Travel Management

(36 CFR §212)

Plumas National Forest Over-Snow Vehicle Use Designation Project (Travel Management Rule - Subpart C)

Final Environmental Impact Statement and draft Record of Decision Objection Filing Period Initiated

On August 21, 2019, the Plumas National Forest published a legal notice for the opportunity to object in the Feather River Bulletin; the objection period begins the day after publication.  The final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) are available for review for the designation of over-snow vehicle (OSV) use, in order to comply with Subpart C (use by over-snow vehicles) of the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule and a settlement agreement with Snowlands Network et al.

The FEIS, draft ROD, alternative specific maps, GIS geodatabase, legal notice, and cover letter and enclosure are available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=47124.  Alternative maps and GIS data are also provided below on this webpage.

The intent of the overall planning effort is to designate National Forest System roads, trails, and areas that are open to OSV use, as well as identify snow trails available for grooming.

Five Forests are currently undergoing a similar analysis including the Lassen, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, and Plumas.  All five forests completed environmental impact statements  in 2019. The Plumas is fifth in the line of decisions.

Administrative Review or Objection Opportunities - The proposed project is an activity implementing a land management plan and not authorized under HFRA, there for it is subject to 36 CFR §218, Subparts A and B only.

Who May File an Objection - Objections will only be accepted from those who have previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project during scoping or other designated opportunities for public comment in accordance with 36 CFR §218.5(a). Issues raised in objections must be based on previously submitted, timely project specific written comments unless the issue is based on new information arising after the designated comment opportunities.

Required Content for an Objection - The objection must meet the content requirements of 36 CFR §218.8(d), and include the following information: (1) the objectors’ name and address, with a telephone number or email address, if available; (2) a signature or other verification of authorship upon request (a scanned signature for email may be filed with the objection; (3) when multiple names are listed on an objection, identification of the lead objector as defined in 36 CFR §218.2 (verification of the identity of the lead objector shall be provided upon request); (4) the name of the project being objected to, the name and title of the responsible official (Christopher Carlton, Forest Supervisor), and the name of the national forest (Plumas National Forest) on which the project will be implemented; (5) a description of those aspects of the project addressed by the objection, including specific issues related to the project and, if applicable, how the objector believes the environmental analysis or draft decision specifically violates law, regulation, or policy; suggested remedies that would resolve the objection; and supporting reasons for the reviewing officer to consider; and (6) a statement that demonstrates the connection between prior specific written comments on the particular project or activity and the content of the objection, unless the objection concerns an issue that arose after the designated opportunity for formal comment. With certain exception (36 CFR §218.8(b)), all documents referenced in the objection must be included with the objection.

When to File an Objection - Any objections, including attachments, must be filed with the appropriate reviewing officer within 45 calendar days following publication of this legal notice. The date of publication in the newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an objection. Objectors should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. It is the objector’s responsibility to ensure timely filing of a written objection with the reviewing officer pursuant to 36 CFR §218.9. All objections are available for public inspection during and after the objection process. Responses that do not adhere to these requirements make review of an objection difficult and are conditions under which the reviewing officer may set aside an objection pursuant to 36 CFR §218.10.

Where to File an Objection - The Regional Forester is the reviewing officer for objections for this project filed under the 36 CFR §218 regulations. Objections must be submitted to: Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service; Pacific Southwest Region; Attn: Plumas OSV Objection; 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, California 94592. Objections may be submitted via mail, FAX (707-562-9229), or delivered during business hours (M-F 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Electronic objections, in common formats (.doc, .pdf, .rtf, .txt), may be submitted to: objections-pacificsouthwest-regional-office@usda.gov with the subject: “Plumas OSV Objection”.

Individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TTY) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-8339 TTY, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For additional information regarding this project, contact Katherine Carpenter, Forest Environmental Coordinator at 159 Lawrence Street, Quincy, California; (530) 283-7742; or at katherine.carpenter@usda.gov.

Commonly Asked Questions

Project Specific Documents and Related Materials

FEIS and draft ROD Maps and GIS Data

FEIS Maps:

Inset Maps:

FEIS GIS Data

DEIS Maps and GIS Data

DEIS Maps:

Inset Maps

Areas Not Included for OSV Designations GIS Data

Travel Management Final Rule (Subpart C) and Forest Service Directives

Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 36 CFR 212 and 261, RIN 0596-AD17, Use by Over-Snow Vehicles (Travel Management Rule), Final Rule (January 28, 2015)

The Forest Service manages winter uses to protect National Forest System (NFS) resources and to provide a range of opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation. In 2005, the agency regulated winter motorized use as a discretionary activity under its regulations for Use by Over-Snow Vehicles. Consistent with a court order dated March 29, 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (the Department) amends the Department’s travel management rule (TMR) to require designation of roads, trails, and areas on NFS lands to provide for oversnow vehicle (OSV) use. An over-snow vehicle is defined as ‘‘a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow’’. The Responsible Official will establish a system of routes and areas to provide for over-snow vehicle use. The regulations will continue to exempt over-snow vehicle use from the travel management rule, which provides for designation of a system of routes and areas for other types of motor vehicle use.

