“Possessing or using a motorized wheeled vehicle off National forest System roads, except for the routes, open areas, and National Forest System trails shown on Exhibit A.
“The effective dates are January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. But this is the scary part: “A violation of this prohibition is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.” Read that line again.
It exempts “Persons with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.” Does that mean we now have to get a permit to boondock--and designate the exact spot in which we are going to boondock?
This, if enforced, could be used as a tool for an individual forest service official to control and even prohibit boondocking in the national forests where it is now legal. The critical wording is: “except for the routes, open areas, and National Forest System trails shown on Exhibit A.”
The rule formerly permitted boondocking anywhere on public lands unless expressly prohibited by signs or fences. Now it appears that an official can define specific spots as "open areas . . . shown on Exhibit A" (i.e. boondocking campsites) thus eliminating all those NOT on Exhibit A.
This would subject all unsuspecting boondockers, who for years have had favorite spots or who knew that they could drive forest service roads until finding a legal and suitable boondocking site, to a huge fine and possible imprisonment if they didn't pick the right route or right campsite. What!
Who defines these open areas, routes, and trails that are placed on Exhibit A? Can you really be fined $5,000 or thrown in jail because you camped--or drove--somewhere that was not on Exhibit A?
This raises a lot of questions and calls for more research. Stay tuned and I'll see what I can dig up.
Check out Bob Difley's Boondocking on Public Lands and Snowbird Guide eBooks at RVbookstore.com