U.S. Forest Service May Update Trail Guide

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Derogatory Language in U.S. Forest Trail Guide May Change

The U.S. Forest Service may share some of the concerns expressed by the American Motorcyclist Association and other off-highway vehicle groups about anti-OHV comments in a recent USFS OHV trail maintenance publication, the AMA reports.

In a letter dated May 8 to AMA Board Chairman Stan Simpson, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department oversees the Forest Service, said distribution of the report was stopped in February and issues related to the report will be addressed “in an updated publication.”

Specifically, Vilsack said the USFS decided to remove the report, titled “A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Management,” and cease distribution of hard copies and video discs “to clarify the context for the reference to Wildlands CPR’s BMPs [best management practices] and how the Forest Service develops and uses its own national BMPs.

“The Forest Service also had concerns about some of the graphics and the relevancy of some of the information,” Vilsack wrote.

Vilsack’s letter was in response to a letter dated March 9 in which the AMA and six other organizations demanded answers concerning the anti-OHV statements and innuendo in the document as well as the inclusion of information from the Wildlands CPR, which is an anti-OHV group.

Besides the AMA, organizations signing the letter were 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 Alliance.

The intent of the guidebook is laudable: to help OHV trail managers develop sustainable trails and protect the environment surrounding the trails.

But Wayne Allard, a former U.S. senator and U.S. representative from Colorado who is now the AMA’s vice president for government relations, noted that “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. 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.”

Among other things, the 318-page guide stated: “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 claimed that OHV use causes an “increase in frequency and intensity of weather events,” and acknowledged gathering information from the Wildlands CPR.

Wildlands CPR apparently was originally named the Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads but changed its name to Wildlands CPR in 2006.

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