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Thread: ATV Use issues

  1. #1
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default ATV Use issues

    It was suggested in the AHBA thread that a separate discussion on ATV issues was in order, so here 'tis.

    To start, I joined the AHBA because they generally represent my beliefs on habitat preservation and resource stewardship. I say generally because I happen to support opening ANWR on the provision that proper oversight is exercised, but that's another issue.

    To the point of this thread, I support the AHBA's stance on ATV/ORV abuse, and for you militant ATV'ers out there the key word here is ABUSE.

    Despite what some may take from this post I am not anti-ATV or anti machine--I own a river sled and 2 snowmachines, but ATV/ORV use does concern me because of all the various motorized means of accessing the backcountry, wheeled/tracked land vehicles cause the most long term damage to the habitat because they generally operate when the ground is not protected by snow cover. Now, since these discussions almost always result in someone decrying an opinion as invalid for a lack of facts, then OK here's some simple (but not over simplified) math.

    First some basic assumptions:
    An average ATV is about 4 feet wide and its tire ruts about 9 inches wide.
    An acre of land is 43,560 square feet.
    A mile is 5,280 feet long

    Combined, both tire ruts equal 18 inches which translates into 1.5 square feet of lost habitat for every linear foot of ATV trail, or 1 acre for every 5.5 miles of trail. Now if we factor in the width of the machine itself, and classify that land as damaged or marginalized then the impact of ATV's on wildlife habitat jumps to 1 acre for every 2.0625 miles (or 2 miles 110 yards)

    For every 110 miles of trail equals 20 acres lost and 53.3 acres damaged.

    These numbers are only to illustrate that machines degrade habitat in very real and lasting ways. We need to be mindful that the effects of our access has impact that radiates beyond our immediate needs or wants.

    Do we need trails? Yes we do! And how we go about getting and maintaining them is fodder for another thread.

    Those who ride and hunt responsibly are justifiably upset when they are lumped in with the renegades, but the question we all must face is where and how to draw the line. The primary problem facing ATV borne hunters is that the responsible riders are really only about half of the ATVing crowd despite the claims that they represent the vast majority of riders. I know "90%" is the single most abused percentage out there, and my assertion of half (or nearly so) is purely annecdotal, BUT its not "the occasional bad apple", it's an increasing number of "average" riders not even aware of what they are doing with regard to the habit they are grinding their way through. ATV/ORV borne hunters go places they shouldn't just because they can.

    Chef Viktor said that ATV's are tools. I see his point but I disagree. ATV's used for hunting are not tools, they are conveniences, and like most conveniences they ultimately make people lazy. I don't believe ATV'ers say to themselves "Wahoo! Let's go destroy some habitat!" but I do believe they create situations for themselves where pioneering new trails, even short sections, becomes a sort of motorized imperative when suddenly "I'm hurt", or "I have to recover my game" erases any consideration for the damage the machine leaves in its' wake.

    AKCub showed us a pic of a moose he killed 28 miles back, asserting that without the machine there was no way to get the meat out. He is correct, but forgets that with out the machine he wouldn't have gotten 28 miles back in, and/or more importantly (maybe) if not for the prevalence of ATV's, would he have needed to go 28 miles in the first place just to find a moose.
    Last edited by Erik in AK; 11-29-2006 at 02:34. Reason: typos

  2. #2

    Default convenience

    So with your trane of thought, a rifle is just a convenience and not a tool too. Maybe we all should go back to walking in and chunking spears at our prey. Yeah, that's it!! I herby declare that from now on, know one will use atv's, truck, planes or other motorized vehicles to gain access to the wilderness and will be limited to a spear no more than 6' in length with a stone tip not more than 2" wide... Get real dude....

  3. #3

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    With no way to ID the individuals on ATVs causing the trouble, everyone on an ATV is going to take the hits. Either the ATV community cleans up their own, or everyone else is going to do it for them. That's just the way government works. Easier to change ATV abusers than to change government, isn't it?

  4. #4
    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    BrownBear we will not change either. They both believe that whatever they are doing it's their given right to do it. It's a waste of breath and writing space to even try.

  5. #5

    Default Lost Habitat?

