Violations of the Land and of the Law

Updated January 2014

The combination of woefully inadequate law enforcement in the Pryors, and the inclination of many motorized recreationists (the “bad apples”) to get away with whatever they can get away with, leads to fairly frequent violations of both the land and the law. All visitors to the Pryors including hikers and responsible motorized recreationists should do what they can to end such misbehavior.

If you observe inappropriate, illegal, and/or damaging behavior in the Pryors (either motorized or non-motorized), please report it to Custer National Forest» and to us. Do the same if you see signs on the ground of recent bad behavior. It is important that CNF hears of such violations so they know everything is not OK – and that people care. Sometimes they might be able to take action against the violators.

Describe the observed incident, the perpetrators and their vehicles if you see them. Report time and place, and get license plate numbers and photographs if possible. Even if you are angry, attempt to remain polite and do not get into arguments.

Below are examples of some incidents observed in the Pryors:
Click photos to expand.

Late October hikers on Miller Trail (#2496) observed two ATVers playing irresponsibly far from the legal motorized route damaging soil and vegetation.

ATV damage to the landscape near Miller Trail (#2496). Note the legal motorized route in the background. ATV damage to the landscape near Miller Trail (#2496). Note the legal motorized route in the background.
ATV damage to the landscape near Miller Trail (#2496). Note the legal motorized route in the background. ATV damage to the landscape near Miller Trail (#2496). Note the legal motorized route in the background.

More ATV caused damage near Miller Trail More ATV caused damage near Miller Trail

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March hikers on the Inferno Canyon Trail discovered this damage to the land. Responsible drivers would wait until the land dries – and stay on the road.

March hikers on the Inferno Canyon Trail discovered this damage to the land. March hikers on the Inferno Canyon Trail discovered this damage to the land.
Responsible drivers would would stay on the road. Responsible drivers would would stay on the road.

... And they wait until the land dries. ... And they wait until the land dries.

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These bird hunters were observed driving their ATVs a mile from any motor-legal route on a track which is closed to protect resources. Neither end of the track they followed was indicated on the ground as closed to motorized use, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is legally binding. Users are responsible to know. (Click to see excerpt from MVUM.)»
These bird hunters were observed driving their ATVs a mile from any motor-legal route on a track which is closed to protect resources. Neither end of the track they followed was indicated on the ground as closed to motorized use, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is considered legally binding. Users are responsible to know. These bird hunters were observed driving their ATVs a mile from any motor-legal route on a track which is closed to protect resources. Neither end of the track they followed was indicated on the ground as closed to motorized use, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is considered legally binding. Users are responsible to know. We do not know whether these two were intentionally violating the rules, or merely ignorant. There is no way for Custer NF to identify these folk because they had no license plates. The new Travel Regulation do NOT require license plates. We do not know whether these two were intentionally violating the rules, or merely ignorant. There is no way for Custer NF to identify these folk because they had no license plates. The new Travel Regulation do NOT require license plates.
We do not know whether these two were intentionally violating the rules, or merely ignorant. There is no way for Custer NF to identify these folk because they had no license plates. The new Travel Regulation do NOT require license plates.

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A dozen Pryors Coalition supporters spent a day with a BLM staffer trying to obliterate a frequently used illegal route on East Pryor. A dozen Pryors Coalition supporters spent a day with a BLM staffer trying to obliterate a frequently used illegal route on East Pryor.A dozen Pryors Coalition supporters spent a day with a BLM staffer trying to obliterate a frequently used illegal route on East Pryor. The hope was that a less visible track would not invite motorized use. Before and After photos shown. A week later ATVers reestablished the route.
Before. The hope was that a less visible track would not invite motorized use. Before. The hope was that a less visible track would not invite motorized use. After. ... But a week after this photo ATVers reestablished the route. After. ... But a week after this photo ATVers reestablished the route.

