ATV/OHV use on public lands is one of the most contentious issues facing land managers. In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service published a rule in the Federal Register requiring the
designation of roads, trails, and
areas that are open to motor vehicle use. Motor vehicles will be prohibited off the designated system of routes. To implement the rule, each Forest
Service administrative unit or Ranger
District will need to designate roads, trails,
and areas open to motor vehicle use. The travel management planning process to identify ATV/OHV routes promises to be "lively" for federal officials as interest groups and the members of the general public express their perspectives.
Can landscape value mapping be used to help identify areas where ATV use is compatible or incompatible with publicly held forest values? We think so. To use landscape values to identify ATV compatibility areas, the most important step is to identify which landscape values are individually compatible with ATV use. Forest planners examine each landscape value and indicate whether ATV use is compatible (Yes), incompatible (No), or conditionally compatible with the conditions represented by the landscape value. The following compatibility classification for ATV use is one possible outcome: Aesthetic value (C), Biological Diversity value (C), Economic value (Y), Historic value (C), Intrinsic value (C), Recreation value (Y), Primitive Recreation value (N), Therapeutic value (Y), Life sustaining value (N), Wilderness value (N). Learning/Scientific value (C), and Spiritual value (C). Based on these classifications, a forest map can be generated that displays ATV compatibility areas given the current inventory of landscape values and the compatibility classifications. To illustrate, below is a map of the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests in Oregon that shows ATV compatible/incompatible scores based on the presence/absence of various landscape values:
Of course, the above ATV compatability map image is very coarse scale and ATV trail and routing decisions need to be made on a much finer scale. Nonetheless, landscape value mapping can provide a reasonable "first cut" in identifying compatible and incompatible areas on the forest. For more information, contact Greg Brown.