Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tear it on up

Some ATV riders chewed up a section of the Peterson Ridge Trail last weekend. Bet that was fun.

Conditions were perfect for cutting some nice ruts into the forest floor. The ground was soft from snow and rain and the big tires must have churned up a truly sensuous sludge of mud.

And to add to the satisfaction, they obliterated expensive and painstaking work of a bunch of Sisters folks who spent the spring, summer and fall working on creating bike and equestrian trails out south of town.

The fun didn’t last, too long. It never does. But what the heck, the marks’ll be there a long time.

Cool, ain’t it?

No. It’s not. I’m all for sharing the forest and I don’t mind ATVs and dirt bikes in areas where riding is appropriate. I know dirt bikers and ATV riders who are conscientious and careful and I have no beef with them.

But those who wantonly tear up the forest and obliterate trails used by others become the image of their sport — and it’s not a good one. It’ll be their fault when the day comes when ATVs are banned from the forest.

So if you’re a rider and wonder why people treat you like you’re a vandal, don’t blame the mountain bikers and the hikers and the horseback riders. Blame the clowns who get their kicks wrecking the woods and trails that they never put a drop of sweat into creating and maintaining.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. You're falling for the "non-motorized bikes are ok" line of thought.

    They are terribly damaging as well, but they lack the stigma of a motor.

    Less damaging versus more damaging?

    I'm not buying that line of reasoning.

  2. Jim,

    I'm with you one this.

    Helpful tips -

    - If you come across this kind of destruction make a note of the location and if possible take several photos of both the damage and any tracks that are present.

    - Contact the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforement folks there in Sisters and file a report. Turn your evidence photos over to them for the investigation.

    - If you saw someone committing the act, don't contact them but try to remember as much about their vehicles (type, color, direction of travel, person operating it) and provide this information to the FS LEOs.

    - We are the "eyes and ears" out in the wilds as there aren't enough Forest Service cops to cover every trail, back road, and campsite. Good cases are made by good citizens making good, timely reports.

    When caught and convicted the maximum fines and additional actions should be taken and the word made public so the small percentage of violators begin to understand they will get caught and they have alot to lose afterward.

    Finally, ANY form of use in a wilderness are is damaging. The key is to indeed lessen the damage through knowledge, care, and individual responsibility. The more shallow our "ecological footprint" is on the trails, on the backroads, at the campsite, and in the high country where many hike, climb, hunt, and explore, the more we conserve for the generations after us and the more they learn by our example.

  3. Some folks clearly do not care if they ruin the trails for others. Nor do they care if they create a bad image for others as a result of their actions. Not only ATV users are to blame, however, in their lack of respect for others. A recent conversation with a horseback rider who was destroying a section of "bike only" trail with large horseshoe divots confirmed this. This individual was completely unconcerned about the damage being caused and almost seemed pleased that the bikers would suffer for it. Very disappointing attitude, especially considering the many days of work that were put into the trail system to keep the horse people happy. Some people are just jerks.