Roads, Roadless Areas, and Vehicular Use

Stay on the Right Path

We believe vehicular access should occur only on designated roadways and trails. Sadly, there are those who disregard travel routes—out of ignorance, disrespect, or a misplaced sense of entitlement—causing extensive damage to fragile ecosystems.

When vehicles do not stay on designated routes, it harms soils, vegetation, and riparian zones, increasing erosion and degrading water quality. These impacts, combined with the noise put out by motorized vehicles, are detrimental to wildlife. Motorized access has also led to increased damage and defacing of historic and prehistoric cultural sites.

It is estimated there are more than 380,000 miles of roads on Forest Service managed lands alone. That’s enough road to drive around the earth more than 15 times!

See Broads’ recommended reading list (below) to learn more about the effects of unlawful vehicle access.

Greater Use, Greater Access

The number of recreational riders continues to increase, as does the power and speed of vehicles, opening up what was once inaccessible backcountry. Just because a vehicle can get somewhere doesn’t mean it should be there.

Compounding this, there is a faction of folks that seek to add roads to public lands to expand OHV recreation or right-of-way access under the auspices of RS2477We’ve fought for years over this—one of the better-known incidents took place in Recapture Canyon, Utah. Broads endorses keeping roadless lands roadless, and decommissioning roads that cause environmental degradation.

Limited Resources, Limited Enforcement

Public land agencies attempt to develop balanced and responsible management plans, but often don’t have the funding or staff to monitor use, enforce regulations over the vast areas they manage, or properly maintain existing road systems.

How Broads Help

Broads and Broadbands across the country work with agencies to gather data and monitor public lands along travel corridors. This boots-on-the-ground experience gives Broads a detailed understanding of the challenges faced by the agencies. We partner with federal, state, and local agencies on specific projects, contributing to travel plans and holding agencies to task on policies, plan implementation, and enforcement activities.

To get involved, contact your local Broadband or work with the national office to start your own monitoring project. Watch our website for action alerts and events that provide opportunities for education, advocacy, stewardship, and (of course) fun.


Broadtastic Books: Roads & Vehicular Use


Our Position

  • New roadways and motorized routes result in the loss of wilderness characteristics and must not be created in roadless areas.
  • Routes must not be designated as part of a Travel Management Plan unless a route-specific NEPA analysis has been conducted.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicle use (four-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and bicycles) on public lands should occur only on designated roadways and trails.
  • Broads supports the policy of “Closed Unless Posted Open” as the underlying principle to determine where any vehicle travel may occur on public lands.
  • Where appropriate, Broads will advocate for the closure and decommissioning of roadways when maintenance costs or the potential for environmental damage exceeds public use benefits.
  • Public agencies must be held accountable for following and enforcing existing management plans in a timely manner.
  • Management of motorized and mechanized vehicles must be consistent with stated laws, regulations, and policies.

Here’s a PDF of Roads & Vehicular Use position statement.