The U.S. Forest Service closed the Tellico Off Road Vehicle Area this past year after being threatened with legal action by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Tellico is one of the most heavily-used ORV areas in the Southeast. There are 40 miles of legal ORV trails within Tellico, twice the amount allowed by law and many of the trails come within 100 feet of streams. Miles of illegal user created trails also crisscross the area. The overuse and poor planning and management has impaired miles of mountain trout streams in Eastern Tennessee, and led SELC to threaten legal action against the forest service.
After closing the area and addressing Tellico’s mismanagement, the forest service was sued by ORV user groups. In October, SELC entered the lawsuit to defend the forest service’s decision. The following month, the ORV groups voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit against the forest service. The forest service is now developing a long-term plan to address Tellico’s management problems.
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