Aaron Clark: Manage ORV use


A mass of concerned citizens from across Colorado, New Mexico and Utah converged on a recent weekend in the town of Crestone for the "Quiet Commotion" Conference. Why? Because people who enjoy traditional activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and skiing in the mountains are alarmed as their beloved backcountry becomes overwhelmed by dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles.

Citizens met, not to bash ORVs or to prevent reasonable access, but instead to figure out collectively how to deal with the serious damage to our wildlife, water and traditional lifestyle that results from unmanaged off-road vehicles.

Consider these statistics: Almost 80 percent of U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands in Colorado are open to ORVs, which, enabled by new technologies, can climb rock walls, forge creeks and travel at high speeds. Land managers, who can barely keep the pit toilets pumped and the campgrounds open, simply do not have the manpower to manage these increasing and potentially destructive machines; and Forest Service recreation budgets are 20 percent smaller today than they were 25 years ago.

Attendees brainstormed about what can be done to stop this onslaught and return quiet to the backcountry. The conclusion: Create, restore, and manage Quiet Use Areas and place limitations on ORV use by locating them on designated routes in restricted zones and outside of traditional non-motorized areas. It's the only fair and right thing to do for our future.

To learn more, search "Quiet Backcountry" on the Web.

Aaron Clark



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