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      Plan to close unauthorized dune trails progresses

      CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) An environmental review of a plan to close some unauthorized off-road vehicle trails in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area has been released for public comment.



      Opinions on the 150-page draft review are due to the Siuslaw National Forest by Dec. 10, the Gazette-Times reported (http://is.gd/kk02KD).


      The recreation area covers 29,000 acres from Florence to North Bend along the Oregon Coast. It's a popular playground for riders of dirt bikes, dune buggies and four-wheelers.


      Some 5,930 acres of open sand have been set aside for off-road vehicles. There are another 4,455 acres of vegetated areas where riding is allowed on 34 miles of designated trails.


      Over the years, however, riders have carved out a 135-mile web of trails through the vegetated sections. Now the Forest Service is cracking down on riding in unauthorized areas.


      The plan aims for something of a compromise that likely would include a modest expansion of the authorized trail network and the open riding areas while enforcing rules for unauthorized areas.


      None of the alternatives being considered would shrink the official on- or off-trail areas now open to riders.


      "Those 34 miles (of trails) currently designated, nothing is happening to those," said Angie Morris, a recreation planner with the Siuslaw National Forest. "There's no negative impact to open riding; there's only additions. We're not going backwards."


      The areas proposed for reallocation to open riding already tend to be popular with users of off-highway vehicles and vegetated with invasive species, Morris said. Route additions proposed connect open riding areas either to each other or to the beach.


      Information from: Gazette-Times



      Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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