The new rules and maps are causing a lot of talk in the high country and more will be forthcoming as the Forest Service and other stake holder agencies try to define a set of rules providing management for off-road travel with limited budgets. To give you idea of the task involved, licensed OHV use in Arizona has exploded (347% increase since 1998), outpacing the existing funding to manage that growth, protect wildlife habitat, and help maintain recreational access. The responsibility of safe guarding those areas not only falls on their shoulders but also our’s, the users, as custodians of these off-road areas.
On November 2, 2005, the Forest Service announced final travel management regulations governing OHVs and other motor vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. Under the new rules, forests that do not restrict motor vehicle travel to “designated roads-and-trails” must do so. Motor vehicles must remain on designated roads and trails systems while on the National Forest.
At the time under those rules, the Coconino National Forest did not have a forest-wide designated road or trail system; cross-country motorized travel is permitted except in areas that are signed closed or restricted to seasonal use. For example, a large area around Sedona restricts motorized travel to designated routes only.
Current regulations in effect today on the Coconino National Forest are explained on the OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES page.
In order to better comply with the new rule, the Coconino Forest has identified a system of roads, areas, and trails across the entire forest to remain open to motorized use and which will be socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable over time. The selected alternative included in the Record of Decision is based on efforts to review and incorporate comments on thousands of miles of roads throughout the Forest.
This means in the short version there will be no roads with closed signs to tell you where not to drive, the responsibility of staying on designated roads fall to the those riding in these areas. The way to determine that can be through the new map or through an app for iPhones and Android based smartphones.
This is a changing system at this point with maps that the Forest Service can be changed depending on the input by is the users. So if your riding in the Coconino Forest and you see areas including roads or camp-areas you feel should be included. Fill out the form here and explaining why you believe it should be included in the next map publication.