Monday, October 17, 2016

"Encouraged" ROV Use on Public Lands Requires Partnership

Colusa County Road Combined-Use Designation
(County Road Provides OHV/ROV Access to Federal Route Network)

As the popularity of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) -- which is sometimes called a Side x Side (SxS) or Utility Trail Vehicle (UTV) -- recreation continues to grow in the country, it creates a need for land managers to ensure (on units that have potential ROV opportunities) their OHV program includes ROV-related travel management information and legal access to designated roads and trails where said use is appropriate.

In addition, travel management has become highly complex and even political since many federal OHV route networks depend on city, county, or state roads (both paved and natural surface) for campground/staging area access or connectivity.

Plumas County Non-Highway Designation for OHV/ROVs
(County Dirt Roads Provide Connectivity between Federal Route Network)

Some states have laws that classify ROVs via a legal description which then dictates which routes are open based on vehicle type.  Helmet law requirements for ROV use can also differ from state to state.

ROV/ATV Helmet Law Sign
(Mendocino National Forest in California)

QWR understands that public land agencies often don’t have the fiscal or human resources to construct new ROV specific trail opportunities.

However in the meantime, OHV program managers can review their route network and camping opportunities to see where road/trail reclassifications or designations can be made to create legal ROV opportunities.

New ROV Access Route from Campground
(Hull Creek Campground, Stanislaus National Forest)

ROV users also have a role to play in helping enhance the functionality of the existing route network.  They can help identify where a road/trail segment needs to be reclassified or redesignated for ROV use (i.e. level 3 road to level 2 road or road to primitive road, etc.) ROVers can also suggest where appropriate loop or destination opportunities might exist.   Those opportunities could be part of an “encouraged” ROV route network.

Discovery Point Along OHV/ROV Tour Route
(BLM's Chappie Shasta OHV Area)

Local ROVers have an important role in helping create political support in areas where county or state roads provide connectivity between federal recreation facilities such as trails and campgrounds.

QWR commends the land managers and local ROV groups who have created partnerships to designate fun and exciting opportunities.

Backcountry ROV Adventure
(BLM's Carson City Field Office - Pine Nut Mountains, NV)

QWR believes that current and future high quality ROV recreation on public lands will rely on a substantive working relationship/partnership between the public and private sectors.

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