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Sticking To Trails To Help Forest Ecosystems

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Tuolumne County, CA — Forest officials want to remind ATV and other off-road vehicle riders not to go off the beaten path.

As the temperatures start to dip in the upcoming months, those geared up to hit the trails on off-highway vehicles (OHV) can help the Stanislaus National Forest ecosystem. Enjoy recreating, but remember to stick to designated OHV trails. Forest Service officials detailed, “When users venture off the beaten path, it can impact sensitive ecosystems and species, like wetlands, moss patches and salamanders. Knowing how to minimize your impact on the environment when you ride is critical.”

Here are some quick tips on responsible ATV riding using the #TREADLightly principles offered by forest officials.

  • Minimize your impact by traveling only in areas open to four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Travel only in areas open to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use.
  • Minimize wheel spin. On switchbacks, avoid roosting around the apex of the turn when climbing or brake-sliding during descent, both of which gouge the trail. Drive over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trail.
  • Slow down when sight lines are poor. Cross streams only at designated fording points, where the trail crosses the stream.
  • Comply with all signs and respect barriers.
  • Buddy up with two or three riders, reducing vulnerability if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.
  • When winching, always inspect your equipment; use the right winch for the situation; find a good secure anchor; and never winch with less than five wraps of wire rope around the drum.
  • When using a tree as an anchor, use a wide tree strap to avoid damaging the trunk of the tree. More Winching Basics: Protect Those Trees and Be Safe.
  • Listening to headphones or earbuds can make it difficult to hear and communicate with other recreationists. In some areas, it is illegal to operate an ATV with both ears covered.
  • Don’t mix riding with alcohol or drugs.

Information on local trails is in our Recreation Guide here.