This web page provides information and updates on USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) activities in Arizona with regard to revision of Travel Management Plans and implementation of new Travel Management Rules in national forests and on BLM lands.
CURRENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
WHAT IS FEDERAL TRAVEL MANAGEMENT?
Faced with increasing motor vehicle use and growing numbers of off-road vehicle enthusiasts, the U.S. Forest Service in Washington D.C. issued (in 2005) new federal regulations called the Travel Management Rule to provide for recreational access while protecting forest resources. These new regulations required each national forest to develop a Travel Management Plan to identify and designate those roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use. The Bureau of Land Management is also similarly revising Resource Management Plans and Travel Management Plans for lands under its jurisdiction.
HOW DO TRAVEL MANAGEMENT RULES AFFECT OUTDOOR RECREATIONISTS?
The new Travel Management Plans and accompanying Travel Management Rules in the national forests affect hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists, as they establish open and closed roads and can place certain restrictions on public access, dispersed camping, and motorized retrieval of big game.
The different national forests are in different stages of developing and implementing their Travel Management Rules. Over the last several years, the Coconino National Forest and Kaibab National Forest have established new restrictions on motor vehicle use. (Other forests, such as the Prescott National Forest and Coronado National Forest, have had restrictions on motor vehicle use in place for several years, while still others, such as the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, are curently involved in the planning process). The restrictions require motor vehicles to stay on designated roads, trails and areas as shown on a Motor Vehicle Map. For forests that have implemented their Travel Management Rules, these free Motor Vehicle Maps are available at Forest Service offices or electronically on smartphone and mobile devices. Contact information for the different Forest Service offices is below.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department support resource protection but have long-standing concerns about some of the new rules. Concerns include inconsistencies across the different forests that cause confusion among outdoor recreationists, excessive restriction on the public’s ability to have reasonable access for recreation (including motorized retrieval of legally downed big game), and the potential impacts the new rules could have on the Department’s ability to meet wildlife management objectives.
DOES THE ARIZONA GAME AND FISH COMMISSION HAVE A POSITION ON FEDERAL TRAVEL MANAGEMENT RULES?
Yes. Below is the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s official position on federal Travel Management Rules:
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is responsible for management of all wildlife on public lands. Wildlife is held in trust for the public and access should not be denied or restricted without cause.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recognizes and promotes multiple use on public lands managed by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Every citizen should have access to their multiple use public lands unless there are reasons to deny access founded in sound science and affirmative analysis, and not a presumption of harm.
It is the policy of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to place a high priority on conserving existing access and modes of access for hunting, fishing, trapping, shooting, wildlife watching, OHV use, dispersed camping and other responsible forms of outdoor recreation; and to place a high priority on improving access upon such lands in areas of the State where access is currently difficult or nonexistent.
It is unacceptable for a federal multiple use land management agency to establish regulations that the public cannot understand; that the federal land manager cannot effectively enforce; or that the land manager imposed upon state and local enforcement authorities an unreasonable and unenforceable mandate that denies reasonable and sufficient access to citizens. The Department will actively advocate for access issues and seek to maintain the Commission’s legal standing to seek remedies for decisions that injure the Department’s ability to meet the Commission’s strategic objectives for wildlife management or management of recreational activities under the Commission’s jurisdiction.
Governor signs HB2551 clarifying state's role in enforcing federal travel management rules
Forest Service clarifies position on hunting and camping trailers (December 2014)
More information can be found on the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (Arizona) Web sites.
FOREST SERVICE PLANNING EFFORTS
Southwest Regional Office
517 Gold Avenue
Albuquerque New Mexico 87102
Land Use Planning Rules and Background:
Travel Management; Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; Final Rule
Recent court ruling on 2005 Planning Rule
April 5, 2007
The United States District Court in northern California has ordered the Forest Service not to utilize the 2005 Planning Rule in on-going forest planning processes.
Currently, the Office of General Counsel is reviewing this matter and will provide legal advice to the agency on how to proceed with forest planning.
All public collaboration efforts specific to forest planning are postponed until further direction is available.
Links to forest plan revision, travel management, and contact information:
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT PLANNING
Arizona State Office
One North Central Avenue, Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4427
Phone: (602) 417-9200
- BLM Arizona Home Page with Updated Plan Information
- Planning – Current Efforts