The Powell Ranger District on the Dixie National Forest, which is east of Panguitch and west of Bryce Canyon National Park, held a public open house on May 2 to consider the future of open and closed roads in the district. The public was encouraged to offer their suggestions. District Ranger Karen Schroyer explained this is part of implementing the two-year “Motorized Travel Plan.”

The Powell Ranger District is the first district on the Dixie National Forest to create a “Need for Change” analysis to keep the MTP current. The analysis means that some routes may be added back and some may be closed.

The roads under consideration are only within the boundaries of the Powell Ranger District.

Background: In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Executive Order (EO) 11644, with the purpose of establishing policies and provide for procedures that will ensure the use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and directed to protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands and to minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands.

In 2005, Forest Service issued the final Travel Management Rule, being consistent to EO 11644, to designate a system of roads, trails, and areas that are open and those that are closed to motorized travel.

In April 2009, the Dixie National Forest finalized the “Motorized Travel Plan” (MTP) establishing a system of approximately 2,700 miles of designated motorized travel routes across the forest, while also prohibiting some cross-country (off trail/road) travel.

Today, the Powell Ranger District has 590 miles of open road and motorized trails that include 360 miles of the Fremont and Paunsaugut OHV systems, providing recreation loop opportunities, which are supported by specific maps and directional/location signs.

The Powell Ranger District has invited Garfield and Kane Counties to participate in a Travel Management plan, an ongoing process making the right decisions for natural resources, cooperating with agencies as authorized and encouraged under the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations while also providing multiple use opportunities for the public.

Since the 2009 Dixie Motorized Travel Plan was implemented, the Powell Ranger District has been cataloging routes they felt should be analyzed for change; open, closed or administrative. When considering a road for a changed decision the district is required to meet the intent of the Dixie National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Archeological Resource Protection Act, and the 2001 Roadless Rule among other laws and regulations.