[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 216 (Wednesday, November 9, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 68264-68291]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-22024]



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Part IV





Department of Agriculture





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Forest Service



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36 CFR Parts 212, 251, 261, and 295



Travel Management; Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; 
Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 216 / Wednesday, November 9, 2005 / 
Rules and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

36 CFR Parts 212, 251, 261, and 295

RIN 0596-AC11


Travel Management; Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle 
Use

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture is revising regulations 
regarding travel management on National Forest System lands to clarify 
policy related to motor vehicle use, including the use of off-highway 
vehicles. This final rule requires designation of those roads, trails, 
and areas that are open to motor vehicle use. Designations will be made 
by class of vehicle and, if appropriate, by time of year. The final 
rule will prohibit the use of motor vehicles off the designated system, 
as well as use of motor vehicles on routes and in areas that is not 
consistent with the designations. The clear identification of roads, 
trails, and areas for motor vehicle use on each National Forest will 
enhance management of National Forest System lands; sustain natural 
resource values through more effective management of motor vehicle use; 
enhance opportunities for motorized recreation experiences on National 
Forest System lands; address needs for access to National Forest System 
lands; and preserve areas of opportunity on each National Forest for 
nonmotorized travel and experiences. The final rule is consistent with 
provisions of Executive Order 11644 and Executive Order 11989 regarding 
off-road use of motor vehicles on Federal lands.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This rule is effective December 9, 2005.

ADDRESSES: The rulemaking record for this final rule contains all the 
documents pertinent to this rulemaking. These documents are available 
for inspection and copying at the office of the Director, Recreation 
and Heritage Resources Staff, USDA, Forest Service, 4th Floor Central, 
Sidney R. Yates Federal Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., 
Washington, DC, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
holidays. Those wishing to inspect or copy these documents are 
encouraged to call Jerry Ingersoll, Recreation and Heritage Resources 
staff, at (202) 205-0931 beforehand to facilitate access to the 
building.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Ingersoll, Recreation and 
Heritage Resources Staff, (202) 205-0931.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

1. Background
     Travel Management Program
     Need for Revised Rule
2. Public Comments on Proposed Rule and Department Responses
     Overview
     General Comments
     Forest Service Directives
     Implementation
     Proposed Rule Preamble
     Specific Sections by Part
    Part 212--Travel Management
    Part 251--Land Uses
    Part 261--Prohibitions
    Part 295--Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest System Roads
     Regulatory Certifications in the Proposed Rule
3. Regulatory Certifications for Final Rule
     Environmental Impact
     Regulatory Impact
     Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis
     No Takings Implications
     Civil Justice Reform
     Federalism and Consultation and Coordination with 
Indian Tribal Governments
     Energy Effects
     Unfunded Mandates
     Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public
4. Text of the Final Rule
     Part 212--Travel Management
     Part 251--Land Uses
     Part 261--Prohibitions
     Part 295--Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest 
System Roads

1. Background

Travel Management Program

    Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR part 212 governing 
administration of the forest transportation system and regulations at 
36 CFR part 295 governing use of motor vehicles off National Forest 
System (NFS) roads are combined and clarified in this final rule as 
part 212, Travel Management, covering the use of motor vehicles on NFS 
lands. These regulations implement Executive Order (E.O.) 11644 
(February 8, 1972), ``Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public Lands,'' 
as amended by E.O. 11989 (May 24, 1977). These Executive orders direct 
Federal agencies to ensure that the use of off-road vehicles on public 
lands will be controlled and directed so as to protect the resources of 
those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands, and to 
minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands.
    Nationally, the Forest Service manages approximately 300,000 miles 
of NFS roads open to motor vehicle use, and about 133,000 miles of NFS 
trails. Only a portion of the trails are open to motor vehicles. This 
transportation system ranges from paved roads designed for passenger 
cars to single-track trails used by dirt bikes. Many roads designed for 
high-clearance vehicles (such as log trucks and sport utility vehicles) 
also allow use by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other off-highway 
vehicles (OHVs) not normally found on city streets. Almost all NFS 
trails serve nonmotorized users, including hikers, bicyclists, and 
equestrians, alone or in combination with motorized users. NFS roads 
often accept nonmotorized use as well.
    In addition to this managed system of roads and trails, many 
National Forests contain user-created roads and trails. These routes 
are concentrated in areas where cross-country travel by motor vehicles 
has been allowed, and sometimes include dense, braided networks of 
criss-crossing trail. There has been no comprehensive national 
inventory of user-created routes (and continuing proliferation of such 
routes has made a definitive inventory difficult), but they are 
estimated to number in the tens of thousands of miles.
    Wilderness areas are closed to motor vehicles by statute. On some 
National Forests, and portions of others, motor vehicles are restricted 
by order to the established system of roads and trails. On other 
Forests, cross-country travel is not currently restricted.

Need for Revised Rule

    Most National Forest visitors use motor vehicles to access the 
National Forests, whether for recreational sightseeing; camping and 
hiking; hunting and fishing; commercial purposes such as logging, 
mining, and grazing; administration of utilities and other land uses; 
outfitting and guiding; or the many other multiple uses of NFS lands. 
For many visitors, motor vehicles also represent an integral part of 
their recreational experience. People come to National Forests to ride 
on roads and trails in pickup trucks, ATVs, motorcycles, and a variety 
of other conveyances. Motor vehicles are a legitimate and appropriate 
way for people to enjoy their National Forests--in the right places, 
and with proper management.
    Current regulations at 36 CFR part 295, which provide for allowing, 
restricting, or prohibiting motor vehicle travel, were developed when 
OHVs were less widely available, less powerful, and less capable of 
cross-country travel than today's models. The growing popularity and 
capabilities of OHVs demand new regulations, so that

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the Forest Service can continue to provide these opportunities while 
sustaining the health of NFS lands and resources.
    From 1982 to 2000, the number of people driving motor vehicles off 
road in the United States increased over 109 percent (``Outdoor 
Recreation for 21st Century America: A Report to the Nation, The 
National Survey on Recreation and the Environment,'' p. 37 (H. Cordell, 
2004)). Recent decades have seen like advances in the power, range, and 
capabilities of OHVs. Whole new classes of vehicles have been 
introduced by manufacturers and are growing in popularity. From 1997 to 
2001, the number of ATVs in use increased by almost 40 percent 
(statement by Dr. Edward J. Heiden at Consumer Products Safety 
Commission Field Hearing, June 5, 2003). These advances expand 
opportunities for Americans to enjoy Federal lands. However, the 
magnitude and intensity of motor vehicle use have increased to the 
point that the intent of E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989 cannot be met while 
still allowing unrestricted cross-country travel. Soil erosion, water 
quality, and wildlife habitat are affected. Some National Forest 
visitors report that their ability to enjoy quiet recreational 
experiences is affected by visitors using motor vehicles. A designated 
and managed system of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use is 
needed.
    Current regulations prohibit trail construction (Sec.  261.10(a)) 
and operation of vehicles in a manner damaging to the land, wildlife, 
or vegetation (Sec.  261.13(h)). However, these regulations have not 
proven sufficient to control proliferation of routes or environmental 
damage. This insufficiency is due in part to the nature of OHV travel. 
The first vehicle driving across a particular meadow may not harm the 
land. However, by the time 50 vehicles have crossed the same path, 
there may be a user-created trail and lasting environmental impacts. 
Determining which particular vehicle caused the damage can sometimes 
represent a challenge to law enforcement officers.
    In addition, the line between highway vehicles and OHVs has 
blurred. Vehicles created for specialized off-road use, such as 
military vehicles, are now marketed and purchased as family cars. Some 
States have recently enacted statutes governing OHV use, including 
vehicle registration requirements, limits on operator age, training and 
licensing requirements, equipment requirements, sound restrictions, and 
safety requirements.
    Current agency policy varies from State to State and National 
Forest to National Forest. Sometimes one National Forest restricts 
motor vehicles to roads and trails, while an adjoining National Forest 
allows unrestricted cross-country travel. One State may prohibit ATVs 
on public roads, while an adjoining State generally allows such use. 
Revised regulations are needed to provide national consistency and 
clarity on motor vehicle use within the NFS. At the same time, the 
Department believes that designations of roads, trails, and areas for 
motor vehicle use should be made locally. The final rule provides a 
national framework under which designations are made at the local 
level.
    Americans cherish the National Forests and National Grasslands for 
the values they provide: opportunities for healthy recreation and 
exercise, natural scenic beauty, important natural resources, 
protection of rare species, wilderness, a connection with their 
history, and opportunities for unparalleled outdoor adventure. The 
agency must strike an appropriate balance in managing all types of 
recreational activities. To this end, a designated system of roads, 
trails, and areas for motor vehicle use, established with public 
involvement, will enhance public enjoyment of the National Forests 
while maintaining other important values and uses on NFS lands.

2. Public Comments on Proposed Rule and Department Responses

Overview

    On July 15, 2004, the Forest Service published a proposed rule in 
the Federal Register (69 FR 135) seeking public comment in amending 
regulations at 36 CFR parts 212, 251, 261, and 295 to clarify policy 
related to motor vehicle use on NFS lands, including the use of OHVs. 
The proposed regulation would require designation of those roads, 
trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use. Designations 
would be made by class of vehicle and, if appropriate, by time of year. 
The proposed rule would prohibit the use of motor vehicles off the 
designated system, as well as use of motor vehicles that is not 
consistent with the designations.
    During the 60-day comment period that ended on September 13, 2004, 
the agency received six requests for an extension of the comment 
period. Five of these were mailed during the last two business days of 
the comment period, and were received after the comment period closed. 
Respondents indicated that, due to the complexity of the proposed 
regulations, additional time was needed. The Forest Service did not 
extend the comment period because the agency does not agree that the 
proposed regulation was complex and because of the strong interest 
expressed in many other comments to expedite the rulemaking.
    The proposed rule was posted electronically on the World Wide Web 
at the Federal Register site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov and at the 
FirstGov e-rulemaking site at http://www.regulations.gov. The agency 
also posted the proposed rule on its World Wide Web site for OHVs at 
http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/ohv. The Forest Service 
received 81,563 letters or electronic messages in response to the 
proposed rule, of which 9,638 contained original text (the remainder 
were form submissions). More than 80 percent of the comments were 
submitted electronically. Responses submitting original text represent 
the following categories:

Academic........................................................       2
Business Association............................................      11
Civic Group.....................................................       1
Consultants/Legal Representatives...............................       3
County Agency/Elected Official..................................      16
Domestic Livestock Industry/Permit Holders......................       5
Federal Agency/Elected Official.................................       2
Individual (unaffiliated or unidentifiable).....................   9,310
Mechanized Recreation Group (bicycling).........................       2
Mining Industry Association.....................................       2
Motorized Recreation Group......................................      71
Multiple Use/Land Rights Organization...........................       1
Nonmechanized Recreation Group..................................      24
Oil, Natural Gas, Coal Industry (leasable)......................       2
Other or Unidentified Organization..............................       1
Place-Based Group (homeowners association)......................       2
Preservation/Conservation Organization..........................      98
Private Landowner...............................................       2
Recreational/Conservation Organization..........................      14
Recreation Organization (non-specific)..........................       5
Special Use Permit Holder.......................................       2
State Agency/Elected Official...................................      21
Timber/Wood Products Industry...................................       3
Town/City Agency/Elected Official...............................       2
Tribal Agency/Elected Official..................................       3
Tribal Member/Nongovernmental Organization......................       3
Single Responses Signed by Multiple Organizations...............      29
 

    The respondents represented all 50 States, the District of 
Columbia, Puerto Rico, seven foreign countries, and two international 
U.S. Armed Forces bases. The largest number of responses containing 
original text came from California (1,308), Washington (565), and 
Oregon (392).
    A summary report and searchable database of comments are available 
by

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contacting the Forest Service (see: ADDRESSES). The comments also are 
available for review in hard copy, but arrangements for viewing them 
should be made in advance as they are warehoused off site.
    Many comments came from organizations and individuals concerned 
about impacts of OHVs on the environment and on nonmotorized uses. 
These comments included form letters and standard letters with 
additional specific information added by the commenter.
    Many comments also came from organizations and individuals 
concerned about potential restrictions on OHV use. These comments 
included form letters and standard letters with additional information 
added.
    Federal, tribal, State, and local agencies and elected officials 
also submitted comments. The Forest Service received comments from 2 
Federal agencies, 21 State governments, 3 Federally recognized tribal 
governments, and 18 county, municipal, and local governments, 
representing a variety of points of view.
    Many respondents offered general comments either supporting or not 
supporting the proposed rule, or supporting or opposing OHV use in 
general. Most also offered specific comments about sections of the 
proposed rule that they would like to see revised. Many respondents 
offered suggestions for implementation, funding, and enforcement of the 
rule at the local level. A few respondents submitted comments on other 
rulemaking efforts or existing Forest Service policy beyond the scope 
of this rulemaking.

General Comments

    Comment. Many respondents supported multiple uses of NFS lands and 
recreational access for OHVs. These respondents believed that closures 
harm the public, private landowners, economic interests, and the 
environment by limiting and concentrating use. These respondents 
suggested that the agency support the public interest, rather than 
letting environmental and anti-access groups drive agency policy. These 
respondents were concerned that nonmotorized interests have an unfair 
advantage in public involvement due to better funding, organization, 
and access to decisionmaking.
    Many other respondents supported environmental protection and 
nonmotorized recreational uses of NFS lands and suggested confining 
OHVs to small, geographically isolated areas separated from 
nonmotorized users. These respondents believed that OHVs harm the 
environment, as well as people looking for quiet, peaceful recreation 
experiences. They suggested that the agency support the public 
interest, rather than letting manufacturers and user groups drive 
agency policy. These respondents were concerned that motorized 
interests have an unfair advantage in public involvement due to better 
funding, organization, and access to decisionmaking.
    Response. The Department believes that National Forests should 
provide access for both motorized and nonmotorized users in a manner 
that is environmentally sustainable over the long term. The NFS is not 
reserved for the exclusive use of any one group, nor must every use be 
accommodated on every acre. It is entirely appropriate for different 
areas of the National Forests to provide different opportunities for 
recreation. The Department believes such choices and evaluations are 
best made at the local level, with full involvement of Federal, tribal, 
State, and local governments, motorized and nonmotorized users, and 
other interested parties, as provided for in this final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that OHVs should not be allowed on 
National Forests at all. These respondents suggested that National 
Forests should be managed primarily for preservation of natural values, 
water quality, wildlife habitat, endangered species, biological 
diversity, quiet, and spiritual renewal.
    Response. The Department disagrees. National Forests are managed by 
law for multiple use. They are managed not only for the purposes stated 
in these comments, but for timber, grazing, mining, and outdoor 
recreation. These uses must be balanced, rather than one given 
preference over another.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that Americans have an 
unrestricted right to unlimited access to National Forests with motor 
vehicles and insisted that the Forest Service restore this right.
    Response. The Department disagrees with this assertion. National 
Forests belong to all Americans, but Americans do not have a right to 
unrestricted use of National Forests. Congress established the Forest 
Service to provide reasonable regulation of the National Forests so 
that future generations can continue to enjoy them.
    Comment. Some respondents requested improved Forest Service 
accountability, communications, and consistency in implementing rules 
governing motor vehicle use.
    Response. The final rule is intended to provide a consistent 
framework and consistent terminology for travel management decisions 
made at the local level. For greater clarity in terminology, the final 
rule adds a definition for ``off-highway vehicle'' and changes the term 
``use map'' to ``motor vehicle use map.''
    Comment. Many respondents asked that decisions on motor vehicle use 
be based on high-quality scientific information, including review by 
independent scientists, and not on biased data. Some respondents 
suggested that motor vehicle use should be allowed only when it can be 
clearly proven to be harmless to the environment. Others suggested that 
motor vehicle use should be restricted only when it can be clearly 
proven to be harmful to the environment.
    Response. Designations of roads, trails, and areas for motor 
vehicle use should be based on accurate, pertinent, unbiased 
information. The Department does not believe that it is necessary to 
have independent scientists review proposed designation decisions. The 
Department disagrees that motor vehicle use should be allowed only when 
it can be clearly proven to be harmless to the environment, and that 
motor vehicle use should be restricted only when it can be clearly 
proven to be harmful to the environment. Rather, designation decisions 
will be made in accordance with the criteria in Sec.  212.55 of the 
final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that access to private inholdings 
must not be restricted by this rule, and that reciprocal rights-of-way 
between the Forest Service and private landowners should be allowed.
    Response. The final rule requires responsible officials to 
recognize rights of access in designating roads, trails, and areas 
(Sec.  212.55(d)). Rights of access include valid existing rights and 
rights of use of NFS roads and NFS trails under Sec.  212.6(b). This 
final rule does not affect reciprocal rights-of-way between the Forest 
Service and private landowners.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to encourage 
private landowners to open OHV trails and accommodate use on private 
lands.
    Response. Many private landowners allow recreational use of their 
lands, including use by OHVs. Some private landowners provide managed 
facilities for OHV enthusiasts. In some cases, trails on private land 
are part of a network including NFS lands. The Forest Service often 
works with private landowners to secure public rights-of-way for trails 
providing access to the National Forests. However, the Department 
believes that private

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landowners are the best judges of the proper uses for their land.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to set aside 
nonmotorized ``quiet use areas'' across the NFS.
    Response. The final rule requires local agency officials, working 
with the public, to designate which roads, trails, and areas are 
available for motor vehicle use. The final rule prohibits use off the 
designated system. In designating roads, trails, and areas, local 
agency officials must consider minimization of conflicts among uses of 
NFS lands (Sec.  212.55(a)). In designating trails and areas, local 
agency officials must consider compatibility of motor vehicle use with 
existing conditions in populated areas, taking into account sound, 
emissions, and other factors (Sec.  212.55(b)(5)). A system of quiet 
use areas established outside the designation process is unnecessary.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that all routes closed to motor 
vehicles should also be closed to horses, bicycles, and all 
nonpedestrian access.
    Response. The Department disagrees. Some poorly located, 
unauthorized routes causing considerable environmental damage may have 
to be closed to all uses. However, other routes are better suited to 
some uses than others. In some areas of high concentrations of use, 
maintaining separate trail networks for different uses may reduce 
conflict and enhance public safety and the recreational experience. In 
other areas, multiple-use trails work well. The Department believes 
these decisions are best made at the local level, with public 
participation.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to provide 
access to groups that maintain and improve roads and trails.
    Response. The Department is grateful to the many groups who provide 
volunteer assistance in constructing, improving, and maintaining roads 
and trails. Without the support of these groups, public access and 
recreational opportunities would be more limited. Most of these groups 
help maintain trails not to get special privileges, but to provide 
better access for everyone. The Department supports the general 
principle of equal public access to Federal lands.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested limits on timber harvesting and 
grazing, and on road construction related to timber harvesting. Other 
respondents requested increased fuel treatment to protect communities 
from wildfire and construction of additional roads for fuel reduction, 
fire suppression, and timber management needs.
    Response. These comments are beyond the scope of this rule. Road 
construction for timber harvesting, fuel treatment, or other purposes 
must be subjected to site-specific environmental analysis, which 
establishes road management objectives. Roads constructed as part of 
these projects could be added to the system of designated roads, 
trails, and areas open to motor vehicles, depending on the results of 
these local decisions.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the Forest Service retain 
a right-of-way for public access in all land exchanges, and deny access 
to private landowners who block public access to Federal lands.
    Response. This comment is beyond the scope of this final rule. The 
Forest Service seeks, wherever possible, to secure or retain public 
access to Federal lands by purchasing or exchanging rights-of-way and 
reserving rights-of-way in land exchanges.
    Comment. Some respondents requested additional scientific studies 
of the environmental impacts of motor vehicle use, the social and 
economic impacts of restrictions on motor vehicle use, the impacts of 
road closures on firefighting and fuel reduction, the numbers of 
visitors using motor vehicles, and other related topics.
    Response. In addition to the studies mentioned in the preamble to 
the proposed rule, ongoing studies by Forest Service researchers and 
monitoring by National Forest managers address several of these topics. 
The Department believes that these studies support the need for this 
final rule. As stated in the preamble to the proposed rule, the results 
of monitoring pursuant to Sec. 212.57 of the final rule could provide 
the basis for revision or rescission of designations made pursuant to 
Sec. 212.51, or for a determination of considerable adverse effects for 
purposes of implementing a temporary, emergency closure pursuant to 
Sec. 212.52(b)(2).
    Comment. One respondent asserted that the Forest Service must 
formally consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the effects 
of this rule on threatened and endangered species, as required by the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA).
    Response. The Department has determined that this final rule will 
have no effect on threatened or endangered species. The final rule 
establishes a procedural framework for local decisionmaking and will 
not have any effect until designation of roads, trails, and areas is 
complete for a particular administrative unit or Ranger District, with 
opportunity for public involvement and coordination with Federal, 
State, local, and tribal governments. Designation decisions at the 
local level will be accompanied by appropriate consideration of 
potential impacts to threatened and endangered species. If such 
decisions may affect threatened or endangered species, the Forest 
Service will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as 
appropriate, under Section 7 of the ESA.

