Off-road vehicle use damaging local public lands - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Off-road vehicle use damaging local public lands

Entiat, Wash. - It's the time of year when weather beckons us to enjoy our national forest around the Wenatchee Valley. It's also when serious, long-lasting damage can occur to roads, fragile soils and other natural resources.

Sensitive areas such as meadows, land around rivers, lakes and streams are being scarred in the Entiat, Leavenworth, and Lake Wenatchee areas of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This is occurring because people are "Mudding" an activity done by those who drive motorized vehicles through soft fields, streams or roads.

Mudding occurs when spinning tires rip up vegetation and soils, throwing mud, and creating deep ruts and holes in the landscape. This "hill climbing" or "mud-bogging" usually occurs when people test their "skills" and the limits of their abilities or their vehicles. Mudding is also driving on roads that have not dried out from snowmelt in spring and early summer.

"People may not be aware of either the short or long-term damage they cause," said Janet Flanagan, Entiat District Ranger. "Damaged areas create erosion, impact wildlife, soils and clean water, hurting everyone and leaving long-lasting and ugly visual scars on the land."

Besides damage to resources, damage to people and vehicles and the legal costs associated with tickets and restoration costs add up quickly.

The maximum sentence for these activities is $5,000 and six month in jail, plus restoration costs.

How you can help stop this activity?

If you see mudding activity occurring on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Chelan Country, call local law enforcement authorities at 509-663-9721. Provide as much information as you can, include the specific location on the national forest, vehicle descriptions, license numbers, make/model of vehicle, and time. And please, tell friends and family that destroying public lands hurts everyone.

For more information on Off-Highway Vehicle use visit www.treadlightly.org

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