OHV Riding & Camping
Although responsibly enjoyed by many people, off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are also a major cause of natural resource damage on public lands. OHVs are prohibited on the Hoosier National Forest (Hoosier) and may not be operated on any National Forest System land, road or trail, including campground roads. OHVs are any type of motorized vehicle, smaller than a car or truck that does not have a state-issued license plate, with the exception of certain scooters. In addition, off-road use by any type of vehicle, including licensed motor vehicles, is prohibited on the Hoosier.
Problems Associated with Unauthorized Use
Unauthorized OHV use on the Hoosier has become a significant problem in many areas of the forest. Illegal OHV has:
- Contributed to soil erosion and compaction, inpacticing vegetation, by creating their own roads and trails through the forest
- Impaired water quality due to sediment from erosion
- Reducing native plant and wildlife diversity by introduceing and spreading of non-native invasive plants
Forest Service law enforcement officials work cooperatively with Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officers and local law enforcement officers to identify and ticket individuals who are riding illegally. Illegal riders can be fined and have their vehicle impounded.
Illegal OHV riding on the Hoosier also costs the Forest Service, and thereby taxpayers, many thousands of dollars in restoration and rehabilitation costs every year. Riders seeking to create an exciting and challenging route frequently choose to drive on steep hills and cross streams, resulting in severe erosion, creation of large “mud holes”, and degraded watershed health. This type of natural resource damage is expensive and time consuming to repair and restoration can take many years to complete.
Alternatives Areas for OHV Riding
For those interested in OHV riding, there are a number of private and a few public areas in Indiana where OHV riding is specifically allowed and encouraged. Some counties have enacted ordinances that allow use of OHVs on officially designated county roads, but this information and specific requirements outlined in the ordinance should be verified with county government officials.
The Hoosier National Forest provides the public with a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can use their national forest to hike, bike, fish, horseback ride, camp, hunt, watch wildlife, view scenery, rest, rejuvenate, and enjoy many other things. Please remember, however, that OHV use is not allowed.
Forest visitors are encouraged to help protect their public lands by reporting illegal OHV activity. Contact Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers at the Brownstown (414-708-8776 ) or Tell City (414-232-8093) Ranger Districts to report incidents or evidence of use.