Illegal, unauthorized and inappropriate Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use in the Applegate Valley has begun to create significant social and environmental impacts. In many situations OHV enthusiasts are creating unauthorized, user-created trails that impact riparian areas, increase sedimentation, accelerate erosion, alter hydrology, harass wildlife, spread noxious weeds, damage vegetation, impact rare plant populations and degrade intact native plant communities. Many of the region’s wildest and most intact habitats, including Wilderness Areas, Roadless Areas and Botanical Areas are actively being degraded by inappropriate OHV use.
OHV use is also impacting non-motorized recreation and expanding into historically non-motorized recreation areas. In fact, many of the region’s most cherished non-motorized or quiet recreation areas on BLM lands are being over-run by OHV use; displacing hikers, equestrians and naturalists.
According to the State of Oregon, direct spending on non-motorized recreational use on public land generates $2.1 billion dollars annually. The Applegate’s rural economy is based on tourism, real estate, vineyards, organic agriculture, outdoor recreation and the region’s incredible scenic values. Unfortunately, these important economic drivers are all negatively impacted by OHV use.
Illegal OHV trespass is also increasingly impacting private property owners in the Applegate Valley due to poor management, a failure to enforce existing regulations and unauthorized or illegal OHV routes built on nearby public lands. Noise from OHV use on nearby public lands also damages the peace and quiet in rural residential neighborhoods impacting the quality of life for surrounding residents.
The combined impact of OHV use is having a profoundly negative impact on our community, economy and environment. In response, we have created the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Program. This grassroots effort is focused on documenting the impact of OHV use on our public lands, encouraging the enforcement of existing regulations and advocating for the closure of damaging OHV routes.