Two area state forests have been reclassified in regard to use by off-highway vehicle operators.
Effective July 1, the Pillsbury State Forest in Cass County will be classified as "closed" to OHV use. Effective Dec. 31, the Foothills State Forest will be classified as "limited" for OHV operation. The two forests are the first to be reclassified under 2003 legislation requiring the DNR to evaluate all 54 state forests and balance motorized and non-motorized recreational uses.
Under the "closed" classification, OHVs are not allowed in the forest, though vehicles licensed for operation on public highways are allowed on forest roads and minimum maintenance roads. Under the "limited" classification, OHV use is restricted to forest roads and trails where signs indicate that a particular type of vehicle is allowed.
OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) or dirt bikes, and off-road vehicles (ORVs), such as Jeep CJs and four-wheel drive trucks.
New OHV use classifications
Site: Foothills State Forest
Location: Cass County
New Classification: Limited. Highway-licensed vehicles are allowed on designated forest roads. Off-highway vehicles are allowed on designated forest roads and forest trails specifically signed as open to off-highway vehicles.
ATV miles designated: 129 miles, including 67 miles of trail and 62 miles of forest roads
OHM miles designated: 129 miles, including 67 miles of trail and 62 miles of forest roads
ORV miles designated: 78 miles, including 16 miles of trail and 62 miles of forest roads
HLV miles designated: 62 miles of forest roads
Site: Pillsbury State Forest
Location: Cass County
New Classification: Closed. Highway-licensed vehicles are allowed on designated forest roads. Trails and roads are closed to all types of off-highway vehicles.
ATV miles designated: 0 miles
OHM miles designated: 0 miles
ORV miles designated: 0 miles
HLV miles designated: 14 miles of forest roads
The designation of the Pillsbury and Foothills state forests follows a two-year study in which their trails and roads were inventoried and mapped, environmental concerns evaluated and public comments gathered. Both plans were modified in response to concerns voiced at public meetings.
"We addressed many of the concerns and made adjustments to designated routes to make sure all users' interests were represented in the final plans," said Jack Olson, DNR planner in Brainerd.
The plans were developed by a team consisting of DNR staff and Cass County officials. As a result, county lands within the boundaries of the two forests are subject to the same rules governing motorized use as adjacent state forest lands.
"The Cass County Board and the DNR have a great working relationship," Cass County Land Commissioner Norm Moody said. "We share the same land and trail management philosophy. The really important outcome of the reclassification and route designations is ease of use for motorized recreationists."
The process of evaluating all state forests is expected to be finished in 2008.
For more details about the ongoing reclassification process for state forests, or for other information on OHV riding opportunities, including maps of designated forest roads and trails, visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
VINCE MEYER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5862.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.