Friday, January 4, 2019

FEDERAL SHUTDOWN – Key Role for Unofficial OHV Volunteers

Closure Sign During 2013 Federal Shutdown
BLM Samoa Dunes Recreation Area

As the federal shutdown continues into the New Year and OHV recreationists prepare to access their favorite Forest Service or BLM riding area, they should expect to find two scenarios --  trail networks/areas that are OPEN for public use and areas that are CLOSED for public use. 

Unlike the last major federal shutdown in 2013 where users were faced with numerous closure signs/locked gates at most popular OHV areas, the administration appears to be taking a softer more pro-access stance during the current federal shutdown by not posting shutdown-related closure signs or locking of entrance gates at some destination OHV sites.

Since non-essential (i.e. recreation and trail managers and staff, etc.) federal employees are prohibited from working (i.e. managing volunteers, checking email, etc. ) during a shutdown, it appears that taking care of our riding areas will require activation of an unofficial volunteer workforce to clean/stock bathrooms (those that are not locked), pick up trash, and personal interaction with fellow riders about staying on designated routes and respecting seasonal wet weather and other closure prescriptions.

Here are a few “low hanging fruit” suggestions for OHVers who ride at federal recreation sites that are not gated or signed closed.

  • Stay on designated routes 
  • Take your trash home and pick up trash left by others
  •  Prepare to practice “Leave No Trace” tenets when it comes to disposing of human waste
  •  Respect seasonal, wet weather, post-wildfire restrictions
  •  Use state and local riding areas that are not impacted by the federal closure

QWR commends those “unofficial” volunteer efforts that are already taking place and encourages other clubs and users to empower themselves to become an unofficial trail volunteer during this shutdown.  Remember it’s our land and we have a responsibility to take care of it.

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