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Strategic Planning and Resource Assessment

 
 

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Strategic Planning
and Resource Assessment

RP-E Rm 602
P.O. Box 96090    
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090

Telephone
703-605-4480
FAX

703-605-4199
Email
Bjohnston@fs.fed.us

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Forest Service 2003 Success Stories

Success Stories: ATVs and the Forest Service

Over the past two years, aerial and ground surveys have revealed an expanding network of ATV (four-wheeler) routes in a variety of locations surrounding Sitka . These user-made trails are generally located in areas of easiest travel, such as muskegs, estuaries, stream banks and in streams, beach fringe forests, and lakeshores. Riding off-road vehicles (ORVs) off the designated trail and road systems presents many problems for the land and land manager. Last fall, the Sitka Ranger District initiated an educational approach to handling this growing problem.

Webs of heavily rutted trails are now found in many areas within a day's reach of town. Wildlife habitat is fragmented, and fish streams are crossed, which results in damage to spawning and feeding habitat. The vegetation is churned in ways that means it would take decades for the area to recover.

The Sitka Ranger District has begun a program asking ORV users to protect all wetlands, and reminding riders they are prohibited from constructing new trails or causing damage to natural resources of the forest.

In late 2002, the Sitka Ranger District Naturalist presented a 90-minute slideshow presentation to nearly 500 students in the 7th through 12th grades. The slide show depicted resource damage caused by the irresponsible use of ORVs. The program explained the ecological reasons why riders need to stay on designated trails, rather than ride, as is common, through muskegs, estuaries, and other sensitive areas. The educational program did not simply outline the rules, but highlighted the reasons for them. The program also served as an opportunity to raise awareness of forest resources.

The presentation explained the salmon spawning process and Sitka 's dependency on healthy fish runs. Photos were shown of ATV riders running up a salmon stream, and students were asked, "Do you really want to run over the next generation of salmon that you would otherwise be catching for dinner?"

Each student was asked to fill out a questionnaire before the presentation, which showed that 42% of the students live in families that own ATVs, while 31% of students own their own ATV. Half of these riders ride every weekend and on holidays. This highlighted the need to continuing education for the next generation of riders about the effects of ATV use on the environment.

This presentation was also given to the general public and, in the end, directly touched 900 people via classrooms, public halls, and special interest group meetings. It was featured through interviews on Raven Radio (with 3,000 listeners) and was later aired statewide. Articles in the Sitka Sentinel were read by 2,500 people a day.

The District is also working on a Kruzof Island off-road vehicle management plan, which will clearly outline legal travel routes and ATV use areas.

USDA Forest Service - Strategic Planning and Resource Assessment
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:19:04 CST


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