About Travel Management
Forest Supervisor's Letter Describing Progress on Implementing Motorized Travel Management
Visit the Download Page for 2011 Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)
Visit the Download Page for Decision Documents and Related Materials
Visit the Questions and Answers Page
Travel Management News
The rapid expansion of OHV travel on national forests and grasslands has been impacting the natural and cultural resources of federal lands. The former Chief of the Forest Service identified unmanaged recreation - especially impacts from OHVs - as one of the key threats facing the nation's forests today.
On many National Forests, unmanaged OHV use has resulted in unplanned roads and trails, erosion, watershed and habitat degradation, and impacts to cultural resource sites. Although the Lassen National Forest has not experienced the same level of unmanaged OHV use as other forests, updated management is necessary to prevent additional impacts. Improved management of wheeled vehicle use on National Forest System lands allows the Forest Service to enhance opportunities for public enjoyment of the National Forest System, including motorized and non-motorized recreation experiences.
In November 2005, the Forest Service revised its national policy governing the use of wheeled motor vehicles. The intent was to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle travel, thereby minimizing or eliminating the undesirable impacts from unmanaged motor vehicle travel.
We have worked with the motorized vehicle, environmental, and other non-motorized interest groups to identify motor vehicle routes that might be added to the Lassen National Forest Transportation System without undue resource or budgetary concerns. The intent was to develop a forest-level travel management plan that accommodates important elements of traditional off-highway vehicle use and dispersed recreation after cross-country motorized travel is prohibited.
Notice of Intent and Public Scoping
After two years of planning and public scoping in 2005-2006, the Lassen National Forest (LNF) published its Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on October 25, 2007 followed by public comments on the Proposed Action. These comments were analyzed and used to develop the range of alternatives in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was available for public comment from June 5, 2009 to July 31, 2009. Two hundred and forty one (241) interested parties submitted 267 communications in which we identified 1887 comments. These comments were analyzed for information that would improve our decision. Some of this information was incorporated into the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and we responded to the comments in the FEIS Appendices.
Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released on December 18, 2009. The public was given an additional 30 days to review the document and 22 comments were received. Responses to these comments were published in an appendix to the Record of Decision (ROD).
Forest Supervisor, Kathleen Morse signed our Record of Decision for Motorized Travel Management on Thursday January 28, 2010.
“I want to thank the many committed individuals and organizations who have spent long hours participating in this effort. It was your dedication and thoughtful input that enabled me to select an alternative that will provide a baseline system of roads and trails. This transportation system will serve as a well-considered starting point for an on-going process of meeting the recreational and access needs of local citizens and visitors while protecting important resources.”
After considering the comments we received during this final review period, Supervisor Morse selected Modified Alternative 5 (our Preferred Alternative) as the best choice for meeting the goals of Motorized Travel Management within the context of the laws, policies, regulations, directives, agreements, and plans that guide management of the Forest. The over-arching goal in this planning effort has been to develop a system of roads and trails that provide an array of opportunities for motorized access and recreation on national forests, while also protecting resources by limiting cross-country travel by motorized vehicles. The public is encouraged to remain active in working with the staff of the Lassen National Forest to further refine and improve our road system over time.
For more information about the details of the Decision, you may download a Summary of the Decision. The FEIS, ROD, and associated documents, also may be obtained on the Download Page.
The Notice of Decision regarding the ROD was submitted to the Paper of Record, the Lassen County Times, for publication February 9, 2010 which began a 45 day appeal period. Butte County, California submitted the only appeal. They reiterated the concerns that they had expressed during the DEIS and FEIs comment periods. They contended that the Lassen National Forest had inadequately considered the economic impacts of our decision on residents of Butte County and that the Lassen National Forest had not involved Butte County adequately in its planning. Upon review by the Regional Office of the USDA Forest Service, the Regional Forester upheld the Lassen National Forest Travel Management Decision with an April 29, 2010 letter. The Lassen will begin implementation of the Travel Management Decision on May 20, 2010.
A Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that designates which routes are open for motor vehicle use and the class of vehicle allowed is the legal document that implements the Travel Management Decision. Once it is published, cross-country travel will be permanently prohibited, except by special use permit. It will be revised annually. (See the next section for details about this important map.)
The analyses that lead to the Lassen NF Decision on Travel Management were complex and will take time to implement completely and accurately. Implementation will be a multi-year process. In order to protect resources and provide for public safety, mitigation measures were needed for some added routes and some roads with changes in allowed use. Examples include improved drainage, signs, barriers, or changes to the road bed to reduce travel speeds. Lassen planners divided added routes and road changes into three categories that we called “Tiers.”
Tier 1 = Road/trail additions or changes that require no mitigation and can be made immediately, thus allowing them to be displayed on the 2010 MVUM.