    Erik,

    The very preface of your argument does not hold water. Under what scientific method do you consider every piece of habitat that touches a four wheeler tire lost? You can dig a 1 acre pit and in three to five years the habitat will reclaim it. Yeah it will be different, but has it been the same forever anyways? I don't agree with tracked vehicles and "land buggies" tearing up tundra either, but if there's going to be productive discussion, let's leave the exaggerations and assumptions out of it. It does nothing to help the matter. Also, I have found that wildlife makes very good use of old trails, they use them for trails. And how many of you have flown over caribou country and seen the deep cuts through the tundra where the caribou travel? Is the entire great plains area lost habitat because 150 years ago the buffalo stampeded through there at one time? Somebody should tell the whitetail deer they are living on "lost habitat". Humans belong on earth too, and I am tired of the extreme views that say humans can leave no footprint anywhere or they are evil. Animals leave their footprint on the land, they even overbrowse areas, making it "lost habitat". Guess what they do, they adapt. There must be balance between conservation and development, but there just seems to be too many people on one extreme or the other.

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    Erik in AK

    I think you are painting with a pretty broad brush with your math. I have driven my atv across country above treeline caribou hunting and look back and cannot even see tracks. Granted, there are other areas where an atv/orv will leave a footprint but not every square inch one travels as you infer.
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    I have personally seen the lost habitat caused by ATVs, dirt bikes and other off road vehicles. What was once a good place to hunt quail and rabbits is now nothing but a wasteland of sand. Yes, its in another state and it occurred over about three years. So Eric is discussing trying to do something about the abuse that occurs and gets slammed by people that either do not believe or refuses to believe abuse happens. Damage to the tundra does occur, all you have to do is go look. If you dig a one acre pit in the tundra and do nothing to reclaim it, it will still be there many years from now. That's why the state requires remediation. The difference between an ATV and caribou is it took thousands of caribou to make those trails, one ATV can do the same damage in one day. Neither Eric or I are discussing banning ATVs, what needs to be done, by peer pressure or regulation, is cutting down on the abuse. Instead of beating up on Eric, why not offer possible, reasonable solutions to the problem and get a dialogue started.

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Default yep

    Bill, no one is attacking Eric. He is passionate about his thoughts as are others.
    I'm with Snyd totally.
    Eric, no offence guy but the math seems fuzzier than Al Gore's.
    I've tried many times to ascertain whether a wheeler has been through an area I hunt only to guess wrong.

    In thick mudflats they leave obvious footprints, but on less wet ground it can be tough to tell they have been through at all.

    Its like anything---MODERATION is the key. Whether it's a backpacker website trying to get a footing with common folks (but drawing political lines), or an ATV user ready to put on 31" "root ripper" tires. Common sense should prevail, but doesnt always.

    My two pennies.

  9. #9
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Board of Game

    You may see some ORV changes coming from the BOG in some areas. It is not the ATV's that are the issue but the large tracked vehicles and truck with huge tires that seem to be the problem.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfoot View Post
    Erik,

    The very preface of your argument does not hold water. Under what scientific method do you consider every piece of habitat that touches a four wheeler tire lost? You can dig a 1 acre pit and in three to five years the habitat will reclaim it. Yeah it will be different, but has it been the same forever anyways? I don't agree with tracked vehicles and "land buggies" tearing up tundra either, but if there's going to be productive discussion, let's leave the exaggerations and assumptions out of it. It does nothing to help the matter. Also, I have found that wildlife makes very good use of old trails, they use them for trails. And how many of you have flown over caribou country and seen the deep cuts through the tundra where the caribou travel? Is the entire great plains area lost habitat because 150 years ago the buffalo stampeded through there at one time? Somebody should tell the whitetail deer they are living on "lost habitat". Humans belong on earth too, and I am tired of the extreme views that say humans can leave no footprint anywhere or they are evil. Animals leave their footprint on the land, they even overbrowse areas, making it "lost habitat". Guess what they do, they adapt. There must be balance between conservation and development, but there just seems to be too many people on one extreme or the other.
    When an animal population overbrowses an area (eats themselves out of house and home), they either die or move to another area. If that area is already populated, it will likely also be overbrowsed. So what does that leave? (Keep in mind that the whitetails you refer to subsist mainly on corn, oats, etc - costing farmers lots of money - due to the loss of thier natural habitat. Is that really an argument you want to make in favor of ATV use? Let me contact a few Illinois farmers that I know and let you ask them about it. What do you suppose they think is more important - your ATV use or thier livelihood?)

    Overbrowsing can lead to habitat degredation, but usually the forage will return and there will be a smaller animal population to compete for the resources. Destruction from ATV's, ORV's, etc is more permanent and more destructive overall. Churning up the ground allows for generalistic species or invasive species to gain a foothold in the raw earth. Often, those generalistic or invasives are not good for habitat. They are not eaten by foragers, they multiply and choke out the natural flora in an area. Eventually this can cause an entire area to become inhospitable to game animals that once thrived there. This is a very general scenario, but still a good example and explanation of the impacts we can have on habitat and an ecosystem.

