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Travel Management

The Forest Service road system consists of over 371,000 miles of road, which connect America’s National Forests to the nation and enables private investment and opportunities for thousands of Americans. Funding for maintenance of these roads has declined over the last 20 years while public demand for these roads has escalated, causing the aging network to deteriorate. Although FS roads provide benefits for outdoor recreation, agriculture, and permitted resource extraction, and public safety, they can degrade habitat for fish and wildlife habitat and be unsafe for vehicle travel when not properly maintained. Strategic investment is critical to preserve access while limiting disruption to rural communities and the environment.

In 2005, the Forest Service developed a roads management strategy when the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR part 212) was published. The goal is to identify a transportation system that is environmentally and financially sustainable while meeting public needs. Under the travel management rule, each unit of the National Forest System (NFS) is required to identify the minimum road system (MRS) needed for safe and efficient travel and for administration, utilization, and protection of NFS lands. In determining the MRS, the NFS unit must incorporate a science-based roads analysis at the appropriate scale to identify NFS roads that are no longer needed to meet forest resource management objectives. This collaborative travel planning process must emphasize public involvement and coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.

Each NFS unit is required to complete the following:

  • A Travel Analysis Report (TAR) that documents the travel analysis process;
  • A map displaying all system roads that differentiates between those roads which are likely needed from those roads which are likely not needed;
  • A list of each road clearly showing the relationship to the TAR, with clarification of proposed changes;
  • Publish TARs and maps to NFS unit websites;
  • Code TAR recommendations in the Infra database for consistent monitoring and mapping; and
  • Update TAR’s with addenda periodically as informed by future NEPA roads analyses.

Click here for a list of published TARs by Region