OHVs now allowed on national forest roads. 

October 4, 2021

OHVs now allowed on national forest roads. 

CADILLAC — Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are now allowed on the majority Huron-Manistee National Forests roads, effective Oct. 1. Some municipalities and the state of Michigan refer to such vehicles as off road vehicles (ORVs). These include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which is 50 inches or less in width; utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), an off-highway vehicle where passengers ride side-by-side; single-track motorized, a two-wheeled motor vehicle on which the wheels are in-line, such as a motorcycle. 

The change puts the the two national forests into alignment with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), which has opened approximately 89% of its state forest roadways to legal OHV use as a result of Public Act 288, enacted by the Michigan Legislature in 2016. This will also bring the HMNFs into alignment with over 75% of the 14 counties that encompass the HMNFs that have opened their local roadways to legal OHV use.

“Now we are aligned with most state and local roadways to OHV use, and confusion should be minimized by the public. Our Motorized Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) have been updated on-line and available at our Ranger District Offices in print,” said Leslie Auriemmo, Forest Supervisor – HMNFs, “By implementing this designation change, our forest visitors will no longer have to guess if they are in compliance with the law while recreating on state, county and/or national forest system roads.”

The HMNFs took public comment January 11-February 5, 2021 and conducted a forest wide mixed vehicle use analysis of forest service roads to determine if the alignment of OHV designations on forest roads with current state and county designations could be done safely. The public comments were compiled and incorporated into the analysis process. Over 80% of the comments received by the public were in favor of this designation change. The analysis reviewed the connectivity and safety of allowing OHVs on existing open forest service roads.

Based on the analysis, forest service officials have decided that all forest service roads, already open to highway legal vehicles, will now be open to OHVs. This excludes roads connected to state or county roads that are closed to OHV use. The proposal also excludes roads on which OHV use would be deemed to pose a public safety concern, for example the Hungerford Lake Area roads/trails would not be open to OHV use. The new Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) for the HMNFs Ranger Districts are now in print at each Ranger District Office and available online at Huron-Manistee National Forests Motor Vehicle Use Maps and have been updated to reflect this change. Additionally, the Huron-Manistee National Forests – OHV Riding & Camping (usda.gov)has been updated as well as a Frequently Asked Questions brochure has been developed to assist in answering questions.

In Mason County, all townships, except Meade Township, and the cities of Scottville and Ludington have ORV ordinances that allow such vehicles to operate on public roads and streets, with the exception of state highways. OHVs are allowed on all non-highway roads in Lake County and certain areas of Manistee and Oceana counties. All OHVs operating on public land must have a Michigan Department of Natural Resources ORV license and must and a MDNR ORV trail license to operate on designated ORV trails/routes and special ORV-use areas. MDNR permits are not required for use on private property. 

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