Off-Road Vehicles Could Soon Be Allowed in Southeast Missouri's National Forests

February 23, 2004 - Posted at 7:51 a.m. CDT

MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST, MO - A proposal to open several trails in the Mark Twain National Forest to off-road vehicles has pitted off-roading enthusiasts against those who enjoy peace and quiet.

The U.S. Forest Service proposes opening 145 miles of off-road vehicle trails in forests near Potosi, Fredericktown and Poplar Bluff in southeast Missouri.  The proposal opens some trails and stream crossings that were created by illegal off-road use.  It closes others that are badly eroded, dangerous or that lead to private property or environmentally-sensitive lands.

A three-year study would assess the plan's environmental impact, and whether creating legal trails deters illegal riding elsewhere in the forest.

Officials say enforcement will remain a challenge, but that it's still worth trying.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)