USDA Forest Service issues guidance to manage future e-bike use on national forests, grasslands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is announcing that internal guidance on how future e-bike use is managed on national forests and grasslands has been finalized. The updated guidance clarifies existing policy and provides guidelines to local Forest Service employees that may be considering expanding e-bike access at site-specific locations.

The Forest Service currently allows e-bikes on all Forest Service roads that are already open to motorized vehicles, as well on 60,000 miles of motorized trails, which represent 38% of all trails the agency manages. Today’s finalized guidance allows e-bikes to continue to operate on currently-authorized roads and trails, and lays out a process to evaluate future requests for expanded access. The updated guidance also outlines the required environmental analysis and public input required before making future decisions to expand local e-bike access.

“National forests and grasslands are a place for all people to recreate, relax and refresh,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “The additional guidance will help our district rangers and forest supervisors better serve their communities with a policy that allows managers to make locally based decisions to address e-bike use. This growing recreational activity is another opportunity to responsibly share the experience of the outdoors with other recreationists.”

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The Forest Service manages nearly 160,000 miles of trails in 42 states and Puerto Rico for a variety of activities. E-biking is one of many legitimate recreational activities, such as horseback riding, snowmobiling, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, hiking and backpacking, that the agency manages under its multiple-use mission. The clarified guidance will support local Forest Service decision-makers as they consider opportunities to expand access for this emerging user group.

Other land management agencies, including the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, allow for e-bike use on 18,000 miles and 16,000 miles of trails, respectively.

For more information on recreational activities, contact your local national forest or grassland.

Read the e-bike policy here.

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