The Franche Comté peaks nature reserve covers 2259 hectares and three departments (Vosges, Territoire de Belfort and Haute-Saône). The rounded mountain summits in this area are known as ‘ballons’ in French.
The aim is to protect any territory with a natural habitat of special interest for conservation. There are three main aims, Protect, Manage and Introduce people to nature, more precisely :
The Franche Comté peaks nature reserve includes "25 different habitats among which 18 of major importance". 95 % of the reserve is covered in forest; it is also characterized by the presence of high prairies (moors, high mountain pastures), of peat bogs, scree and cliffs. These specific habitats are home to a wealth of fauna, including "70 protected vertebrate animal species, among which 10% are of European interest ". Among them the Capercaillie, the Tengmalm Owl, the Peregrine falcon … In addition there are numerous mountain plant species (ferns, orchids, etc.).
The regulations for the Franche Comté peaks nature reserve were fixed by the ministerial decree n°2002-692 of July 4th, 2002 which created the reserve and the order of the prefect D2 D2/R/2005 R n°15 of May 17th, 2005, which defines a Plan for the Organization of Park Frequentation. The sensitive period from December 15th to July 14th is always taken into account. Hiking is possible on the marked trails all year round; it is even possible to walk off these trails between 15/07 and 15/12, except for some more fragile zones (Bravouse and Rossely peat bogs). Pony trekking and mountain biking are authorized on the marked trails all year round. Skiing and hiking on snowshoes are authorized on marked trails during the winter period.
Bilberries: the picking of bilberries is authorized from 15/07 to 15/12 for up to 2 kg / person / day (family consumption). The use of the comb, is tolerated in the reserve if it is used well (no lifting or breaking of the woody parts), can be also be regulated at a local level by the prefect. It is the case in the department of the Haute-Saône, the use of the comb is forbidden here (unlike Vosges and the Territoire de Belfort where there are no orders from the prefect on this subject). The collection of mushrooms for the purposes of family consumption is authorized from 15/07 to 15/12 for up to 2 kg/ person / day.
Dogs are forbidden in the reserve as is flower-picking, mineral collection, photography using a hide, off-road motor vehicles, camping, fires, garbage dumping, noise pollution and the destruction of animal and plant species. Hunting, fishing and organized sports events have specific regulations.
The Franche Comté peaks nature reserve was created by Ministerial Decree on July 4th, 2002. The administrators are the National Forestry Office for North Franche-Comté and the Franche Comté peaks regional park. A consultative committee, including local representatives (councillors, land owners, scientists, hunters, representatives of local authorities, nature conservation associations, sports or leisure associations, administrations and public institutions) and chaired by the Prefect, meets at least once a year and " expresses its opinion on the function of the reserve, on its management and on the conditions of application of the measures planned to the present decree " (Decree n°2002-962).