(An adaptation of a comment from Sally, in the movie Cars!)
When it comes to the promotion of trail systems there seems to be endless amounts of energy and resources spent getting people to come see it and ride it and far less thought given to who exactly is being invited to experience that particular paradise. It seems more than short-sighted, perhaps even irresponsible to promote a riding area without giving due thought to the impact that promotion has on the environment.
Whoa! Wait a minute! What's this(?), an off roader that's worried about the environment? Yeah, right, sure. Sounds like an oxymoron! Well, it shouldn't be. Us so-called 'off-roaders' should be very concerned about the environment that we enjoy. We need to be increasingly careful in our use of the great back country that we love to explore so that we can continue to enjoy well it into the future - the future where our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy it as well! The key word to remember here is 'sustainability!' Write it down. Commit it to memory. Tell a friend!
It seems rather obvious that some trail users are considerably more harmful on the trails, to the trails, to the surrounding areas, and therefore most specifically to our desire to keep our wonderful trail systems open! Who you ask are these harmful users? It seems so obvious it shouldn't need to be said.
But I will anyway.
First let me say it's not necessarily always a 'who' that's bad for the trails, but perhaps more often a 'what'. And like in so many cases, these are generalities with which I speak. That means that there are exceptions to each. So if you're reading this and you're the 'exception' don't tell me, tell all the others that you are the exception from!
* Speed is bad. Speed of course is a relative term, but there is a point where too much speed is not only extremely dangerous to other trail users but also to the trail itself, as the spinning and sliding tires dig up the trails causing more dust, more ruts, and more erosion. Speed and dust is also known to be a rather unpleasant greeting to other trail users.
I've seen a couple good takes on speed measurement. One friend said that if his cap wanted to blow off his head he was riding too fast to be wearing a cap. Interesting. My brother used to say that he rode to see things so he rides slow enough that he can see them.
* So if speed is bad that certainly must mean that sport quads are bad. Although it's not impossible to enjoy scenic trails on a sport machine, the typical sport ATV rider is usually more concerned with enjoying the thrill of riding than being thrilled, enjoying the ride.
* And so that 'speed thing' must also apply to most motorcycles. They necessarily require more speed to ride and their single rear tire spins most of the time leaving a smaller and more pronounced rut. Someone once mentioned to me that the fewer driven wheels a vehicle has, the more damage it does to the terrain. It may also be said that the fewer driven wheels a vehicle has, the less the operator is looking around enjoying the scenery.
* Aggressive tires are also destructive to the trails. We've tested plenty of different tires and types of tires over the years and the outcome was always that deep-lugged mud and snow tires were not only unnecessary for regular trail riding but not even necessary for mild mud or snow conditions. Of course non-spinning aggressive tires may well do less damage than the mad spinning of more regular treaded tires.
Something I always think about is how you can ride an ATV slowly, without spinning the tires across even the most fragile terrain and they barely leave a mark.
* Noise is probably one of the most irritating invasions an off-roader can impose on others. Loud machines are irritating to everyone from other campers nearby, home and property owners you pass along the way, and of course the wildlife. And let's not forget to mention the interruption to the serenity of anyone stopped along the trail enjoying the scenery.
* Trash. It never ceases to amaze me how selfish or just plain ignorant many people are concerning leaving their trash along the trails. Do they not see it or do they just not care about seeing it. So I'll assume that those not concerned with the beauty of our trails are not concerned with riding beautiful trails. In which case I say you should stay home.
Did I sound mean here? Selfish? If you're offended it is most likely you that I'm talking about here.
Let me just say one more time that the key to being able to continue to ride our trails is sustainability. Keep them clean, keep them environmentally friendly, and keep the other trail users happy.
But of course, I imagine if you are reading this I'm preaching to the choir - so-to-speak.
Happy trails -
or should I say "God Bless our 'happy trails'?"
or should I say "God Bless our 'happy trails'?"