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These campers drove approximately half a mile from the legal route to set up this camp. Unfortunately the regulations allow driving to camp spots up to 300 feet from ANY legal road. But this site is at least nine times that far. Custer NF has no indication on the ground that this track is not motor-legal, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is legally binding. Users are responsible to know. (Click to see excerpt from MVUM.)» This incident was reported, and the CNF Law Enforcement Officer came the next morning but missed catching the campers.
These campers drove approximately half a mile from the legal route to set up this camp. Unfortunately the regulations allow driving to camp spots up to 300 feet from ANY legal road. But this site is at least nine times that far. These campers drove approximately half a mile from the legal route to set up this camp. Unfortunately the regulations allow driving to camp spots up to 300 feet from ANY legal road. But this site is at least nine times that far. Custer NF has no indication on the ground that this track is not motor-legal, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is considered legally binding. Users are responsible to know. This incident was reported, and the CNF Law Enforcement Officer came the next morning but missed catching the campers. Custer NF has no indication on the ground that this track is not motor-legal, but it is not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map which is considered legally binding. Users are responsible to know. This incident was reported, and the CNF Law Enforcement Officer came the next morning but missed catching the campers.


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It is unclear why, but frequently ATVers like to drive long distances beside and parallel to the road. Maybe they like to drive two abreast for social reasons. Maybe they want to keep their tires clean. Maybe they do it just because they can. Here they created a new set of tracks parallel to Stockman Trail. Others followed. A month later the “trail” was a wide two lane road. It is unclear why, but frequently ATVers like to drive long distances beside and parallel to the road. Maybe they like to drive two abreast for social reasons. Maybe they want to keep their tires clean. Maybe they do it just because they can. Here they created a new set of tracks parallel to Stockman Trail. It is unclear why, but frequently ATVers like to drive long distances beside and parallel to the road. Maybe they like to drive two abreast for social reasons. Maybe they want to keep their tires clean. Maybe they do it just because they can. Here they created a new set of tracks parallel to Stockman Trail. Others followed. A month later the “trail” was a wide two lane road. Others followed. A month later the “trail” was a wide two lane road.


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WHY? Someone must have been very proud of their powerful machine. What fun to tear up the mud and vegetation beside a perfectly good road.
What fun to tear up the mud and vegetation. Why did they not stay on the perfectly good road? What fun to tear up the mud and vegetation. Why did they not stay on the perfectly good road? WHY? Someone must have been very proud of their powerful machine. WHY? Someone must have been very proud of their powerful machine.

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It is illegal to drive off of designated routes – except (unfortunately) to set up camp within 300 feet of the road. Yet frequently people drive off the road to see what is over the hill, or maybe just for the fun of it. Usually these tracks are obviously not to campsites and go farther than 300 feet.
Usually these tracks are obviously not to campsites and go much farther than 300 feet. Usually these tracks are obviously not to campsites and go much farther than 300 feet. It is illegal to drive off of designated routes -- except (unfortunately) to set up camp within 300 feet of the road. Yet frequently people drive off the road to see what is over the hill, or maybe just for the fun of it. It is illegal to drive off of designated routes -- except (unfortunately) to set up camp within 300 feet of the road. Yet frequently people drive off the road to see what is over the hill, or maybe just for the fun of it.

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There was a snow drift on Pryor Mountain Road a couple weeks before this photo. So people tore up the land to make a new detour. Responsible drivers would instead come back another day.
There was a snow drift on Pryor Mountain Road a couple weeks before this photo. So people tore up the land to make a new detour. Responsible drivers would instead come back another day. There was a snow drift on Pryor Mountain Road a couple weeks before this photo. So people tore up the land to make a new detour. Responsible drivers would instead come back another day. It is illegal to drive off of designated routes -- except (unfortunately) to set up camp within 300 feet of the road. Yet frequently people drive off the road to see what is over the hill, or maybe just for the fun of it. It is illegal to drive off of designated routes -- except (unfortunately) to set up camp within 300 feet of the road. Yet frequently people drive off the road to see what is over the hill, or maybe just for the fun of it.

