Help us make our public lands more accessible for older and disabled Americans
Dear Deputy Chief Chris French,
Older Americans and disabled Americans have the right to be able to
enjoy public lands. The fact that most can not hike, bike or ride a
horse should not keep them from the outdoor recreation experiences that
many younger and physically fit Americans enjoy. But much of our public
lands are not accessible to older and disabled Americans. And let's face
it, hopefully all of us will be "older" someday!!
Until ten years ago, this was not a concern because older and
disabled Americans did not have a way to be able to reach alpine lakes,
canyons and go to the tops of mountains. Pick up trucks cause to much
negative impact and could not reach many these areas. ATV’s are to
difficult and uncomfortable to drive for most older and disabled people.
Historically, recreational use of our National Forest Service public
lands peaks for people at 25 years old, and use started to decline at age
40. But this is no longer true with Side by Side recreational off-road
vehicles. These vehicles are being purchased by the millions by older
and disabled Americans. And the wider 60 to 64 inch machines are giving
them the comfort they need to explore the great outdoors because they have
power steering, high tech suspension and cargo space. Plus, they are lighter
weight machines that have much less impact.
The problem is the limited access most of these vehicles have in
our National Forests because the Forest Service Management plans do not
recognize these vehicles and have trails for them. Currently, ROV’s are limited
to Forest Service roads, which they share with trucks, trailers, cars and RV’s.
Not only is this dangerous, it is not a good outdoor experience for the
older or disabled person seeking outdoor recreation.
We request that the US Forest Service recognize the importance of giving equal
access to all Americans and consider this new class of outdoor recreation in
the future forest management plans by making trails for Side by Side Recreational
Vehicles that are 65 inches wide.
We propose that these trails be ROV Trails, Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Trails.
These trails could be shared by ROV’s, motorcycles, ATV’s, hikers and bikers. But
be closed to larger pickup trucks, jeeps, etc that cause the most negative impact
because they are over twice the weight of a ROV.
ROV trails can open up recreational opportunities to millions of older Americans and disabled Americans.
Many 50 inch trails could be converted to ROV Trails. And many Forest Service
Roads that are flagged to be closed, could be converted into a ROV trail instead.
There maintenance time and cost would be much lower than a Forest Service Road.
Another aspect that we would like the Forest Service to consider is the huge economic
boom for the small communities adjacent to Forest Service Land that these types of trails create. The Hatfield-McCoy Trails brings in over 22.2 million dollars in revenue into a small town in West Virginia and the Paiute Trail in Utah generates over 20 million annual for three towns.
ROV Trails can open up new adventures for older and disabled Americans on our public
lands and bring economic prosperity for the communities adjacent to public lands.