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South End Project on the Colville National Forest

The Forest Service wants to open to ATV riders a vast new landscape of roads in the south end of the Colville National Forest near Chewelah.

South End meadow: damage can be long lasting
South End meadow: damage can be long lasting

The Forest Service has decided to open to ATV riders a vast new landscape of roads in the south end of the Colville National Forest near Chewelah.

The South End Project takes us headlong in the wrong direction by opening more roads (170 miles worth) but not much more trail - an outright invitation for some users to create their own illegal and destructive trails.

Conservation Northwest, Kettle Range Conservation Group, and The Lands Council have sent a joint letter to the forest supervisor about the South End Project decision.

Backcountry abuse

We don't have a problem with all-terrain vehicles driving on roads. But many ATV users are not satisfied with road travel and have used their increased road privileges to get into and abuse an ever-increasing amount of wild back country.

Our study of closed roads in the South Fork Boulder Creek watershed in the South End showed 17 miles of closed roads regularly violated by ATVs and numerous user-created routes running through the riparian area to the creek. (See photos)

Many ATV riders have not shown self-control, and while ATV leaders talk of self-policing, We've seen no evidence of that yet.

South End Project - a wrong headed decision

  • The Colville National Forest has a poor record in stopping illegal ORV use and restoring areas damaged by ATVs.
  • The Forest Service lacks funding to prevent further illegal use spawned by the South End Project, or to restore damage caused by previous ATV abuse within the project planning area. They even state that they lack the basic funds to implement the infrastructure envisioned in the South End proposal.
  • Since the South End Project legalizes some trails that were illegally built by ATV users, it rewards bad behavior, which we think encourages additional illegal trail construction elsewhere across the Colville National Forest.
  • Opening more roads to ATV use will be an invitation for illegal off-road trail blazing and use, which is already rampant and damaging.

Questions for the Forest Service:

  1. Are there examples of areas that have been opened to ATV use in which the riders have stayed on designated routes, and abuse and damage have been contained to a minimum?
  2. How will the Forest Service control illegal trespass and damage to backcountry areas adjacent to the newly opened routes?
  3. Under what circumstances (e.g., what amount of illegal and damaging activity) will the Colville National Forest shut down the project?
  4. Can the Forest Service assure funding to implement this project fully, including mitigation and enforcement? If not, how does partial implementation not end in chaos?
For more information, contact conservation associate Dave Heflick at dheflick at conservationnw.org



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