Study blasts off-road users |

Study blasts off-road users

SHANNON DARLING, Sierra Sun News Service

Last week the California Wilderness Coalition released a study claiming motorized recreation is “unraveling California’s landscapes.”

Funded in part by the Sierra Club California and the California Wilderness Coalition along with other environmental organizations, the study points out the need for tighter regulations on off-road users.

The study has drawn both anger and praise.

“The regulations that govern off-road vehicle use need to be tightened up and enforced,” said Rochelle Nason, executive director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

The League contributed to the report and believe the report is a much needed eye-opener to the public.

The report calls for heavy monitoring, fines and tough regulations to combat erosion and habitat destruction done by off-road vehicles.

Although not a scientific study, the report calls for wildlife and habitat protection.

Representatives for the Wilderness Coalition call current off-road regulations, “absolutely toothless, doing little to correct existing problems.”

“These lands belong to everyone and everyone has an obligation to protect them,” Nason said.

The report highlights some dwindling species such as the flat-tailed horned lizard and the desert tortoise and claims off-road vehicles could result in their demise.

In the Tahoe Basin the report suggests the U. S. Forest Service should designate and enforce an off-road network.

“This network should be established through complete environmental analysis and should take into account impacts on Lake Tahoe’s clarity,” said the report.

As well, the study recommends the McKinney-Rubicon Trail be closed during wet weather and snow plowing be delayed in order to prevent entrance into the area.

The study also states the Forest Service should “immediately initiate an environmental analysis that discloses the social, biological and physical impacts of the snowmobile use at Brockway Summit.

But others see the report and its bias against off-roaders as unscientific.

“It’s a smear campaign and it’s not based on fact,” said Larie Trippet, an advocate for public access to Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

A picture of a desert tortoise is shown in the report, killed by a vehicle. Trippet points out this argument is a slippery slope.

“They try to extrapolate that if this tortoise was killed by an off-roader, it’s happening everywhere,” said Trippet.

“Environmentalists are trying to eradicate off-road vehicles,” he said.

But Nason, from the League to Save Lake Tahoe, doesn’t believe elimination of off-road vehicles is necessary just because a few break the law.

“There are OHV users that try to be environmentally sensitive but there are a lot of rule breakers doing damage,” Nason said.

The report mainly highlights the many off-roaders that break the law.

“We hope the general public will recognize the problem and responsible OHV users will take action to protect their own access by joining the environmentalists and oppose the trashing of public lands,” Nason said.

View “Off-Road to Ruin” on the California Wilderness Coalition’s Web site at

Send off for a copy of the report to the California Wilderness Coalition, 2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616. Each copy costs $15.

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