Update on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for Ouachita National Forest

Zoie Clift
We just got a news release
with updates on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) for the Ouachita National
. Once the MVUMs are published, it will be legal to ride only those
national forest roads, trails or areas shown on the map(s) and it will not be
legal for the public to use motor vehicles elsewhere on the national forest. The
Ozark National Forest
published MVUMs in January 2007.  Below is the full news article.
Designations for motorized
travel routes in the Ouachita National Forest are set to be implemented in late
winter or early spring 2011. Publication of Motor Vehicle Use Maps, commonly
referred to as MVUMs, will officially begin implementation of the forest’s
travel management plan.

In 2005, the Forest Service
issued a Travel Management Rule which called for each of America’s 155 National
Forests to designate a travel system for motorized vehicles, including off
highway vehicles (OHVs). The rule was established to limit harmful environmental
impacts associated with unregulated OHV use on National Forest land.

“More than 3,100 miles of
forest roads and trails for motorized vehicles will offer a lot of
opportunities to get out and experience the national forest,” said Forest
Supervisor Norman Wagoner. “For the Ouachita National Forest, the biggest
change is that most cross country travel, either on user created trails or just
riding cross country through the forest on an OHV, will be eliminated.”

Wagoner said the MVUM will
be the legal document that spells out where the route is, what type of
motorized vehicle use is appropriate, and when it is open. Publication of the
MVUMs is scheduled to happen sometime in late winter or early spring 2011. For
the remainder of 2010, hunters and others may continue to utilize OHVs in their
outdoor pursuits in accordance with current rules and regulations, including on
open Forest Service roads and cross-county. OHV use is not allowed in areas or
on roads that are gated, blocked by berms, or posted as closed, such as
recreation areas, hiking trails or wilderness areas.

Once the travel management
plan is implemented, large game hunters will be able to retrieve legally downed
game within specified game retrieval corridors up to ½ mile on either side of
some designated routes. These corridors will be illustrated on the MVUMs and
cover a relatively high percentage of the forest. Additionally, some roads will
be seasonally opened during October, November and December when the majority of
big game hunts occur in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Designated spur roads will
provide access to many dispersed campsites across the forest. These sites have
historical significance for many campers that return to the same remote spot in
the woods with family and friends year after year. A large number of the
dispersed campsites can be directly accessed by a motor vehicle. Others are
within a short walk from a designated route.

Wagoner noted that people
should become involved in the ongoing route designation process. “The public
has an important role to play in future route designations,” he said. “I
encourage people to work with their local Ranger District personnel as they
conduct environmental reviews and analysis as part of their day to day
business. Some of those analyses will examine the feasibility and effects of
adding or modifying route designations.”

With designated routes in
place, officials say it will be up to the operators to ensure they are riding
legally on the forest, but the maps will not govern use on state highways or
county roads in any way.

MVUMs will be available at
Forest Service offices in Arkansas and Oklahoma when the plan is implemented in
late winter or early spring 2011. For more information on the Travel Management
Project, log on to www.aokforests.com or call the Ranger District office
nearest you.

Join the Conversation