Riders take advantage of OHV trails in Black HillsCUSTER (AP) — The premier season of the official Black Hills OHV trail system was reportedly a success, but there’s still a lot of work and needed improvements ahead.
By: MARK VANGERPEN, The Black Hills Pioneer
CUSTER (AP) — The premier season of the official Black Hills OHV trail system was reportedly a success, but there’s still a lot of work and needed improvements ahead.
Tom Willems, recreation planner and partnership coordinator with the Forest Service, said the he was getting “mixed reviews” from trail-goers who experienced the system’s first official year, but by and large they seemed satisfied.
“Lately we’ve been having a lot of out-of-state riders calling in, and they’ve given us some very complimentary reviews on our trail system,” Willems said.
The Motor Vehicle Use Map, which depicts the trail system, was first published in 2010, but it left out about 210 miles of trails that needed to be improved before they could be opened.
Leaving those miles out created a patchwork of short, disconnected trails across the forest that many enthusiasts claimed were too short to be interesting and might not attract OHV tourists to the Hills.
The numbers didn’t reflect a suppressed interest, though. By the end of its fiscal year Sept. 30, the Forest Service had sold upwards of 7,000 permits, generating about $170,000 in additional revenue for the trail systems. The Forest Service had estimated 6,000 permits would be sold.
In October, Willems said another 600 permits had been sold, probably due to the hunting season and good weather.
There’s still a lot of work to be done on the trail system, as people adjust to new rules and regulations that are either modifications of previous regulations or just weren’t enforced.
In issuing an official trail system, the Forest Service switched from a policy of “open unless posted closed” to one of “closed unless posted open.”
Willems said the shift went unnoticed by a lot of riders, who took to the trail systems like they always have; after all, the well-worn trails have been there for years and look official, yet may have been closed.
Fixing that is mostly a matter of public education, Willems said, adding that the Forest Service will post more routes closed next year to help avoid confusion.