Four-wheeling in the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma will be restricted to designated trails only, beginning in September 2008 under a new policy adopted by the U.S. Forest Service.
Open houses are scheduled next week in Broken Bow and Poteau by the Forest Service to get public input on what routes should be established for ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), motorcyles, four-wheel drive jeeps and other off-highway vehicles (OHVs).
Forest officials admit that some visitors who have enjoyed four-wheeling in the 352,000-acre forest will not be happy with the changes.
"We are not going to have designated trails or access by four-wheelers to every place someone wants to go,” said C. J. Norvell, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service in Talihina.
Currently, such vehicles are allowed on open forest roads and through the general forest area, except for McCurtain County lands around the Broken Bow Lake.
Under the new policy, all off-road vehicles must stay on designated trails. Such trails may include a mix of open forest roads and routes off the road, Norvell said.