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These ATVers probably enjoyed their drive through the untrammeled flowery meadow. These ATVers probably enjoyed their drive through the untrammeled flowery meadow.

But they left damaged vegetation and tracks for others to follow. This is how new “user-created” routes begin. But they left damaged vegetation and tracks for others to follow. This is how new “user-created” routes begin.

Parallel routes causing resource damage on East Pryor Mountain Parallel routes causing resource damage on East Pryor Mountain

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Three ATVers were observed 1 ½ miles from the legal route “pioneering” a new illegal route farther into the bottom of the ecologically sensitive Bear Canyon. The route bashed through and over timber, and crossed the intermittent streambed 22 times in a mile. Custer NF was given license plate numbers, but did not cite the riders even though it has never been legal to drive this “route”. Note the man in front has a helmet, but the small child in back does not.
Three ATVers were observed 1.5 miles from the legal route Three ATVers were observed 1.5 miles from the legal route "pioneering" a new illegal route farther into the bottom of the ecologically sensitive Bear Canyon. Note the man in front has a helmet, but the small child in back does not.
The route bashed through and over timber, and crossed the intermittent streambed 22 times in a mile. Custer NF was given license plate numbers, but did not cite the riders even though it has never been legal to drive this The route bashed through and over timber, and crossed the intermittent streambed 22 times in a mile. Custer NF was given license plate numbers, but did not cite the riders even though it has never been legal to drive this "route." Finally, after years of lack enforcement of the never motor-legal trail in the bottom of Bear Canyon, Custer NF locked the gate and closed it to motorized use. But the “locked” gate is easily opened with bare hands by sliding two wires and the chain over the top of the post. Finally, after years of lack enforcement of the never motor-legal trail in the bottom of Bear Canyon, Custer NF locked the gate and closed it to motorized use. But the “locked” gate is easily opened with bare hands by sliding two wires and the chain over the top of the post.

Finally, after years of lack enforcement of the never motor-legal trail in the bottom of Bear Canyon, Custer NF locked the gate and signed it as closed to motorized use. But the “locked” gate is easily opened with bare hands by sliding two wires and the chain over the top of the post. A group in a jeep opened the gate, removed the sign, and drove in (see tracks). In this incident an alert hiker observed them and reported the license plate number. Rumor has it that the CNF Law Enforcement Officer had a serious talk with the driver. We do not know whether he was fined.
And CNF signed it as closed to motorized use. And CNF signed it as closed to motorized use.
But a group in a jeep opened the gate, removed the sign, and drove in (see tracks). In this incident an alert hiker observed them and reported the license plate number. Rumor has it that the CNF Law Enforcement Officer had a serious talk with the driver. We do not know whether he was fined. But a group in a jeep opened the gate, removed the sign, and drove in (see tracks). In this incident an alert hiker observed them and reported the license plate number. Rumor has it that the CNF Law Enforcement Officer had a serious talk with the driver. We do not know whether he was fined.


After a massive spring flood washed out Bear Canyon, BLM closed the last half mile of the route to the Custer National Forest Boundary to motorized use with a barricade and sign. This seems to have solved the problem of illegal motorized use in Bear Canyon.

Traute Parrie, Beartooth District Ranger
Email: tparrie@fs.fed.us
Phone: (406) 446-2103

Snail Mail:
Traute Parrie, District Ranger
Beartooth Ranger District, Custer National Forest
6811 Hwy. 212 S.
HC 49, Box 3420
Red Lodge MT 59068


PROHIBITION
It is prohibited to possess or operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System lands on the Custer National Forest other than in accordance with these designations. Violations … are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both. This prohibition applies regardless of the presence or absence of signs.

Road, trail, and area users must comply with this map, as well as all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations. Compliance with these rules is the responsibility of the user.


PROHIBITION
It is prohibited to possess or operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System lands on the Custer National Forest other than in accordance with these designations. Violations … are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both. This prohibition applies regardless of the presence or absence of signs.

Road, trail, and area users must comply with this map, as well as all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations. Compliance with these rules is the responsibility of the user.