Serving as a resource to help strengthen the ability of friends groups to better protect and enhance Massachusetts’ forests and parks since 2007.

Last update 10/9/2011

Illegal Off-Highway Vehicles— Issues of Concern

kid on dirt bike

If you observe illegal activity in a forest or park call 1-866-PK-Watch!

State Rangers man the phone 24/7. Your calls remain anonymous. Ranger forward the information to the appropriate authority. Park Watch


Legal Riding Areas in MA:

Beartown State Forest (Lee, Great Barrington and Monterey)

October Mountain State Forest (Lee, Lenox, Washington and Becket)

Pittsfield State Forest (Pittsfield, Lanesboro and Hancock). DCR will be offering a limited All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM) trail system at Pittsfield State Forest for the 2010 season

Freetown-Fall River State Forest (Freetown and Fall River)

F. Gilbert Hills, Wrentham and Franklin State Forests

It is illegal to ride an OHV on state lands other than these. Report illegal use every time you see it.


Laws and Regulations

All motorized vehicles must be registered

Registration plates must be displayed on the back of the vehicle

Pickup trucks or SUV's are prohibited from all trails at all times

ORV use is permitted only on designated ORV trails - All other state parks, reservations and forests are closed to ORV use at all times

ORV use is permitted only during the riding season - no earlier than May 1 and ending no later than the last Sunday in November each year

No one under the age of 14 may ride on state land without adult supervision

Report illegal or dangerous OHV/ORV activity to:
State Environmental Police 1-800-632-8075 or call Park Watch 866-PK-WATCH

Articles about off-road vehicles in Massachusetts

August 17, 2010 - Man injured when ATV collides with van

Environmental Police Step Up Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement in Northampton, Hatfield Urging ATV and dirt bike operators to ride safely, use helmets. June 30, 2010

Senate passes ATV regulations
Monday, February 1, 2010

ATV joyride grinds to a halt By TIM FAULKNER,
Taunton Daily Gazette, Sep 25, 2009

Off-road warriors
Cape residents blast ATV users for invading private property, but riders say they have nowhere else to By Jenna Russell, Globe Staff / May 9, 2009

PUBLIC LANDS: States move to curb off-highway vehicles as federal efforts lag. Eric Bontrager. Energy & Environment Daily. December 24, 2008. From Trout Unlimited.

ATV crash lands teen in hospital. Joyce Kell. Milford Daily News. Nov 18, 2008

Plymouth couple soldiering on in ATV cause. The Patriot Ledger. Oct 23, 2008

Senate Approves Expanded Regulations for ATV Use in Massachusetts. Jun 26, 2008

Mass. Tries To Raise ATV Driving Age. David Wade. WBZ 38. Boston. May 13, 2008

Ban on ATV's brings quiet to forest, few complaints. Riders moving to N. H. trails. David Rattigan.
Boston Globe. May 11, 2008

Dennis-Harwich will cooperate to curb ATV use. Donna Tunney. Harwich. Apr 01, 2008

Hanover to crack down on off-roaders on town land. The Patriot Ledger. Aug. 21, 2007

Nauset Beach closes to off-road vehicles. Matthew Belson, The Cape Codder. Jun. 07, 2007

Friends Network Position on Off-Highway Vehicles: Stop illegal use. Find sustainable places for OHV riding.

The Friends Network recognizes that off-road/highway vehicle (ORV/OHV) use is a popular sport and it's legal on certain lands. However, inadequate law enforcement, insufficient signage, absence of maps, conflicting and unclear rules facilitate trespass into prohibited areas. As a consequence, irreparable damage to sensitive areas and species is increasing in our forests and parklands.

We support better enforcement of regulations already on the books. See: Recreation Vehicle Safety Laws and Regulations as they pertain to Massachusetts Forests and Parks.

We also support new legislation that will help stop illegal riding and will help provide sustainable trails.

We believe citizens can work together and with state officials to find a solution that everyone can live with.


The Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network believes in bringing people together to find solutions to problems affecting MA forests and parks. We know legislation alone will not solve the problems surrounding the OHV issue—that will take both sides working together. The Friends Network Recommendations for a Statewide Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan contains information collected over the past three years from Massachusetts stakeholders and public officials, past agency and committee documents, and what seems to work in other states. We are inviting legislators, enforcement officers, state officials and stakeholders to work together in developing a comprehensive enforcement and management plan based on two principles:

(1) We need to stop Illegal OHV riding
(2) We need to find sustainable riding areas for OHV's

If you agree to those two principles and would like to be involved in the effort to see an OHV Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan for Massachusetts contact friend@networkingfriends.net

Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan Recommendations
Submitted by the Friends Network to the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, March 2011.

