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Old 08-15-2011, 10:28 AM   #1
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Change is coming that will affect how and where we boondock


If you haven’t yet heard about the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule (TMR) you soon will. And it could change some critical “dispersed camping” (boondocking) rules for a long time to come.

The writing of this rule has been in the works for years. Each individual forest supervisor has been instructed to define and map every legally constructed road within his district and any not so defined will be declared illegal roads on which motor vehicles will be prohibited. It will also define trails for use by OHVs.

So far so good. We probably wouldn’t want to drive our rigs on bootlegged roads created by 4-wheelers and hunters or those designated for OHVs anyway, choosing those that were built by forest service engineers and substantial enough to handle fire fighting equipment and heavy cattle and logging trucks.

But then it gets a little murky. The rule says you cannot camp any further off the road than one vehicle length, except for those sites that have been designated as “dispersed camping” areas, and which will be included on the forest map. The supervisor designates those areas that will be defined as dispersed camping areas and boondocking will be limited to those areas–no more camping anywhere.

This is where there could be potential conflict. The supervisor, for example, could just designate those areas that can accommodate many RVs, but not authorize single campsites (which are usually the most private and nesty) and might be one of your favorites.

So far the official response to questions has been that all those spots that have been used in the past for boondocking (dispersed camping) will be included as official and legal campsites, but hacking new campsites out of the forest will not be allowed. This is good and if that is the case most of us boondockers will not be affected. But . . . it is still up to the supervisor, and if he/she is more interested in ease of patrolling the forest, he/she could restrict boondockers to group dispersed camping areas and not authorize individual sites.

The plan is still coming together. Some forests have already completed the maps for their forests and they are available at ranger offices or online–you can find the completed Motor Vehicle Use Maps here. I suggest that when you enter any national forest that you stop at the regional ranger office and ask about the TMR, whether it is in effect, and pick up the appropriate map for where you intend to camp–and make sure that dispersed camping areas are defined and located on the map. There is a very good reason to do this–failure to camp in an authorized area can result in a fine of up to $5,000, though this much fine would apply to flagrant violators. But who determines that. Ask questions. And if you find out some valuable and pertinent information, please let me know.

For those who like to wade through government publications, here is the link to the Travel Management Rule when it was authorized. But each individual forest is different, and will have slightly different interpretations of the rule, so again. ask questions. http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/prog...hv/index.shtml

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Old 08-15-2011, 05:32 PM   #2
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Good information for anyone that uses the National Forests. Once again some beaurocrat had made a decision and a mandate that will affect many people that use the forest. They let you give them some "input" then they just go ahead and do what they want. It happens every day.

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Old 08-17-2011, 05:45 PM   #3
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:26 PM   #4
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So now it is 1 year later.
What have been people's experiences?
As one of those bureaucrats (now retired for 2 years) I was actually in charge of the Travel Mgt project on the National Forest where I worked.
I'm sure that some true bureaucrats take things to the nth degree and might prevent or cite RVers for camping more than 1 vehicle width off the road. (Personally, camping only 1 vehicle width off the road is a REAL safety hazard.)
Most USFS Law Enforcement Officers that I know are pretty reasonable and would not issue a citation unless there was some serious other violation or there was major damage to natural resources.
The Travel Mgt. Rule was primarily put in place to solve some very serious problems with un-managed recreation...primarily ATVers that were going anywhere they wanted and causing problems. The National Forests have always had a pretty liberal and in my opinion, pretty good policy and relationship with dispersed campers and boondockers. On the Forest where I worked, we specifically said that we would not be prohibiting boondockers from their normal haunts (such as off the road near the side of a bridge by a stream). Now, if you plan to haul your RV off the road, through the woods and cut a bunch of vegetation for your camping spot, that is another matter entirely.
I really would like to hear what others experiences have been, because I know that National Forests interpret the rules very differently from the next national forest.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:07 PM   #5
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Additional restrictions have also been added on BLM lands in Az.- We happened to be privy to one of the reasons this happened- Unfortunately, one of the members of a camping club is the culprit- When one of ours is the guilty party, it brings home the reality for the need for rules- It's always a few who screw it up for the majority who use the facilities- Witness the ruts initially caused on our Federal lands by hillclimbers and finished by Mother Nature- JMHO- DD
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