Forest Service Directives

    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to issue 
proposed directives on implementation of the final travel management 
rule and requested that the agency seek public comment on these 
directives. One respondent stated that the final rule must be 
consistent with Forest Service Manual and Forest Service Handbook 
direction.
    Response. The Forest Service provides internal direction to field 
units through its directives system, consisting of the Forest Service 
Manual (FSM) and Forest Service Handbooks (FSH). The FSM and FSH assist 
field units in implementing programs established by statutes and 
regulations. The Forest Service plans to develop proposed directives 
implementing this final rule and to publish them in the Federal 
Register for public notice and comment.
    Comment. Some respondents requested that officials responsible for 
implementation of this rule be properly identified, qualified, and free 
of conflict of interest. Others asked the agency to ensure that Forest 
Service officials do not play an active role in State or local 
legislation affecting OHVs.
    Response. Section 212.51 of the final rule provides that 
designations shall be made by the responsible official on 
administrative units or Ranger Districts of the NFS. Delegations of 
authority for designation decisions will be included in directives 
issued for purposes of implementing this final rule. The Department 
expects that designation decisions will generally be made by Forest 
Supervisors and District Rangers. Forest Supervisors and District 
Rangers are selected for their positions based on Federal civil service 
rules. Federal ethics and conduct rules protect the public and agency 
personnel from conflicts of interest and limit the roles agency 
personnel may play in their official capacities in the State or local 
legislative process.
    Comment. Some respondents requested standardized, easily available 
use maps and interagency signage to ensure consistent communication and 
enforcement of route designations.

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    Response. The Forest Service plans to develop a standard national 
format for motor vehicle use maps issued under this final rule. In the 
final rule, the Department is changing the term ``use map'' to ``motor 
vehicle use map.'' Motor vehicle use maps will be available at local 
Forest Service offices and, as soon as practicable, on Forest Service 
web sites. The Forest Service plans to issue additional travel 
management guidance in its sign handbook to ensure consistent messages 
and use of standard interagency symbols.
    Comment. Many respondents submitted suggestions on compliance with 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in connection with 
designation of routes and areas for motor vehicle use. Some suggested 
including provisions on this topic in the rule itself. Others suggested 
specific direction related to the range of alternatives subject to 
consideration, the scope of analysis, the starting point for analysis, 
and the various environmental effects to be considered.
    Response. Regulations implementing NEPA are issued by the Council 
on Environmental Quality and are found at 40 CFR part 1500. Agency 
direction on NEPA compliance is found in FSH 1909.15. The Department 
believes that the scope, content, and documentation of NEPA analysis 
associated with designating routes and areas for motor vehicle use will 
ultimately depend on site-specific factors, including the local history 
of travel planning, public input, and environmental impacts at the 
local level. Therefore, the Department is not addressing NEPA 
compliance in this final rule.
    Comment. Many respondents addressed the status of user-created 
routes in areas currently managed as open to cross-country motor 
vehicle use, especially with regard to NEPA compliance (FSH 1909.15). 
Some respondents asked the Forest Service to acknowledge all such 
routes as legal, legitimate travel ways, and to require specific 
documentation and analysis to close them. Other respondents asked the 
Forest Service to treat all such routes as illicit and subject to 
immediate closure.
    Response. The Department rejects both of these approaches. User-
created routes were developed without agency authorization, 
environmental analysis, or public involvement and do not have the same 
status as NFS roads and trails included in the forest transportation 
system.
    Some user-created routes are well-sited, provide excellent 
opportunities for outdoor recreation by motorized and nonmotorized 
users alike, involve less environmental impact than unrestricted cross-
country motor vehicle use, and would enhance the system of designated 
routes and areas. Other user-created routes are poorly located and 
cause unacceptable environmental impacts.
    The Department believes that evaluation of user-created routes is 
best handled at the local level by officials with first-hand knowledge 
of the particular circumstances, uses, and environmental impacts 
involved, working closely with local governments, users, and other 
members of the public.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested reviewing and inventorying all 
roads, trails, and areas, without regard to prior travel management 
decisions and travel plans. Other respondents observed that land 
management plans, travel plans, and other recent agency documents 
already include a variety of decisions related to motor vehicle use and 
route designation. These respondents asked the agency to recognize 
existing plans and decisions in designating roads, trails, and areas 
for motor vehicle use.
    Response. The Department believes that reviewing and inventorying 
all roads, trails, and areas without regard to prior travel management 
decisions and travel plans would be unproductive, inefficient, counter 
to the purposes of this final rule, and disrespectful of public 
involvement in past decisionmaking. Local responsible officials can and 
should take into account past travel management decisions.
    Some National Forests have long restricted motor vehicles to 
designated routes under E.O. 11644, 36 CFR part 295, and FSM 2355. 
Other National Forests have recently issued comprehensive travel 
management decisions that restrict motor vehicle use to designated 
routes and issued orders that prohibit cross-country motor vehicle use. 
All National Forests have a system of NFS roads open to motor vehicle 
use, and many also have a system of NFS trails managed for motor 
vehicle use.
    Nothing in this final rule requires reconsideration of any previous 
administrative decisions that allow, restrict, or prohibit motor 
vehicle use on NFS roads and NFS trails or in areas on NFS lands and 
that were made under other authorities, including decisions made in 
land management plans and travel plans. The final rule adds a new 
paragraph (b) to Sec. 212.50 to clarify that these decisions may be 
incorporated into designations made pursuant to this final rule.
    Some National Forests or Ranger Districts have previous 
administrative decisions, made under other authorities with public 
involvement, which restrict motor vehicle use over an entire Forest or 
District to designated routes and areas. In these cases, the 
responsible official may, with public notice but no further analysis or 
decisionmaking, establish that decision or those decisions as the 
designation pursuant to this rule for the National Forest or Ranger 
District, effective upon publication of a motor vehicle use map. In 
that situation, the only substantive change effected by this final rule 
would be enforcement of the restrictions pursuant to the prohibition in 
Sec. 261.13, rather than pursuant to an order issued under part 261, 
subpart B. The final rule includes additional language in 
Sec. 212.52(a) to clarify that no further public involvement is 
required in this special case.
    Alternatively, responsible officials may choose to reconsider past 
decisions, with public involvement, as necessary to achieve the 
purposes of the final rule.
    The final rule recognizes that designations of roads, trails, and 
areas for motor vehicle use are not permanent. Unforeseen environmental 
impacts, changes in public demand, route construction, and monitoring 
conducted under Sec. 212.57 of the final rule may lead responsible 
officials to consider revising designations under Sec. 212.54 of the 
final rule.
    Designations must be consistent with the applicable land management 
plan. If a responsible official proposes a designation that would be 
inconsistent with the applicable land management plan, a proposed 
amendment to the plan must be included with the proposed designation so 
that the designation decision will conform with the land management 
plan.
    Comment. Some respondents observed that NFS roads that are open to 
motor vehicle use are already in effect designated and need not be re-
evaluated. Other respondents asked the agency to ensure that proposed 
changes to allowed uses, reconstruction, and changes in maintenance 
levels resulting in changes in type or level of use receive appropriate 
site-specific consideration.
    Response. As recognized in the preamble to the proposed rule, to a 
certain degree, NFS roads are in effect already designated for some 
classes of motor vehicle use. These roads are included in a forest 
transportation atlas, and road management objectives may establish the 
appropriate vehicle classes and uses for each road segment. In recent 
years, the roads analysis process established under 36 CFR 212.5 and 
FSM 7712 has been used to evaluate the

[[Page 68269]]

long-term management objectives for the passenger car road system in 
each National Forest.
    This final rule does not require responsible officials to 
reconsider decisions authorizing motor vehicle use on NFS roads and NFS 
trails. After consulting with the public, responsible officials may 
choose to reconsider past decisions as necessary to achieve the 
purposes of this final rule. In addition, responsible officials may 
revise designations under Sec.  212.54 of the final rule. Revisions of 
designations, including revisions in the class of vehicle designated 
for use, must be made in accordance with the requirements for public 
involvement in Sec.  212.52 and the criteria in Sec.  212.55. Road 
reconstruction is beyond the scope of the designation provisions in 
subpart B of this rule.

Implementation

    Comment. Many respondents requested a specific, enforceable 
deadline (most suggested two years) for completing route and area 
designation and ending cross-country motor vehicle use. Many other 
respondents asked the Forest Service not to establish a specific time 
frame for completing designations, and to allow enough time to complete 
a full and fair evaluation of all potential routes.
    Response. The Department shares an interest in completing route and 
area designation as quickly as possible. The problems associated with 
unmanaged motor vehicle use are important and deserve immediate 
attention. The Forest Service will make every effort, within its 
available resources, to complete route and area designation as quickly 
as possible. However, the Department disagrees with establishing an 
enforceable deadline for completion of the process. Imposing an 
enforceable deadline for completing designations would subject the 
Forest Service to legal challenge if, despite its best efforts (perhaps 
due to the controversy involved in the process), the agency is unable 
to meet the deadline. The Department believes that cooperative work by 
responsible officials with State, tribal, county, and municipal 
governments, user groups, and other interested parties offers the best 
hope for long-term resolution of issues involving recreational use, 
including use of motor vehicles. An inflexible deadline can make 
collaborative solutions more difficult.
    Comment. Some respondents requested that the Forest Service 
complete a full inventory of all existing motor vehicle routes, 
regardless of origin, prior to making a designation decision. Many of 
these respondents asked the Forest Service to cooperate with user 
groups in conducting this inventory, but some also insisted that the 
agency take ultimate responsibility for including all user-created 
routes.
    Response. The Department disagrees that a complete inventory of 
user-created routes is required in order to complete the designation 
process. As a practical matter, such an inventory may never be fully 
complete, as new routes will continue to be created during the 
inventory process. A complete inventory would be very time-consuming 
and expensive, delaying completion of route designation. Advance 
planning based on public involvement, careful design, and site-specific 
environmental analysis provide the best hope for a sustainable, managed 
system of motor vehicle routes and areas addressing user needs and 
safety with a minimum of environmental impacts.
    As stated above, some user-created routes would make excellent 
additions to the system of designated routes and areas. The Forest 
Service is committed to working with user groups and others to identify 
such routes and consider them on a site-specific basis.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to include 
potential future routes in the inventory and designation process, and 
to make provision for including additional user-created routes 
discovered after designation is complete.
    Response. Long-term planning may identify potential corridors 
suitable for consideration for future construction. However, the agency 
does not intend to designate routes on a motor vehicle use map until 
such routes actually exist, have been analyzed and evaluated, and are 
available for public use. Section 212.54 of the final rule provides for 
revision of designations as needed to meet changing conditions. New 
routes may be constructed and added to the system following public 
involvement and site-specific environmental analysis. Such revisions 
may also include closures or changes in designations.
    Comment. Many respondents supported public involvement in the route 
designation process. Some requested that local residents and private 
landowners receive a greater voice in decisions affecting their use. 
Other respondents requested that county governments, State tourism 
offices, or other agencies receive formal recognition as participants 
in agency decisionmaking. One respondent asked that OHV access be 
subject to a public vote.
    Response. The proposed and final rules require public involvement 
in the designation process (Sec.  212.52), and coordination with 
appropriate Federal, State, county, local, and tribal governments in 
designating roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use (Sec.  
212.53). Designation of a system of motor vehicle routes and areas will 
be made with public involvement and coordination with Federal, State, 
local, and tribal governments. Most NFS roads are intertwined with 
networks of State and county roads (often crossing NFS lands), and 
cooperative planning among affected agencies is essential. Nothing in 
the final rule, however, can relieve the Forest Service of the ultimate 
responsibility for decisions regarding management of NFS lands.
    Comment. Many respondents requested that the Forest Service 
allocate sufficient funds for management of motor vehicle use on 
National Forests, particularly for the process of route and area 
designation envisioned in the proposed rule. Many asked the agency to 
pursue all available sources of funding, including the Recreational 
Trails Program and gasoline tax revenues. Some respondents insisted 
that inadequate funding not be used as an excuse to close routes and 
restrict motor vehicle access. Others stated that the rule was 
pointless without adequate funding.
    Response. The issue regarding funding is beyond the scope of this 
final rule. Forest Service appropriations are authorized by Congress. 
The Forest Service is committed to using whatever funds it has 
available to accomplish the purposes of this final rule in a targeted, 
efficient manner. The agency makes appropriate use of all other sources 
of available funding, and has a number of successful cooperative 
relationships with State governments. Volunteer agreements with user 
groups and others have proven successful in extending agency resources 
for trail construction, maintenance, monitoring, and mitigation. 
Regardless of the level of funding available, the Department believes 
that the final rule provides a better framework for management of motor 
vehicle use on National Forests and National Grasslands. While 
availability of resources for maintenance and administration must be 
considered in designating routes for motor vehicle use (Sec.  212.55), 
cooperative relationships and volunteer agreements may be included in 
this consideration.
    Comment. Some respondents offered specific suggestions for 
consideration during route and area designation, including conversion 
of low-standard roads to motorized trails, provision of

[[Page 68270]]

parking and trailhead facilities, reopening of closed roads, design of 
loop and long-distance trail systems to meet user needs, and 
integration of designated routes with roads and trails managed by local 
governments, States, and other Federal agencies.
    Some respondents suggested consideration of specific environmental 
impacts during route and area designation, including introduction of 
invasive species, impacts to cultural activities of American Indians, 
quality of the user experience, and Recreation Opportunity Spectrum 
(ROS) designations in land management plans. Other respondents 
suggested specific areas to avoid in route and area designation, 
including high alpine areas, wetlands, riparian areas, and roadless 
areas.
    Response. The Department agrees that many of these considerations 
may be important in designating routes and areas at the local level. 
Section 212.55 of the final rule enumerates the criteria for 
designating roads, trails, and areas pursuant to the final rule. 
Specific considerations (such as geography, user demands, and 
environmental impacts) will vary from place to place, and even route to 
route, across the NFS. Responsible officials, working closely with the 
public, should consider local circumstances in applying the criteria 
for designating roads, trails, and areas pursuant to the final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested a no-net-loss policy for motor 
vehicle routes (every route closed must be replaced by a new route of 
the same length and character), a specific goal for available routes 
(such as four miles of motor vehicle trail per square mile), or a 
general policy to develop all access opportunities close to urban 
areas.
    Response. The Department disagrees with establishing any of these 
principles as national policy. Designation decisions are best left to 
local managers, working closely with State, tribal, and local 
governments, users, and other members of the public and informed by 
site-specific evaluation of environmental impacts.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that regulations are effective 
only if they are enforced, and questioned whether the agency was 
capable of enforcing motor vehicle restrictions due to limited numbers 
of law enforcement officers.
    Response. Forest Service law enforcement personnel play a critical 
role in ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, protecting 
public safety, and protecting National Forest resources. The Forest 
Service also maintains cooperative relationships with many State and 
local law enforcement agencies that provide mutual support across 
jurisdictional boundaries. Education and cooperative relationships with 
users support enforcement efforts by promoting voluntary compliance. 
The final rule will not increase the agency's budget or the number of 
law enforcement officers. However, the final rule will enhance 
enforcement by substituting a regulatory prohibition for closure orders 
and providing for a motor vehicle use map supplemented by signage.
    Comment. Some respondents questioned the use of contractors and 
volunteers to map and maintain trails, and to report violations of 
motor vehicle regulations.
    Response. The Forest Service utilizes a mix of agency personnel, 
contractors, volunteers, and cooperators to accomplish many elements of 
its mission. Without the support of cooperators and volunteers and the 
services of contractors, the agency would be unable to provide the same 
level of service to the public or care for the lands entrusted to it 
within its current budget. Like all law enforcement agencies, the 
Forest Service depends on citizen reports of violations as a critical 
component of its enforcement program.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to ensure 
representation of OHV enthusiasts and riders among agency staff 
responsible for OHV management.
    Response. The Forest Service uses competitive civil service 
procedures to select the best qualified applicant for each position, 
based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the 
job. While ability to use government equipment may be a selective 
factor for some positions, the agency does not hire personnel based on 
their outside recreational interests. Nevertheless, there are Forest 
Service employees who are OHV riders.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to ensure 
adequate maintenance for motor vehicle trails, rather than closing 
them.
    Response. The Forest Service maintains NFS roads and NFS trails in 
accordance with their management objectives and the availability of 
funds. Volunteers and cooperators maintain many trails. The agency 
collects fees for use of some developed recreational facilities, most 
of which are retained and spent at the site where they are collected. 
Unfortunately, resources are still limited, and the Forest Service has 
a substantial backlog of maintenance needs, even before adding many 
user-created routes to the system. In some cases, an extended lack of 
maintenance can lead to deterioration of a road or trail to the point 
that it must be closed to address user safety or to prevent severe 
environmental damage. The Forest Service actively tries to avoid 
closures by encouraging volunteer agreements and cooperative 
relationships with user groups.
    Comment. Some respondents requested clarification of the rules 
applicable to motor vehicle use while designation is pending. Some 
asked that current rules remain in effect. Others requested immediate 
closure of all user-created routes. Some respondents sought to continue 
using and maintaining existing trails while designation is pending.
    Response. The final rule's prohibition on motor vehicle use off the 
designated system (Sec.  261.13) goes into effect on an administrative 
unit or Ranger District once that unit or District has designated those 
NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are open to motor 
vehicle use and published a motor vehicle use map identifying those 
roads, trails, and areas (Sec.  212.56). Until designations for a unit 
or District are complete and a motor vehicle use map identifying those 
designations is published, existing travel management policies, 
restrictions, and orders remain in effect. Forest Supervisors may 
continue to issue travel management orders pursuant to part 261, 
subpart B, and impose temporary, emergency closures based on a 
determination of considerable adverse effects pursuant to Sec.  
212.52(b)(2) of the final rule. The Department does not believe that 
immediate closure of all user-created routes, without local evaluation 
and public input, is necessary or appropriate. Use and maintenance of 
NFS roads and NFS trails consistent with current travel management 
policies and management objectives may continue. Construction and 
maintenance of roads or trails without a permit are prohibited by 
existing regulations (Sec.  261.10(a)).
    The Department expects that some administrative units or Ranger 
Districts will complete route and area designation before others and 
that the prohibition on cross-country motor vehicle use in Sec.  261.13 
will go into effect on different units and Ranger Districts at 
different times. This variation in travel management mirrors the 
existing situation, in which some units are open to cross-country motor 
vehicle use, while others restrict motor vehicles to designated routes 
and areas. Over the next few years, all administrative units and Ranger 
Districts will institute a system of designated routes and areas.

