News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Closes Three Off-Road Vehicle Trails

Agency Creates ORV Stakeholder Work Group

Annapolis, Md. (May 6, 2011) — Effective immediately, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has permanently closed three of the State’s off-road vehicle (ORV) trails. The Green Ridge, Chandler and Poplar Lick trails had been temporarily closed pending the results of a forest certification audit. The audit, which was completed last week, is part of the State’s effort to receive dual certification for all three western Maryland State Forests — a move that will protect the $950 million western Maryland forest products industry, which employs 9,200 people.

“The Department has been looking closely at the sustainability of these ORV Trails for the past few years. While it is unfortunate that these three trails must be closed, the decision is based on the results of environmental assessments conducted by the Department and the results of our recent forest certification audit,” said DNR State Forester Steven W. Koehn.

Koehn added, “These trails were built and sited decades ago and long before the current trend of riders and riding machine options. The locations of the trails are not sustainable in their current configuration, and they cannot be reconfigured to protect the environmental features located on these lands. We came to fully understand these facts as we reviewed all of our State Forest management activities in preparation for a statewide forest certification Audit in late April. We were not surprised that the forest audit confirmed these particular ORV Trails were unsustainable.”

Green Ridge trail is part of the Green Ridge State Forest; Poplar Lick trail is in the Savage River State Forest; and Chandler ORV trail winds through the Pocomoke River State Forest. Walk-in access will still be permitted, including walk-in camping at Green Ridge and Poplar Lick trail camping areas. Green Ridge trail vehicle-access closure includes all sections of the trail, including that portion formerly open to licensed on-road vehicles.

“While it is unfortunate that these three trails must be closed, to do otherwise would be irresponsible,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “The good news is that this process has brought to light the need for us to more actively engage with the ORV community. Input from several hundred stakeholders has underscored the fact that this important community of outdoor enthusiasts deserves the opportunity to ride and is prepared to do so responsibly in partnership with DNR.”

The Department recognizes that ORV trails and riding are an important part of the Maryland outdoor recreation community and pledges to identify new and improved trail locations. Options include several privately owned sites with ‘ready to ride’ trail systems in place that could be purchased or leased by DNR and/or our partners to provide public ORV trail access. DNR is also considering several existing public land locations for inclusion in this new trail evaluation process.

More than 50 stakeholders representing a dozen ORV, trails and environmental organizations from across the region attended the agency’s first-ever meetings with the ORV community in March and April. The stakeholders participated in an open forum to offer input and ideas to agency representatives.

DNR will formally appoint its first ORV Stakeholder Workgroup by June 1, which will include representatives of key ORV organizations and individuals who have offered important and informed input during the initial comment period.

“The closure of these trails, while unfortunate, brings us an extraordinary opportunity to find new, improved, user-designed sustainable trail systems, in partnership with our ORV stakeholders,” said Paul Peditto, the new ORV Stakeholder Workgroup Leader. “If you own a 4x4, ATV, dirt bike or snowmobile, today’s disappointment will translate into good news for the future.”

   May 6, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly a half-million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at