    Also, your question "has it been the same forever anyway?", when refering to habitat is not a valid question. No, habitat has not been constant over all of time. Ice ages, etc have forced changes. However, those are very, very gradual changes (as in thousands of years to change) that wildlife are able to adapt to. Adaptation by wildlife is not just a choice for them that they can make at any time. It requires generations for them to successfully adapt to a new situation. If they cannot adapt, then it can lead to extinction. That question is the biggest cop-out for people who want to ignore and/or defy ecological principles for thier own selfish benefit.

    Erik's argument and your argument are neither ecolgically sound. Before we start trying to justify a point, any point, with what you think is good scientific ecology, you need to understand the ecological principles that make the world go around.

  11. #11
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    I have to disagree with Daveinthebush about what causes the most destruction. then again I might be biased I drive one of those trucks. I mainly hunt off the Denali HWY. I have been going back in there since the mid 90's and have friends that started going back in during the 80's. When they started it was just trucks and track vehicles. Yes they made an obvious trail but sledom did they leave that trail. In the past 10 the amount of atv use has dramatically increased and the trail damage is obvious. I am not saying all of them cause this but a lot do. In the boggy areas a lot of them tend to try and go around the mud holes to stay dry or to not get stuck and have to winch out. In return this just causes the trail to get wider and wider.

    Rob

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    You may see some ORV changes coming from the BOG in some areas. It is not the ATV's that are the issue but the large tracked vehicles and truck with huge tires that seem to be the problem.
    Where do you get that assumption from? It is in fact, incorrect. Every trail meeting that I have been to (meetings with DNR and other agencies) to try and save our trails and ORV/ATV use from banishment and closure has been focused mostly on the destruction of ATV's and motorcycles. Jeeps and trucks also cause damage, and can cause more damage than ATV's if abused, but there are many more ATV's on the trails than trucks.

    I have seen both abused, trucks and 4 wheelers. That behavior is what needs remediation. That is the type of behavior that will forever keep us from being able to use these "tools" that we enjoy. Those of you that stay on the existing trails, don't jet across untraveled terrain, and don't cut your own trails or bypasses are not the problem. However, you are lumped into the same category as the idiots that do those things. We need to police our own as much as possible and try to educate people on the effect that thier behavior can have. From there, it is thier decision to do the right thing. If they dont, they will have noone to blame but themselves when ATV's and ORV's are outlawed.

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    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Default State Land

    Interesting discussion. I don't want to see ATV's, trucks, swamp buggies or anything outlawed. I grew up riding trails in Sutton and Eureka. (Still have my '83 Big Red!) Maybe the state needs to look at designating more areas for trails. We lack infrastructure in this state; I don't see use or need to restrict orvs.


    Tim

  14. #14
    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    Default Just to Elaborate

    By using your math and methods I have determined that 110 miles of trail would service 70,400 acres allowing for 1/2 mile on each side of the trail. If you divide that by 20 acres lost you will have lost .028409% of potential habitat (even though swamp is not habitat for big game) and damaged (53.3 acres) .0757102%. Total damage of opening up 70,400 acres to ATV hunting is about a tenth of a percent? I can live with that.

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    Default Compromise is the only answer

    Ditto. No attack on Erik.

    I agree also that atv's/orv's can and do tear up terrain. Just not all of it everywhere they go. I like the fact that there are areas that allow orv's and areas that don't. I enjoy using my quad to hunt but also enjoy walk in hunts. I also enjoy being able to walk on an atv trail at times! I don't mind if an atv passes me either if I'm walking. Heck, he'll probably just drive right on by that big bull that's standing in the brush. I've seen it happen. I personnaly don't get heartburn when I see a trail acoss the land. If it's a trail that is causing some definite errosion issues that may effect fish spawing, etc. then I feel is should be addressed. What gets me are folks who become offended just because they can see an atv trail when it's not really hurting anything.

    This is definelty an area where there has to be compromise. We cannot allow all atv/orv's to go anywhere and everywhere but at the same time cannot close off large areas to all orv traffic. The White Mountains north of Faribanks is a good example of compromise in my opinion. Some areas are open to atv's up to 1000lbs, other areas are not. Works for me.