[[Page 68271]]

    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the Forest Service require 
vehicle registration, license plates, noise abatement, and safety 
equipment for all motor vehicles using NFS lands. Others suggested 
requiring licensing and safety training for all riders.
    Response. State traffic laws apply on NFS roads as provided for in 
36 CFR 212.5(a)(1). State governments have long taken the lead in 
establishing registration, safety, and licensing requirements for motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle operators, providing a consistent framework 
for users within State boundaries. The Department wholeheartedly 
supports this framework. The Department believes a separate 
registration or licensing process for operators for the NFS would be 
confusing, inefficient, and intrusive.
    The Department notes that some States have no requirements 
regarding minimum age, safety equipment, and noise levels for OHVs. 
Some National Forests have experienced serious injuries and fatal 
accidents involving OHVs, some of which involve young children. The 
Forest Service will continue to regulate OHV riders to a certain degree 
in existing regulations at Sec.  261.13, recodified as Sec.  261.15 in 
the final rule (for example, by requiring a headlight and taillight 
when riding after dark and by providing for incorporation of State law 
pertaining to use of motor vehicles off roads). At this time, however, 
the Department is not prepared to issue or enforce new national 
standards for operators or equipment on NFS lands. As designations are 
completed and management of designated roads, trails, and areas 
continues, the Department may consider developing some national safety 
standards for OHVs at a later date.
    Noise is a particularly important issue affecting OHV use 
nationally. The Forest Service anticipates developing a national 
standard for OHV noise levels in a future rulemaking.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the Forest Service charge 
a fee for OHV use on NFS lands and retain the funds for route 
maintenance and enforcement. Other respondents objected to any fees for 
public access to Federal land. One respondent suggested a surcharge on 
OHV manufacturers.
    Response. These comments are beyond the scope of this final rule, 
which governs designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle 
use. Forest Service authority to charge and retain fees for use of 
recreational facilities and services is contained in the Federal Lands 
Recreation Enhancement Act (16 U.S.C. 6801-6814). The agency has no 
authority to tax manufacturers.

Proposed Rule Preamble

    Comment. Some respondents disagreed with the Forest Service's 
rationale for the proposed rule and urged the agency not to adopt a 
final rule. These respondents stated that a prohibition on cross-
country motor vehicle use will harm small businesses, recreation users, 
the tourism industry, local governments, local economies, low-income 
residents, families with children, and people with disabilities, and 
reduce public access to Federal lands. Some respondents stated that any 
environmental impacts and other problems associated with cross-country 
motor vehicle use result from poor Forest Service management and should 
be addressed by better implementation and enforcement of existing 
rules, rather than additional regulation. Others contended that natural 
forces, such as fire and flood, have far greater environmental impact 
than OHVs and that the motor vehicle regulation is not needed.
    Response. The Department disagrees with these assertions. 
Unregulated cross-country motor vehicle use may have been appropriate 
on some National Forests when these vehicles were less numerous, less 
powerful, and less capable of cross-country travel. Today, however, the 
proliferation of user-created routes is a major challenge on many 
National Forests and examples of significant environmental damage, 
safety issues, and user conflicts are well established. The Department 
believes that a well-planned, well-designed system of designated roads, 
trails, and areas, developed in coordination with Federal, State, 
local, and tribal governments and with public involvement, offers 
better opportunities for sustainable long-term recreational motor 
vehicle use and better economic opportunities for local residents and 
communities.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the proposed rule will harm 
the nonmotorized recreation industry by encouraging OHV use. Other 
respondents stated that the proposed rule does not do enough to address 
the threat of OHVs, unauthorized routes, and continuing damage to the 
environment, and should be strengthened. Some asked the Forest Service 
to explain how its maintenance backlog can be reconciled with the 
stated goal of enhancing opportunities for motorized recreation.
    Response. This final rule does not encourage or discourage motor 
vehicle use, but rather requires designation of roads, trails, and 
areas for motor vehicle use. The Department believes that a well-
designed system of routes and areas designated for motor vehicle use 
can reduce maintenance needs and environmental damage, while enhancing 
the recreational experience for all users, both motorized and 
nonmotorized.
    Comment. Some respondents called for clear and consistent national 
standards for motor vehicle use and route and area designation. They 
stated that the proposed rule allows too much discretion for local 
Forest Service managers to make designation decisions, which may result 
in inconsistent and ineffective decisionmaking. Other respondents 
stated that the final rule should retain flexibility in local 
decisionmaking, rather than establishing a one-size-fits-all national 
policy.
    Response. The final rule provides a national framework for local 
decisionmaking. The rule includes definitions, procedures, and criteria 
for designation of NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands for 
motor vehicle use, and a prohibition on motor vehicle use that occurs 
off the designated system or that is inconsistent with motor vehicle 
designations. The Department expects the roughly 300,000 miles of NFS 
roads currently open to highway-legal motor vehicle use to be 
designated for that purpose. However, the rule retains flexibility at 
the local level to determine, with public involvement, appropriate 
motor vehicle use on local NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on 
NFS lands. The Department believes that decisions about specific routes 
and areas are best made by local officials with knowledge of those 
routes and areas, the local environment, and site-specific tradeoffs, 
with public involvement and in coordination with appropriate Federal, 
State, local, and tribal governments.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to commit to 
designating enough OHV routes to accommodate current and future demand.
    Response. Provision of recreational opportunities and access needs 
are two of several criteria the responsible official must consider 
under Sec.  212.55 of the final rule in designating routes for motor 
vehicle use. National Forests are popular with many Americans for many 
uses. It is not possible to accommodate all user demands on all 
National Forests while also protecting water quality, wildlife habitat, 
and other natural resources that people come to enjoy. Forest Service 
managers must balance user interests against the other criteria

[[Page 68272]]

for designating routes and areas under the final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that local government, not the 
Forest Service, should decide where roads and vehicle access are needed 
to serve local communities and protect public health and safety.
    Response. The Department believes that coordination with local 
governments is essential in designating a system of motor vehicle 
routes and areas on NFS lands. The final rule requires coordination 
with appropriate local governmental entities when designating routes 
and areas for motor vehicle use and provides for designation decisions 
to be made by Forest Service officers at the local level to ensure that 
they take local needs into account. However, the Forest Service retains 
ultimate responsibility, as provided by Congress, for management of 
uses on the NFS.
    Forest Service policy (FSM 7703.3) is to seek to transfer 
jurisdiction of NFS roads to public road authorities when (1) more than 
half of the use is likely to be non-Forest Service-generated traffic; 
(2) the road is necessary and used for mail, school, or other local 
government purposes, or (3) the road serves year-long residents within 
or adjacent to the National Forests.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the language of the preamble 
to the proposed rule, particularly the shift of regulations governing 
OHV use from part 295 (Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest System 
Roads) to part 212 (Administration of the Forest Transportation 
System), reflects a change in the agency's perception of motor vehicle 
use on NFS lands. These respondents asked the Forest Service to 
recognize motor vehicle use as a legitimate recreational pursuit, not 
just as a transportation issue.
    Response. The Department recognizes this concern. Motor vehicles 
serve a variety of functions on National Forests. Motor vehicles are 
used in commercial and natural resource management activities, 
including maintaining utility corridors, mining, and timber sales. 
Motor vehicles on NFS lands provide access to private land, recreation 
destinations, and destinations off NFS lands. Motor vehicles are used 
in support of other recreational activities, such as hunting and 
camping. Motor vehicles are also used as a recreational experience in 
their own right, such as for trail riding and driving for pleasure. 
These uses overlap and are not always clearly distinguishable. To 
create a comprehensive system of travel management, the final rule 
consolidates regulations governing motor vehicle use in one part, 212, 
entitled ``Travel Management.'' Motor vehicles remain a legitimate 
recreational use of NFS lands.
    Comment. Some respondents objected to the preamble's use of the 
term ``off-road vehicle'' in reference to E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989, 
and asked the agency to use ``off-highway vehicle.'' Other respondents 
objected to the latter term and preferred ``off-road vehicle.'' Some 
respondents requested that specific classes of vehicles, such as side-
by-sides, sport utility vehicles, and motorcycles, be included or 
excluded from the definition of OHV.
    Response. The final rule addresses all motor vehicle use on NFS 
roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands, from passenger cars to 
ATVs to motorcycles. The final rule is not limited to OHVs, in part 
because OHVs are not always clearly distinguishable from passenger 
vehicles (today the family car may be quite capable of off-highway 
travel). Local units are responsible for designating routes and areas 
for motor vehicle use, including which routes and areas are designated 
for which vehicle classes. In response to comments, and because the 
agency has used the term extensively in communications, the final rule 
has added a definition of ``off-highway vehicle.'' This definition is 
consistent with the definition of ``off-road vehicle'' used in E.O. 
11644.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to include 
bicycles and horses within the definition of ``off-highway vehicle'' 
and regulate these uses like motor vehicles.
    Response. OHVs are motor vehicles. Since bicycles and horses are 
not motor vehicles, they are not included in the definition of ``off-
highway vehicle.'' Similarly, this rule governs designation of routes 
and areas for motor vehicle use and does not apply to nonmotorized 
uses, such as bicycles and horses.
    At this time, the Department does not see the need for regulations 
requiring establishment of a system of routes and areas designated for 
nonmotorized uses. Local Forest Service officials may choose to 
designate routes and areas for nonmotorized uses and enforce those 
designations with an order issued under 36 CFR part 261, subpart B. On 
some National Forests, and portions of others, bicycles and/or 
equestrians are restricted to designated routes, or even prohibited 
altogether. On other National Forests, cross-country use of bicycles 
and horses is permitted.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989 
conflict with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and 
the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act (MUSY), are outdated, and do not 
reflect changes in use and technology of motor vehicles. These 
respondents asked the Forest Service not to rely on the E.O.s in 
promulgating regulations governing designation of routes and areas for 
motor vehicle use.
    Response. The Department disagrees that the E.O.s conflict with 
FLPMA and MUSY. Both statutes give the Forest Service broad authority 
to manage NFS lands for multiple uses. MUSY defines ``multiple use'' in 
part as ``management of all the various * * * resources of the National 
Forests so that they are utilized in the combination that will best 
meet the needs of the American people * * *.'' MUSY specifically 
provides ``that some land will be used for less than all of the 
resources'' (16 U.S.C. 531(a)). Neither Act directs that all NFS lands 
be open to all uses.
    E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989 broadly direct Federal land management 
agencies to regulate OHVs in conformance with certain criteria. As 
discussed in the preamble, the environmental concerns that prompted the 
E.O.s are more, not less, pressing with changes in OHV use and 
technology.
    Executive orders issued by the President of the United States 
provide policy direction to all Federal agencies. The Department 
conforms its policy to executive orders and believes that it is 
appropriate to take applicable executive orders, such as E.O. 11644 and 
E.O. 11989, into account in promulgating regulations and issuing 
directives.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the proposed rule is not 
consistent with the letter and spirit of E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989, and 
must not convert their mandatory language to discretionary language.
    Response. The Department disagrees with this assertion. Section 
3(a) of E.O. 11644 directs the Forest Service to develop and issue 
regulations ``to provide for administrative designation of the specific 
areas and trails on public lands on which the use of off-road vehicles 
may be permitted, and areas in which the use of off-road vehicles may 
not be permitted * * * '' Section 9(b) of E.O. 11644 specifically 
authorizes the Forest Service to adopt the policy to designate those 
areas or trails that are suitable for motor vehicle use and to close 
all other areas and trails to that use. Consistent with these 
provisions, the final rule requires establishment of a system of routes 
and areas designated for motor vehicle use and prohibits motor vehicle 
use off the designated system. The provisions in the final rule 
governing exemptions from designations, public involvement, criteria 
for designations, designations in

[[Page 68273]]

wilderness areas, identification of designated routes and areas, 
monitoring, and over-snow use track E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989. See the 
response to comments on Sec. Sec.  212.52 and 212.55 for the 
relationship between specific sections of the rule and the Executive 
orders.
    Comment. Some respondents interpreted the preamble to the proposed 
rule to imply that every National Forest must designate areas for motor 
vehicle use. Some respondents supported this idea. Others asked the 
agency to clarify that there is no such requirement.
    Response. The proposed rule was never intended to require each 
National Forest to have areas designated for motor vehicle use. To 
clarify this point, the summary for the final rule states that it 
requires designation of those roads, trails, and areas that are open to 
motor vehicle use. Some National Forests do not allow motor vehicle use 
off NFS roads. This final rule does not require them to change their 
policy.
    Comment. Several respondents addressed the preamble's discussion of 
use of OHVs on NFS roads managed at various maintenance levels. Some 
respondents asked the Forest Service to allow and some asked the agency 
to prohibit non-highway-legal vehicles on NFS roads at maintenance 
levels 3, 4, and 5.
    Response. Road designation decisions will determine road management 
objectives and maintenance levels, rather than vice versa. However, in 
many cases, existing road management objectives and maintenance levels, 
established through travel planning and roads analysis in consultation 
with State and local governments, already establish appropriate motor 
vehicle use. The Department anticipates the need to mix highway-legal 
and non-highway-legal traffic on some NFS roads at maintenance levels 
3, 4, and 5. Such designation decisions will be advised by professional 
engineering judgment, and will include design features deemed 
appropriate by engineering studies.
    Comment. Some respondents objected to the agency's rationale for 
exempting snowmobiles from designations made under Sec.  212.51 of the 
proposed rule, on the grounds that snowmobiles have documented impacts 
on wildlife, skiers, and other resource values. Some respondents asked 
the agency to include a noise level limit for snowmobiles and other 
provisions specific to snowmobiles. Other respondents asked the Forest 
Service to remove provisions governing snowmobiles from the rule and 
exclude snowmobiles from the definition of ``off-highway vehicle.''
    Response. Snowmobiles are ``off-road vehicles'' under E.O. 11644 
and subject to the direction ``to provide for administrative 
designation of the specific areas and trails on public lands on which 
the use of off-road vehicles may be permitted, and areas in which the 
use of off-road vehicles may not be permitted'' (E.O. 11644, Sec. 
3(a)). Moreover, snowmobiles are ``motor vehicles'' under this final 
rule. Since this rule regulates motor vehicle use, the rule must 
address snowmobiles.
    However, the Department believes that cross-country use of 
snowmobiles presents a different set of management issues and 
environmental impacts than cross-country use of other types of motor 
vehicles.
    Therefore, the final rule exempts snowmobiles from the mandatory 
designation scheme provided for under Sec.  212.51, but retains a 
manager's ability to allow, restrict, or prohibit snowmobile travel, as 
appropriate, on a case-by-case basis (Sec.  212.81). Restrictions and 
prohibitions on snowmobile use will be enforced under Sec.  261.14, 
rather than through issuance of an order under part 261, subpart B.
    The definition of ``snowmobile'' in the proposed rule encompassed 
large vehicles not commonly referred to as ``snowmobiles,'' but 
excluded over-snow vehicles also capable of summer travel. In order to 
improve clarity and ensure equitable treatment of over-snow vehicle 
use, the final rule replaces the exemption for snowmobiles with an 
exemption for ``over-snow vehicles,'' a broader term that includes 
snowmobiles, as well as other vehicles designed for over-snow travel. 
The final rule adds language to Sec.  212.81(c) to clarify that the 
designation process applies to over-snow vehicles only where the local 
responsible official proposes to establish restrictions or prohibitions 
on use of over-snow vehicles under this subpart.
    The Department expects that management of winter recreational use 
will continue to be an important issue on many National Forests. 
Nothing in this final rule limits the ability of Forest Service 
managers to take appropriate action to regulate snowmobile use, or 
other winter uses, or precludes the Department from promulgating 
regulations on snowmobile use at some point in the future.

Specific Sections by Part

Part 212--Travel Management

Subpart A--Administration of the Forest Transportation System
    Section 212.1. This section of the rule includes the definitions 
for part 212, which governs administration of the forest transportation 
system, designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use, 
and use by over-snow vehicles.
    Definition for ``administrative unit.''
    Comment. Respondents suggested clarifying that this definition 
embraces all NFS lands, including National Recreation Areas and other 
Congressionally designated areas.
    Response. National Forests and National Grasslands include many 
classifications, including National Recreation Areas and 
Congressionally Designated Areas. The purpose of including a definition 
for administrative unit was not to delineate the types of areas within 
the NFS, but rather to refer to a discrete management unit within the 
NFS for purposes of triggering designation of motor vehicle use under 
the final rule. To ensure that the definition for ``administrative 
unit'' encompasses all NFS lands, the final rule adds purchase units, 
land utilization projects, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic 
Area to the list of administrative units. The final rule also adds ``or 
other comparable units of the National Forest System'' to the 
definition so that if Congress establishes new administrative units of 
the NFS, they will be included within this definition.
    Definition for ``all-terrain vehicle,'' ``considerable adverse 
effects,'' ``motorcycle,'' and ``off-highway vehicle.''
    Comment. Although not included in the proposed rule, respondents 
suggested including these definitions in the final rule.
    Response. The Department agrees that it would be helpful to add a 
definition for ``off-highway vehicle,'' since cross-country travel by 
OHVs is a major concern of this final rule. Therefore, the Department 
is adding a definition for ``off-highway vehicle'' to the final rule. 
The Department is not adding a definition for ``all-terrain vehicle'' 
and ``motorcycle'' because they are only two of many different types of 
OHVs and because the final rule does not distinguish among types of 
OHVs. The Department also is not adding a definition for ``considerable 
adverse effects'' because a determination of considerable adverse 
effects caused by motor vehicle use for purposes of effecting a 
temporary, emergency closure under Sec.  212.52(b)(2) of the final rule 
depends on specific factual circumstances in certain contexts. Specific 
circumstances may include public safety or soil, vegetation, wildlife, 
wildlife habitat, or cultural

