Oregon Forest Proposing To Allow Side-By-Sides On Certain Roads

January 2020 Feature

The Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest is proposing to allow motorized mixed use (both highway legal and all-terrain vehicles) on certain roads in the vicinity of the East Fort Rock OHV trail system.

The East Fort Rock (EFR) OHV trail system was designated in 1996 creating a motorized trail system primarily for Class I and III ATVs (motorcycles and quads) and Forest Service roads open to motorized mixed use by general vehicle traffic and all ATVs. In 2011, the Deschutes National Forest Travel Management Project adopted this motorized trail and mixed use road system into the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) outlining where motorized vehicle use is permitted on the Forest.

Since these two planning decisions, a new ATV Class IV, UTV/side-by-side, was created by the State of Oregon for vehicle permitting in 2012. In the EFR OHV trail system, these Class IV riders use the mixed use road system since the motorized trail system is not open to these larger OHVs.

Recreation staff on the Deschutes National Forest have noticed a sharp increase in the number of riders using side-by-sides (Class IV ATVs) over the past 5-10 years. Across Oregon, the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) survey estimates an increase in user trips on Class IV ATVs from about 1.6 million in 2012 to about 2.7 million in 2017. This spike in side-by-side use has meant an increased demand for motorized mixed use roads, especially where riders can use ATV Staging Areas.

There have also been updates to the operator permit requirements by the State of Oregon. Since 2012, all youth under 16 years old are required hands-on training to obtain a permit for operating a Class I, III, or IV ATVs. All Class IV operators must have a valid driver license with the exception of vehicles whose manufacturer recommendation allows for younger ages. Beginning in 2014, all operators of Class I or III ATVs are required to get an ATV Safety Education Card.

ATV Class Definitions

Operating permits from the State of Oregon (or reciprocal state) are required to ride on public lands. Oregon Statute considers all vehicles intended for off-road use to be all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). They are categorized into four classes.

  • Class I—Quads, 3-wheelers
  • Class II—Jeep, SUVs
  • Class III—Motorcycle/Dirt Bike
  • Class IV—UTV/Side-by-side

Purpose And Need

The increased use of side-by-sides in the East Fort Rock OHV area has highlighted that the existing motorized mixed use road system does not connect Class IV ATV riders to access staging areas/trailheads and the larger networks of open motorized mixed use roads. Currently, these riders are required to load up and trailer their ATVs between camping areas and the mixed use road network, often to undesignated unloading areas along the roadside. The desire condition is to have a mixed use road network (roads open to all vehicles) that allows for Class IV ATVs to ride from existing designated staging areas in East Fort Rock OHV area to connect to the larger network of existing mixed use open roads.

The purpose and need of the project is to increase connectivity for Class IV ATVs in the East Fort Rock OHV area on existing open roads between staging areas/trailheads and the larger mixed use road system.

Proposed Action

The Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District proposes to change the road designation for approximately 65 miles from “open for highway legal vehicles only” to “open for all vehicle use.” All these road segments are currently open to motorized travel on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) and any seasonal restrictions will apply. These road segments may require additional roadside vegetation brushing to improve line of sight and safety for all users. New signage would be installed along the roadside to help indicate where motorized mixed use can occur on the road system. Since these roads are already open to vehicle traffic, no other changes to the roadway would be needed.

Roads Proposed for Mixed Motorized Use (MMU)

Road

Number

Approx. Mileage

Road

Number

Approx. Mileage

1835

2.8

2259200

1.3

1845

2.7

2259250

0.7

2127

1.5

2259550

0.7

2200

14.5

2270100

3.1

2230

1.2

2270105

0.4

2230

0.8

2270670

0.4

2239

2.0

2274400

1.6

2300

17.8

2274410

0.3

1800910

1.1

2310580

1.8

1849300

1.0

2500800

0.7

2248120

0.5

2510080

1.3

2248200

2.5

2510100

2.3

2248320

1.8

Trail 41

0.1

Invitation To Comment On The Proposal

We are informing you about this proposal so that you can provide comments to us. Your comments and feedback will help provide valuable information used to identify issues and opportunities associated with the proposal. This notice marks the beginning of a 30 day scoping comment period. The scoping period ends Feb. 20, 2020. Those wishing to be eligible to object must meet the information requirements of 36 CFR 218. Comments may be submitted electronically to comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bend-ftrock@usda.gov Please put “EFR OHV Trailhead Project” in the subject line of your e-mail. Comments must be submitted as part of the actual e-mail message, or as an attachment in Microsoft Word, rich text format (rtf), or portable document format (pdf) only. If using an electronic message, a scanned signature is one way to provide verification. E-mails submitted to e-mail addresses other than the one listed above, in other formats than those listed, or containing viruses will be rejected.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by mail or in person. Written comments should be sent or delivered to Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701. Hand-delivered and oral comments may be delivered to the same address during normal business hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Anyone wishing to obtain additional information on the project should contact Lauren DuRocher, NEPA Planner, by e-mail, lauren.durocher@usda.gov or by phone at (541) 383- 4721.

NOTICE: Documents associated with this project, including public comments, are part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process 40 CFR parts 1500 – 1508 and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 U.S.C. 552. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will become part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the agency with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental documents or the eligibility to object.

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