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‘New ATV trails’ to be considered in near future on state forest land

Pennsylvania’s state forests have almost 270 miles of trails open to ATVs.

New internal policy at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources may lead to that number increasing in the near future.

The department had had a moratorium on new trail development.

“The revisions to the DCNR ATV Trail Policy now authorize the department to consider new ATV trails and connectors on state forest lands,” according to a release from DCNR.

Those changes are being driven by increasing demand.

“DCNR is proposing changes… to respond to increasing demands for riding opportunities, local and county government interest in expanding recreational tourism, and legislative action,” according to the release.

More trails would be welcome in the county.

In terms of tourism, “ATV trail riding isn’t a significant player currently,” Warren County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Dave Sherman said. “It’s been our experience and our feedback that ATV trail riding is a challenge to those that enjoy riding.”

The DCNR policy change may not benefit local ATV enthusiasts locally — the state forest land in Warren County does not represent a good candidate for new ATV trails.

“We only have 1,500 acres of state forest land,” DCNR Bureau of Forestry Cornplanter District Forester Cecile Stelter said. “The acreage is too small to support ATV trails.”

Enthusiasts willing to travel could benefit.

“The closest ATV trails (on state forest lands) would be on the Susquehannock State Forest in Coudersport,” Stelter said. That forest currently has a 43-mile interconnected loop trail system.

State forest trails represent about one-third of the 777 ATV trail miles in the state.

The Allegheny National Forest has over 100 miles of ATV trails. The Rocky Gap trailhead is off of Pleasant Drive in Pleasant Township. Willow Creek trailhead is in McKean County. The Penoke, Marienville, and Timberline trails represent 76 miles of interconnected trails in the Forest County area.

Riders can also make use of private property where they are allowed.

DCNR will accept public comments on the draft policy at paforester@pa.gov until Friday, March 27.

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