New Laws To Regulate 4x4s, Atvs In Forests

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If you enjoy four-wheeling or a cruise through the countryside on an all-terrain vehicle, you might want to read, and possibly respond, to a Forest Service proposal soon to be published in the Federal Register.

The Forest Service's proposal, known in government lingo as a Notice of Intent, will become public today (Tuesday). In it will be a set of proposed laws National Forest officials have come up with to address the problems associated with off-road travel by ATVs and 4x4 vehicles.

According to Forest Service officials, those impacted by the proposed new laws will have 30 days to respond, in writing. After that, and possibly with more revising, the proposals could become the laws that govern what we do in the national forests.

The notice centers around an environmental impact statement that officials from five national forests, including Tonto, formulated last spring. Officials say they compiled the statement because they were concerned with the adverse effects off-road vehicles were having on national forest land.

With the impact statement in hand, officials came up with a set of rules and regulations that would govern off-road travel.

Last spring, the Forest Service began hosting public meetings around Arizona to receive input about the proposals.

According to officials, hundreds of written and e-mail comments were also received.

Many of those who responded were concerned new laws would close the Kaibab, Coconino, Prescott, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto forests to use by four-wheel enthusiasts.

The public comments received from the meetings and other responses were used to help Forest Service officials come up with revised proposals to help stem the problems associated with off-road vehicles. Today's alternative proposals will drop a signing standardization that was a part of the original.

However, until the notice is officially published today, officials will not comment further on what any new laws and regulations might be. What is known is the proposals could crimp off-road travel in national forests.

Once the notice of intent is published in the Federal Register, it can be visited on the Internet at www.fs.fed.us/r3.

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