Tier 2 = Road/trail additions or changes that do require mitigation, thus will be added to subsequent MVUMs in later years after the work is accomplished.
Tier 3 = Road/trail additions or changes that the public wanted, but which are sufficiently complex that further analysis and subsequent NEPA decisions were required. Examples include planning for the High Lakes, Front Country, and the Potato Buttes open riding area. We will address these wishes and others on the part of the OHV riding public as time and resources allow, but encourage collaboration with interest groups to facilitate and hasten the process.
In the summer of 2010, the Lassen National Forest started a public education program to inform Forest visitors about the changes that this decision implements. Enforcement of the new regulations about allowed motor vehicle use begins with this educational campaign and with engineering (such as sign placement and barriers) to clarify where motor vehicle use is appropriate. In 2011, signs will be posted that identify new roads and trails and that enhance safety on short segments of several passenger roads where OHV travel will be allowed. We also will start implementing mitigation measures as funding and available staff allow. Mitigations have been prioritized by those that can be accomplished most quickly, for instance, as part of ongoing District projects or programs of work. Once concerns are mitigated, these roads and trails will be added to next year’s MVUM indicating allowed use. Matching fund grants from the California State Parks Division of Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) have been awarded to the Lassen National Forest to facilitate the planning and implementation of these mitigations from 2011-2015.
The MVUM is the legally binding document that stipulates the roads and trails where visitors may operate motorized vehicles. It shows whether only highway legal vehicles may use a given road, or whether both highway legal and non-highway legal vehicles may use a particular road or motorized trail. Where non-highway legal vehicles are allowed, all types of motorized vehicles are allowed. Cross country travel by motorized wheeled vehicles will be permanently prohibited, except by stipulations in special use permits. Operating wheeled motorized vehicles (excluding over-snow vehicles) on routes that have not been added to the Forest Transportation System and indicated on the MVUM with this decision is now considered the same as prohibited cross country travel.
Visit the MVUM download page here.
The MVUM has few symbols and a simple legend in order to focus specifically on the intent to show which roads and trails are available for motorized vehicle use, which types of vehicles are allowed, and the season of allowed use (where applicable). It is printed on newspaper stock and distributed to the public free of charge. To show enough detail, the Lassen National Forest is divided into eight sections. These eight MVUMs covering the Lassen are printed double-sided on 4 sheets of paper.
Importantly, the MVUM will be revised annually to correct errors and to incorporate changes in the road system over time. The 2011 edition of the MVUM only incorporates a few corrections to errors in the 2010 MVUM, but over the next five years the annual MVUMs will show more substantial changes. More routes will be added to our Transportation System as we accomplish needed safety and environmental mitigations on those routes. Also, seven segments of passenger car roads will be signed for safety, and then all motor vehicles will be allowed to use them. This will open longer loops for OHV riding. In following years, other changes and additions will be made as we work with user groups to address issues that were too complex for this decision.
Over the coming years, the Lassen NF would like to explore various other means of communicating which roads and trails are available for motorized use, by which type of vehicle, and during what time of year. Possibilities include colored user maps with more features, web-based user-created maps, or GPS location systems.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement & Appendices, the Record of Decision and a map of the Selected Alternative are available on the Download Page. Other Documents associated with the Decision are posted here also.
The Questions and Answers Page provides more information about common points of interest.
The Draft Environmental Statement and other project files may be requested on CD from the Supervisor’s Office (see contacts and address below).
You may download the full set of 2011 Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs). Hard copies of these maps may be obtained at the Lassen NF Supervisor’s office in Susanville or at the Forest offices listed below. Maps will also be provided at information kiosks located throughout the forest.
Individuals and offices that may be contacted about the Travel Management Decision include:
Lassen National Forest
2550 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130
Almanor Ranger District
900 E. Hwy 36
Chester, CA 96020
Eagle Lake Ranger District
477-050 Eagle Lake Road
Susanville, CA 96130
Hat Creek Ranger District
43225 E. Hwy. 299
Fall River Mills, CA 96028
Old Station Information Center
13435 Brians Way
Old Station, CA 96071
Reaching this Travel Management Decision was a very important first step in the process of further protecting natural resources and improving the Lassen National Forest Transportation System. However, much remains to be accomplished. Implementation will involve public education, mitigation of resource concerns, and monitoring of the results of the decision. It will also involve working one-on-one with our neighbors and dedicated forest users to address the many road-related issues that were too complex to resolve with this decision. Accomplishing all these objectives will necessarily involve close cooperation with you, the individuals, and organizations that care so dearly for the well-being and enjoyment of the Lassen National Forest. The staff of the Lassen National Forest sincerely appreciates your patience and your participation in this process. We encourage you to stay involved in our on-going efforts to better serve you and protect our resources.