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Forest Service Restricts OHV Travel in Gibson Prairie Area

Parkdale, OR – Effective June 3, 2005 the Mt. Hood National Forest will restrict wheeled motorized vehicles in the Gibson Prairie area to designated National Forest System roads and Trail #451 only. Off-road travel by wheeled motorized vehicles is prohibited and will be strictly enforced. This closure does not affect snowmobile use in the area. Access to dispersed camping sites with wheeled motorized vehicles is allowed for those sites within 50 ft. of designated routes open to wheeled motorized vehicles. The closure covers approximately 11,000 acres.

District Ranger, Daina Bambe stated, “All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and motorcycle enthusiasts have illegally constructed over 20 miles of trail in the area.” Construction and/or maintenance of trails on National Forest System lands are allowed by authorized permit or agreement only. Many of the trails that user groups have constructed and/or developed through repeated use are located in sensitive areas, and are adversely affecting wildlife, fisheries, soil and hydrological resources. These trails are being developed without any environmental review for suitability for location and potential impacts to natural resources. Closing the area to off road vehicle use will enable Forest Service personnel to manage the illegal use better through patrols, citations, and other law enforcement measures. This emergency closure for resource protection can be in place for up to one year.

The Forest Service has made several attempts to stop the illegal trail building and use. Several articles have been published in local papers. Illegal trails have been signed, and closed through placement of logs and other barriers; however, users are removing barriers and/or driving around the closures, disregarding the closure efforts by Forest Service personnel.

The Forest Service is attempting to accommodate the demand for recreational use in the area. The Mill Creek Collaborative Working Group which includes a broad range of recreation interests (horse, hiker, mountain bike, ATV/motorcycle, snowmobile) is utilizing a collaborative process to identify potential trail opportunities in the Gibson Prairie area that will best accommodate the wide variety of needs between the user groups. In addition, the Mt Hood National Forest is currently moving forward with developing several preliminary proposals which, after environmental review and public involvement, may result in more designated ATV/OHV trails on the forest.

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