ATV riders' abuse closes 11,000 acres
June 13, 2005
Mount Hood National Forest officials closed 11,000 acres on the northeast side of Mount Hood to all-terrain vehicle riding and is warning the public of fines of up to $10,000.
The crackdown comes after all-terrain riders have defied forest-service officials and continued to build and maintain trails in areas where off-road motor vehicles are prohibited.
Construction and maintenance of trails on national forest is allowed by authorized permit or agreement only.
The closure is in the area of Gibson Prairie, where horseback riders recently developed Gibson Prairie Horse Camp.
Motorized-vehicle use is restricted to designated National Forest System roads and to Forest Trail No. 451 only. Access to dispersed camping sites with wheeled motorized vehicles is allowed within 50 feet of those designated routes.
"All-terrain vehicle and motorcycle enthusiasts have illegally constructed more than 20 miles of trail in the area," said Daina Bambe, ranger for the Hood River district.
Many of the trails that user groups have constructed and developed through repeated use are in sensitive areas, she said, and are adversely affecting wildlife, fisheries and soil.
The area is about 17 miles south of Hood River and from Interstate 84.
Kevin Slagle, recreation trails manager for the Hood River district, said that someone riding or doing construction on the closed trails can be fined $5,000, and that the fine could be as high as $10,000 for a club or organization.
"The reason we're closing the area is that there's been deliberate development of a trail system in areas that are affecting water quality and fisheries resources, and when it's uncontrolled like it has been, the environmental impacts are too much for us to bear," Bambe said.
The closure will not affect winter snowmobile use in the area.