[[Page 68274]]

resources associated with a particular road, trail, or area.
    Definition for ``area.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should allow 
large areas to be designated for motor vehicle use and should provide 
for consideration of all NFS lands as designated areas.
    Other respondents stated that the final rule should not allow 
designation of areas for motor vehicle use. If such designation is 
allowed, these respondents believed that only areas much smaller than a 
Ranger District should be designated, after site-specific analysis 
demonstrating no environmental impacts, and no Forest should be 
required to have a designated area.
    Response. Areas designated for motor vehicle use are not intended 
to be large or numerous. The Department agrees that the definition in 
the proposed rule, ``a discrete, specifically delineated space that is 
smaller than a Ranger District,'' is too broad to effectuate this 
intent. Therefore, the Department has revised the definition of 
``area'' in the final rule to read, ``a discrete, specifically 
delineated space that is smaller, and in most cases much smaller, than 
a Ranger District.'' Only a few areas currently designated for motor 
vehicle use, such as the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on the 
Siuslaw National Forest, encompass a significant portion of a Ranger 
District. Other designated areas are expected to be much smaller.
    While areas are not intended to be large or numerous, the 
Department believes that it is appropriate to designate some areas for 
motor vehicle use. These areas would have natural resource 
characteristics that are suitable for motor vehicle use, or would be so 
significantly altered by past actions that motor vehicle use might be 
appropriate. Routes and areas under the final rule will be designated 
at the local level, based upon appropriate environmental analysis. 
Federal law does not require the Forest Service to demonstrate that 
there are no environmental impacts from designation of areas.
    Under the final rule, no administrative unit or Ranger District 
will be required to designate an area.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should not 
include a presumption for designation of previously disturbed sites. 
Instead, these respondents believed the rule should provide examples of 
sites that would not be appropriate.
    Response. Neither the proposed nor the final rule establishes a 
presumption for designation of previously disturbed sites. Rather, the 
preamble to the proposed rule generally discussed possible 
characteristics of an area. The characteristics of an area are not 
enumerated in the definition of an area to give the agency the 
flexibility to designate areas for motor vehicle use as appropriate, 
given the variety of natural features, resources, and uses on NFS 
lands.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should expand 
the definition of area to encompass specific uses, such as grazing, 
hunting, firewood gathering, camping, and religious, customary, and 
cultural practices.
    Other respondents asked the agency to encourage designation of 
areas wherever there is a high density of existing routes, to save time 
in conducting an inventory of existing routes.
    Response. It is not necessary to expand the definition of area to 
encompass specific uses, such as grazing. The final rule provides for 
designation of NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands for motor 
vehicle use, and prohibits motor vehicle use other than in accordance 
with those designations. Motor vehicle use that is specifically 
authorized pursuant to a written authorization issued under Federal law 
(Sec.  261.13(h) of the final rule) is exempted from this prohibition. 
In addition, in making these designations, the responsible official 
must recognize valid existing rights (Sec.  212.55(d) of the final 
rule).
    To address specific local needs for limited cross-country motor 
vehicle use for big game retrieval or dispersed camping, the Department 
is adding a paragraph to Sec.  212.51 of the final rule. This new 
paragraph provides that in designating routes, the responsible official 
may include in the designation the limited use of motor vehicles within 
a specified distance of certain designated routes, and if appropriate 
within specified time periods, solely for the purposes of big game 
retrieval or dispersed camping.
    Some areas of high route density may be appropriate for designation 
as areas. Others will not. The Department believes that designation 
decisions should be made at the local level, based on site-specific 
evaluation of local conditions and public involvement.
    Definition for ``designated road, trail, or area.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should not 
make a use map a part of the travel management atlas due to confusion 
that may result if the atlas is not updated. Respondents further 
commented that this requirement is redundant, since the definition of 
``use map'' already states that it is part of a travel management 
atlas.
    Response. The Department disagrees that including a use map in a 
travel management atlas will lead to confusion if the atlas is not 
updated because in the final rule revisions to designations will be 
reflected on a motor vehicle use map (Sec.  251.56).
    The Department agrees that it is unnecessary to state in the 
definition for designated road, trail, or area that a motor vehicle use 
map is contained in a travel management atlas because the definition 
for travel management atlas states that it includes the motor vehicle 
use map or maps. Therefore, the Department is removing the phrase, 
``contained in a travel management atlas'' from the definition for 
designated road, trail, or area. For the same reason, the Department is 
removing the phrase ``that is part of a travel management atlas'' from 
the definition for ``motor vehicle use map.'' Similarly, the Department 
is removing the phrase ``that is [or `are'] included in a forest 
transportation atlas'' from the definitions for ``forest road or 
trail'' and ``forest transportation system'' because the definition for 
``forest transportation atlas'' states that it displays the system of 
roads, trails, and airfields of an administrative unit.
    Comment. Some respondents requested that the final rule address 
designation of routes for nonmotorized as well as motorized uses and 
stated that the proposed rule text contradicts the preamble in this 
regard.
    Response. The purpose of this rule is to provide better and more 
consistent management of motor vehicle use on National Forests and 
National Grasslands. Regulation of nonmotorized use is beyond the scope 
of this rulemaking. The Department agrees that discussion of 
nonmotorized use in the preamble may have led to some confusion in this 
regard. For management and enforcement purposes, it would be better for 
the use map to be dedicated to motor vehicle uses. As stated above, in 
the final rule, the Department is changing the term ``use map'' to 
``motor vehicle use map.'' Only motor vehicle uses will be reflected on 
this map.
    The Department wishes to clarify that designation of a road, trail, 
or area for motor vehicle use does not establish that use as dominant 
or exclusive of other uses of that road, trail, or area.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the final rule to clarify whether 
OHV use on designated roads is permissible.
    Response. In the final rule, designation decisions, including

[[Page 68275]]

designations by vehicle class, will be made at the local level. The 
Department anticipates the need to mix highway-legal and non-highway-
legal traffic on some NFS roads. These designation decisions will be 
advised by engineering judgment or an engineering study, as 
appropriate.
    Definition for ``forest transportation atlas.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that a forest transportation atlas 
should include all open roads and trails, closed roads and trails, 
user-created roads and trails, rights-of-way, and public and private 
roads.
    Response. The final rule is not substantively changing the 
definition of a forest transportation atlas. However, the final rule 
simplifies the definition by deleting the list of possible forms (such 
as geospatial and tabular) the data might take and the reference to the 
data's purpose. In the final rule, a forest transportation atlas is 
defined as a display of the system of roads, trails, and airfields of 
an administrative unit.
    Forest roads and forest trails are included in a forest 
transportation atlas. Forest roads and forest trails are wholly or 
partly within or adjacent to and serving the NFS that the Forest 
Service determines are necessary for the protection, administration, 
and utilization of the NFS and the use and development of its 
resources.
    Roads, trails, and areas designated for motor vehicle use under the 
final rule will be reflected on a motor vehicle use map. Under the 
final rule, motor vehicle use off designated routes and outside 
designated areas will be prohibited by Sec.  261.13.
    A travel management atlas will contain a forest transportation 
atlas and a motor vehicle use map or maps.
    Definition for ``motor vehicle.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should clarify 
that both tracked and wheeled vehicles are included in this definition.
    Response. The definition for motor vehicle is broad enough to 
include both tracked and wheeled vehicles. The definition excludes only 
vehicles operated on rails and wheelchairs and mobility devices that 
meet certain criteria.
    Definitions for ``new road construction,'' ``road reconstruction,'' 
and ``forest transportation facility.''
    Definitions for ``new road construction'' and ``road 
reconstruction'' were not included in the proposed rule. However, the 
Department is making a technical change to conform these definitions in 
Sec.  212.1 to the definition for ``construction'' in the Federal 
Highway Act, 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(3). Consistent with that statute, ``road 
construction or reconstruction'' will be defined in Sec.  212.1 as 
``supervising, inspecting, actual building, and incurrence of all costs 
incidental to the construction or reconstruction of a road.'' This 
change is consistent with other technical changes made to definitions 
in part 212 to make them conform to 23 U.S.C. 101.
    The Department is also making a technical change to conform the 
definition for ``forest transportation facility'' to the other 
definitions in this final rule by replacing the reference to 
``classified roads'' with ``forest roads.'' In addition, the Department 
is changing the term ``log transfer facilities'' to ``marine access 
facilities'' in this definition because these facilities, which connect 
roads to the Pacific Ocean, are used for more than transferring logs. 
These facilities are used for marine access generally, including access 
for recreational purposes.
    Definition for ``road.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should include 
in the definition for a road the phrase, ``constructed, receiving 
regular mechanical maintenance, and suitable for use by a standard 
passenger car.'' Other respondents expressed support for the 
flexibility to identify and manage a road as a trail.
    Response. The definition for a road in part 212 applies to 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. Given the broad application of 
the definition, the Department believes it would be unduly restrictive 
and inaccurate to add the phrase, ``constructed, receiving regular 
mechanical maintenance, and suitable for use by a standard passenger 
car,'' to the definition for a road. Not all roads on NFS lands are 
constructed. Not all roads on NFS lands need regular mechanical 
maintenance, and not all roads on NFS lands are suitable for use by a 
passenger car.
    The definitions for roads and trails give the agency the 
flexibility to identify and manage as a trail routes that are wider 
than 50 inches. Some trails on NFS lands are wider than 50 inches and 
may have the physical characteristics of a road. Some trails are open 
to some full-sized vehicles. Four-wheel-drive travel ways and trails 
originally constructed as roads or railroad grades are all part of the 
Forest Service trail system. The current definitions for a road and 
trail, which embrace the diverse array of trail opportunities, are 
retained in the final rule.
    Definition for ``road or trail under Forest Service jurisdiction.''
    Comment. Some respondents expressed concern that this definition 
would unnecessarily limit Forest Service authority to enforce traffic 
laws and regulate use on valid rights-of-way and State and county 
roads. Other respondents observed that the Forest Service has the 
authority and a duty to protect NFS lands underlying these routes.
    Response. The final rule provides for designation of NFS roads, NFS 
trails, and areas on NFS lands for motor vehicle use. The Department 
wishes to clarify that this final rule does not in any way affect the 
Forest Service's jurisdiction to enforce traffic laws, to protect NFS 
lands underlying routes, or to regulate use, including use on valid 
rights-of-way. To simplify the definitions in the final rule, the 
Department has moved the phrase ``other than a road or trail that has 
been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a State, 
county, or local public road authority'' from the definition for ``road 
or trail under Forest Service jurisdiction'' to the definitions for 
``National Forest System road'' and ``National Forest System trail,'' 
and deleted the definition for ``road or trail under Forest Service 
jurisdiction.''
    Motor vehicle use on State, county, or municipal roads and trails 
authorized by a legally documented right-of-way is subject to the 
control of that State, county, or local public road authority. These 
roads and trails are not subject to designations made under the final 
rule, or to the prohibition on motor vehicle use off designated routes 
and outside designated areas.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that private rights-of-way should 
be excluded from the definition of a road or trail under Forest Service 
jurisdiction.
    Response. Section 212.55(d) of the final rule requires responsible 
officials in making designations to recognize valid existing rights, 
including valid outstanding or reserved rights-of-way for a road or 
trail. The Forest Service may not regulate uses within the scope of 
these rights-of-way if the agency has not acquired the right to do so. 
However, the agency may regulate use on these rights-of-way if it has 
obtained the right to do so. Some private rights-of-way may be forest 
roads. Others may not be ``necessary for the protection, 
administration, and utilization of the National Forest System,'' and 
are not forest roads. Because there are many different local 
permutations involving

[[Page 68276]]

different rights, some of which include Forest Service regulation of 
some uses, the Department does not believe it would be appropriate to 
exclude these rights-of-way from the definition of a NFS road or NFS 
trail.
    In the definition of ``road'' in the final rule, the Department is 
removing the sentence, ``A road may be a forest road, a temporary road, 
or an unauthorized or unclassified road,'' and is making a 
corresponding change in the definition of ``trail.'' Some private roads 
are not forest roads, temporary roads, or unauthorized roads. These 
roads may be included in a forest transportation atlas, but are not NFS 
roads and will not be subject to designation under this final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents objected to proposed language regarding 
roads or trails ``which an authorized officer has ascertained, for 
administrative purposes and based on available evidence, is within a 
public right-of-way for a highway, such as a right-of-way for a highway 
pursuant to R.S. 2477.'' These respondents asserted that this language 
would violate the Congressional moratorium on rulemaking concerning 
recognition of these rights-of-way. Other respondents requested clear 
delegation of authority for applying this exclusion, and clarification 
of the process and criteria to be used in ascertaining whether such a 
right-of-way exists. Some respondents suggested that the final rule 
establish that all routes in existence before 1976 are R.S. 2477 
rights-of-way.
    Response. The exemption for a road or trail ``which an authorized 
officer has ascertained, for administrative purposes and based on 
available evidence, is within a public right-of-way for a highway, such 
as a right-of-way for a highway pursuant to R.S. 2477'' has been 
removed from the definition for a road or trail under Forest Service 
jurisdiction in the final rule. As stated above, the remaining text in 
that definition has been moved to the definitions for ``National Forest 
System road'' and ``National Forest System trail'' in the final rule. 
The exemption for legally documented rights-of-way held by State, 
county, or other local public road authorities covers rights-of-way 
under R.S. 2477 that have been adjudicated through the Federal court 
system or otherwise formally established. The Department does not want 
to give the appearance of establishing the validity of unresolved R.S. 
2477 right-of-way claims in determining the applicability of this final 
rule.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should address 
routes that cross private property or otherwise change jurisdiction. 
These respondents expressed concern that popular, user-created routes 
on NFS lands could be closed under the final rule if they are 
accessible only from private land.
    Response. Many roads and trails on NFS lands originate on or cross 
private property. Where the United States holds a right-of-way across 
private property providing access to the National Forest, these routes 
are NFS roads and NFS trails, and subject to possible designation under 
the final rule.
    Some user-created roads and trails on NFS lands cross private 
property. The agency generally will not consider a road or trail on NFS 
lands for designation unless there is legal public access to that road 
or trail. Where access to NFS lands from private property is needed, 
the Forest Service will seek rights-of-way from willing sellers. If 
public access cannot be secured, these routes generally will be closed 
to motor vehicles under the final rule.
    The Department supports public access to Federal land and supports 
the rights of private landowners to control access to their land. A 
designated system of motor vehicle routes should be based on legal 
public access.
    Definition for ``snowmobile.''
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the definition for 
snowmobile in the proposed rule be broadened to include other over-snow 
vehicles, such as tracked ATVs and grooming machines.
    Response. The proposed rule defined snowmobile as ``A motor vehicle 
that is designed exclusively for use over snow and that runs on a track 
or track and/or a ski or skis.'' This definition encompassed large 
vehicles, such as snow cats, not commonly referred to as snowmobiles. 
However, the proposed definition excluded vehicles capable of 
conversion to over-snow use, such as ATVs with tracks. Since the 
proposed definition refers only to the vehicle itself, and not to its 
use, the proposed rule could be read to allow use of snowmobiles in the 
absence of snow off routes and outside areas designated for motor 
vehicle use. The Department believes that over-snow use by tracked 
vehicles has similar environmental effects, regardless of whether the 
vehicle is designed exclusively for use over snow.
    Consequently, the final rule replaces the exemption and definition 
for snowmobiles with an exemption and definition for over-snow vehicles 
(which would include snowmobiles). The final rule also removes the word 
``exclusively'' from the definition, while adding ``while in use over 
snow,'' so that the final definition for over-snow vehicle includes 
motor vehicles that are designed for use over snow and that run on a 
track or track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow. Use by 
over-snow vehicles may be allowed, restricted, or prohibited under part 
212, subpart C.
    Definition for ``temporary road or trail.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that roads and trails in this 
category must be managed as temporary and removed as soon as their 
purpose is served. Otherwise, these respondents believed that they 
should be included in the forest transportation atlas. Other 
respondents stated that the final rule should clarify use and 
designation of temporary routes and explicitly prohibit unauthorized 
motor vehicle use.
    Response. The Department agrees that temporary roads and trails 
must be managed as temporary. In the rule, a temporary road or trail is 
defined as a road or trail necessary for emergency operations or 
authorized by contract, permit, lease, or other written authorization. 
The Forest Service requires that temporary roads and trails be 
decommissioned once the emergency that justified them or their written 
authorization is no longer in effect.
    NFS roads and NFS trails are the only types of routes that will be 
designated for motor vehicle use under this final rule. Temporary roads 
and trails by definition are not forest roads or trails and therefore 
cannot be NFS roads or NFS trails. Therefore, temporary roads and 
trails will not be designated under the final rule.
    Some motor vehicle use on temporary roads may be exempted from 
designations and the corresponding prohibition under the rule, since 
Sec.  212.51(a)(5) and (a)(8) and Sec.  261.13(e) and (h) of the final 
rule exempt emergency motor vehicle use and motor vehicle use allowed 
under a written authorization.
    After designations are complete on an administrative unit or a 
Ranger District, motor vehicle use on that unit or District that is 
inconsistent with the designations will be prohibited under Sec.  
261.13 of the final rule.
    Definition for ``trail.''
    Comment. Some respondents requested that the final rule define 
trails as nonmotorized, or at least clarify whether motor vehicle use 
is permitted on trails. Other respondents asked that the definition of 
trails not exclude use by full-sized vehicles.
    Some respondents stated that the final rule should clearly 
distinguish between roads and trails and suggested a variety of 
criteria for that purpose, including

[[Page 68277]]

setting a 60-inch width for roads to accommodate newer side-by-side 
vehicles on trails, or defining trails as having only a single track. 
Other respondents stated that the distinction between roads and trails 
should not be based on width.
    Respondents suggested several new terms to identify designated 
routes that are open to motor vehicles, but narrower than a road. These 
terms included ``routes,'' ``ways,'' and ``two-track trails'' (as 
opposed to single-track trails). Some respondents suggested that the 
final rule adopt definitions for categories of trails from the FSM and 
FSH.
    Response. The Department has retained the proposed definitions of 
road and trail in the final rule.
    Section 212.51 of the rule explicitly authorizes responsible 
officials to designate NFS trails for motor vehicle use. No 
clarification on this point is needed. The agency has long managed some 
trails as nonmotorized and others as open to a variety of motor 
vehicles.
    The definitions for part 212 distinguish roads from trails based on 
width and management. The Department believes that this distinction is 
clear and objective and makes sense in terms of the way the agency 
manages roads and trails. There is no need to change the definition of 
a trail because the rule already provides the responsible official 
discretion to designate roads and trails for appropriate classes of 
motor vehicles, depending on the circumstances. Some roads may be 
designated for use by non-highway-legal vehicles. Some routes over 50 
inches wide are identified and managed as trails and can accommodate 
wider vehicles.
    The definitions for trails in the rule are keyed to management of 
the forest transportation system, designation of routes and areas for 
motor vehicle use, and management of use by over-snow vehicles. The 
definitions for trails in the FSM and FSH are appropriate for trail 
management in the field and are not needed for the broader purposes of 
part 212. Definitions based on the types of use on trails, such as 
single versus double track or motorized versus nonmotorized, are not 
necessary in the rule, since designations based on vehicle class will 
be made through implementation of the rule at the local level.
    Definition for ``travel management atlas.''
    Comment. Some respondents suggested expanding the definition for 
travel management atlas to encompass nonmotorized routes in order to 
serve a wider number of public and administrative needs.
    Response. Under the final rule, the travel management atlas 
consists of the forest transportation atlas and the motor vehicle use 
map or maps. The forest transportation atlas includes the entire system 
of roads, trails, and airfields of an administrative unit. Therefore, 
the travel management atlas encompasses all NFS roads and NFS trails, 
regardless of whether they are designated for motor vehicle use. 
However, only NFS roads and NFS trails designated for motor vehicle use 
will appear on the motor vehicle use map. Since motor vehicle use maps 
may be developed at the Ranger District level, the final rule 
recognizes that the travel management atlas for a National Forest may 
include one or more motor vehicle use maps.
    Definition for ``unauthorized or unclassified road or trail.''
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that these roads and trails be 
called ``unauthorized motorized routes'' to ensure they are not given 
official status as roads or trails without site-specific analysis. 
Respondents also recommended that the reference in the definition to a 
forest transportation atlas be removed or explained to eliminate the 
implication that a route can be authorized simply by including it in 
the atlas. Other respondents stated that the definition should include 
penalties for creation and use of unauthorized or unclassified routes.
    Response. The Department believes that the term ``unauthorized or 
unclassified road or trail'' is cumbersome and that ``unauthorized'' 
more accurately captures the nature of these routes than 
``unclassified.'' Accordingly, in the final rule, the Department is 
changing ``unauthorized or unclassified road or trail'' to 
``unauthorized road or trail.''
    The definition for unauthorized road or trail (a road or trail that 
is not a forest road or trail or a temporary road or trail and that is 
not included in a forest transportation atlas) makes clear that 
unauthorized roads and trails are not part of the forest transportation 
system and are not officially recognized by the Forest Service.
    Stating that an unauthorized road or trail is not included in a 
forest transportation atlas does not imply that it can be authorized 
simply by including it in the atlas. As stated in the preamble to the 
proposed rule, user-created roads and trails may be identified through 
public involvement and considered in the designation process. After 
public consideration and appropriate site-specific environmental 
analysis, some user-created routes may be designated for motor vehicle 
use pursuant to Sec.  212.51 of the final rule. These routes would 
become NFS roads or NFS trails and would be included in a forest 
transportation atlas and reflected on a motor vehicle use map.
    The final rule contains a prohibition at 36 CFR 261.13 pertaining 
to motor vehicle use. Under this provision, after NFS roads, NFS 
trails, and areas on NFS lands have been designated pursuant to 36 CFR 
212.51 on an administrative unit or a Ranger District, it is prohibited 
to possess or operate a motor vehicle on NFS lands in that unit or 
District other than in accordance with those designations. At that 
point, motor vehicle use off designated routes and outside designated 
areas will be prohibited under Sec.  261.13.
    Section 212.2(a). This section of the rule governs the travel 
management atlas.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the travel management 
atlas be available at Ranger Districts and on the internet.
    Response. The current rule provides that the forest transportation 
atlas is to be available to the public at the headquarters of each 
administrative unit of the Forest Service. Likewise, the final rule 
provides that the travel management atlas, consisting of the forest 
transportation atlas and the motor vehicle use map or maps, is to be 
available to the public at the headquarters of each administrative unit 
of the Forest Service. The Department believes it is unnecessary to 
require each Ranger District to maintain a complete travel management 
atlas (which encompasses all forest roads and trails for the entire 
National Forest). The motor vehicle use map will be available at the 
corresponding Ranger District. The Forest Service also intends to post 
motor vehicle use maps on the internet and gradually to post travel 
management atlases (a more complicated job) on the internet. The 
Department is adding language in Sec.  212.56 to require that motor 
vehicle use maps be made available on appropriate Web sites as soon as 
practicable.
    Section 212.2(b). This section of the rule governs the forest 
transportation atlas.
    Comment. Some respondents commented that updating the forest 
transportation atlas to reflect new information should be mandatory, 
rather than discretionary. Respondents also stated that all long-
standing roads should be shown on a forest transportation atlas. Other 
respondents stated that temporary roads should be shown on a forest 
transportation atlas while they exist.