Background and Need for the Rule

Between 1982 and 2009, the number of people who operated motor vehicles off road increased by more than 153 percent in the United States (‘‘Outdoor Recreation Trends and Futures, a Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA [Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974] Assessment,’’ p. 135 (H. Cordell, 2012)). While both motor vehicle use and OSV use are increasing in the National Forests and Grasslands, so are many other types of recreational activities. From 1982 to 2009, the number of people in the United States participating in viewing or photographing birds increased 304.2 percent, the number of people participating in day hiking increased 228.2 percent, the number of people participating in backpacking increased 167 percent, the number of people participating in fishing increased 36 percent, and the number of people participating in hunting increased 34 percent (id. at 135–36). Providing for the long-term sustainable use of NFS lands and resources is essential to maintaining the quality of the recreation experience in the National Forests and Grasslands.

In 2005, the Forest Service (Agency) promulgated the TMR to provide more effective management of public motor vehicle use. The 2005 TMR includes subpart B, which requires designation of those NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands where public motor vehicle use is allowed (36 CFR 212.51(a)), and subpart C, under which the Responsible Official has the discretion to determine whether to regulate OSV use and to establish a system of routes and areas where OSV use is allowed unless prohibited or a system of routes and areas where OSV use is prohibited unless allowed. Subpart C of the 2005 TMR authorizes but does not require the Responsible Official to allow, restrict, or prohibit OSV use on NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands.

On March 29, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that subpart C of the TMR violated Executive Order (E.O.) 11644, as amended by E.O. 11989. Winter Wildlands Alliance v. U.S. Forest Serv., 2013 WL 1319598, No. 1:11–CV–586–REB (D. Idaho Mar. 29, 2013). The court did not rule that the Agency lacks the discretion to determine how to regulate OSV use. To the contrary, the court held that the Forest Service has the discretion to determine where and when OSV use can occur on NFS lands. The ruling requires the Agency to designate routes and areas where OSV use is permitted and routes and areas where OSV use is not permitted on NFS lands, consistent with E.O. 11644, as amended by E.O. 11989, sec. 3(a), but does not dictate where and when OSV use can occur on those lands. The court ordered the Forest Service to issue a new rule consistent with the E.O.s.

The Department is amending subpart C of the TMR to provide for management of OSVs on NFS lands consistent with the EOs, the court’s order, and subpart B of the TMR. Specifically, the Department is amending subpart C of the TMR to require the Responsible Official to designate NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands where OSV use is allowed in administrative units or Ranger Districts, or parts of administrative units or Ranger Districts, where snowfall is adequate for OSV use to occur. The Department is not removing the exemption for OSVs from subpart B.

Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, RIN 0596-AC39, Travel Management Directives; Forest Service Manual 2350, 7700, and 7710 and Forest Service Handbook 7709.55 (December 9, 2008)

Plumas National Forest Public Motorized Travel Management Project (Travel Management Rule – Subpart B)

The Plumas National Forest (PNF) has completed the second phase of its travel management planning effort (36 CFR §212, Travel Management Regulations- Subpart B) establishing a baseline forest transportation system for motorized vehicles.  The decision designates roads and trails as open to motor vehicle use and prohibits cross-country travel. The effort generally focuses on the proliferation of unauthorized motorized travel routes and makes the decision which, if any, of those routes should be added to the PNF National Forest Transportation System (NFTS). The decision culminates 6 years of planning with more than 20 community meetings, workshops and open houses.

Forest Supervisor Alice Carlton signed the Record of Decision on August 30, 2010.

Project specific documents, related materials, and Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) are provided below on this webpage.

Existing NFTS Prior to Decision

The existing NFTS on the PNF available for public use is approximately 4,137 miles of roads and 130 miles of motorized trails plus one open area. The Forest also has about 214 miles of closed system roads; roads which may be needed for future forest management but are currently closed to reduce impacts.

Decision Building Process:  Prior to the start of the environmental analysis, about 1,107 miles of unauthorized routes on the forest were inventoried; some old, some newly created.  The inventory included routes identified by the Forest Service and routes submitted over several seasons by interested members of the community.  The routes were filtered to remove short dead end spurs (largely temporary timber sale skid trails), routes without legal Right of Way across private property, routes causing extreme resource damage, and other resource problems. Care was taken to provide access to as many key recreation destinations as possible and to provide linkages or loop opportunities between routes.   Resource specialists then surveyed about 410 miles for potential inclusion in the NFTS.

