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U.S. Forest Service implements travel management rules May 1

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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The Coconino National Forest could get a lot quieter starting Tuesday, May 1.

Expect to see cars, ATVs and Jeeps in fewer places on the forest's 1.8 million acres as the new Travel Management Rule goes into effect. The rule, mandated across all national forests, bans motor vehicles except on designated routes and areas just off some of the authorized roads.

Coconino National Forest Acting Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail signed off on the plan Sept. 28 on behalf of Forest Supervisor M. Earl Stewart. The plan was officially released to the public Nov. 4. It faced a 45-day appeal period to address any further complaints or adjustments.

"This will be a big change requiring users to only drive on those routes and areas shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map," Stewart said.

Until recently, official and unauthorized forest roads crossed more than 7,400 miles of the Coconino National Forest. The new rule closes or restricts more than 4,317 miles, limiting access to highway-legal vehicles only on 407 miles and all motor vehicles — such as ATVs, utility terrain vehicles and motorbikes that don't require a driver's licence — on a total of 3,097 miles.

Aside from the authorized roads, the new Coconino National Forest Motorized Vehicle Use Map includes more than 600 miles of camping corridors, allowing visitors to drive up to 300 feet off the road to car camp.

The original proposal would have restricted off-road camping to within 100 feet but complaints about potential dust, noise and crowding led to the extension, Stewart said.

After the Travel Management Rule was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in November 2005, then-Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth directed the nation's national forests to begin local Travel Management Projects starting in June 2006. Coconino National Forest rangers examined 5,000 miles of roads and trails over the next five years.

Many of the roads rangers have closed were unused or already restricted. Other roads were closed to protect wildlife, fragile soils, big game animal's winter ranges, water quality or archaeological sites.

"In the past, people were able to drive off of roads with their motor vehicles, which created new roads and impacted the natural and cultural resources of the forest. Travel management will help us balance the public's enjoyment of motorized travel with the best possible care of the land," Stewart said. Although more than half the roads will be closed by May 1, 78.6 percent of the forest would be within 1/2-mile of a designated road, Stewart wrote in his decision jn September. Motorized travel is still restricted to roads and trails in the Red Rock Secret Mountain and Munds Mountain wilderness areas around Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.

The rule would not prohibit off-road travel for collecting firewood or other activities allowed by permits that include legal off-road travel in their terms.

Likewise, elk hunters would be allowed to drive off road up to one mile to legally retrieve fallen game, onto 991,793 acres, a little more than half the forest. Hunters would also be allowed up' to one mile off another 135 miles of roads in Arizona Department of Game and Fish game management areas — 49,478 acres — to retrieve shot elk.

While the enforcement guidelines do not provide a grace period before issuing citations, the plan does call on rangers to use their judgment and educate the public, especially during high-use times and in high-use areas, before citing violators.

The map is now available at all Coconino National Forest offices, online and for download on smartphones and Garmin GPS devices.

Website visitors can leave comments on the Travel Management Feedback form.

"Travel management will help us balance the public's enjoyment of motorized travel with the best possible care of the land."

M. Earl Stewart Forest Supervisor Coconino National Forest


In February 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signs Executive Order 11644, permitting the U.S. Forest Service to restrict travel on national forest land.

In 1975, the USFS' Southwest regional forester approves off-road vehicle restrictions.

In November 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves new Travel Management Rule.

In June 2006, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth begins Travel Management Projects nationwide.

In September 2011, Coconino National Forest finalizes its Travel Management Rule.

In May 2012: Travel Management Rule goes into effect on the Coconino National Forest.

Christopher Fox Graham can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or email'

Copyright 2012 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 25, 2012

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