    Another option is one that they have in parts of Montana. There are areas where orv's can only be used to retreive downed game. Walkin or mountain bike, shoot it, walk out drive in and pick it up. Or maybe only be allowed to take your orv off the designated trail on order to retrieve downed game. Not to break a trail to see what's on the other side of the ridge. Gotta walk up to do that.

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    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    You may see some ORV changes coming from the BOG in some areas. It is not the ATV's that are the issue but the large tracked vehicles and truck with huge tires that seem to be the problem.
    Guns donít kill people, People kill people. Same thing is true with Trucks, Track Rigs, and ATV's. Your statement may be your perception, but its definitely not fact. I know you wrote that they "seem" to be the problem, and I appreciate that. I just want to make sure people stay on track and not start blaming one group over another, as it is the irresponsible user that is the problem, not their "tool" of choice.
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    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Ditto. No attack on Erik.

    I agree also that atv's/orv's can and do tear up terrain. Just not all of it everywhere they go. I like the fact that there are areas that allow orv's and areas that don't. I enjoy using my quad to hunt but also enjoy walk in hunts. I also enjoy being able to walk on an atv trail at times! I don't mind if an atv passes me either if I'm walking. Heck, he'll probably just drive right on by that big bull that's standing in the brush. I've seen it happen. I personnaly don't get heartburn when I see a trail acoss the land. If it's a trail that is causing some definite errosion issues that may effect fish spawing, etc. then I feel is should be addressed. What gets me are folks who become offended just because they can see an atv trail when it's not really hurting anything.

    This is definelty an area where there has to be compromise. We cannot allow all atv/orv's to go anywhere and everywhere but at the same time cannot close off large areas to all orv traffic.
    Very well put.
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  18. #18
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    didn't he say ABUSE? i dont' recall him doggin' on anyone driving a fourwheeler persay, just touching on the subject of abuse.
    I don't own one, never will and won't encourage my kids to either, but thats up to them.i grew up half way to eureka and did the gunsight, sheep moutnain, boulder/billey creek, gravel creek and all those places as a kid. alot has changed out there as far as ground being tore up, trash and lack of critters. but thats a basic priniciple. put more people there and more will happen.
    Unfourtunaly we don't have the money to designated trails, and even if we did someone would have to go farther, higher, longer and bigger. human nature. Basicly its only gonna get worse, no one is going to regulated it and users can't regulate them selves without some sort of consiquences. So i say let them tear up whats already tore up and close the rest down to machines that will damage the terrian. wethers its boats, atv/orv/planes i don't care. i dont' want to see alaska become yellowstone and have ot have permits to go anywhere and 50 gallons of fuel to see anything.
    hot topic that'll never go away. more people more machines more people wanting things, more people looking for game, more people out to get away from work and the big city...next stop...anything within 200 miles of anchorage.

  19. #19
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    DaveintheBush said: "It is not the ATV's that are the issue but the large tracked vehicles and truck with huge tires that seem to be the problem."


    I don't think that big tires are a problem. Larger tires with a larger footprint sink less that a skinny tire on any 4x4 or orv. I have offroaded with many different types of rigs since 1979 starting in Wyoming and Montana. With an atv or 4x4 with stock tires you end up spinning the tires to get through the mud or up the wet grassy/rocky/lichen covered hill. They just don't have the traction. Or you get stuck in the muck and spin a hole to china. With larger big lug tires (or tracks even) they grip better and don't have to spin as much as often. You just crawl on up the hill or through the muddy trail. I firmly believe that larger big lug tires on any kind of orv are easier on the trails and terrain than skinny or stock tires. Even in the hands of an unexpierenced driver/rider. I have crawled through mudholes on my quad with large big lug mud tires no prob with very little wheel spin. Before getting the tires I dug some great holes and ruts in the same trail trying to get through with stock tires. I would say atv's with stock tires do a lot more damage than most other off road rigs with big tires.
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  20. #20
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Info

    My information came from participating in an advisory committie meeting last night for 2 1/2 hours. The subject was brought up by a represenative of the BOG at the meeting. And, the complains that "they" have been receiving.

    Two years ago someone from my own town, took a tracked vehicle right across some native land and left huge ruts right across the boggy area. There was a complaint letter in the Valdez Star from the corporation. The tracks will be there forever.

    I use an ATV off road myself. I find it a vital piece of equipment for moving my prospecting equipment around. It is like anything else in life, used with respect they should be no problem. I don't wnat to loose the right to use them of road any more than anyone else.

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