Forest Service bans Tahoe cross-country OHV riding " for now |

Forest Service bans Tahoe cross-country OHV riding " for now

People who ride dirt bikes for recreation will no longer be permitted to ride cross-country between existing trails in the Tahoe National Forest.

A temporary forest order was signed by Forest Supervisor Steve Eubanks prohibiting motorized cross-country travel in the forest while land managers survey existing routes as part of an ongoing route designation process.

While forest managers say the ban is “common sense” and shouldn’t spark controversy, riders disagree.

“The more they close down, the more it’s going to combine more people in a small area,” said Wayne Johnson, owner of Sierra Motor Sports, a dirt bike and ATV dealership located on Nevada City Highway.

Johnson, a member of the Nevada County Woods Riders, says the ban will impact dirt bike riders more than ATV riders, who typically stay on the roads. He said new technologies in dirt bike tire manufacturing have significantly reduced impacts to the environment.

Forest managers say cross-country travel can cause soil erosion and degrade water quality and the aquatic life that live in streams. The noise from motors can disrupt breeding or nesting wildlife and can crush threatened botanical species or spread noxious weeds.

“We’re looking for a sustainable trail system. The order prevents people from making new trails while we study the ones that are out there,” said David Michael, OHV program manager.

The closure of cross-country off-road riding could last up to a year or until the local Forest Service branch completes an environmental impact statement for the route designation. As many as 2,450 miles of unauthorized trails could close at that time, though another 50 miles could be added to the forest’s inventory.

The draft environmental report for the project is expected to be available for public review and comment this winter.

Copies of the temporary forest order, including maps showing roads, trails and areas that can be used, are available at the forest headquarters and ranger stations in Nevada City, Camptonville, Sierraville, Truckee and Foresthill. The order is also available online at


To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@the or call 477-4231.

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