Residents voice opinions, look for solutions with Forest Service officials to improper off-highway vehicle etiquette

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — The U.S. Forest Service has reported significant increases in the use of OHV’s, off highway vehicles.

Utvs For Rent In The Black HillsWith over 3,600 miles of rideable trails in the Black Hills, it’s not hard to see why.

In 2021, the total number of OHV permits sold in South Dakota came to just under a million dollars in revenue.

However, as fun as off-roading can be, not following the rules can prove dangerous for visitors and residents.

“Like anyone would probably suggest, that’s caused some challenges, some frustrations,” Recreational Program Manager for the Black Hills National Forest Bradley Block said. “And quite honestly, some upset feelings depending on what side of the fence you might be on with this particular activity.”

The Black Hills OHV collaborative learning process program gave people a way to voice concerns, with workshops taking place through the week aim to create solutions and strategies for enforcing these ideas.

When offered last year, residents listed many issues, including noise, increased dust, along with dangers posed to farm animals and wildlife. Others such as noise levels, increased nighttime traffic, and unauthorized trails also were on the list.

This year, many issues are still in play, but some like Randy Burns come to the summit from both angles.

“As a UTV owner myself, I completely understand the drive to find new areas to ride and those kinds of things,” Black Hills Resident Randy Burns said. “But I also understand the Forest Service’s concern with the amount of traffic and trying to find more areas to ride and those kinds of issues.”

For solutions, education is key and making sure people listen to rental personnel, along with following maps and safety precautions for both visitors and residents.

“Enjoy the time with your family, with your friends, but at the same time, always keep your awareness of what’s around you, what’s coming down the trail, what’s going across the trail,” Block said. “What’s in the surroundings might be private land that you’re not quite aware about, and always know where you are on the map so you can know for sure that you’re on the right trail.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News