Bighorn Forest officials explain trail changes - KOTA Territory News

Bighorn Forest officials explain trail changes

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Bighorn National Forest officials warn that trail classification system changes will not be noticeable to trail users.

Forest Service trails are categorized by class, from class 1 for primitive trails to class 5 for fully-developed trails.  A class 2 trail is more challenging and generally requires more user skill and experience than a trail in class 4.

Recreation specialists meet every year to update the Bighorn National Forest's Trails Strategy, first published in 2005, according to a press release.  They make recommendations for changes based on reviewing trail condition, safety, type of use, and if the trail is affecting natural resources, like soil and water.  This year's update changes the classes on roughly one-third of the trails on the Bighorn.

"These changes reflect how we manage trails now and in the future.  There will be no changes to the uses allowed, either on the maps or on the ground.  Trail users will not notice the changes.  We're basically making administrative updates to our Trail Strategy and databases to match how the trails are being used and maintained on the ground," said trails coordinator Sara Evans Kirol.

"We realize how much value the public puts on our trails," said recreation program manager Dave McKee. "We recognize that we need to provide an adequate trail system to meet the increasing demands for recreation and other uses. We're committed to maintaining and improving the trails on the Bighorn, while protecting the natural resources like water and wildlife that can be impacted by high use."

This year, the Bighorn's trail crew will work on about 200 miles of trails, including reconstruction, maintenance, and clearing.  

The Trail Strategy and a list of updated trail classes are available on the Bighorn's website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn/

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