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A meadow no more

Posted by bchristensen at Apr 24, 2008 05:10 PM |

Off-road vehicles spelled disaster for a meadow in an important watershed outside Wenatchee, and this is just the story that hit the news. Every year more and more wilderness disappears to illegal, off-trail ORV use. Agencies are hard pressed to enforce existing rules and small special interest groups are pushing for more and more unfettered access to backcountry, even at the protest of local residents. Are our wild places being turned into a motorized free-for-all, who does it benefit, and who pays the price?

A meadow no more

Orr Creek Meadow, trashed by ORVs. Off-trail disturbance and destruction of our wild, quiet places by ORV riders that already have plenty of legal access to public lands is on the rise. Photo: WA Dept. Fish & Wildlife

Earlier this month, a half dozen vehicles and their riders opened up underground springs that feed Orr Creek in the Stemilt Basin, rerouting the creek and damaging irrigation culverts and intakes used by the local reclamation district to supply water to Wenatchee orchards. Local wildlife officers called it "the most egregious act of nature destruction" they've ever seen by off-road vehicles. As the Wenatchee World puts it, "One night of destructive fun has altered the course of nature in a peaceful meadow." That behavior doesn't lie near any definition of "fun" I have ever heard.

With their power and speed, off-road vehicles can be wildly destructive to natural areas, especially when riders go off-trail. And riders who blast through meadows to get to off-trail thrills create new in-roads that more conscientious riders inadvertently follow deeper into wilderness. The Blue Ribbon Coalition--a special interest group funded largely by ORV manufacturers--insists that it is only a few bad apples causing the damage. Yet when surveyed by wildlife agencies, 50 percent of dirt bikers and ATV riders said they prefer to ride off established trails or did so on their last outing. As Derrick Knowles said in our latest newsletter, "that's not a few bad apples, that's half the crate." Derrick and David Heflick participate in the Colville National Forest OHV Travel Planning process for our Columbia Highlands Initiative.

Let's Scat! How have off-road vehicles affect your experience in public lands?

Have you been a witness to ORV abuses in Washington? Please let us know.
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Organize to stop illegal OHV damage

Posted by Steve Anthes at Nov 03, 2009 01:28 PM
Quiet Communities Coalition (QCC) was formed over one year ago in Ferry County to question the viability and legality of ORV use on our county roads, city streets, and the forest. We’re a group of residents, private property owners, business proprietors, families and neighbors. QCC challenged an illegal ordinance allowing OHVs on county roads. We established and won a legal challenge using RCW 46.09.180. Any "direct connection" and "OHV recreational facility" must be fit the RCW definition. QCC believes a successful argument that if a Forest Service road is not primarily for the use of OHVs, then that it is not a valid connection point to other OHV trails. But this is a matter for the Courts to decide. We are preparing for a rumored new OHV ordinance from the Ferry County Commissioners. QCC will challenge any ordinance that we believe is illegal. Visit QCC at: www.quietcommunitiescoalition.com

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