter now have new meaning, and for the latter VOTER now means Vote Out The Environmental Radicals (VOTER) as the new bellweather for this election cycle for sure.
      Time for many thousands of letters to our elected officials decrying this ATTACK and printed statement of the real effort to destroy the OHV way of life into the future.
      If responsible OHV folks won't react to this, then OHV is doomed forever.
      Dave Pickett District 36

      PS. Thanks Don - BRC/Quiet Warrior and AMA for bringing this to our attention..........