[[Page 68278]]

    Some respondents stated that the final rule should require National 
Forests to create a forest transportation atlas, so that they cannot 
close all routes by failing to create the atlas.
    Response. Section 212.2(b) of the final rule allows a forest 
transportation atlas to be updated, rather than requiring it to be 
updated. Under the final rule, forest roads and trails are included in 
a forest transportation atlas. Temporary roads and trails are not 
forest roads and trails and therefore are not included in a forest 
transportation atlas and are not designated for motor vehicle use. It 
would be cumbersome to add temporary roads and trails to the atlas and 
remove them once they are no longer authorized.
    The current rule at Sec.  212.2(a) requires the responsible 
official for every administrative unit of the Forest Service to develop 
and maintain a forest transportation atlas. Likewise, Sec.  212.2(a) of 
the final rule requires the responsible official for every 
administrative unit of the Forest Service to develop and maintain a 
travel management atlas, which consists of a forest transportation 
atlas and a motor vehicle use map or maps.
    The Department has removed the citation to Sec.  200.1 after the 
reference to the Forest Service's directive system in Sec.  212.2(b) of 
the final rule.
    Section 212.5(a)(1). This section of the rule governs traffic rules 
in general.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should not 
allow preemption of State traffic laws and that the Forest Service 
should not allow uses that are illegal on public, State, or county 
roads. One respondent maintained that the proposed rule would revoke 
water rights for miners. Other respondents asked the Forest Service to 
retain the authority to preempt State law.
    Response. Under the current rule, traffic on roads is subject to 
State traffic laws where applicable, except when in conflict with the 
Forest Service's prohibitions at 36 CFR part 261. If there is a 
conflict, the agency's prohibitions preempt State traffic laws. To 
ensure that the agency's intent with respect to designation of roads, 
trails, and areas is fully effectuated, the proposed and final rules 
also provide for preemption of State traffic laws when they conflict 
with those designations. No other preemption of State laws is 
authorized. The final rule does not revoke water rights for miners.
    Section 212.5(a)(2)(ii). This section of the rule contains specific 
traffic rules.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the final rule include and 
distinguish among varieties of OHVs, including ATVs, motorcycles, and 
buggies, and recognize different needs of users of different vehicles. 
Respondents also suggested providing national definitions of vehicle 
classes. Respondents recommended recognizing ATVs as a specific class 
of OHV.
    Response. This section of the rule in part 212, subpart A, which 
authorizes restricting use of roads by certain classes of vehicles or 
types of traffic as provided in 36 CFR part 261, is separate from the 
provisions for designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor 
vehicle use in part 212, subpart B. Part 212, subpart B, provides for 
designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use by 
vehicle class. Since new classes of vehicles are introduced on a 
regular basis and designations will be made at the local level, the 
rule does not need to define different types of OHVs at a national 
level.
    The vehicle classes enumerated in Sec.  212.5(a)(2)(ii) are 
illustrative, rather than exhaustive. The Department agrees that ATVs 
are a common type of OHV and has added ``all-terrain vehicles'' to the 
list of vehicle classes in Sec.  212.5(a)(2)(ii). The Department has 
removed ``automobiles'' from the list, since ``passenger cars'' are 
already included.
    Section 212.7. This section of the rule governs access procurement 
by the United States.
    There were no comments received on this section of the proposed 
rule. However, the Department is changing the heading and text of Sec.  
212.7(a) to conform to terminology used elsewhere in part 212 and in 
the definitions for ``forest road,'' ``National Forest System road,'' 
and ``National Forest System trail'' in the final rule.
    Section 212.10. This section of the rule governs maximum economy 
NFS roads.
    No comments were received on this section of the proposed rule. The 
Department has not made any changes to this section.
Subpart B--Designation of Roads, Trails, and Areas for Motor Vehicle 
Use
    Section 212.50. This section governs the purpose and scope of part 
212, subpart B.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should specify 
whether current land management plans, closures, and open areas remain 
in effect while designation decisions are pending.
    Respondents suggested that the purpose and scope section summarize 
available information on monitoring and other aspects of management of 
motor vehicle use in National Forests.
    Some respondents requested clarification that State law governs 
motor vehicle use on legally documented rights-of-way held by States, 
counties, or local public road authorities.
    Response. The prohibition pertaining to motor vehicle use in the 
final rule at Sec.  261.13 explicitly states that it is not triggered 
until NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands have been 
designated pursuant to 36 CFR 212.51 on an administrative unit or a 
Ranger District and those designations are identified on a motor 
vehicle use map. Until those designations are complete for the entire 
administrative unit or Ranger District and identified on a motor 
vehicle use map, existing authorities and orders regarding motor 
vehicle use remain in effect.
    The purpose and scope section of subpart B provides for a system of 
NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are designated for 
motor vehicle use and a prohibition to enforce those designations. 
Available information on monitoring and other aspects of management of 
motor vehicle use in National Forests is more appropriately addressed 
in the preamble to the proposed and final rules.
    Designations and prohibitions under this rule do not apply to 
legally documented rights-of-way held by States, counties, or other 
local public road authorities. Only NFS roads and NFS trails may be 
designated for motor vehicle use under the final rule. The definitions 
of ``National Forest System road'' and ``National Forest System trail'' 
exclude legally documented rights-of-way held by States, counties, or 
other local public road authorities. In addition, the prohibition 
pertaining to motor vehicle use specifically exempts use of a road or 
trail that is authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a 
State, county, or other local public road authority.
    As previously described, the final rule includes a new paragraph 
(b) in Sec.  212.50 to clarify that previous travel management 
decisions may be incorporated in designations.
    Section 212.51. This section of the rule governs designation of 
roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use.
    Comment. Some respondents commented that the final rule should 
require a designation decision to be consistent with the applicable 
land management plan. Other respondents stated that the final rule 
should provide for reconsideration of decisions made in land management 
plans.
    Response. Under the National Forest Management Act, project-level 
decisions, including designation of

[[Page 68279]]

routes for motor vehicle use, must be consistent with the applicable 
land management plan. If a proposed designation is not consistent with 
the land management plan, the responsible official must either change 
the proposed designation or propose an amendment to the plan.
    Since under some land management plans, large areas of NFS lands 
are open to cross-country motor vehicle travel, the Department expects 
that some land management plan amendments will be proposed and 
considered during implementation of the final rule. However, the 
Department does not believe that the final rule should provide for 
reconsideration of all travel management decisions made in land 
management plans. Reconsideration of all these decisions would waste 
public resources, disrespect public participation in development of the 
plans, and expand the scope of this travel management rule beyond its 
purposes.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should 
encourage designation decisions to be made case by case at the Ranger 
District level. Other respondents stated that the final rule should not 
allow designation at the Ranger District level to avoid inconsistency, 
to promote enforceability, and to ensure that cumulative effects are 
evaluated. These respondents believed that designation decisions should 
be made only at the National Forest or Regional level.
    Response. The Department believes it is appropriate to give Forest 
Service field officers the flexibility to designate routes and areas 
for an entire administrative unit or for a single Ranger District. 
Designation at the Ranger District level may make sense, given the size 
of some Ranger Districts, which, at over three million acres, are more 
than ten times the size of the smallest administrative units. The 
Department believes that local evaluation and consideration of routes, 
with public involvement and coordination with Federal, State, local, 
and tribal governments, will lead to better decisions and better 
compliance with them.
    Enforcement at these two scales is feasible because the regulation 
specifically authorizes designation at these two levels and triggers 
the prohibition pertaining to motor vehicle use once a designation 
decision has been made at either of these levels. Administrative units 
and Ranger Districts are discrete management and geographic units 
within the NFS. The Department believes that Ranger Districts are large 
enough to permit adequate effects analysis for designation decisions 
and that field officers should be given the flexibility to determine 
the appropriate scope for that analysis. The Department believes that 
it would be unwieldy to make designation decisions and comply with the 
associated legal requirements at a Regional scale.
    Section 212.52. This section governs public involvement.
    The Department has changed the title of this section from ``Public 
involvement in the designation process'' to ``Public involvement,'' 
since this section addresses public involvement in the designation 
process (Sec.  212.52(a)) and the absence of public involvement in the 
case of temporary, emergency closures (Sec.  212.52(b)).
    Section 212.52(a). This section of the rule governs public 
involvement in the designation process.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the final rule require 
consultation with user groups. Other respondents requested that the 
final rule include detailed requirements for public involvement in 
route and area designation, including publication of a Federal Register 
notice, legal notices, 60-to-90-day public comment periods, mailings, 
postings on bulletin boards, and postings on internet sites. Some 
respondents requested that the final rule provide for public notice and 
comment on inventories of routes and areas, as well as on designation 
decisions.
    Response. Consistent with E.O. 11644, E.O. 11989, and Sec.  212.52 
of the proposed rule, the final rule requires public participation 
generally rather than consultation with specific parties in the 
designation of roads, trails, and areas pursuant to the rule. Also 
consistent with the E.O.s and Sec.  212.52 of the proposed rule, the 
final rule does not enumerate specific requirements for public 
involvement, so as to give field officers flexibility in meeting the 
requirement to give advance notice to allow for public comment on 
proposed designations and revisions to designations.
    The Department believes that public involvement associated with the 
NEPA process will often fulfill the requirements of Sec.  212.52(a). 
Rather than duplicating existing requirements for public involvement, 
the Department is adding language to Sec.  212.52(a) of the final rule 
to establish that advance notice and public comment will be consistent 
with agency procedures under NEPA.
    The Department does not believe it is necessary to provide for 
public notice and comment on inventories of routes and areas. NFS roads 
and NFS trails are reflected in the forest transportation atlases. 
User-created routes on NFS lands that have resulted from cross-country 
motor vehicle use may be identified through public involvement and 
considered in the designation process under the final rule. These 
routes will not necessarily be inventoried. The decision about which 
routes and areas to designate, rather than the gathering of information 
prior to designation, is the decision point with substantive effects on 
users and the environment. Designation decisions will be subject to 
public notice and comment as provided in Sec.  212.52(a).
    Section 212.52(b)(1). This section of the rule addresses temporary, 
emergency closures without advance public notice.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the final rule allow 
cooperative work, volunteer work, or mitigation to address 
environmental problems associated with motor vehicle use of routes as 
an alternative to temporary, emergency closures.
    Response. Section 212.52(b)(1) of the proposed and final rules 
restates existing authority in Sec.  295.3 to implement temporary, 
emergency closures pursuant to 36 CFR part 261, subpart B. This 
authority augments other measures that might be taken to address 
resource protection or to protect public health and safety, including 
cooperative work, volunteer work, and mitigation.
    Section 212.52(b)(2). This section of the rule governs temporary, 
emergency closures based on a determination of considerable adverse 
effects.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should restore 
``including public input,'' from 36 CFR 295.5, after ``If, based on 
monitoring pursuant to Sec.  212.57,'' and before ``the responsible 
official determines that motor vehicle use on a National Forest System 
road or a National Forest System trail or in an area on National Forest 
System lands is causing or will cause considerable adverse effects.''
    Response. There is no legal obligation to obtain public input in 
connection with monitoring the effects of motor vehicle use, or in 
making a determination of considerable adverse effects for purposes of 
Sec.  212.52(b)(2). The public is welcome to provide information to the 
responsible official regarding motor vehicle use on routes and in areas 
and to highlight potential problems associated with motor vehicle use 
on particular routes and in particular areas. The Forest Service values 
this input as an important adjunct to agency monitoring efforts. 
However, the Department believes it is not appropriate, and could be 
counter-

[[Page 68280]]

productive, to imply that public input is required in connection with a 
determination of considerable adverse effects pursuant to 
Sec. 212.52(b)(2).
    To track the language of E.O. 11644 more precisely and to clarify 
that monitoring pursuant to Sec.  212.57 is not the only potential 
source of information about ``considerable adverse effects,'' the 
Department is removing ``based on monitoring pursuant to Sec.  212.57'' 
from the final rule. This section now begins ``If the responsible 
official determines that motor vehicle use * * * ''
    Comment. Some respondents requested that the word ``mitigated'' be 
removed from Sec.  212.52(b) in the final rule, or that the final rule 
include a standard for mitigation, such as ``to a level of 
insignificance.'' These respondents contended that the addition of 
``mitigated'' in Sec.  212.52(b) weakens the strong wording of E.O. 
11644 and E.O. 11989 which, according to these respondents, require 
such effects to be eliminated. These respondents maintained that the 
explanation for the addition of ``mitigated'' in the preamble to the 
proposed rule is contradictory.
    Response. The Department believes that temporary, emergency 
closures based on a determination of considerable adverse effects 
should remain in place until the effects have been mitigated or 
eliminated. Use of only the term ``eliminated'' could be read to imply 
that the closure must stay in place until there is no effect 
whatsoever, a practical impossibility in some situations. By 
``mitigated,'' the Department means the effects will be reduced to the 
point where they are not considerable adverse effects. The Department 
believes that the inclusion of both terms, ``mitigated or eliminated,'' 
better expresses the intent of the E.O.s. Where motor vehicle use 
directly causes or will directly cause considerable adverse effects, 
use must be stopped until the considerable adverse effects have been 
mitigated or eliminated. The final rule further requires that the 
closure remain in place until measures have been implemented to prevent 
future recurrence.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should limit 
temporary, emergency closures to one year as in Sec.  295.3 of the 
current rule and should require documentation of impacts and 
consideration of alternatives before closure. Respondents suggested 
changing ``considerable adverse effects,'' which they believed is vague 
and open to interpretation, to ``irreversible physical harm.''
    Response. The Department believes it is appropriate to retain the 
flexibility to implement a temporary, emergency closure for a period 
that is longer than a year, if warranted by the situation. E.O. 11644, 
as amended by E.O. 11989, requires that the closure remain in place 
until the considerable adverse effects have been eliminated (mitigated 
or eliminated in the final rule). Setting a mandatory expiration date 
could conflict with this requirement.
    Requiring formal documentation of impacts and consideration of 
alternatives also could frustrate the purpose of the E.O.s and this 
final rule, which require the responsible official to close a road, 
trail, or area immediately when motor vehicle use on that route or in 
that area is causing considerable adverse effects. However, the 
Department is adding ``directly'' before ``causing'' and ``cause'' in 
Sec.  212.52(b)(2) of the final rule to clarify that the motor vehicle 
use must directly cause a considerable adverse effect to be subject to 
this section. The Department is also including a requirement for public 
notice of the closure pursuant to 36 CFR 261.51, including reasons for 
the closure and the estimated duration of the closure, as soon as 
practicable following the closure.
    The Department does not believe that it would be appropriate to 
substitute ``irreversible physical harm'' for ``considerable adverse 
effects'' as the trigger for a temporary, emergency closure under the 
final rule. The E.O.s provide that a determination of considerable 
adverse effects will trigger a temporary, emergency closure. In 
addition, the E.O.s and this final rule provide for the closure to be 
lifted when the considerable adverse effects have been redressed. If 
irreversible harm, which is permanent, is the trigger, the closure 
could never be lifted.
    For consistency with Sec.  212.51, the Department is removing 
``Forest Supervisor or other'' before ``responsible official'' in Sec.  
212.52(b)(2) of the final rule. The Department is making the same 
change in Sec. Sec.  212.53 and 212.57 of the final rule. In addition, 
the Department is changing the phrase ``cultural or historic 
resources'' in Sec.  212.52(b)(2) to ``cultural resources'' because the 
phrase ``cultural resources'' includes historic resources for purposes 
of the National Historic Preservation Act.
    Section 212.53. This section of the rule governs coordination with 
Federal, State, county, and other local governmental entities and 
tribal governments.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should require 
consultation with gateway communities and State tourism offices.
    Response. Section 212.53 of the final rule requires coordination 
with appropriate Federal, State, county, and other local governmental 
entities and tribal governments in implementing the final rule. State 
governments are organized differently across the country. While the 
Department relies on States to identify the appropriate points of 
contact, State tourism offices generally would fall into this category. 
``Gateway communities'' is a broad term encompassing county and local 
governments in the vicinity of a National Forest. The Department 
believes that coordination with State, local, and tribal governments is 
critical to the success of this final rule. Not only can their programs 
be affected by designation of NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS 
lands under the final rule, but they often maintain their own networks 
of roads intertwined with the Forest Service's system of roads and 
trails.
    Section 212.54. This section of the rule governs revision of 
designations.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should make 
designations permanent, rather than subject to future review and 
reconsideration. Other respondents suggested that the rule provide for 
development of new trails, and avoid the implication that the system 
designated pursuant to this final rule represents all the routes that 
will ever be approved for motor vehicle use. Some respondents stated 
that the final rule should allow users to continue to develop new 
trails independent of the Forest Service.
    Response. The Department believes that field officers need to be 
able to revise designations made pursuant to the final rule to meet 
changing conditions. This flexibility is consistent with E.O. 11644, 
which provides for closure of designated routes based on environmental 
impacts. Section 212.54 of the final rule will allow for revisions to 
designations to reflect changes in environmental conditions, recreation 
demand, and other factors identified through monitoring pursuant to 
Sec.  212.57 of the final rule. These revisions may include additions 
to the system of designated routes, as well as route closures. New 
motor vehicle routes can be planned, constructed, and designated after 
appropriate public involvement and environmental analysis. The 
Department does not agree that users should construct new routes 
without agency approval. Trail construction without a written 
authorization from the Forest Service is prohibited by Sec.  261.10(a).

