Some 3,390 miles of roads will formally be made available for both highway-legal and off-highway motorized vehicles in a proposed plan for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Some 3,390 miles of roads will formally be made available for both highway-legal and off-highway motorized vehicles in a proposed plan for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

In addition, about two dozen miles of roads now closed in the forest would be turned into motorized trails, and two "motorized play" areas would be designated in the High Cascades Ranger District, including the existing Woodruff OHV area near Prospect.

"We're trying to strike a balance," said Steve Johnson, the forest's team leader for travel management planning. "We recognize that motorized use is an important recreation in the forest. At the same time, we also have to consider resource protection."

The proposal is part of a nationwide effort to establish a designated and managed system for motorized use on national forests because of the increased OHV use, which has caused user conflict and resource damage, officials said.

Over-the-snow vehicles are not included in the proposal.

On the 1.8 million acre Rogue River-Siskiyou forest, there are roughly 4,620 miles of road and 1,155 miles of trails. Of the latter, there are 170 miles of motorized trails. Most of the unpaved forest roads are currently available for both highway and OHV use, Johnson said.

The 45-day comment period on the proposal ends Oct. 14. A draft environmental impact statement is expected to be completed in November, with a final decision made in July 2009.

— Paul Fattig

More details: Friday's Mail Tribune