Inappropriate and unauthorized Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use in the Applegate Valley has begun to create significant social and environmental impacts. In many situations OHV enthusiasts are creating unauthorized, user-created trails that impact riparian areas, increase erosion and sedimentation, alter hydrology, harass wildlife, spread noxious weeds and damage vegetation, rare plant populations and intact native plant communities. Many of the region’s wildest and most intact habitats, including Roadless Areas and Botanical Area are being degraded by OHV use.
OHV use is also increasingly impacting many rural residential property owners in the Applegate Valley. Currently, OHV trespass on private land is being facilitated by unauthorized trails located on adjacent public lands. OHV use is also expanding into historically non-motorized recreation areas and user conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users are increasing throughout the Applegate watershed. Wilderness areas, roadless areas, botanical areas, research natural areas, backcountry non-motorized areas, and non-motorized trails are being increasingly encroached upon and impacted by unauthorized OHV use. Many of the region’s most cherished non-motorized or quiet recreation areas are being over-run by OHV’s and hikers, equestrians and naturalist are being displaced. The combined effect has had a profound negative impact on our community, our economy and our environment.
According to the State of Oregon, direct spending on non-motorized recreational use of public land generates $2.1 billion dollars annually. The Applegate’s rural economy is based on tourism, real estate, vineyards, organic agriculture, outdoor recreation and the region’s incredible scenic values. These economic drivers are all negatively impacted by OHV use and the associated impacts to public lands, public resources, and scenic qualities.
OHV use is impacting our wildlands, our forest, our rivers, streams, grasslands, private properties and quality of life in the Applegate Valley. The Applegate Neighborhood Network has responded by creating the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project. This grassroots effort is focused on documenting the impact of OHV use on our public lands and advocating for OHV closures that serve social, economic or ecological needs.
Currently, OHV use and its impact on public lands is not adequately monitored, documented or acknowledged by local land managers. Our Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Program works to encourage enforcement of existing regulations, closure of damaging routes, and provides important information to land managers, local residents and environmental activists working to address the problem of unauthorized OHV use. Our program is focused on field monitoring and documentation. We submit detailed monitoring reports to the agency and make management recommendations that will limit or eliminate unauthorized OHV use in sensitive habitats, protect local Roadless Area and Botanical Areas, preserve non-motorized recreational opportunities and maintain the exceptionally high quality of life in the Applegate Valley.