Road Analysis Process

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The National Forest system Road Management Rule (Road Policy), issued in 2001, shifted emphasis from developing forest roads to improving their management. The rule was developed in response to public demand and the need to better utilize funds available for road management.

The rule requires each National Forest to conduct science-based roads analysis process (RAP) at appropriate scales as needed to support road management decisions. It specifically requires that forest-scale analysis be completed by January 12, 2003.

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RAP Report - Jan, 2003

RAP involves (1) describing the existing situation, (2) identifying significant issues, (3) assessing benefits, problems and risks, (4) describing opportunities and setting priorities, and (5) reporting findings.

[Photograph]: Forest road lined by trees on either side.The Mendocino National Forest has completed its forest-scale analysis. The purpose of the forest-scale RAP is to provide the context for road management within the overall resource management framework. It deals in general terms with the significant issues related to management of the overall Forest road system. It deals in specific terms only with the key routes (routes of major importance for accessing NFS lands). No specific project decisions are made by the forest-scale RAP.

The forest-scale RAP is documented in a report that includes: (1) locations and management objectives of all classified roads, (2) identification of key routes for accessing NFS lands, (3) guidelines for addressing road management issues and priorities, (4) identification of significant environmental and social issues to be addressed in project level decisions, (5) documentation of coordination with other government agencies and jurisdictions.

The Forest will conduct roads analysis at watershed and project scales as needed to inform future road management decisions. Also, road management proposals will be listed in our Schedule of Proposed Actions. We welcome continued involvement in roads analysis by interested members of the public, other government entities, and tribal governments.


Approximate transportation system described in miles of roadway that currently exist on the Forest
Description Miles
1 Service roads, usually closed all year 1039
2 For high clearance vehicles 1164
3 Dirt or paved surface; for standard passenger car 340
4 Provide higher degree of user comfort and maintenance 39
5 Normally double-lane and paved 3
  Total   2585

Travel Analysis Process


There is more than a century of history associated with National Forest System roads management – from projects necessitating their construction, to building networks for multiple uses and recreation, to the challenges of maintenance and potential impacts to fragile ecosystems. In the past 20 years, the agency has been making shifts towards an integrated perspective, using science-based analysis for travel management and applying consistent policy across all National Forests.

In 2001, the “National Forest System Road Management Rule” revised the regulations regarding the management, use and maintenance of the National
Forest Transportation System. This rule helped ensure that additions to the System were essential for resource management, unnecessary roads were decommissioned for ecological restoration, and adverse environmental effects were minimized during road construction and maintenance. Nearly five years later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the Travel Management Rule – “Travel Management: Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use” – finalized in November 2005. This policy offered further definition, consistency and streamlined processes. This included establishing that on all National Forest System lands, motor vehicle use would be restricted to designated roads and trails. Previously, individual forests were able to independently regulate this use, with some forests allowing off-road travel during all or part of the year. The inconsistency in management lead to public confusion, as well as resource damages and the challenges associated with unmanaged recreation.
The Travel Management Rule has three subparts: Subpart A – Administration of the Forest Transportation System; Subpart B – Designation of Roads, Trails and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; and Subpart C – Use by Over-Snow Vehicles.

Direction & Policy 

The clear identification of roads, trails and areas for motor vehicle use on National Forest System lands:
• Enhances land and resource management
• Sustains natural resource values through more effective management of motor vehicle use
• Enhances opportunities for motorized recreation experiences
• Addresses needs for access
• Preserves areas of opportunity for non-motorized travel

Travel analysis is required to inform decisions related to identification of the minimum road system needed for safe and efficient travel and for the administration, utilization and protection of National Forest System lands (36 CFR 212.5); and to inform decisions related to the designation of roads, trails
and areas for motor vehicle use. The Travel Analysis Process (TAP) is a science-based analysis. It does not produce decisions or allocate National Forest System lands for specific purposes. Rather, TAP informs responsible officials, supported
by public involvement, to make future travel management decisions on a project-level basis to move towards a sustainable and manageable National Forest Transportation System. The TAP is based on the consideration of ecological, social and economic impacts. It must be documented in a Travel Analysis Report (TAR), which includes information about the analysis as it relates to criteria found in 36 CFR 212.5(b)(1), as well as a map displaying opportunities and informing
future projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Mendocino National Forest TAP was conducted as a Forest-level analysis and includes Maintenance Level 1 through 5 system roads. The TAR follows the six-step process recommended in the Pacific Southwest Region TAP guidebook.

This report contains information concerning the transportation system as it stands in the years 2014-2015. It does not make road management decisions. Conditions on motorized roads an trails can be affected over time by a number of factors, including – but not limited to – wildfire, flood, erosion and
increased visitor use. This report provides a foundation for discussion about the transportation system in the initial phases of project planning and development. Additional evaluation and environmental analysis will need to be conducted at a more site-specific level to make road management decisions.

Travel Analysis Report - 2015

For additional information, contact:
Mendocino National Forest
825 North Humboldt Avenue
Willows, California 95988