Forest Service reminds ORV users of restrictions in national forests

BALDWIN — The Forest Service reminds the public that the use of Off-Road vehicles on the Huron-Manistee National Forests is restricted to designated trails.

Newaygo County is the most recent of several counties in Michigan’s lower peninsula that have passed ordinances that authorize the use of ORVs on the shoulder of county and township roads. These ordinances do not apply to Forest Service roads, whether paved or unpaved.

Each year the Forst Service produces a Motor Vehicle Use Map to help visitors identify ere they can legally drive their type of wheeled vehicle on the National Forests. The maps are free and available at most Forest Service offices.

On the Huron-Manistee National Forests, ORVs that are not street-legal may be ridden only on designated trails. Most ORV trails on National Forest System lands are designed for vehicles 50” wide or less. ORVs that are not street-legal require a valid state ORV tag.

All National Forest roads are open to street-legal vehicles, unless they are posted closed or blocked with a dirt mound, brush pile, or other type of barrier.

While Michigan’s Public Act 240 allows counties to open county and municipal roads and streets to ORV use, the state law does not permit counties to authorize ORV use on state or federal roads and highways. Forest Service roads are federal roads. Section 81133 of the law state that “A person shall not operate an ORV ... (R) In a manner contrary to operating regulations on public lands.” The Huron-Manistee National Forests allow ORV use only on trails and roads designated open for that use. This policy has been in effect since 1976.

It is the responsibility of the ORV rider to know whether they are riding in an authorized area or on an authorized road. For information on trails that are open to ORV use on the Huron-Manistee National Forests or request a Motor Vehicle Use Map, please call the Manistee National Forest Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District at (231) 745-4631 or the Cadillac/Manistee Ranger District at (231) 723-2211.