Outdoors blog

Colville Forest OKs South End motor vehicle plan

Colville National Forest South End Project, roads approved for motorized travel. (Colville National Forest)
Colville National Forest South End Project, roads approved for motorized travel. (Colville National Forest)

PUBLIC LANDS -- Off-road vehicle riders have more routes for legally riding their ATVs and motorcycles on the Colville National Forest, according to a plan approved this month.

Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West signed the South End Motor Vehicle Management Plan, which designates roads and trails that create quality loops, connect communities and provide access, camping and parking.

The plan, two years in the making, designates motorized routes between U.S. Highway 395 and State Highway 20, including the Tacoma, Chewelah and Calispell drainages.

Read on for more details.

The decision allows riders in existing OHV areas to travel from Calispell Creek all the way to Ruby Creek, West said. From there, existing routes lead to the Heritage Lake area.

About 160 miles of multi-use routes have been designated, allowing ORVers to ride county and national forest roads from near Cusick to Chewelah. That trip will be facilitated by a new ORV trailhead to be developed in the North Fork Chewelah Creek.

However, the forest plans to monitor ORV use on roads they share with standard motor vehicles. The plan allows routes to be reconsidered if major safety issues arise.

The decision adopts some trails that were illegally developed in the past by OHV riders.

“Concerns were expressed that this action rewards the irresponsible and illegal behavior of creating unauthorized motorized routes by designating and adopting them,” West said. However, the routes were selected “because they provide critical pieces that either connect or create loop roads,” she said.

“Not all unauthorized routes were adopted. No play areas were adopted. Roads that currently have issues with illegal travel were not included.”

Dispersed camping will be controlled along about 47 miles of county and Forest Service roads. The plan retains about 130 of the 175 dispersed campsites along 47 of Forest Service and county roads.  The plan closes 40 campsites and allows the development of 20 new campsites.

Volunteers are being sought for an OHV Ambassador Program with the help of the Eastern Washington ATV Association and the Tri-County Motorized Recreation Association. Emphasis will be on helping education riders of the new rules and how reduce environmental impacts.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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