The Friends Network has compiled recommendations and information on off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in Massachusetts to aid the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Conservation and Recreation in development of a comprehensive OHV regulations enforcement and management plan. It is up to all of us to see that these state agencies fill their mandate to complete an OHV Enforcement and Management Plan. If you want to help this effort, please contact friend@networkingfriends.net.

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The Friends Network OHV Initiative

Illegal off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is of primary concern to friends groups across the state. Destruction to wildlife habitat, trail erosion, noise pollution, and dangerous encounters with other forest user groups caused by motorized vehicles is increasing. People who report illegal OHV riding are often frustrated by the lack of enforcement of state laws which are supposed to protect our natural resources and recreational areas. Friends Network has researched the problem, held meetings with various state and local officials, environmentalists and OHV riders to come up with solutions for ending illegal OHV use. Please review and comment on the Friends Network OHV Initiative.

Friends groups were represented on the DCR OHV Enforcement Working Group. We did our best to highlight the need for enforcement in the recommendations. You can read about the Working Group here.

DCR Off-Highway Vehicle Education and Enforcement Working Group Final Recommendations for Legislative Action March, 7, 2008


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View the new Massachusetts Environmental Police Off-Highway, Recreation Vehicle and Snowmobile Update——————————————————————————————

Governor Patrick signed the Off-Highway Vehicle Bill!

Press Release GOVERNOR PATRICK SIGNS NEW OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE BILL INTO LAW—Law aims to increase safety of off-highway vehicle riding and protect natural resources.

Here is the link to the new OHV law, Chapter 202 of the Acts of 2010.

Thank you to Senate President Therese Murray for her leadership on the OHV Enforcement Bill and to the 142 Representatives who voted "yes"!

The OHV bill was enacted by the Senate and has now been laid before the Governor for his signature. The Friends Network thanks the Representatives who supported the OHV Enforcement Bill.

Please join the Friends Network in thanking the legislators who supported the OHV Enforcement Bill by sending your representative a personal thank-you note.

MA State Representatives voted in favor of the OHV Bill with 142 Yeas, 12 Nays. View the roll call (courtesy of Jennifer Ryan, Legislative Director, Mass Audubon, www.massaudubon.org). Our thanks to Jen for keeping everyone well informed and up to date.

Who voted NO against the most important environmental bill of the past two years? Barrows, Cabral, Callahan, Garry, Gobi, Guyer, Kujawski, Pignatelli, Frost, Humason, Polito, and Webster. We need to ask these Representatives why they think it's OK to turn a blind eye on destructive criminal activity and why they do not want to see cooperation on finding legal places to ride OHV's.

The OHV bill will give enforcement officers the tools they need to stop illegal and destructive riding on public and private lands and provides funding for the development of public trails in appropriate places. For more information, read the letter sent by nine major conservation groups OHV Joint Letter.——————————————————————————————

What you can do about Illegal off-highway vehicle (OHV) use?


If you want to remain anonymous that is ok. Make sure to record when you called, the name of the responding officer and what action was taken. Tell us what happened: email Friends Network.

Be safe. Do not let OHV riders see you call.

1. Call local police. Keep the number with you at all times.

2. Call local land manager or land management office.

3. Call the Environmental Police - (508) 366-6537 or (508) 366-6420 - Environmental Police Officers are responsible for enforcing laws and regulations regarding hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, and ATV's. Inland officers also investigate cases of illegal waste disposal, wetlands violations, and assist in search and rescue efforts. Inland officers pay particular attention to state forests, parks, wildlife management areas, boat access sites and heavily-used public waterways such as major rivers and great ponds.

4. Call Park Rangers every time! 1-866-PK-WATCH (866-759-2824) DCR Rangers answer the hotline 24/7. The dispatcher will contact the appropriate agency AND keep a record of every call, which will help in enforcement planning.

Massachusetts allows OHV riding in six forests only. At one time the state allowed OHV riding in nine forests, but irresponsible riding caused their closure. It is in the best interests of all for OHV riders to ride only on designated trails. To find out how to stay safe and legal in MA click here.


OHV Noise Demonstration

To highlight sound disturbance, this file includes a realistic portrayal of a bike in action and a constant sound of the same quality for use as a constant decibel demo. Full demo for a public meeting requires a laptop, speakers (could be Bose type, medium size—self-amplified for convenience) a decibel meter in the A mode, and this:

Real OHV Sound (takes a few seconds for the OHV to come into range)

Continuous Tone

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