Off-road vehicle users should check regulations
Hunting season is in full swing and it is time to step back and remember the importance of taking care of the land we hunt on to ensure the future health of wildlife populations. If we don’t respect and protect deer, elk, bear, and other animals’ homes, they will eventually no longer be here.In 2003, the chief of the forest service identified unmanaged off-highway vehicle use as one of the top four threats to the future health of our forests resources. Staff on the White River National Forest generally report seeing and hearing about more OHV off-road problems during the fall hunting seasons than the rest of the year.All OHV use on the White River National Forest is restricted to roads and trails designated as open to this use. Until we complete our travel management plan currently underway, there are very few trails on the forest open to motorized vehicles but there are currently more than 2,000 miles of roadways open.Vehicles are, in some circumstances, permitted up to 300 feet off the road to find a suitable parking space. However, this is meant as an option to be used only if there is no suitable parking spot closer to the open roadway. The general 300-foot rule is overridden if there is a sign, gate or other closure in place closing the area before the 300-foot limit.The temptation is often there to pack out animals on an OHV to eliminate a major trek, but if done off open road or trail it is not only illegal but it can cause damage to resources. It also doesn’t bode well for future hunting excursions because it pushes wildlife further away and makes it even harder to find them in the future. Each year our offices receive reports from hunters angry because someone drove an OHV off the road to retrieve the animal they shot; and, in turn, ruined the hunt for other hunters in the area.A good rule to follow in the field for knowing where it is OK to ride or drive an OHV is if you don’t see a sign showing the route is open to your type of motorized use, odds are very high that it isn’t open to that use.We ask that visitors respect the regulations put in place to protect the White River National Forest and the rights of other visitors. We want everyone to have a good experience while they’re here.Don Carroll is the Acting White River National Forest Supervisor.
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