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DNR Still Gathering Public Input on Possible Expansion of ORV Trail System

Comment deadline October 4

When: Wednesday, September 25 at 7 p.m.
Where: Hancock Town Hall, 126 West High St., Hancock  
Who: Open to the Public
Cost: Free

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds citizens there are still opportunities to submit input on a proposed plan that would expand the off-road vehicle (ORV) trail system on State owned lands in Western Maryland. Those unable to attend the above meeting can also submit comments online until October 4. Based on a comprehensive two-year study conducted by the department, the plan looks to introduce ORV trails that would have little impact on surrounding natural resources.  

Three new ORV trails are being considered:

One trail in Garrett County on the Savage River State Forest in the vicinity of St. John’s Rock-Red Dog Road. The site would add 14 miles of round-trip ORV trails to the system. A camping loop would be located near the parking area.

Two trails in Washington County on the DNR managed lands of Sideling Hill north and south. Each site would add around 16 miles of round-trip ORV trails to the system, 32 miles total.

At the meeting, DNR will present the plan and accept public comment thereafter. The agency encourages citizens unable to attend to view the proposal and submit their comments online at The comment period is open through October 4, 2013.

A number of ORV trails were developed within the State Forests in the mid 1980s, quickly becoming a popular, in-demand form of recreation. However, most of the trails had to be closed in 2011, as some of the activity began to threaten environmentally sensitive areas. With only a few small ORV trails still open, DNR began a comprehensive study to assess its landholdings and develop a plan that would incorporate these trails in a manner that would not harm any sensitive natural areas.

The final alignment, design and construction for each of these trails will be contracted by DNR to an Architectural and Engineering company. For more information on ORV use on Maryland public lands, click here.


  • Steven Bittner

    I am opposed to the establishment of ORV trails on Sideling Hill WMA. Previous studies by DNR have shown that all of these trails have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. Impacts were so severe that DNR recently closed several ORV trails. And now you want to establish new trails? That doesn’t sound like good environmental stewardship.

    The proposal to restrict access through daily permits sounds plausible, but enforcement will be difficult at best. I don’t foresee DNR having staff on site to ensure all riders have valid permits for the day they are riding.

    Sideling Hill WMA was established as a wildlife management area and not a multi use recreational area. The primary focus of that area should be sound wildlife management for the benefit of Maryland’s citizens. I suspect this specific proposal was not looked upon favorably by the Wildlife and Heritage Service, the managing agency for Sideling Hill WMA. It sounds like top down decision to me.

    I question whether ORV trails are an acceptable use within WMAs. I suggest DNR review the enabling legislation for WMAs and other DNR properties to determine where exactly ORV trails should be located. They should not be on WMAs.

  • Randy

    If people would take a few minutes to look at how other states around us have integrated OHV trails within their mission to provide recreation to all, we all could learn something. The policy of tread lightly is observed in all that those I ride with do. We take out more trash than we ever take in. Take time to repair trails that may need taken care of. As a hunter we are aware of those who use state lands to hunt on. My one question to all those who state that they are conservationists but would like these trails on private property. Isn’t the water, land, air, flora and flona the same on private property as it is on state owned lands? If that is true how can you as environmentalists and ecologists say put the trails on private property where there is no oversight at all? I surely wish that someone would explain that to me. I love to ride my quad and do so in a manner that I can enjoy things in nature that most would never be able to see. Why should I have to spend my money I earn in Maryland and go to other states for vaction to ride with my friends and family. The bottom line is take the time for education on both sides of this issue to filter down to the bottom levels. When other states are doing this with regards to the environment it is ridiculous to note that we as Marylanders are unable to do so. Maryland pushes so hard for Western Maryland to become a travel destination and they should look at the number of permits being sold for Hatfield McCoy or go to Kentucky or Tenn. to see how they are doing their trails. In the state of Ohio, the Federal Government has trails in Wayne National Forest that are well maintained and they are happy to take my money for a permit, my money for gas, and my money for food. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were taking their money and showing them what Maryland’s nature has to offer?

  • I like the idea of more trails I just don’t think ORV will add value to the beauty of the trails. I’m all for walking trails, and hiking trails, those don’t pollute up the trees. Maryland Forests are beautiful still and we should strive to keep it as beautiful as possible.

  • geo2515

    The construction of ORV trails in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is currently NOT ALLOWED by MD Law.

    Yes- It is a fact! Annotated Code of MD Article 5-209(b) and MD COMAR . LOOK IT UP!

    The ONLY way that this plan could continue is by amending a MD State Staute to allow for it. Are you really willing to go that far?

    This is the one fact that most residents do not know about and it is the absolute most critical point of this entire proposal. The DNR has spent over 2 years working on planning an ORV trail in an area where they are not legal.