Do you have to get permission to build a trail in a national forest

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Do you have to get permission to build a trail in a national forest
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Posted: Aug 28, 2013 at 22:32 Quote
I live in Idaho and there are trails but it's a hassle trying to find them and there not really maintained or taken care of so it can get very dangerous.

Posted: Aug 29, 2013 at 14:38 Quote
Mamel57 wrote:
I live in Idaho and there are trails but it's a hassle trying to find them and there not really maintained or taken care of so it can get very dangerous.

If you want your trails to be legal, yes, you need to jump through all sorts of hoops to make that happen, and could be a VERY long and time consuming process, that could just be rejected in the end. If you have the time and the means, this is always your best route to take. Or you could just start building your own trails. These of course can be removed/logged at any time, but that is always a risk that is ran when building. There is a lot of forest out there, so if you do start building your own trails, be smart about where you put them and who you tell about them. Don't make the trail head obvious, don't Strava your trails and don't post videos or images of them that will make their location obvious. Don't make a poor trail that will result in erosion or have other negative environmental impacts...those tend to get you noticed quickly, plus its not good for the forest. I would think there has to be decent trails in Idaho, so if you decide to start building your own, you can "trade" trails with other riders who may be in the know and can show you some of theirs. Just my two cents.

Posted: Aug 30, 2013 at 11:02 Quote
Stay away from "Wetlands" - destroying natural habitat is reason #1 for trails getting bulldozed.
Don't chop down trees, use the ones that have already fallen. You can get a hefty fine for chopping down trees.
Don't rip out plants unless they are invasive (Ivy / Blackberries / Holly ). Hide the carcass well. It is possible to re-locate certain plants that are in the way, but do this with caution.
Build in a way that "walkers" can get around the jumps.
Think about drainage so your jumps can be ridden all year round.
Hide your tools extremely well.
Don't nail / screw into live trees.
No Garbage!

Posted: Sep 30, 2013 at 20:09 Quote
kwilliams420 wrote:
Mamel57 wrote:
I live in Idaho and there are trails but it's a hassle trying to find them and there not really maintained or taken care of so it can get very dangerous.

If you want your trails to be legal, yes, you need to jump through all sorts of hoops to make that happen, and could be a VERY long and time consuming process, that could just be rejected in the end. If you have the time and the means, this is always your best route to take. Or you could just start building your own trails. These of course can be removed/logged at any time, but that is always a risk that is ran when building. There is a lot of forest out there, so if you do start building your own trails, be smart about where you put them and who you tell about them. Don't make the trail head obvious, don't Strava your trails and don't post videos or images of them that will make their location obvious. Don't make a poor trail that will result in erosion or have other negative environmental impacts...those tend to get you noticed quickly, plus its not good for the forest. I would think there has to be decent trails in Idaho, so if you decide to start building your own, you can "trade" trails with other riders who may be in the know and can show you some of theirs. Just my two cents.

NUFf SAID !

Posted: Oct 9, 2013 at 20:22 Quote
I also live in Idaho, the just north of boise, and want to build trails, I have a super sick area to build, just need help

Posted: Oct 15, 2013 at 14:58 Quote
Something to consider is if you build in a national park.... If you get caught and charged, IF..... You will be charged under federal law not state law which usually means bigger fines, and less sympathy towards you.

Posted: Nov 2, 2013 at 16:02 Quote
just build it so the ending of the trail isn't visible or if possible the whole trail so people wont be snooping and what not. ladder bridges seem to draw attention so I would steer clear of them. oh and no parties!

Posted: Nov 3, 2013 at 18:48 Quote
As a US Forest Service trails manager, I can answer that one pretty easy. Yes, you have to have permission. 36 CFR 261.10(a) makes it a class b misdemeanor to build trail without consent. Class b misdemeanor meaning up to $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail. Does that happen much? Not really but there are recent cases (in Sedona, AZ most recently) where individuals were fined $1,000 and banned from the forest for 6 months. There are several factors that would go into exactly what fine would be assessed if caught.

That being said, as an avid rider I certainly understand your frustration with the current status of trails in your area. I can't/won't guess why the local trails are in the condition they are in but I'll say that it's not a unique situation. There are countless trails on USFS lands that are in poor shape due to many factors from bad/no design, neglect, etc. Further, many trails and trail systems do not reflect current use trends such as "advanced trails". I am also very aware of many folks experiences with trying to effect change, build new trail, etc.

My advice is to contact your local district staff about your concerns. If you (and hopefully others such as a club) really want to effect change, there are plenty of success stories out there. The NEPA process (those hoops everyone talks about) are not that difficult but they need a champion (maybe you) to keep it going. Many trail projects fall under a Categorical Exclusion (CE) and only require a minimal level of work including a 30 day comment period.

Now if you're talking about development of trails with "advanced features" such as skinnies, etc you may have a little more difficulty. As usual, the agency is pretty behind the curve on this but there are some recent projects on USFS lands that have gone through. The Blackjack Trail in CO (http://www.comba.org/content/blackjack-trail) as well as the Hangover Trail (http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/hangover-trail-in-sedona-az-approved-by-forest-service.html) in Sedona.

Good luck and feel free to ask any questions.

Posted: Nov 7, 2013 at 9:55 Quote
skerry00 wrote:
As a US Forest Service trails manager....

You should write an article on the Do's & Dont's of Trail Building. It would be interesting to see a different perspective.

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