With the number of all-terrain vehicle riders climbing to exceed 16 million at locations across the United States, land managers are attempting to balance the activity's popularity with the nation's natural resources.
"ATV riding can be a blast," said Patti Klein, national stewardship coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. "But it can also be damaging to public lands if not done responsibly. As land managers, we encourage people to help protect the great outdoors by riding responsibly and practicing outdoor ethics, like those created by Tread Lightly!."
Tread Lightly!, a non-profit organization that educates people to recreate responsibly, has issued several practical tips on minimizing environmental impact from ATVs.
The independent recreation group encourages Carbon County all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts to:
Remain on roads, trails or other areas designated for ATV use.
Try to travel in the middle of the trail to avoid widening it.
Cross streams only at designated fording points, where the trail crosses the stream.
Approach the stream slowly, crossing at a 90-degree angle.
On switchbacks, avoid roosting around the apex of the turn when climbing or brake-sliding during descent, both of which gouge the trail.
On slick trails, moderate the throttle and use the clutch to gain maximum traction with minimum wheel-spin.
Try to avoid muddy trails, save them for future trips when they are dry.
People venturing onto public lands should pack out what they pack in. Carry trash bags on vehicles and pick up litter left by others.
Following a ride, wash your ATV and support vehicle to avoid spreading noxious weeds the next time you ride.
Observe proper human waste disposal. Bury at least six inches deep and camouflage the hole or pack out the waste.
Take an ATV training course to maximize safety. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and other safety gear.
To find places to ride, ATV enthusiasts in Castle Valley should contact local land managers, pointed out the non-profit organization. The group provides additional tips at www.treadlightly.org.