Part 3 of a special 3-part series in landuse and environmental science providing a greater understanding of how these cannot be separated if we want to save trails and keep our motorized recreation sports alive and well.
Environmental Science, Part 3; Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS)
A crucial thing to understand about roads and trails on USFS lands is the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS). ROS is the land classification system the USFS uses to describe the type and character of the recreation opportunities on Forest lands. It might feel like our Jeeping access is on a toy ground teeter-totter. Yea, well it might be…read on.
You may find terms like Urban, Rural, Roaded Modified, Roaded Natural, Semi-primitive Motorized, Semi-primitive Non-Motorized, and Primitive coming from the ROS classification. It’s almost like it’s meant to confuse us. But wait…
Think of ROS as a teeter-totter board, with a balance point (Fig. 1). On the far left is a severe restriction (hiking only), and on the far right is development (urban setting).
Depending on where the center of gravity (ROS designation) pushes down, the board teeters one way or the other; hopefully finding balance overall in the long term.
Unfortunately (depending on your point of view), the center of gravity is pushed one way or the other, NOT by sound science and legitimate public input, but rather by special interest groups and politics.
Sometimes it goes the way of motorized recreation. But more often these days, it goes the way of closures and restrictions.
The National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have land designations of their own; separate from the USDA Forest Service (USFS). On the other hand, some terms overlap all three agencies.
It’s important to understand that land management agencies are always trying to find balance, while at the same time meeting the mandates of their agency mission. It’s not an easy game to play.
The rules are stringent, and many times change in mid-stream. Staying involved is how we deal with this and how we stay on top of our issues and concerns. Getting some basic education in land use is another way to assist land management agencies in moving the balance in our favor more often.
Remember that nearly all land managing agency bureaucrats get caught up in this balancing act, nearly every day. If they get hollered at by both sides of the fence, then they know they are straddling the mid-point. Can you imagine having a job like that?
Again, the key is to have the strength of our voices heard when the teeter-totter is teetering one way or the other. When the feds are trying to balance the spectrum of uses on public lands, voices make a difference. And let me assure you, in general, things are not weighted in our favor.
SUMMARY, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE SERIES
This 3-Part series gives you a good taste of what advanced education in land use and environmental science would provide. But it’s a taste. There’s a lot more to it. Cumulative Impacts build up and affect the decisions made based on the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum and the overall Ecosystem Management or Landscape Plan. Whew…
Figure out where you fit in understanding and helping this puzzle and do something more about it.
Join, donate, volunteer and write letters when needed. More on that here.
We at ModernJeeper are here to help. Write anytime.
Environmental Science, Part 1, Ecosystem Management, here.
Environmental Science, Part 2, Cumulative Impacts, here.