Ohio -- A new U.S. Forest Service
(USFS) guide to help land managers maintain off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails
contains derogatory anti-OHV language and OHV groups want to know why, the
American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
In a letter dated March 9, seven organizations are demanding answers from U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department oversees the USFS. The
groups are the AMA, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association, the BlueRibbon
Coalition, the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Colorado Snowmobile
Association, Trails Preservation Alliance and the Utah Shared Access
"The intent of the guidebook is laudable: to help OHV trail managers
develop sustainable trails and protect the environment surrounding the
trails," Wayne Allard, a former U.S.
senator and U.S.
representative from Colorado
who is now the AMA's vice president for government relations, said.
"But the document includes a variety of statements and innuendo that
reflect an anti-OHV bias, and cites as a source for information an anti-OHV
group," Allard said. "This type of government guide should be
fact-based and neutral. It shouldn't include inflammatory, biased language and
the recommendations of a group known to oppose OHVs."
The 318-page guide, "A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle
Trail Maintenance," was released in January in book form and was posted on
the USFS website. But the document was quickly pulled off the website,
apparently following protests from the OHV community about offensive
Among other things, the document states: "This framework was developed to
help trail managers corral the OHV management dragon. The author hopes it has
provided some insight into the nature of OHV trails, and some tools to help
keep the beast at bay. Happy herding and happy trails!"
The guide also claims that OHV use causes an "increase in frequency and
intensity of weather events," and acknowledges gathering information from
the Wildlands CPR, which is an anti-OHV group.
On its website, Wildlands CPR claims that "off-road vehicles can go nearly
anywhere, killing and harassing wildlife and destroying vegetation," and
that "as a result of our on-going efforts, so far (with 47 decisions still
to come), the Forest Service has removed 7,890 miles of roads and motorized
trails from the designated travel system, and refused to designate 28,679 miles
of user-created routes."
In addition, the government document admits to citing a Wildlands CPR proposal
that no routes or trails should be allowed in "citizen or agency proposed
wilderness ... and other lands with wilderness character."
"This management practice usurps congressional authority in the process to
designate Wilderness," Allard said. "Only Congress can designate
A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land
management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of
non-pedestrian recreation are prohibited, including OHV use.
In the letter to Vilsack, the seven organizations representing OHV interests
ask questions concerning the planning and review process of the guide, the
content of the initial guide, and whether there are plans to reissue the guide
without the offending language.
To read the letter, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_Documents_Federal/USDA_OHV_letter_Final.sflb.ashx?download=true.