A U.S. Forest Service regional official on Monday defended the agency's decision to close some roads in national forests across the West as an unpopular but necessary response to a rapid increase of off-road vehicle travel.
Regional Forester Harv Forsgren said in testimony prepared for a congressional field hearing in Elko that motor vehicle use has damaged natural and cultural resources.
Forsgren said he is aware that the restrictions "may change the way people experience their national forests." He suggested that officials are willing to modify the plan if circumstances change.
Forsgren oversees 34 million acres of national forest land in Nevada, Utah, western Wyoming, western Colorado and eastern California. He spoke before the House Resources subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands.
The hearing was held in Elko at the request of GOP Rep. Mark Amodei and Elko County activists critical of policies they view as excessive regulation of federal lands across the West.