[[Page 68281]]

    The Department has added language to Sec.  212.54 of the final rule 
to clarify that revision of designations shall include coordination 
with Federal, State, county, and other local governmental entities and 
tribal governments as provided under Sec.  212.53.
    Section 212.55. This section of the rule governs the criteria for 
designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested consolidating Sec.  212.55(a), 
(b), and (c) to reduce redundancy and to provide the same standards for 
motor vehicle use on roads and trails.
    Response. The general criteria of Sec.  212.55(a) and the specific 
criteria of Sec.  212.55(b) are taken directly from E.O. 11644. The 
E.O. applies only to trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use. 
However, the Department believes that the general criteria cited in the 
E.O. are of such universal applicability that they should be considered 
in designating roads, as well as trails and areas. Therefore, 
Sec. 212.55(a) describes criteria to be considered in all designations.
    Section 212.55(b), on the other hand, reflects the specific 
criteria to be used in designating trails and areas under the E.O. 
Section 212.55(c) contains specific criteria for designation of roads 
drawn from existing Forest Service transportation policy. The 
Department believes that consolidating these sections into a single set 
of criteria for roads, trails, and areas would not provide the 
opportunity to address the different management challenges and 
opportunities in different contexts.
    Section 212.55(a). This section of the rule contains general 
criteria for designation of NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS 
lands.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested removing ``minimization of 
conflicts among uses of NFS lands'' and other criteria unrelated to 
physical and biological impacts. These respondents stated that the 
government should not eliminate one use to avoid conflict with another 
and asked that the final rule specify that motorized and nonmotorized 
use on the same route does not represent a conflict.
    Response. The references to use conflicts in this section are taken 
from E.O. 11644. In issuing this E.O., President Nixon directed 
agencies to take conflicts among uses into account in designating 
trails and areas for motor vehicle use. The Department believes that 
some trails can accommodate both motorized and nonmotorized uses. 
However, the Department also believes that some trails are better 
managed for one use or the other, and that providing separate trail 
systems can sometimes result in better recreational experiences for all 
users.
    The Department is changing the phrase ``National Forest System 
resources'' in Sec.  212.55(a) to ``National Forest System natural and 
cultural resources'' to make it clear that this criterion includes 
cultural, as well as natural, resources on NFS lands. To emphasize 
consideration of effects through a public process, the Department is 
replacing ``protection of'' prior to ``National Forest System 
resources'' with ``effects on'' and removing ``promotion of'' before 
``public safety'' and ``minimization of'' before ``conflicts among 
uses.''
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should ensure 
that no routes are designated unless there is funding for maintenance 
and enforcement. Other respondents asked field officials to consider 
the availability of volunteers and cooperators in evaluating resources 
available for maintenance.
    Response. The Department agrees that availability of resources 
should be a consideration in designating routes for motor vehicle use. 
Section 212.55(a) of the proposed and final rules include as a 
criterion for designation ``the need for maintenance and administration 
of roads, trails, and areas that would arise if the uses under 
consideration are designated; and the availability of resources for 
that maintenance and administration.'' The Department believes, 
however, that this determination involves the exercise of judgment and 
discretion on the part of the responsible official. At times, resources 
are scarce, and the Department does not believe that this scarcity 
should lead to blanket closures of NFS lands to recreational users. 
Volunteers and cooperators can supplement agency resources for 
maintenance and administration, and their contributions should be 
considered in this evaluation.
    Section 212.55(b). This section of the rule contains specific 
criteria for designation of trails and areas.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested rewriting the criteria in this 
section to make clear that some level of impacts is acceptable. Other 
respondents stated that the final rule should retain what they 
characterized as the mandatory language from E.O. 11644 with respect to 
application of the specific criteria for trails and areas 
(``Designation of these areas and trails shall be in accordance with 
the following: areas and trails shall be located to minimize. * * * 
''), rather than what they viewed as the discretionary language in the 
proposed rule (``In designating National Forest System trails and areas 
on National Forest System lands, the responsible official shall 
consider effects on the following, with the objective of minimizing. * 
* *''
    Response. The Department has retained the proposed language, ``the 
responsible official shall consider effects on the following, with the 
objective of minimizing,'' in the final rule. The retained language is 
mandatory with respect to addressing environmental and other impacts 
associated with motor vehicle use of trails and areas. The Department 
believes this language is consistent with E.O. 11644 and better 
expresses its intent. It is the intent of E.O. 11644 that motor vehicle 
use of trails and areas on Federal lands be managed to address 
environmental and other impacts, but that motor vehicle use on Federal 
lands continue in appropriate locations. An extreme interpretation of 
``minimize'' would preclude any use at all, since impacts always can be 
reduced further by preventing them altogether. Such an interpretation 
would not reflect the full context of E.O. 11644 or other laws and 
policies related to multiple use of NFS lands. Neither E.O. 11644, nor 
these other laws and policies, establish the primacy of any particular 
use of trails and areas over any other. The Department believes ``shall 
consider * * * with the objective of minimizing * * *'' will assure 
that environmental impacts are properly taken into account, without 
categorically precluding motor vehicle use.
    Section 212.55(c). This section of the rule contains specific 
criteria for designation of roads.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should clarify 
the application of the criteria in Sec.  212.55(c) to user-created and 
temporary roads. Other respondents suggested that the final rule make 
road management objectives dependent on designation rather than 
designation dependent on road management objectives.
    Response. Only NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands will 
be designated for motor vehicle use under the final rule. Temporary 
roads are not NFS roads and may not be designated. Temporary roads are 
used for emergency purposes or under a written authorization for a 
particular time frame and then decommissioned. Motor vehicle use on a 
temporary road is exempted from designations under Sec.  212.51(a)(5) 
and (a)(8). User-created roads may be considered for designation under 
the criteria in Sec.  212.55 of the final rule. Those that are not 
designated will

[[Page 68282]]

be closed to motor vehicle use by operation of the final rule.
    The Department does not expect road and trail management objectives 
to remain static over time. Road and trail management objectives 
document prior decisions regarding the role of roads and trails in 
providing access to implement land management plans. This information 
about the intent and purpose of roads and trails should be considered 
when making designation decisions under the final rule. However, road 
and trail management objectives must be revised when designations under 
the final rule change motor vehicle use on roads and trails. 
Consequently, the Department has deleted ``consistency with road 
management objectives'' from Sec.  212.55(c) of the final rule. 
Likewise, the Department has deleted ``consistency with trail 
management objectives'' from Sec.  212.55(b) of the final rule. In 
addition, the Department has added compatibility of vehicle class with 
road geometry and road surfacing as a specific criterion for 
designation of roads because this criterion is an important factor in 
assessing public safety in designating roads for motor vehicle use.
    Section 212.55(d). This section of the rule addresses rights of 
access in the context of the designation process.
    Comment. Some respondents stated that the final rule should provide 
clear protection of tribal treaty rights. Other respondents stated that 
the final rule must not revoke valid existing rights-of-way held by 
miners.
    Some respondents stated that the final rule must not interfere with 
rights of access to private property and should recognize private use 
by right for inholders, rather than requiring private use by inholders 
to be authorized by a permit.
    One respondent requested that the proposed rule be revised to 
reflect other provisions of the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act (ANILCA) besides sections 811 and 1110(a).
    Response. Nothing in the final rule revokes any rights-of-way held 
by miners or others or alters or is inconsistent with any treaty rights 
held by tribal governments. In the final rule, the Department clarifies 
this intent by substituting ``recognize'' for ``take into account'' 
with regard to rights of access. Responsible officials will consult 
with affected tribal governments when designating NFS roads, NFS 
trails, and areas on NFS lands, pursuant to FSM 1563.11.
    Section 212.55(d) of the final rule requires responsible officials 
in designating roads, trails, and areas to recognize valid existing 
rights, including valid outstanding or reserved rights-of-way for a 
road or trail. Examples include a valid outstanding or reserved right-
of-way for a road or trail in existence at the time title to the 
underlying land was acquired by the United States, and a right-of-way 
for a road or trail acquired by the United States where the owner of 
the underlying land may have retained control of the right-of-way and 
may have reserved the right to allow others to use it. The Forest 
Service may not regulate uses within the scope of these rights-of-way 
if the agency has not acquired the right to do so. However, the agency 
may regulate use on these rights-of-way if the agency has obtained the 
right to do so.
    Section 1323(a) of ANILCA provides property owners within the 
boundaries of the NFS certain rights of access across NFS lands. 
According to the terms of ANILCA, such access shall be ``subject to 
such terms and conditions as the Secretary of Agriculture may 
prescribe,'' and ``as the Secretary deems adequate to secure to the 
owner the reasonable use and enjoyment thereof: Provided, That such 
owner comply with rules and regulations applicable to ingress and 
egress to or from the National Forest System'' (16 U.S.C. 3210(a)). 
While ANILCA provides certain rights to property owners, those rights 
are subject to such reasonable terms and conditions as the Forest 
Service may prescribe in a written authorization.
    Some property owners also may possess reserved or outstanding 
rights-of-way or other rights providing access across NFS lands, which 
may or may not require a written authorization from the Forest Service. 
Those rights must be recognized under Sec.  212.55(d). The Department 
believes that questions of valid existing rights are best examined at 
the local level, where they can be individually evaluated.
    The Department is moving the requirement in Sec.  212.55(d)(2) of 
the proposed rule to take into account the provisions concerning rights 
of access in sections 811 and 1110(a) of ANILCA to Sec.  212.81(c) of 
the final rule, governing establishment of restrictions and 
prohibitions on use by over-snow vehicles, because these sections of 
ANILCA specifically refer to snowmobile use. In addition, the 
Department is changing ``take into account'' to ``recognize'' in Sec.  
212.81(c) of the final rule. In the final rule, the Department is 
citing section 811(b), rather than section 811, because section 811(b) 
contains the reference to snowmobile use. To the extent other 
provisions of ANILCA may address rights for motor vehicle access, they 
are covered by Sec.  212.55(d)(1), which requires that the responsible 
official recognize valid existing rights in making designations under 
the final rule. It is not feasible for the Department to list every 
right that may be implicated in any given situation in designating 
roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use under the final rule.
    Section 212.55(e). This section of the rule addresses wilderness 
areas and primitive areas in the context of the designation process.
    Comment. Some respondents commented that the final rule should 
retain the more comprehensive ban on motor vehicle use in wilderness 
areas contained in the current rule, and drop the exception for motor 
vehicle use authorized in enabling legislation for wilderness areas.
    Response. Mechanical transport and motor vehicles are prohibited in 
wilderness areas unless they are necessary to meet minimum requirements 
for administration of the areas or they are expressly authorized under 
individual statutes designating wilderness areas. The language in Sec.  
212.55(e) proscribing designation of roads, trails, and areas for motor 
vehicle use in wilderness areas, unless motor vehicle use is authorized 
by the applicable enabling legislation for those areas, is required for 
consistency with those statutes.
    To avoid confusion with designated roads, trails, and areas, the 
Department has removed ``Congressionally designated'' before the phrase 
``wilderness areas'' in Sec.  212.55(e) of the final rule.
    Comment. Some respondents requested specific direction on 
protection of wilderness study areas and inventoried roadless areas to 
preserve their roadless, nonmotorized character. Respondents also 
suggested prohibiting motor vehicle use within a buffer zone 
surrounding wilderness areas.
    Response. Management of wilderness study areas established by 
Congress is generally governed by their authorizing legislation. 
Management of inventoried roadless areas is governed by the applicable 
land management plan and Forest Service policy. The Department does not 
believe that additional direction for management of these areas is 
necessary or required in this final rule. Nor does the Department 
believe that it would be appropriate to prohibit motor vehicle use 
within a buffer zone surrounding wilderness areas. Responsible 
officials will consider impacts to nearby wilderness areas, wilderness 
study areas, and inventoried

[[Page 68283]]

roadless areas during the designation process.
    Section 212.56. This section of the rule governs identification of 
designated roads, trails, and areas.
    The Department is making a technical change in the final rule to 
clarify that motor vehicle use maps will be available at Ranger 
District headquarters and as soon as practicable on appropriate Web 
sites, as well as at administrative unit headquarters.
    Section 212.57. This section of the rule governs monitoring of 
effects of motor vehicle use on designated roads and trails and in 
designated areas.
    Comment. Some respondents recommended reinstating the requirement 
for annual review of OHV management from Sec.  295.6 of the current 
rule and including public participation in these reviews to allow for 
adaptive management. Other respondents suggested requiring regular 
updates of motor vehicle use maps and signs marking designated roads, 
trails, and areas.
    Response. The Department supports the concept of adaptive 
management and agrees that monitoring and, if needed, revision of motor 
vehicle designations will be an ongoing part of travel management. 
Since the system of designated routes and areas will change over time, 
the Department anticipates that local units will publish new motor 
vehicle use maps annually and update signs as necessary or appropriate.
    The Department does not believe that a regulatory requirement for 
annual review of OHV management, having no basis in law or the E.O., 
should be imposed. Local review of designations should be conducted as 
needed, and the Department favors providing local officials with 
discretion in determining how often they are conducted.
    The Department is adding ``consistent with the applicable land 
management plan, as appropriate and feasible'' to Sec.  212.57 of the 
final rule to clarify that monitoring should be incorporated into land 
management plans under 36 CFR 219.11 to the extent possible to avoid 
redundant monitoring requirements.
Subpart C--Snowmobile Use
    Comments on snowmobile use are addressed in the response to 
comments on Sec.  261.13 of the proposed rule and the corresponding 
discussion in the preamble to the proposed rule. No specific comments 
were received on this subpart.
    Section 212.81. This section covers over-snow vehicle use.
    The Department has added ``If the responsible official proposes 
restrictions or prohibitions on use by over-snow vehicles under this 
subpart'' to the beginning of Sec.  212.81(c) in the final rule to 
stress that the requirements governing the designation process apply to 
over-snow vehicles only if the responsible official proposes to 
establish restrictions or prohibitions on over-snow vehicle use.

Part 251--Land Uses

    The Department is making a technical change to conform the 
definitions for ``National Forest System road'' and ``National Forest 
System trail'' in part 251 with corresponding definitions in part 212 
of this final rule.

Part 261--Prohibitions

    Section 261.2. This section contains the definitions for part 261.
    In addition to the revised definition for ``motor vehicle,'' Sec.  
261.2 of the final rule contains new definitions for ``administrative 
unit'' and ``area'' and revised definitions for ``National Forest 
System road'' and ``National Forest System trail'' to match the 
definitions added to Sec.  212.1. Comments associated with these 
definitions are addressed under Sec.  212.1. No specific comments were 
received on this section of the proposed rule.
    Section 261.13. This section of the rule prohibits use of motor 
vehicles not in accordance with designations and provides for 
exemptions.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that bicycles should be 
included in the prohibition on use of motor vehicles off designated 
roads and trails and outside designated areas.
    Response. The Department disagrees that bicycles should be 
regulated under the same provisions as motor vehicle use. The 
Department believes that bicycles are distinct from motor vehicles and 
should be managed separately from them and that a nation-wide 
prohibition on cross-country bicycle use is unwarranted at this time. 
Noise (and its impacts on wildlife and other users) is a critical 
distinction between bicycles and motor vehicles. Other differences can 
(depending on the vehicle) include speed, power, weight, and tread 
width.
    Like all uses, including hiking, horseback riding, and motor 
vehicle use, bicycling has environmental impacts and can affect the 
experience of other users. Local Forest Service officials retain 
authority to regulate bicycle use according to their local situation 
and needs. Some National Forests, through travel plans and orders, 
restrict bicycles to particular roads and trails. Others allow cross-
country bicycling.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested that the rule specify penalties 
for violations of Sec. 261.13 and that fines for violations be 
substantially increased.
    Response. Penalties for violations of Sec.  261.13 are beyond the 
scope of this rulemaking and are established by Federal statute. 
Violations of prohibitions in part 261 are Class B misdemeanors, which 
are punishable by a prison term of up to six months (18 U.S.C. 
3559(a)(7); 36 CFR 261.1b). Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3571(e), the $500 
maximum fine specified in Sec.  261.1b is superseded by the $5000 
maximum fine established for Class B misdemeanors in 18 U.S.C. 
3571(b)(6). However, the maximum penalties are rarely imposed for 
violations of the Forest Service's criminal regulations.
    Each Federal judicial district implements a schedule of collateral 
forfeiture amounts for violation of each Federal agency's criminal 
regulations. The applicable collateral forfeiture amount is normally 
entered on a citation issued to violators of Forest Service criminal 
regulations. The applicable collateral forfeiture amount may be paid by 
the violator to end the case without appearing in court. Except for 
serious offenses or those for which a court appearance is mandatory, 
these collateral forfeiture amounts generally are less than $1,000, and 
most are less than $100.
    Restitution also may be required for criminal violations involving 
environmental damage (18 U.S.C. 3663A).
    Comment. Some respondents observed that the rule's prohibition does 
not require signage to take effect and that users are responsible for 
using motor vehicles in accordance with designations reflected on a 
motor vehicle use map. These respondents asked the Forest Service to 
amend the rule to require signage of roads, trails, and areas closed to 
motor vehicle use.
    Response. The Department disagrees with this suggestion. The Forest 
Service will continue to use signs widely to provide information and 
inform users on a variety of topics, including regulations and 
prohibitions. However, the agency has found that posting routes as open 
or closed to particular uses has not always been effective in 
controlling use. One of the reasons is that new unauthorized routes 
continue to proliferate, even in areas closed to cross-country motor 
vehicle use. Requiring each undesignated route and area to be posted as 
closed would be an unreasonable and unnecessary burden on agency 
resources and would tend to defeat the purpose of the final rule. Signs 
have also proven difficult to maintain and subject to vandalism. The 
final rule places more responsibility on

