Travel Management: A Program for Motor Vehicle Route Designation

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

The following link leads to the Pacific Southwest Region (R5) Motor Vehicle Use Map finder to download MVUMS for the Lake Tahoe Basin. Maps are available in geospatial PDF format or as downloads from the Avenza Map Store.

National Background

Recreational use of the National Forest System has increased in recent decades. Since 1946, the number of visits to the National Forest System has increased 15 to 20 times, to 214 million in 2001. By 2100, the number of Americans is expected to double, and the number of visits to the National Forests is likely to more than double.

Off road motor vehicle use for public enjoyment of the National Forest System has also increased. The number of OHV users has climbed sevenfold in the past 30 years, from approximately 5 million in 1972 to 36 million in 2000. OHV users account for approximately 1.8 million or 5 percent of visitors to the national forests and grasslands. Motor vehicle use off roads in the National Forest System may involve any motor vehicle that can travel off road, such as a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and an off-highway vehicle (OHV).

The expansion of OHV use on national forests and grasslands is impacting the natural and cultural resources of federal lands. The Forest Service has identified unmanaged recreation -- especially impacts from OHVs -- as one of the key threats facing the National Forests today. Some OHV use has resulted in unplanned roads and trails, soil erosion, watershed and habitat degradation, as well as, impacts on cultural resource sites.

The Forest Service wants to improve its management by balancing the public's enjoyment of using OHVs with ensuring the best possible care of the land. At the national level, the Forest Service is revising its policy governing the use of wheeled motor vehicles to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use. This new policy will still provide public opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation, while enhancing protection of habitat and aquatic, soil, air and cultural resources.

USDA Forest Service Releases Final Rule for Motorized Recreation in National Forests & Grasslands

On November 2, 2005, the Forest Service announced final travel management regulations governing OHVs and other motor vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. Additional information about the rule is available on the national Forest Service website.

Local Background

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit must ensure that the route designation process and final decision on a designated system are in accordance with the new rule. The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has managed the current OHV trail system as a designated system since the 1976 Off Road Vehicle Plan. The plan has been modified over time through the NEPA process and most recently through implementation of the Access and Travel Management Plans for roads and trails. In addition, the 1988 LTBMU Land and Resource Management Plan states, "Except for over the snow vehicle travel, there is no off road or off trail vehicle travel allowed in the basin. Motor vehicles including OHV, are allowed only on roads and trails designated for such use (III-15)." The LTBMU has developed Access and Travel Management Plans (ATMs) for both roads and trails within the basin that are complimentary to the six step national process defined above. The ATM process included public meeting, resource studies, NEPA analysis, and implementation. To date the following Road ATMs NEPA decisions have been made:

1.North Shore Project EIS - July 1996
2.Mount Rose Project Area EA - May 2000
3.Genoa Peak Project Area EA - May 2000
4.Blackwood Project Area EA - March 2001
5.McKinney – Rubicon Project Area EA - May 2002
6.Ward Creek Project Area EA - May 2002
7.Power Line/Pioneer Project Area EA - June 2002
8.Camp Richardson/Emerald Bay Road Project Area EA - April 2003
9.Angora/Twin Peaks Transporationshed EA - January 2005
10.Freel/Meiss Transportationshed EA - June 2003

Additional work is planned to complete the Access and Travel Management Plan, however, the trail system is currently managed as a designated system. OHV use is currently allowed on managed roads and trails only. As trails are newly constructed, decommissioned, and rerouted, the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be updated annually.

In addition, the LTBMU has implemented seasonal closures to roads and trails through the use of a gate plan and Forest Order. The LTBMU has used a Forest Order to prohibit off-route travel.

As a result of the ongoing ATM effort, no on the ground changes in current designated routes are expected for the purposes implementing the Route Designation Process to develop a Motor Vehicle Use Map. User created routes have been closed and restored as soon as they have been identified and no user created routes are proposed for addition to the managed system. Producing a Motor Vehicle Use Map that reflects the current managed trail and road systems in order to tie into the new Route Designation Rule does not trigger NEPA. The map is planned to be established by June 2007.