Just to get the record straight up front, I am not an ATVer. Avid horseman, runner, mountain biker, dog walker, and snowmachiner, and I have no problems sharing trails. We all live here to enjoy the outdoors, right?
This issue came up last year but is way worse already this year and I have no idea if anything can be done about it. There are trails around where I live (let's generically call it the MatSu valley, as I'm sure this happens elsewhere, too) that are just thrashed from ATV use right now, because the ATVs can't wait for the trails to dry up enough. We're talking knee deep mud ruts here. These are ruts that won't fix themselves, will just dry up in the same shape they are now. There are trails I normally run / horseback ride / mountain bike that are completely unusable now and will probably not be usable all summer due to the ruts.
So how do we educate riders to stay off mucky trails? I know some of you live for the mudding, which is great, but can't it be confined to ATV only trails? What I'm seeing affects all trail users -- including other ATVers, as there are trails I saw last year and am already seeing this year that will be unusuable for anyone, even ATVs, all summer long due to the damage being done now.
As a horseman, I know horses tear up fragile trails too. This time of year I really restrain myself to roads or dry trails (and it's hard when all I want to do it get out there and gallop!) so I have good trails all summer long. I am a riding instructor, and I also teach my students trail manners and sharing, including staying off trails during breakup due to the damage the horses can do.
Plus as a runner, imagine trying to deal with rutted trails all summer.
Yes, I know winters are long and we're all ready to get outside and DO something now that the days are longer and the snow's going. But, at what cost to other trail users? How is it fair that I can't ride my horses or do a trail run because ATVs have thrashed the trails already?
So, let's hear the suggestions. I have emailed all the ATV organizations and groups I can find, with not a single response yet.
I have flagged down ATVers and asked politely. I can't repeat here most of the responses I've gotten. If the riders aren't flat out rude (LOVED the guys who spun out and flung mud all over me and my horse on purpose -- that was a fun few moments) then they look at me with complete cluelessness. (btw, I was not on the mucky trail with my horse, I was on the road and flagged down ATVs on the side trail)
I know you're not all like that. That's why I'm here asking for input. This costs all of us in the long run, so let's figure out what we can do about it.