[[Page 68284]]

users to get motor vehicle use maps from Forest Service offices or 
websites and to remain on routes and in areas designated for motor 
vehicle use.
    The Department has added language to the final rule clarifying that 
the prohibition on motor vehicle use other than in accordance with 
designations does not go into effect until designations have been 
identified on a motor vehicle use map.
    Comment. Some respondents suggested replacing the prohibition in 
Sec.  261.13 with a provision restricting motor vehicle use in certain 
areas to people with specific training and endorsement from 
organizations promoting environmental ethics, such as Tread Lightly! or 
the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council.
    Response. The Department appreciates the long-standing work of 
nongovernmental organizations, including user groups, to promote 
environmental ethics and responsible behavior on the part of motor 
vehicle users. These groups make vital contributions to sustainable 
motor vehicle recreation. Nevertheless, the Department declines to 
adopt this suggestion, which would make these nongovernmental 
organizations gatekeepers for Federal lands and resources. Moreover, 
the prohibition in Sec.  261.13 is needed because in many situations 
cross-country motor vehicle use, and in some situations motor vehicle 
use on routes, can cause unacceptable impacts, regardless of driver 
training and endorsement of the driver by organizations promoting 
environmental ethics.
    Comment. Some respondents asked that motorcycles be exempted from 
the prohibition regarding motor vehicle use in Sec.  261.13.
    Response. The Department disagrees with this suggestion. 
Motorcycles are motor vehicles under E.O. 11644 and Sec.  212.1 of this 
final rule. Noise and other impacts of motorcycles can be similar to 
those of other motor vehicles. The final rule seeks to establish a 
common regulatory framework for management of all motor vehicles to 
increase consistency and reduce confusion and lack of compliance. At 
the same time, the Department recognizes that user demands and 
environmental impacts vary by class of vehicle. Many motorcyclists 
prefer to ride on single-track trails too narrow for ATVs and larger 
vehicles. Similarly, some ATV riders prefer to ride on trails not used 
by larger sport utility vehicles. Local Forest Service managers, with 
input from the public, will take these differences into account when 
designating roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use. The 
Department anticipates that many National Forests will designate some 
single-track trails for motorcycles, but not for other motor vehicles.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to remove the 
exemption for snowmobiles from the prohibition regarding motor vehicle 
use in Sec.  261.13 and consolidate Sec. Sec.  261.13 and 261.14. 
Others suggested making the exemption seasonal or limiting it to 
specific dates or snow conditions.
    Response. Use by over-snow vehicles, including snowmobiles, 
presents a distinct suite of issues. A snowmobile traveling over snow 
results in different impacts to natural resource values than motor 
vehicles traveling over the ground. Unlike other motor vehicles 
traveling cross-country, over-snow vehicles traveling cross-country 
generally do not create a permanent trail or have a direct impact on 
soil and ground vegetation. Therefore, the Department believes that use 
by over-snow vehicles should be addressed in separate regulatory 
provisions and that mandatory designation of use by over-snow vehicles 
is not appropriate.
    Nevertheless, since there are impacts associated with use by over-
snow vehicles, and since they are included in the definition of off-
road vehicle in E.O. 11644 and E.O. 11989, the Department is preserving 
the authority currently in part 295 to allow, restrict, or prohibit use 
by over-snow vehicles, including snowmobiles, on a discretionary basis 
in part 212, subpart C. Local Forest Service officials retain authority 
to manage use by over-snow vehicles to address local situations and 
concerns and may establish restrictions based on the season of use or 
local snow conditions that might not make sense nationally. In 
addition, the final rule establishes a prohibition regarding use by 
over-snow vehicles in Sec.  261.14 that is very similar to the 
prohibition regarding motor vehicle use in Sec.  261.13.
    The final rule clarifies that over-snow vehicles qualify as such 
only while in use over snow.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to continue to 
allow motor vehicle use, where appropriate, for activities authorized 
under a written authorization, such as livestock operations, mining, 
logging, firewood collection, and maintenance of pipelines and utility 
corridors.
    Response. The Department agrees that motor vehicle use that is 
specifically authorized under a written authorization issued under 
Federal law or regulations should be exempted from designations made 
under Sec.  212.51 and restrictions and prohibitions established under 
Sec.  212.81, as well as from the prohibitions in Sec. Sec.  261.13 and 
261.14 of the rule. To clarify this intent, the Department is changing 
the exemption from designations in Sec.  212.51(a)(8) and the 
corresponding prohibition in Sec.  261.13(h) from ``use and occupancy 
of National Forest System lands and resources pursuant to a written 
authorization issued under Federal law or regulations'' to ``motor 
vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a written 
authorization issued under Federal law or regulations.'' Likewise, the 
Department is changing the exemption from restrictions and prohibitions 
in Sec.  212.81(b)(5) and the corresponding prohibition in Sec.  
261.14(e) from ``use and occupancy of National Forest System lands and 
resources pursuant to a written authorization issued under Federal law 
or regulations'' to ``use by over-snow vehicles that is specifically 
authorized under a written authorization issued under Federal law or 
regulations.''
    If a written authorization for such activities as livestock 
operations, mining, logging, firewood collection, and maintenance of 
pipelines and utility corridors specifically provides for motor vehicle 
use, that use is exempted from designations and the prohibition 
regarding motor vehicle use and may continue. Local Forest Service 
officials retain the authority to regulate uses under a written 
authorization and to determine whether and under what conditions to 
authorize motor vehicle use on routes and in areas not generally open 
to motor vehicle use.
    The Forest Service expects to provide additional guidance on 
application of these exemptions, including the exemption for ``limited 
administrative use by the Forest Service,'' in agency directives which 
will be published for public notice and comment.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to provide for 
limited cross-country travel by motor vehicles for dispersed camping 
and big game retrieval.
    Response. The Department believes that some discretion should be 
provided to local agency officials to consider limited use of motor 
vehicles within a specified distance of certain designated routes for 
these specific purposes. Consequently, the final rule includes a new 
provision in Sec.  212.51(b), which allows the responsible official to 
include in the designation of a road or trail the limited use of motor 
vehicles within a specified distance of certain designated routes 
solely for the purposes of big game retrieval or dispersed camping.

[[Page 68285]]

    The Department expects the Forest Service to apply this provision 
sparingly, on a local or State-wide basis, to avoid undermining the 
purposes of the final rule and to promote consistency in 
implementation. Provision for cross-country travel for big game 
retrieval and dispersed camping will be at the discretion of the 
responsible official. Nothing in this final rule requires inclusion of 
either activity in a designation, or reconsideration of any decision 
prohibiting motor vehicle use while engaging in these activities.
    On some units, it may be possible to administer motor vehicle use 
associated with dispersed camping or big game retrieval through a 
permit system, rather than as a component of a designation. Motor 
vehicle use specifically authorized under a permit is exempt under 
Sec.  261.13(h) from the prohibition on motor vehicle use other than in 
accordance with designations.
    Comment. Some respondents asked the Forest Service to provide for 
permits or exemptions for cross-country motor vehicle use by people 
with disabilities. Some respondents stated that denying access to 
people with disabilities constitutes discrimination.
    Response. Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, no 
person with a disability can be denied participation in a Federal 
program that is available to all other people solely because of his or 
her disability. In conformance with section 504, wheelchairs are 
welcome on all NFS lands that are open to foot travel and are 
specifically exempted from the definition of motor vehicle in Sec.  
212.1 of the final rule, even if they are battery-powered. However, 
there is no legal requirement to allow people with disabilities to use 
OHVs or other motor vehicles on roads, trails, and areas closed to 
motor vehicle use because such an exemption could fundamentally alter 
the nature of the Forest Service's travel management program (7 CFR 
15e.103). Reasonable restrictions on motor vehicle use, applied 
consistently to everyone, are not discriminatory.
    Comment. Some respondents observed that under Sec.  261.13(h), the 
responsible official could still issue permits for competitive cross-
country motor vehicle events, including motorcycle observed trials (an 
event in which a rider, under observation, has to navigate natural 
obstacles without putting a foot down). These respondents requested a 
specific prohibition of such events on the grounds that they violate 
the purposes of the rule.
    Other respondents sought specific recognition for motorcycle 
observed trials and other organized events as a legitimate cross-
country use that is not subject to the prohibitions of the rule. These 
respondents requested provisions in the rule authorizing creation of 
temporary trails for a single event.
    Response. The Department declines to establish either a blanket 
prohibition or a blanket allowance for motor vehicle events. The 
Department believes that such decisions are best made at the local 
level, based on public involvement and appropriate environmental 
analysis. The exemption in Sec.  261.13(h) of the final rule provides 
local Forest Service officials the discretion to continue to consider 
requests for permits involving motor vehicle use on a site-specific 
basis.
    Section 261.14. This section of the rule prohibits use of 
snowmobiles in violation of restrictions or prohibitions established 
under part 212, subpart C.
    Comments related to the prohibition on snowmobile use are addressed 
in the response to comments on Sec.  261.13 of the proposed rule and in 
response to comments on the corresponding discussion in the preamble to 
the proposed rule. No specific comments were received on this section.
    Section 261.55. This section of the rule governs NFS trails.
    This section was not included in the proposed rule. However, the 
Department is making technical changes to this section to conform the 
terminology in the title and introductory text to terminology used 
elsewhere in the Forest Service's regulations. Specifically, the 
Department is changing ``forest development trails'' to ``National 
Forest System trails.''

Part 295--Use of Motor Vehicles Off National Forest System Roads

    The proposed rule removed part 295 and integrated its requirements, 
except for the annual review under Sec.  295.6, into part 212. Comments 
and responses related to specific changes in the existing rule's 
language are addressed in this preamble under the corresponding 
sections of part 212.

Regulatory Certifications in the Proposed Rule

Environmental Impact

    Comment. Some respondents asserted that this rulemaking is a major 
Federal action with significant effects on the human environment that 
requires preparation of an environmental impact statement.
    Response. The Department has determined that this final rule falls 
within the category of actions excluded from documentation in an 
environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under FSH 
1909.15, section 31.1b. This provision excludes from documentation in 
an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement rules, 
regulations, or policies to establish Service-wide administrative 
procedures, program processes, or instructions. No extraordinary 
circumstances enumerated in the Forest Service NEPA procedures exist 
that would preclude reliance on this categorical exclusion. The final 
rule would have no effect on users or on the environment until 
designation of roads, trails, and areas is complete for a particular 
administrative unit or Ranger District, with opportunity for public 
involvement. Specific decisions associated with designation of routes 
and areas at the local level may trigger the need for documentation of 
environmental analysis on a case-by-case basis under NEPA.

Regulatory Impact

    Comment. Some respondents asserted that the proposed rule would 
have an annual economic impact of over $100 million on private 
landowners, local communities, the recreation industry, small 
businesses, and State and local governments and therefore should be 
considered a significant regulatory action under E.O. 12866. 
Respondents cited statistics on the overall size of the OHV industry in 
support of this statement.
    Response. In light of the substantial interest expressed in the 
proposed rule, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined 
that the final rule is significant under E.O. 12866. Accordingly, the 
Department has prepared a cost-benefit analysis for the final rule. 
This documentation is available in the rulemaking record.
    The Department disagrees that the final rule will have annual 
economic impacts of over $100 million. The final rule requires National 
Forests to designate which roads, trails, and areas are open to motor 
vehicle use. Once designation is complete, the rule will restrict motor 
vehicle use to designated roads, trails, and areas and prohibit motor 
vehicle use on those routes and in those areas that is inconsistent 
with the designations. Until designation is complete for a particular 
administrative unit or Ranger District, the rule will have no impact on 
motor vehicle use on NFS lands. Even after designations are complete, 
the rule will have no direct economic impact because designations 
merely will regulate where and, if appropriate, when motor vehicle use 
will occur on NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands.

[[Page 68286]]

    The Department expects that some user-created routes will become 
designated roads and trails, after site-specific evaluation. The 
overall network of routes designated for motor vehicle use would then 
expand. These designated routes will form a more stable base for long-
term management and will receive increased maintenance, through agency 
resources and cooperative relationships, thereby expanding 
opportunities for motor vehicle users.
    At the same time, unregulated cross-country motor vehicle use will 
no longer be permitted. Unauthorized routes that are not designated 
will be closed to motor vehicle use, which would limit opportunities 
for motor vehicle users but might expand opportunities for other 
recreational visitors seeking a nonmotorized experience.
    The Department does not question respondents' assertion that the 
OHV industry as a whole has an annual impact of over $100 million on 
the national economy. However, only a fraction of this economic 
activity is associated with use on National Forests and National 
Grasslands. Moreover, only a fraction of that use represents cross-
country motor vehicle travel. Over the long-term, the rule will result 
in a shift from unregulated, cross-country OHV use to OHV use on a 
system of designated routes and areas. This shift might have minor 
impacts on local users and economies, but the national economic impact 
will be far less than $100 million annually.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Comment. Some respondents asserted that the proposed rule would 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, including OHV dealerships and livestock operations, pursuant 
to the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
    Response. The final rule establishes a procedural framework for 
local decisionmaking and will not have any effect until designation of 
roads, trails, and areas is complete for a particular administrative 
unit or Ranger District, with opportunity for public involvement. Even 
after designations are complete, the rule will have no direct impact on 
small entities because designations merely will regulate where and, if 
appropriate, when motor vehicle use will occur on NFS roads, on NFS 
trails, and in areas on NFS lands. The Department has determined that 
the final rule will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities because the final rule will not 
impose recordkeeping requirements on them, nor will it affect their 
competitive position in relation to large entities or their cash flow, 
liquidity, or ability to remain in the market.

No Takings Implications

    Comment. One respondent stated that the proposed rule could cause 
takings of private property when areas closed to motor vehicle use are 
then established as wilderness areas. Another respondent asserted that 
the rule revokes or modifies rights-of-way held by miners, inholders, 
and others, thereby effecting a taking of private property.
    Response. There is no taking of private property from 
implementation of this final rule. The final rule applies only to NFS 
roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands. Any NFS lands that will be 
closed to motor vehicle use will be Federal lands. Nothing in this rule 
creates wilderness areas, which can be established only by Congress.
    Nothing in the final rule revokes or alters any rights-of-way held 
by miners, inholders, or others. The final rule merely requires 
responsible officials to designate which NFS roads, NFS trails, and 
areas on NFS lands are open to motor vehicle use. In making 
designations, responsible officials must recognize valid existing 
rights, including valid reserved and outstanding rights-of-way for a 
road or trail (Sec.  212.55(d)).

Civil Justice Reform

    No comments were received on this section of the proposed rule.

Federalism and Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 
Governments

    Comment. One respondent asserted that the proposed rule has tribal 
implications and may pose a taking of treaty rights guaranteeing access 
to certain lands.
    Response. The proposed rule does not have tribal implications 
pursuant to E.O. 13175. Nothing in the final rule alters or is 
inconsistent with any treaty rights held by tribal governments.

Energy Effects

    No comments were received on this section of the proposed rule.

Unfunded Mandates

    No comments were received on this section of the proposed rule.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    No comments were received on this section of the proposed rule.

3. Regulatory Certifications for the Final Rule

Environmental Impact

    The final rule requires designation at the field level, with public 
input, of those NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are 
open to motor vehicle use. The final rule would have no effect on users 
or on the environment until designation of roads, trails, and areas is 
complete for a particular administrative unit or Ranger District, with 
opportunity for public involvement. Section 31.1b of FSH 1909.15 (57 FR 
43180, September 18, 1992) excludes from documentation in an 
environmental assessment or environmental impact statement ``rules, 
regulations, or policies to establish Service-wide administrative 
procedures, program processes, or instructions.'' The Department's 
conclusion is that this final rule falls within this category of 
actions and that no extraordinary circumstances exist that would 
require preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental 
impact statement.
    This final rule is essentially procedural. It has no direct 
environmental effects, and consideration of extraordinary circumstances 
would be meaningless at this level. This rule will be implemented 
through travel management decisions at the administrative unit or 
Ranger District level, which may have environmental impacts. These 
site-specific decisions will involve appropriate environmental analysis 
and documentation.

Regulatory Impact

    This final rule has been reviewed under USDA procedures and E.O. 
12866 on regulatory planning and review. It has been determined that 
this is not an economically significant rule. This final rule will not 
have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, nor will 
it adversely affect productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, 
public health and safety, or State or local governments. This final 
rule will not interfere with an action taken or planned by another 
agency, nor will it alter the budgetary impact of entitlement, grant, 
user fee, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of 
beneficiaries of such programs.
    However, in light of the substantial interest expressed in the 
proposed rule and the important policy issues involved, OMB has 
determined that the final rule is significant under E.O. 12866. 
Accordingly, the Department has prepared a cost-benefit analysis for 
the

[[Page 68287]]

final rule. This documentation is available in the rulemaking record.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final rule has been considered in light of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 602 et seq.). The final rule requires 
designation at the field level, with public input, of those NFS roads, 
NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are open to motor vehicle use. 
This final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities as defined by the act because the 
final rule will not impose recordkeeping requirements on them; it will 
not affect their competitive position in relation to large entities; 
and it will not affect their cash flow, liquidity, or ability to remain 
in the market.

No Takings Implications

    This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in E.O. 12630. It has been determined that the 
final rule will not pose the risk of a taking of private property.

Civil Justice Reform

    This final rule has been reviewed under E.O. 12988 on civil justice 
reform. After adoption of this final rule, (1) all State and local laws 
and regulations that conflict with this rule or that impede its full 
implementation will be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be 
given to this final rule; and (3) it will not require administrative 
proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging its 
provisions.

Federalism and Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 
Governments

    The Department has considered this final rule under the 
requirements of E.O. 13132 on federalism, and has determined that the 
final rule conforms with the federalism principles set out in this 
E.O.; will not impose any compliance costs on the States; and will not 
have substantial direct effects on the States, the relationship between 
the Federal government and the States, or the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, the 
Department has determined that no further assessment of federalism 
implications is necessary.
    Moreover, this final rule does not have tribal implications as 
defined by E.O. 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 
Governments, and therefore advance consultation with tribes is not 
required.

Energy Effects

    This final rule has been reviewed under E.O. 13211 of May 18, 2001, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. It has been determined that this final rule does 
not constitute a significant energy action as defined in the E.O.

Unfunded Mandates

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 
U.S.C. 1531-1538), which the President signed into law on March 22, 
1995, the Department has assessed the effects of this final rule on 
State, local, and tribal governments and the private sector. This final 
rule will not compel the expenditure of $100 million or more by any 
State, local, or tribal government or anyone in the private sector. 
Therefore, a statement under section 202 of the act is not required.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    This final rule does not contain any recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements or other information collection requirements as defined in 
5 CFR part 1320 that are not already required by law or not already 
approved for use. Accordingly, the review provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 do not apply.

4. Text of the Final Rule

List of Subjects

36 CFR Part 212

    Highways and roads, National Forests, Public lands--rights-of-way, 
and Transportation.

36 CFR Part 251

    Administrative practice and procedure, Electric power, National 
Forests, Public lands rights-of-way, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Water resources.

36 CFR Part 261

    Law enforcement, National Forests.

36 CFR Part 295

    National Forests, Traffic regulations.


0
Therefore, for the reasons set out in the preamble, amend part 212, 
subpart B of part 251, and subpart A of part 261, and remove part 295 
of title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 212--TRAVEL MANAGEMENT

0
1. Amend part 212 by revising the part heading to read as set forth 
above.

0
1a. Remove the authority citation for part 212.

0
2. Designate Sec. Sec.  212.1 through 212.21 as subpart A to read as 
set forth below:

Subpart A--Administration of the Forest Transportation System

0
2a. Add an authority citation for new subpart A to read as set forth 
below:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 551, 23 U.S.C. 205.

0
3. Amend Sec.  212.1 as follows:
0
a. In alphabetical order, add the following definitions: administrative 
unit; area; designated road, trail, or area; forest road or trail; 
forest transportation system; motor vehicle; motor vehicle use map; 
National Forest System road; National Forest System trail; off-highway 
vehicle; over-snow vehicle; road construction or reconstruction; 
temporary road or trail; trail; travel management atlas; and 
unauthorized road or trail; and
0
b. Revise the definitions for forest transportation atlas, forest 
transportation facility, and road; and
0
c. Remove the definitions for classified road, new road construction, 
road reconstruction, temporary road, and unclassified road.


Sec.  212.1  Definitions.

