Off-road vehicles are popular with many residents and visitors in the Mark Twain Lake area. These vehicles are versatile, and are convenient for performing many work tasks around the home and farm. They are also favored by sportsmen, as they provide all-terrain transportation when they take to the forest and fields. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages riders to be safe, and check state and local regulations regarding off-road vehicle operation. We also want to remind riders of the rules regarding the prohibition of off-road vehicles on federal public lands.
Corps rangers often address questions regarding the operation of off-road vehicles on the public lands and roads around Mark Twain Lake. “Can I drive my ATV to the boat ramp?” or “Can I use my ATV to retrieve a harvested deer?” are some the questions that are frequently asked. The rules and regulations that govern the use of public lands at Mark Twain Lake are found in the Code of Federal Regulation, Title 36, Chapter 3, Part 327 – Rules and Regulations Governing Public Use of Water Resource Development Projects Administered by the Chief of Engineers. These rules outline the appropriate uses of public lands, including guidance on camping, hunting and fishing, and the protection of natural resources. These rules also address the operation of off-road vehicles, including motorcycles, mini-bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), side-by-side vehicles (UTVs), and golf carts.
Simply stated, the operation of any off-road vehicle on the public lands of Mark Twain Lake is not permitted. Part 327.2 of Title 36 states “The operation and/or parking of a vehicle off authorized roadway is prohibited, and taking a vehicle through, around, or beyond a restricted barricade, fence or traffic control barrier is prohibited”. If discovered by a Corps ranger, the rider or responsible party is subject to a citation.
The regulations also address the operation vehicles on the roadways within the boundaries of Mark Twain Lake. Part 327.12a states “All motorized vehicles operated on roadways on public land administered by the Corps of Engineers must be licensed and operated by licensed driver”. This includes hunter/fisherman lots, boat ramps, and recreations areas. Again, if discovered by a Corps ranger, the rider or responsible party is subject to a citation.
When off-road vehicle trails are discovered on public lands, Corps rangers take immediate action to close the trespasses. The method of closure is based on the location of occurrence. If the trail is determined to originate from adjacent private lands, Corps rangers will contact the landowner(s), either in person, by telephone, or by letter, and inform the parties to discontinue use. If a trail discovered, and cannot by attributed to adjacent land ownership, then a prohibition sign is posted and a barrier of natural materials may be placed to close the trail.
Though off-road vehicles have many useful functions, they can be destructive to the natural environment, and a source of user conflict if operated irresponsibly. The prohibition of off-road vehicles on the public lands of Mark Twain Lake insures we can protect the excellent hunting and recreational opportunities available for outdoor sportsmen. If you have questions about the rules that are in place to protect visitors and the natural resources of the lake, contact the Mark Twain Lake Project Office, 20642 Highway J, Monroe City, Missouri 63456, or by telephone at (573) 735-4097.