We all started out as a newbie at some point in our wheeling careers and had to learn things as we went. Even those who have been around a while learn new things from time to time. Not to mention a lot of things have changed over the years. What was ďO.K.Ē for our fathers, may not be considered ethical today. Another thing that has an impact on what is considered appropriate or not is the area you live in. Wheeling in the South is way different than wheeling in the Dessert regions and that again is different than wheeling in The Pacific Northwest. Culture can have a lot to do with the ethics of wheeling in your area. With that being said Iím going to focus on the Pacific Northwest as this is my stomping grounds. So what I say may or may not be true for you area, but no matter what, always wheel safely and ethically.
If you donít know what Tread Lightly!
is I encourage you to follow the link an educate yourself. There are other site out there as well like, The Blue Ribbon Coalition
, and Leave No Trace.
By following the guidelines set forth by places like these we will help to insure the recreational areaís we play in will remain open. People that donít respected our environment or laws only make it harder for those of use that do. Places get closed down all the time because people have chosen to ignore road closure signs, going around gates, going around road blocks, or ďtrail blazeĒ a.k.a make their own trail.
This is not even close to a full list of stuff, but these are some of the things I see the most of, when it comes to some wheelers giving a bad name to the rest of us.
* means this action could lead to fines and/or jail time.
1) Off Road Ethically and Legally
a) Stay on Marked trails, NO Trail Blazing *
b) If you are unsure if a trail is OK, go to the office of whoever manages the land and get a current Vehicle use maps. You should have one anyway. Never rely 100% on GPS or Internet based maps.
A few web sites to help you find maps
c) If it is not a clearly marked trail donít go, if there is a road block has been placed in the way i.e. boulders, gates or it is obvious that a tree did not fall there, but was placed there donít go.*
d) If you become stuck, assess the situation then determine what would be the easiest way to get out with the least amount of damage to your rig and the environment.
e) When doing a recovery, be sure to use tree savers and fill in any holes you may have to dig. Donít spin tires so long you dig big holes.
f) No water crossing if there is a bridge available to use. If you have to cross a stream, river, or creek do it with care and as slow as possible to protect what is living in the body of water and to prevent as much erosion on the banks as possible.
g) Be sure to have any or all passes for the area you are in.*
h) Be sure to know what you need to carry for what area you are in i.e. Fire extinguisher, water, shovel ( all things you should have anyway) *
i) Donít drive through meadows, wetlands and the like just for the hell of it stay on the road/trails. *
j) Before crossing private land you should always get permission. If you have to open any gates close them behind you! Again they are there for a reason. Being respectful of private land keeps the land owner happy and willing to say yes the next time someone asks for permission.
k) Pack out what you pack in. DO NOT LITTER! *
2) Stop and think before posting photos and video on line. How do they make you look as an off roader?
a) Could someone mistake what you are doing as unethical or illegal?
b) Does it look like you are tearing up the environment? Driving up hills that are not part of the road or trail? Disturbing the plant life by driving over it? Yes this includes grass.
c) Are you in a body of water that you didnít need to go in to or through to get down the trail? Iím not talking mud puddles here, Iím talking lakes, streams, ponds, rivers ect.
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to think about your approach to wheeling.
I know this all sounds redundant and probably over the top, but keep in mind because of people doing just these things many places have been closed to off road use. As well as making it extremely difficult to get new places opened up. When in doubt DONíT do it!
Please post up Ethics you may think of I have missed. :-)
aka A 4 Wheeling Mom