Selected Alternative and Decision

Alternative 5 was selected, with the exception of one 600 foot trail segment (end of Trail 8M11 off Schneider Rock Road 24N29) showing positive test results for asbestos. This decision strikes a balance between providing motorized recreation access and protecting critical natural and cultural resources on the PNF.

In addition, there were some changes to Alternative 5 between the draft environmental impact statement and the final decision. Those changes were analyzed and documented in the FEIS. The changes affected 17 miles of trails and a 36 acre open area, based on the need to avoid critical aquatic refuge for the threatened CA red-legged frog.

This decision:

  • Provides critical recreation opportunities by adding 234 miles of trails to the existing authorized motorized system. Of these, 156 miles are suitable for all vehicles; 39 miles are suitable for vehicles up to 50” wide and 39 miles for motorcycles only. The decision will increase the Forest’s motorized trail network from 130 miles to 364 miles.  Some routes will be available immediately (see Table 1 in the ROD) upon implementation of the decision while some routes must have maintenance work (see Table 2 in the ROD) completed before they can be legally used.
  • Provides 4,482 total miles of road and trail access on the Plumas National Forest, of which, 4,118 are available for passenger car use; 4,383 are available for 4-Wheel Drive use; 3,802 are available for unlicensed ATV use; 3,855 are available for unlicensed motorcycle use; and, 4,482 are available for licensed motorcycle use. To summarize, 627 miles are paved or smoothly graded roads, 3,491 miles are roughly graded roads, 265 miles are 4WD trails suitable for all vehicles, 46 miles are All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) trails suitable for vehicles less than 50 inches, and 53 miles are motorcycle trails. Volunteers, funding and a prioritization plan will be necessary to accomplish this maintenance.
  • Protects natural resources by prohibiting motorized travel off national forest system roads or motorized trails on approximately 1.2 million acres of the Plumas National Forest.
  • Decreases the average density of roads, trails and unauthorized trails from 2.44 miles per square mile to 2.09 miles per square mile.
  • Does not affect hiking, horse, bicycle or snowmobile use across the forest.

Other Attributes of the Decision

Seasonal Restrictions:  Seasons of allowed use have been placed on a small number of routes (53 miles) to protect nesting bald eagles, spotted owls and goshawks along with CA red-legged and mountain yellow-legged frog movement during wet periods. Protection is also important for some highly erodible soils during wet periods.  Because these routes have very high recreation value, seasons of allowed use allow recreation users some access.

Motorized Mixed Use: Mixing both highway legal and non-highway legal vehicles will be limited to 4.1 miles on Slate Creek Road (24N28) to provide important ATV access between trails.

Dispersed Recreation Spurs: Ninety nine short unauthorized road segments (1/2 mile or less) were added to provide dispersed recreation opportunities. Sites along roads and trails are considered part of the transportation system and are also available for parking allowing access to these dispersed recreational sites. A designation of a road or trail includes all terminal facilities, trailheads, parking lots, and turnouts associated with the road or trail.

Protection of Inventoried Roadless and Wilderness Areas: This decision does not add any motorized trails to Wilderness or Inventoried Roadless Areas.

Access to private land: This decision does not designate motorized trails to or through private land where the Forest Service does not have right of way nor does the decision change existing right of way access for adjacent private landowners.

Decommissioning unauthorized routes: This decision, by itself, does not authorize any route decommissioning.  Decommissioning would need to be identified in a future project, analyzed with opportunities for public involvement, and approved, or not.

New Construction: This decision does not authorize any new construction or reconstruction activities. As with decommissioning, these activities would need to be approved in a project specific analysis with public involvement.

Fuel-wood gathering, hunting or big game retrieval: Vehicles will not be allowed to leave the designated transportation system to travel cross country for these purposes with the exception of picking up cut firewood within 100 feet of a national forest system road.

Parking off road or trail: Vehicles may park one vehicle length off the road or trail. Hardened pullouts and wide areas that are contiguous to the road or trail are considered part of same.

Actions outside of this Decision but related to motorized travel on the PNF:

One hundred and fifty miles of roads previously available only for highway legal vehicles are now available to all vehicles as road maintenance levels were downgraded to reflect their existing rougher conditions.

Project Specific Documents and Related Materials

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (2019)

Travel Analysis Report (Travel Management Rule – Subpart A)

For more information on this and other recreation topics, including special needs, please contact any of the following Plumas National Forest Recreation personnel:

  • Erika Brenzovich, Recreation and Lands Program Manager, Quincy, (530) 283-7798
  • Michelle Ahearn, Feather River Ranger District, Oroville, (530) 532-7447
  • Leslie Edlund, Mt. Hough Ranger District, Quincy, (530) 283-7650
  • Jeremy Dorsey, Beckwourth Ranger District, Blairsden, (530) 836-7120




https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/plumas/landmanagement/projects/?cid=stelprdb5211065