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Guidelines for ATVers to Minimize their Destruction of Lands

From RidersWest:  Off-road problems and solutions

Prevent damage to the terrain while you are on the trails.

Photo of an ATV stuck in mud

These helpful tips can minimize the environmental impact of ATVing. — Photo by Ed Jaatteenmaki

Whenever you drive off-road, you are disrupting the ecological foundation of our natural areas. In sensitive sites, the damage can be catastrophic.

  • Problem: Damage to soils operating vehicles irresponsibly can cause long-term irreparable changes to the structure of the soil, making it difficult for plants to take root and grow.
  • Solution: Stay on managed or established trails and roads. Do not use livestock or wildlife trails. Do not create new trails. Avoid trails that are narrower than your vehicle and avoid excessively steep trails.

  • Problem: Damage to sensitive areas using ATVs, motorbikes and trucks in a sensitive area such as alpine or grassland destroys plant cover and causes erosion. The alpine has a very shallow layer of growing soil that takes decades to regenerate.
  • Solution: Stay out of sensitive areas, such as wetlands, alpine and grasslands. Obey all posted signs

  • Problem: Habitat damage off-roading in wetlands kills birds, frogs and salamanders. Damaged wetlands may impact many generations of wildlife due to the lack of plant life and clean water.
  • Solution: Do not drive on extremely muddy trails, wet areas, or through water holes. Do not drive through streams, except at approved crossings.

  • Problem: Introduction of invasive plants noxious weeds and invasive plants take root in disturbed soil, displacing native plants and reducing food sources for wildlife and cattle.
  • Solution: Check the undercarriage of your vehicle in a weed-safe site and remove any plant material or seeds to prevent the spread of invasive plants.

This is a republication of the "Off-road problems and solutions" article from the RidersWest online magazine which is part of the Koocanusa Publications Inc. network.

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