QWR believes that respect for the resource on private, state, or federal lands is an essential part of any sustainable OHV program.
As you know, QWR believes that a quality signing program conveys the land manager’s commitment to both the resource and the public. It is then up to the user to respect those management prescriptions that have been developed to enhance and protect the recreational experience for this and future generations.
The concept of designating roads, trails, and areas to reduce environmental impacts has been around since the 1970s. In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11644 to control the use OHVs on public lands, to protect the resources, and to minimize conflicts among various uses.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 11989 that directs federal land managers to close areas to OHVs where said use will cause considerable adverse effects on natural and cultural resources. It also orders the mitigation of those impacts before the route can be reopened.
Since those early presidential directives were issued, Congress has passed many laws and regulatory agencies have promulgated numerous rules, including the Forest Service’s 2005 Travel Management Rule, to govern motorized use.
Despite that ever growing list of regulations, there are many units that have robust and growing OHV programs where new trail opportunities are being created, new partnerships are being developed, and long-term plans for managed motorized use are in the queue.
Law enforcement officers that QWR talks with continue to state that even though it appears that OHV access to public lands is a complex issue, the actual rules that govern the sport are very simple and easy to comply with.
Those access tenets are as follows: Use a sound compliant exhaust system that has a functioning spark arrester, have a valid license or permit, and stay on designated roads, trails, and areas.
This is not to say that OHV has an easy path ahead. There certainly will be more rules and regulations that will be implemented to address water quality, soil loss, and wildlife impacts over the next 5-10 years. There will be more meetings to attend, stakeholder groups to join, comment letters to write, and trail decisions to defend or challenge in court.
However, if trail enthusiasts can show respect for the resource and follow those simple three rules, QWR believes our future looks relatively bright and secure.