The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week outlined proposed changes to its internal policy on ATV trails on state forest lands to the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council for public comment.
Pennsylvania currently has more than 260 miles of ATV trails in state forests. The department is reviewing its policy to respond to increasing demands for riding opportunities, local and county government interest in expanding recreational tourism and legislative action.
“The purpose of the policy is to provide guidance to DCNR when acquiring, developing and managing lands for ATV use by the public,” Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
Where there was a moratorium on new trail development in the current policy, the revisions now authorize DCNR to consider new ATV trails and connectors on state forest lands.
“New ATV trails will be considered, while still balancing the protection of natural resources as outlined in the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the needs of all types of recreational users on DCNR lands,” Dunn said.DCNR plays a multi-faceted role with ATVs: registering their use statewide through a cooperative agreement with PennDOT; managing registration-generated fees for maintenance, enhancement, and enforcement of trail opportunities on state forest lands; and distributing grants to provide new recreational ATV trails and facilities.
DCNR contracted a 2016 survey of ATV users on their views of recreational opportunities. There were more than 4,800 responses, with results indicating a strong desire for more long-distance trails that are geographically dispersed. Pennsylvania has around 285,000 registered ATVs. On state forest lands, ATV riding is allowed only on designated trails.
The Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council released a report in January 2019 to provide recommendations on how DCNR and others could enhance motorized recreation in Pennsylvania.
The meeting took place on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Harrisburg. Public comment was taken. Written comments also are welcome, and can be submitted to PaForester@pa.gov.
The deadline to submit comments is March 27.
More information about ATV riding is on the DCNR website.