U.S. Forest Service reopens trails in DeSoto National Forest

Publish Date: 
Aug 26, 2014

BROOKLYN, Miss. -- Mississippi off-highway-vehicle riders will have 9.5 miles of additional trails available when the U.S. Forest Service reopens Phase One of the Rattlesnake Bay OHV Trails in DeSoto National Forest on Sept. 20.

A second section of trail, encompassing nearly 28 miles, is in the planning stages and may open in the spring or summer of 2015.

The September reopening was made possible by the February approval of a recreation fee structure by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee and cooperation between the USFS and the OHV group Friends of Rattlesnake Bay.

The reopened trails consist of a 7.6-mile loop and a 1.9-mile loop.

Volunteers from the Friends of Rattlesnake Bay helped USFS crews complete the needed repairs to the trails in late August.

"We couldn't have done this without the help of Friends of Rattlesnake Bay volunteers, who helped refurbish portions of the trail," said DeSoto District Ranger Ben Battle. "Volunteer efforts like these, are critically important in helping us to maintain and monitor the trail for future use and sustainability."

The Rattlesnake Bay trail system, originally created for sanctioned competition events, is in the special use permit area for the Camp Shelby Military Training Site near Hattiesburg, Miss. The trails had been closed for more than 11 years.

Mississippi Tourism, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority, supported the reopening of the trails.

"My goal in this was to help ensure that my children and their children will have a place to ride," said Dale Tallman Jr., a member of the American Motorcyclist Association and volunteer coordinator for the Friends of Rattlesnake Bay.

The AMA became involved in the effort at Tallman's request, helping to form the Friends of Rattlesnake Bay to facilitate Forest Service negotiations with a unified voice.

"I am anxious to get the trail reopened for public use," said Fred Pittman, president of the Mississippi Hi-Point Enduro Riders. "And I am encouraged by the possibility that competitive events could return to Rattlesnake Bay in the future."

Trail rules included a 1-inch maximum tire tread depth and an OHV sound limit of 96 dBA. The approved fee structure provides for the continued maintenance and operation of the trails.

The fee includes a $10-a-day fee for trail use and a $60-a-year annual operator fee, which will be valid for all OHV trails on National Forests in Mississippi. The annual pass will be available later this year.

Trails covered by the fees include Rattlesnake Bay, the Little Tiger ATV Trail System, the Chickasawhay ATV Trail System and the Bethel Motorized Trail System (which includes a motorcycle loop and ATV trail).

From a news release