    Administrative unit. A National Forest, a National Grassland, a 
purchase unit, a land utilization project, Columbia River Gorge 
National Scenic Area, Land Between the Lakes, Lake Tahoe Basin 
Management Unit, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, or other 
comparable unit of the National Forest System.
    Area. A discrete, specifically delineated space that is smaller, 
and in most cases much smaller, than a Ranger District.
* * * * *
    Designated road, trail, or area. A National Forest System road, a 
National Forest System trail, or an area on National Forest System 
lands that is designated for motor vehicle use pursuant to Sec.  212.51 
on a motor vehicle use map.
* * * * *
    Forest road or trail. A road or trail wholly or partly within or 
adjacent to and serving the National Forest System that the Forest 
Service determines is necessary for the protection, administration, and 
utilization of the National Forest System and the use and development 
of its resources.
    Forest transportation atlas. A display of the system of roads, 
trails, and airfields of an administrative unit.
    Forest transportation facility. A forest road or trail or an 
airfield that is

[[Page 68288]]

displayed in a forest transportation atlas, including bridges, 
culverts, parking lots, marine access facilities, safety devices, and 
other improvements appurtenant to the forest transportation system.
    Forest transportation system. The system of National Forest System 
roads, National Forest System trails, and airfields on National Forest 
System lands.
* * * * *
    Motor vehicle. Any vehicle which is self-propelled, other than:
    (1) A vehicle operated on rails; and
    (2) Any wheelchair or mobility device, including one that is 
battery-powered, that is designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired 
person for locomotion, and that is suitable for use in an indoor 
pedestrian area.
    Motor vehicle use map. A map reflecting designated roads, trails, 
and areas on an administrative unit or a Ranger District of the 
National Forest System.
* * * * *
    National Forest System road. A forest road other than a road which 
has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a 
State, county, or other local public road authority.
    National Forest System trail. A forest trail other than a trail 
which has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by 
a State, county, or other local public road authority.
    Off-highway vehicle. Any motor vehicle designed for or capable of 
cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, 
ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain.
    Over-snow vehicle. A motor vehicle that is designed for use over 
snow and that runs on a track or tracks and/or a ski or skis, while in 
use over snow.
* * * * *
    Road. A motor vehicle route over 50 inches wide, unless identified 
and managed as a trail.
* * * * *
    Road construction or reconstruction. Supervising, inspecting, 
actual building, and incurrence of all costs incidental to the 
construction or reconstruction of a road.
* * * * *
    Temporary road or trail. A road or trail necessary for emergency 
operations or authorized by contract, permit, lease, or other written 
authorization that is not a forest road or trail and that is not 
included in a forest transportation atlas.
    Trail. A route 50 inches or less in width or a route over 50 inches 
wide that is identified and managed as a trail.
    Travel management atlas. An atlas that consists of a forest 
transportation atlas and a motor vehicle use map or maps.
    Unauthorized road or trail. A road or trail that is not a forest 
road or trail or a temporary road or trail and that is not included in 
a forest transportation atlas.

0
4. Amend Sec.  212.2 by redesignating paragraphs (b) as (d), revising 
paragraph (a), and adding new paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  212.2  Forest transportation program.

    (a) Travel management atlas. For each administrative unit of the 
National Forest System, the responsible official must develop and 
maintain a travel management atlas, which is to be available to the 
public at the headquarters of that administrative unit.
    (b) Forest transportation atlas. A forest transportation atlas may 
be updated to reflect new information on the existence and condition of 
roads, trails, and airfields of the administrative unit. A forest 
transportation atlas does not contain inventories of temporary roads, 
which are tracked by the project or activity authorizing the temporary 
road. The content and maintenance requirements for a forest 
transportation atlas are identified in the Forest Service directives 
system.
    (c) Program of work for the forest transportation system. A program 
of work for the forest transportation system shall be developed each 
fiscal year in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Chief.
* * * * *

0
5. Amend Sec.  212.5 as follows:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2)(ii);
0
b. Revise the heading for paragraph (c) introductory text to read as 
set forth below:
0
c. Revise the heading for paragraph (d) introductory text to read as 
set forth below:


Sec.  212.5  Road system management.

    (a) Traffic rules. * * *
    (1) General. Traffic on roads is subject to State traffic laws 
where applicable except when in conflict with designations established 
under subpart B of this part or with the rules at 36 CFR part 261.
    (2) Specific. * * *
    (ii) Roads, or segments thereof, may be restricted to use by 
certain classes of vehicles or types of traffic as provided in 36 CFR 
part 261. Classes of vehicles may include but are not limited to 
distinguishable groupings such as passenger cars, buses, trucks, 
motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, 4-wheel drive vehicles, off-highway 
vehicles, and trailers. Types of traffic may include but are not 
limited to groupings such as commercial hauling, recreation, and 
administrative.
* * * * *
    (c) Cost recovery on National Forest System roads. * * *
    (d) Maintenance and reconstruction of National Forest System roads 
by users.
* * * * *

0
6. Amend Sec.  212.7 by revising the paragraph heading and text of 
paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  212.7  Access procurement by the United States.

    (a) Existing or proposed forest roads that are or will be part of a 
transportation system of a State, county, or other local public road 
authority. Forest roads that are or will be part of a transportation 
system of a State, county, or other local public road authority and are 
on rights-of-way held by a State, county, or other local public road 
authority may be constructed, reconstructed, improved, or maintained by 
the Forest Service when there is an appropriate agreement with the 
State, county, or other local public road authority under 23 U.S.C. 205 
and the construction, reconstruction, improvement, or maintenance is 
essential to provide safe and economical access to National Forest 
System lands.
* * * * *

0
7. Amend Sec.  212.10 by revising paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  212.10  Maximum economy National Forest System roads.

* * * * *
    (d) By a combination of these methods, provided that where roads 
are to be constructed at a higher standard than the standard--
consistent with applicable environmental laws and regulations--that is 
sufficient for harvesting and removal of National Forest timber and 
other products covered by a particular sale, the purchaser of the 
timber and other products shall not be required to bear the part of the 
cost necessary to meet the higher standard, and the Chief may make such 
arrangements to achieve this end as may be appropriate.
* * * * *


Sec.  212.20  [Removed and reserved]

0
8. Remove and reserve Sec.  212.20.

0
9. Add a new subpart B to read as follows:
Subpart B--Designation of Roads, Trails, and Areas for Motor Vehicle 
Use
Sec.
212.50 Purpose, scope, and definitions.
212.51 Designation of roads, trails, and areas.

[[Page 68289]]

212.52 Public involvement.
212.53 Coordination with Federal, State, county, and other local 
governmental entities and tribal governments.
212.54 Revision of designations.
212.55 Criteria for designation of roads, trails, and areas.
212.56 Identification of designated roads, trails, and areas.
212.57 Monitoring of effects of motor vehicle use on designated 
roads and trails and in designated areas.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1011(f), 16 U.S.C. 551, E.O. 11644, 11989 
(42 FR 26959).


Sec.  212.50  Purpose, scope, and definitions.

    (a) Purpose. This subpart provides for a system of National Forest 
System roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National 
Forest System lands that are designated for motor vehicle use. After 
these roads, trails, and areas are designated, motor vehicle use, 
including the class of vehicle and time of year, not in accordance with 
these designations is prohibited by 36 CFR 261.13. Motor vehicle use 
off designated roads and trails and outside designated areas is 
prohibited by 36 CFR 261.13.
    (b) Scope. The responsible official may incorporate previous 
administrative decisions regarding travel management made under other 
authorities, including designations and prohibitions of motor vehicle 
use, in designating National Forest System roads, National Forest 
System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands for motor 
vehicle use under this subpart.
    (c) For definitions of terms used in this subpart, refer to Sec.  
212.1 in subpart A of this part.


Sec.  212.51  Designation of roads, trails, and areas.

    (a) General. Motor vehicle use on National Forest System roads, on 
National Forest System trails, and in areas on National Forest System 
lands shall be designated by vehicle class and, if appropriate, by time 
of year by the responsible official on administrative units or Ranger 
Districts of the National Forest System, provided that the following 
vehicles and uses are exempted from these designations:
    (1) Aircraft;
    (2) Watercraft;
    (3) Over-snow vehicles (see Sec.  212.81);
    (4) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (5) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement 
vehicle for emergency purposes;
    (6) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for 
national defense purposes;
    (7) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including 
pursuit; and
    (8) Motor vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a 
written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations.
    (b) Motor vehicle use for dispersed camping or big game retrieval. 
In designating routes, the responsible official may include in the 
designation the limited use of motor vehicles within a specified 
distance of certain designated routes, and if appropriate within 
specified time periods, solely for the purposes of dispersed camping or 
retrieval of a downed big game animal by an individual who has legally 
taken that animal.


Sec.  212.52  Public involvement.

    (a) General. The public shall be allowed to participate in the 
designation of National Forest System roads, National Forest System 
trails, and areas on National Forest System lands and revising those 
designations pursuant to this subpart. Advance notice shall be given to 
allow for public comment, consistent with agency procedures under the 
National Environmental Policy Act, on proposed designations and 
revisions. Public notice with no further public involvement is 
sufficient if a National Forest or Ranger District has made previous 
administrative decisions, under other authorities and including public 
involvement, which restrict motor vehicle use over the entire National 
Forest or Ranger District to designated routes and areas, and no change 
is proposed to these previous decisions and designations.
    (b) Absence of public involvement in temporary, emergency closures. 
(1) General. Nothing in this section shall alter or limit the authority 
to implement temporary, emergency closures pursuant to 36 CFR part 261, 
subpart B, without advance public notice to provide short-term resource 
protection or to protect public health and safety.
    (2) Temporary, emergency closures based on a determination of 
considerable adverse effects. If the responsible official determines 
that motor vehicle use on a National Forest System road or National 
Forest System trail or in an area on National Forest System lands is 
directly causing or will directly cause considerable adverse effects on 
public safety or soil, vegetation, wildlife, wildlife habitat, or 
cultural resources associated with that road, trail, or area, the 
responsible official shall immediately close that road, trail, or area 
to motor vehicle use until the official determines that such adverse 
effects have been mitigated or eliminated and that measures have been 
implemented to prevent future recurrence. The responsible official 
shall provide public notice of the closure pursuant to 36 CFR 261.51, 
including reasons for the closure and the estimated duration of the 
closure, as soon as practicable following the closure.


Sec.  212.53  Coordination with Federal, State, county, and other local 
governmental entities and tribal governments.

    The responsible official shall coordinate with appropriate Federal, 
State, county, and other local governmental entities and tribal 
governments when designating National Forest System roads, National 
Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands 
pursuant to this subpart.


Sec.  212.54  Revision of designations.

    Designations of National Forest System roads, National Forest 
System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands pursuant to 
Sec.  212.51 may be revised as needed to meet changing conditions. 
Revisions of designations shall be made in accordance with the 
requirements for public involvement in Sec.  212.52, the requirements 
for coordination with governmental entities in Sec.  212.53, and the 
criteria in Sec.  212.55, and shall be reflected on a motor vehicle use 
map pursuant to Sec.  212.56.


Sec.  212.55  Criteria for designation of roads, trails, and areas.

    (a) General criteria for designation of National Forest System 
roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest 
System lands. In designating National Forest System roads, National 
Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands for 
motor vehicle use, the responsible official shall consider effects on 
National Forest System natural and cultural resources, public safety, 
provision of recreational opportunities, access needs, conflicts among 
uses of National Forest System lands, the need for maintenance and 
administration of roads, trails, and areas that would arise if the uses 
under consideration are designated; and the availability of resources 
for that maintenance and administration.
    (b) Specific criteria for designation of trails and areas. In 
addition to the criteria in paragraph (a) of this section, in 
designating National Forest System trails and areas on National Forest 
System lands, the responsible official shall consider effects on the 
following, with the objective of minimizing:
    (1) Damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, and other forest 
resources;
    (2) Harassment of wildlife and significant disruption of wildlife 
habitats;

[[Page 68290]]

    (3) Conflicts between motor vehicle use and existing or proposed 
recreational uses of National Forest System lands or neighboring 
Federal lands; and
    (4) Conflicts among different classes of motor vehicle uses of 
National Forest System lands or neighboring Federal lands.
    In addition, the responsible official shall consider:
    (5) Compatibility of motor vehicle use with existing conditions in 
populated areas, taking into account sound, emissions, and other 
factors.
    (c) Specific criteria for designation of roads. In addition to the 
criteria in paragraph (a) of this section, in designating National 
Forest System roads, the responsible official shall consider:
    (1) Speed, volume, composition, and distribution of traffic on 
roads; and
    (2) Compatibility of vehicle class with road geometry and road 
surfacing.
    (d) Rights of access. In making designations pursuant to this 
subpart, the responsible official shall recognize:
    (1) Valid existing rights; and
    (2) The rights of use of National Forest System roads and National 
Forest System trails under Sec.  212.6(b).
    (e) Wilderness areas and primitive areas. National Forest System 
roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest 
System lands in wilderness areas or primitive areas shall not be 
designated for motor vehicle use pursuant to this section, unless, in 
the case of wilderness areas, motor vehicle use is authorized by the 
applicable enabling legislation for those areas.


Sec.  212.56  Identification of designated roads, trails, and areas.

    Designated roads, trails, and areas shall be identified on a motor 
vehicle use map. Motor vehicle use maps shall be made available to the 
public at the headquarters of corresponding administrative units and 
Ranger Districts of the National Forest System and, as soon as 
practicable, on the website of corresponding administrative units and 
Ranger Districts. The motor vehicle use maps shall specify the classes 
of vehicles and, if appropriate, the times of year for which use is 
designated.


Sec.  212.57  Monitoring of effects of motor vehicle use on designated 
roads and trails and in designated areas.

    For each administrative unit of the National Forest System, the 
responsible official shall monitor the effects of motor vehicle use on 
designated roads and trails and in designated areas under the 
jurisdiction of that responsible official, consistent with the 
applicable land management plan, as appropriate and feasible.

0
10. Add a new subpart C to read as follows:
Subpart C--Use by Over-Snow Vehicles
Sec.
212.80 Purpose, scope, and definitions.
212.81 Use by over-snow vehicles.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1011(f), 16 U.S.C. 551, E.O. 11644, 11989 
(42 FR 26959).


Sec.  212.80  Purpose, scope, and definitions.

    The purpose of this subpart is to provide for regulation of use by 
over-snow vehicles on National Forest System roads and National Forest 
System trails and in areas on National Forest System lands. For 
definitions of terms used in this subpart, refer to Sec.  212.1 in 
subpart A of this part.


Sec.  212.81  Use by over-snow vehicles.

    (a) General. Use by over-snow vehicles on National Forest System 
roads and National Forest System trails and in areas on National Forest 
System lands may be allowed, restricted, or prohibited.
    (b) Exemptions from restrictions and prohibitions. The following 
uses are exempted from restrictions and prohibitions on use by over-
snow vehicles:
    (1) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (2) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement 
vehicle for emergency purposes;
    (3) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for 
national defense purposes;
    (4) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including 
pursuit; and
    (5) Use by over-snow vehicles that is specifically authorized under 
a written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations.
    (c) Establishment of restrictions and prohibitions. If the 
responsible official proposes restrictions or prohibitions on use by 
over-snow vehicles under this subpart, the requirements governing 
designation of National Forest System roads, National Forest System 
trails, and areas on National Forest System lands in Sec. Sec.  212.52, 
212.53, 212.54, 212.55, 212.56, and 212.57 shall apply to establishment 
of those restrictions or prohibitions. In establishing restrictions or 
prohibitions on use by over-snow vehicles, the responsible official 
shall recognize the provisions concerning rights of access in sections 
811(b) and 1110(a) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation 
Act (16 U.S.C. 3121(b) and 3170(a), respectively).

PART 251--LAND USES

Subpart B--Special Uses

0
11. Revise the authority citation for part 251, subpart B, to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1011(f); 16 U.S.C. 460l-6a, 460l-6d, 472, 
497b, 497c, 551, 580d, 1134, 3210; 30 U.S.C. 185; 43 U.S.C. 1740, 
1761-1771.


0
12. Amend Sec.  251.51 by revising the definitions for ``forest road or 
trail'' and ``National Forest System road'' to read as follows:


Sec.  251.51  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Forest road or trail. A road or trail wholly or partly within or 
adjacent to and serving the National Forest System that the Forest 
Service determines is necessary for the protection, administration, and 
utilization of the National Forest System and the use and development 
of its resources.
* * * * *
    National Forest System road. A forest road other than a road which 
has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a 
State, county, or other local public road authority.
* * * * *

PART 261--PROHIBITIONS

0
13. The authority citation for part 261 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1011(f); 16 U.S.C. 460l-6d, 472, 551, 
620(f), 1133(c)-(d)(1), 1246(i).


0
14. Amend Sec.  261.2 to revise the definitions for ``motor vehicle,'' 
``forest road or trail,'' ``National Forest System road,'' and 
``National Forest System trail,'' and add definitions in alphabetical 
order for ``administrative unit'' and ``area,'' to read as follows:

Subpart A--General Prohibitions

* * * * *


Sec.  261.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Administrative unit. A National Forest, a National Grassland, a 
purchase unit, a land utilization project, Columbia River Gorge 
National Scenic Area, Land Between the Lakes, Lake Tahoe Basin 
Management Unit, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, or other 
comparable unit of the National Forest System.
* * * * *
    Area. A discrete, specifically delineated space that is smaller, 
and in most cases much smaller, than a Ranger District.
* * * * *

[[Page 68291]]

    Forest road or trail. A road or trail wholly or partly within or 
adjacent to and serving the National Forest System that the Forest 
Service determines is necessary for the protection, administration, and 
utilization of the National Forest System and the use and development 
of its resources.
* * * * *
    Motor vehicle means any vehicle which is self-propelled, other 
than:
    (1) A vehicle operated on rails; and
    (2) Any wheelchair or mobility device, including one that is 
battery-powered, that is designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired 
person for locomotion and that is suitable for use in an indoor 
pedestrian area.
* * * * *
    National Forest System road. A forest road other than a road which 
has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a 
State, county, or other local public road authority.
    National Forest System trail. A forest trail other than a trail 
which has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by 
a State, county, or other local public road authority.
* * * * *


Sec. Sec.  261.13 through 261.21  [Redesignated as Sec. Sec.  261.15 
through 261.23]

0
15. Redesignate Sec. Sec.  261.13 through 261.21 as Sec. Sec.  261.15 
through 261.23.

0
15a. Add new Sec.  261.13 and Sec.  261.14 to read as follows:


Sec.  261.13  Motor vehicle use.

    After National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, 
and areas on National Forest System lands have been designated pursuant 
to 36 CFR 212.51 on an administrative unit or a Ranger District of the 
National Forest System, and these designations have been identified on 
a motor vehicle use map, it is prohibited to possess or operate a motor 
vehicle on National Forest System lands in that administrative unit or 
Ranger District other than in accordance with those designations, 
provided that the following vehicles and uses are exempted from this 
prohibition:
    (a) Aircraft;
    (b) Watercraft;
    (c) Over-snow vehicles;
    (d) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (e) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement 
vehicle for emergency purposes;
    (f) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for 
national defense purposes;
    (g) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including 
pursuit;
    (h) Motor vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a 
written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations; and
    (i) Use of a road or trail that is authorized by a legally 
documented right-of-way held by a State, county, or other local public 
road authority.


Sec.  261.14  Use by over-snow vehicles.

    It is prohibited to possess or operate an over-snow vehicle on 
National Forest System lands in violation of a restriction or 
prohibition established pursuant to 36 CFR part 212, subpart C, 
provided that the following uses are exempted from this section:
    (a) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (b) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement 
vehicle for emergency purposes;
    (c) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for 
national defense purposes;
    (d) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including 
pursuit;
    (e) Use by over-snow vehicles that is specifically authorized under 
a written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations; and
    (f) Use of a road or trail that is authorized by a legally 
documented right-of-way held by a State, county, or other local public 
road authority.

0
16. Amend Sec.  261.55 by revising the introductory text to read as 
follows:


Sec.  261.55  National Forest System trails.

    When provided by an order issued in accordance with Sec.  261.50 of 
this subpart, the following are prohibited on a National Forest System 
trail:
* * * * *

PART 295--USE OF MOTOR VEHICLES OFF NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM ROADS 
[REMOVED]

0
17. Remove the entire part 295.

    Dated: October 19, 2005.
Mark Rey,
Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment.
[FR Doc. 05-22024 Filed 11-8-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P