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Indiscriminate ORV use has damaged fragile ecosystems on both public and private lands. Complaints of erosion on hills and trails, destruction of stream banks and beds, and conflicts with other users have led to more restrictive rules to control ORV abuses.

The DNR oversees more than four million acres of land used for a variety of purposes. Wise use of those lands includes preserving natural features and wildlife habitat and encouraging a variety of recreational uses. Just as other users are limited in their activities in order to protect and conserve these vital resources while minimizing conflicts with other activities, ORV enthusiasts are restricted in where and how they may operate.

The following terms may be used when describing where or how ORVs may be operated on state-owned lands.

  • Designated: Any place that is posted as open for ORV use with appropriate signs.
  • Designated Area: An area that has signs for cross-country ORV use posted by the DNR. An ORV license is required.
  • Designated Route: A forest road or other road that is designated by the DNR for ORV use.
  • Forest Roads: Hard-surfaced roads, gravel or dirt roads, or other routes capable of travel by a 2-wheel-drive, 4-wheel conventional vehicle designed for highway use, except an interstate, state, or county highway.
  • Forest Trail: Designated path or way that is not a route.
  • Highway: The entire width between the boundary lines of a way publicly maintained when any part of the way is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.
  • Designated ORV Trail: Designated paths or ways that are motorcycle-only trails, ORV trails, or ORV routes. An ORV license is required.
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