Motorized Vehicle Access Controls
Authors: Greg Napper
Project Objective: Improve the ability of field personnel to identify and properly implement appropriate traffic control techniques, for greater closure efficacy, and increased public acceptance, that helps to achieve the desired Road Management Objectives.
Problem Statement: Control impacts inherent to motorized access. Controlling motorized vehicle access helps to protect and restore wildlife habitat, and protects soil, water, and cultural resources.
Project Scope: Focus on techniques used to eliminate vehicle access to roads under restrictions of a year or more. This limits the project scope exclusively to maintenance level one roads and decommissioned roads.
Approach in Meeting Project Objectives: The approach used in pursuing this project will be to compile strategies and devices that have been successfully used across the country in a variety of settings and circumstances. This compilation will include photos, drawings, and specifications for these techniques. Where possible techniques included in the project will be evaluated for their effectiveness in controlling vehicle access.
End Product: This project will result in the production of a field guide and WEB page that will aide in the selection of appropriate management strategies and effective devices for controlling motor vehicle access.
The control of motor vehicles is pursuant to Forest Service Management's implementation of the Travel Management Rule 36 CFR Part 212, amended November 9, 2005 . Implementation of the rule is a part of the ongoing process of revisions to designations of National Forest System Roads, trails and areas (212.54). These revisions require public involvement, coordination with other agencies, and are made in accordance with both general and specific criteria (212.55). The designation of roads, trails and areas is relevant to motor vehicle use and access because the new Travel Management Rule precludes the use of motor vehicles off designated routes and outside designated areas (36 CFR 261.13).
Once a decision has been made and specific routes and areas have been identified on a motor vehicle use map (212.56), it is incumbent upon land managers assisted by engineers and other resource specialists to implement and enforce the decisions. From the wide range of options available to Land Managers in the implementation of route and areas designations (more specifically use prohibitions) the one specifically targeted by this San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC) project, is the use of non-sign devices to control vehicle access (7709.59 chapter 25.12). This project addresses long term closures (road use restrictions) for motor vehicles under the Traffic Management Strategies labeled "Eliminate" and "Prohibit" (7709.59, 25.31 and 25.32). This project will not address strategies for controlling motor vehicle access to areas, which are adjacent and parallel to open roads (36 CFR 261.13). This information is contained in the recent SDTDC publication "Vehicle Barriers: Their Use and Planning Considerations" 2300-Recreation Mgmt 0623 1201-SDTDC June 2006.
Context: The latest rules for the Forest Service pertaining to the operation of motorized vehicles on National Forest Lands can be found in 36 CFR Part 212 – Travel Management, in Part 261 – Prohibitions and in the [removal] of Part 295 – Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest System Roads, all amended in the Federal Register/ Vol. 70, No. 216/ Wednesday, November 9, 2005.The need for revising these rules resulted from a realization that prior regulations were not sufficient to control the proliferation of motorized routes and to mitigate the ensuing environmental damage. The new regulations are intended to enhance public enjoyment of the National Forests while maintaining other important values and uses on NFS lands.
The current regulations are an outcome of the 2004 – 2008 Strategic Plan of the USDA Forest Service, Goal 3: Provide outdoor recreation opportunities [USDA Goal 5.1]. Objective #2, focus was to improve the management of off-highway vehicle use. The performance measure was the percentage of National Forest System lands covered by travel management plans.
The Strategic Plan for FY 2007 – 2012, continues this commitment to reducing this threat to the Nation's forest and Grasslands. Goal #4 is again to Sustain and Enhance Outdoor recreation Opportunities [USDA Objective 6.3]. Objective 4.3 is Improve the management of off-highway vehicle use. The first in the list of means and strategies for accomplishing goal 4 is, " Provide tools, guidance, and resource management to provide safe recreation use and to prevent or mitigate the ecological impacts of recreation activities " (including off-highway vehicle impacts). This is where SDTDC Project 08-014, fits into the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for 2007 – 2012.
This project is a Technology and Development Center Activity "Knowledge Transfer", as described in the U.S. Forest Service Program, Business Plan Elements . The Service provided will be a Field Guide and WEB Site, to disseminate practical information to assist Forest Service employees to accomplish their work more effectively, efficiently, and safely.