USDA Forest Service Issues Proposed Guidance to Manage E-Bike Use on National Forests and Grasslands
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service is requesting public input on proposed updates to the agency’s internal directives on how e-bikes are managed on national forests and grasslands. These proposed updates are in alignment with the Secretary of Agriculture’s direction to increase access to national forests and grasslands, and would provide needed guidance for line officers to expand e-bike access while protecting natural resources and other forest uses.
“Serving our customers and honoring our multiple-use mission is at the heart of how we propose to manage e-bike use,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “Developing consistent, straightforward guidance on this increasingly popular recreational activity will protect resources, promote safety, and increase access to national forests and grasslands for a wider range of users.”
The Forest Service currently manages approximately 159,000 miles of trails across the United States for a variety of recreational uses. An estimated 60,000 miles of those trails – about 38% – are open for e-bike use. Other land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, also allow for e-bike use on a combined 34,000 miles of trails.
The steady advancement in technology and the continued increase in popularity has led to an uptick in e-bike use on federally-managed land. In response, federal agencies are considering options for expanding access and facilitating their use. The proposed updates to Forest Service directives will generally align with proposed changes at other federal land management agencies.
The proposed directives would categorize e-bikes by class, allowing line officers at the local level to more precisely designate trails for e-bike use in a way that mitigates potential impacts on resources. The proposed directives also include e-bike definitions that are consistent with the Travel Management Rule (36 C.F.R. 212).
The public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed directives. The text of the proposed directives are available in the Federal Register. Instructions on how to comment are available at https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/ReadingRoom?project=ORMS-2619. Members of the public may also contact Penny Wu (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make comments.