Plan to close unauthorized dune trails progresses

Plan to close unauthorized dune trails progresses
File photo.

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — An environmental review of a plan to close some unauthorized off-road vehicle trails in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area has been released for public comment.

Opinions on the 150-page draft review are due to the Siuslaw National Forest by Dec. 10, the Gazette-Times reported (http://is.gd/kk02KD).

The recreation area covers 29,000 acres from Florence to North Bend along the Oregon Coast. It's a popular playground for riders of dirt bikes, dune buggies and four-wheelers.

Some 5,930 acres of open sand have been set aside for off-road vehicles. There are another 4,455 acres of vegetated areas where riding is allowed on 34 miles of designated trails.

Over the years, however, riders have carved out a 135-mile web of trails through the vegetated sections. Now the Forest Service is cracking down on riding in unauthorized areas.

The plan aims for something of a compromise that likely would include a modest expansion of the authorized trail network and the open riding areas while enforcing rules for unauthorized areas.

None of the alternatives being considered would shrink the official on- or off-trail areas now open to riders.

"Those 34 miles (of trails) currently designated, nothing is happening to those," said Angie Morris, a recreation planner with the Siuslaw National Forest. "There's no negative impact to open riding; there's only additions. We're not going backwards."

The areas proposed for reallocation to open riding already tend to be popular with users of off-highway vehicles and vegetated with invasive species, Morris said. Route additions proposed connect open riding areas either to each other or to the beach.

Information from: Gazette-Times

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.