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 users are creating unauthorized, user-created trails that impact riparian areas, increase erosion and sedimentation, alter hydrology, harass wildlife, damage vegetation, rare plant species and intact native plant communities. OHV use is also increasingly impacting rural residential property owners in the Applegate Valley as OHV users trespass on private land from unauthorized trails on adjacent BLM land. User conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users are increasing as well, as OHV use expands into historically non-motorized recreation areas. 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. The combined effect has profoundly negative impacts on our community, our environment, and the quality of non-motorized and quiet recreational experiences.
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, quality of life, 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.
The local Forest Service and BLM have been steadily increasing the number of motorized trails in our area, compounding the existing impacts and social conflicts. Unfortunately, much of the problem comes from a lack of management and responsiveness to the threat of OHV use on public lands. In many situations OHV users make trails at will, through sensitive habitats, and with no regard for the environment over which they tread. Often existing motor vehicle closures are not adequately enforced, leaving motorized users to build trails, destroy motor vehicle closure devices, damage wetlands, and create erosive hill climbs on steep vulnerable slopes with impunity.
OHV use is impacting our wildlands, our forest, our rivers, streams, grasslands, private properties and quality of life in the Applegate Valley. The Klamath Forest Alliance and Applegate Neighborhood Network have 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. We hike OHV trails, document the impacts, and present them to the agencies as annual monitoring reports. The goal is to address the increasing problem of OHV use, minimize its impacts, close damaging trails, and help to enforce motorized vehicle closures. To view last year’s monitoring reports visit the following link: Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project