ORVs restricted in Umatilla National Forest

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Some main roads in the Umatilla National Forest in Washington have been closed to ATVs for safety reasons.

ATV riders in the Blue Mountains area plan to form a group to protest the closures and gain a stronger voice in future decisions.

Monte Fujishin, Pomeroy District ranger, told the Spokesman a national travel planning rule enacted in 2005 compelled him to study all forest roads where state motor vehicle rules apply and determine if having full-sized vehicles and smaller off-road ATVs and off-road motorcycles was safe.

About 76 miles of the forest’s main access routes, including 50 miles on the Pomeroy district, were judged unsafe for off-road vehicles.

Most of the roads in the Pomeroy district remain open to ATV use. But in some places the closure will make it impossible for ATVers to ride from one area to another, and will eliminate some popular loop rides.

Garfield County undersheriff Ben Keller has joined the movement to form a local ATV group. He worked last year to pass an ordinance allowing ATVs on Pomeroy and Garfield County roads so riders could go from their homes to the mountains, the newspaper says.

Fujishin says some of the recently closed roads may be reopened if safety issues are addressed.

Posted by Holly Wagner