Proposed Change Will Limit the Use of OHVs - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/15/07 - East Texas

Proposed Change Will Limit the Use of OHVs

by Ramonica R. Jones

For years, national forests have been heavily damaged by the unrestricted use of off-highway vehicles. You can clearly see the ruts all over the Angelina National Forest caused by four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and other OHVs. But the historic areas are among a limited number of places where those vehicles can be used.

District Ranger Eddie Taylor said, "That's why we're going through a process to propose a trail on the north side of [Sam Rayburn] lake which will be approximately 30 miles for ATVs and dirt bikes, etc."

Forestry officials said campers are using closed roads where traffic is not allowed to go riding through the forest. Unmanaged OHVs are causing soil erosion and other irreversible problems.

Forest Service Officer Jimmy Freeman said, "We have sensitive plant sites that are either protected or endangered, and if you drive through, you may have eliminated that whole plant site; and it just stays here, it won't heal itself."

A proposed change for OHVs is a national movement that will affect all national forests. It is not expected to have an impact on the number of people who use visit these areas every year, but it will limit the areas they have access to in forest areas.

Cross country use of motor vehicles will be prohibited if the proposal gets the all-clear. National Forest and Grasslands authorities are talking about restricting the use of off-highway vehicles to designated roads, trails and other areas on the Angelina, Davy Crockett and Sabine National Forests. The goal is to protect rare plants and wildlife and preserve national forest lands for future generations.

Forester Don Benner said, "The power [and] the capability of the vehicles has increased. Years ago, they were mostly jeeps, trail bikes [and] motorcycles [in the forests]. We then had three- wheelers, four wheelers and other off-road vehicles and off-highway vehicles; now, you may even see four-wheel drive pickups or hummers on the national forest."  

To comment on the proposed change, go to http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/planning/nepa_index.shtml.

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