I ran across an article in the Lincoln newspaper about a 17 year old that got a ticket for driving his '92 Explorer up a dirt road causing damage to the road. The article quoted police stating that this occurs this time of year with the springtime muddy roads.
In Colorado, the mountains are inundated with 4x4's and other motorized recreationists as soon as the snow starts to break in the high country, and along with the influx of vehicles, comes environmental damage. Forest roads and trails are often snowed in until July in some areas, but the uninformed motorized operators decided to skip the snow field, and make a new trail around a big snow drift or mud hole in the road.
Well, if it was only one or two folks that did it, it might not be a big problem, but as soon as someone see tracks going around an obstacle, they will follow. It's too bad too because it gets areas closed to motorized recreation because people just don't know better. I suppose it has something with a "can do" attitude and people will brag about how they made it across this pass, or that canyon without giving a second thought about what they actually did to get through.
The kid in Lincoln that got the ticket probably never thought about road damage, what he might be doing to his vehicle, or the possibility of getting a ticket for driving up a muddy road. I admit that while I am extremely careful to avoid road damage with my 4x4, I never thought about getting a ticket for driving up a muddy road either. I don't go "muddin" on county roads, I'm just trying to get home where the kid was probably just playing I admit.
So what? Well, a couple things come to mind that I want to share, even though off road opportunities are pretty restricted in Nebraska. Colorado's environmental issues with off road vehicles comes primarily from all the public land available for access. With all the private land in Nebraska, where can a kid go 4 wheeling/mudding? Unless you know someone willing to let you tear up their property, there isn't anyplace to go as near as I can tell. Gravel and minimum maintenance roads are about the extent of 4 wheeling opportunities so kids being kids, they will probably continue to tear up the roads in the name of fun.
It's too bad that towns, counties, and even the state don't have some type of motorized recreation areas readily available for kids and adults that want to play in the dirt with motorized toys and stay out of trouble. Along with a place to play should be some education about how much damage these toys can cause. Owners manuals speak about proper operation of these vehicles, but from my experience, few people ever read their owners manual, and certainly not the part about safe and sane operation of the equipment.
Outdoor motorized recreation is big business. Too bad the purveyors of motorized transportation for back country and off road use are not mandated by law to provide education for purchasers to help minimize environmental impact. Too bad too that even if there was education about it here in Nebraska, there is no place to practice or use the skills that could be learned to save public lands for future generations of motorized recreation enthusiasts wherever they may be.
Learn more about proper 4x4/offroad/back country motorized operation at http://www.treadlightly.org. Not everyone can backpack into the back country. Be a conservationist and help protect our public resources for future generations.