How To Help Maintain Off-Road Trails

Some helpful tips on how to keep your trail going strong

Story by Rick Sosebee, Photography by Adam Campbell, Jul. 31, 2012
 

Riding our many ORV trail systems can be both fun and a great way to get the family out for a day full of Mother Nature’s finest. The trails are always waiting for almost any team of riders and with a small fee paid to park and use the trail you unload and head out. But maybe the trail system you frequent hasn’t been kept up exactly like you would think it should be. Perhaps you see too much trash on the trail or the load/unload area is getting really rough. In some cases, water runoff can get a trail closed completely to prevent erosion. So what can you do to help save the trails you and the family love to ride on? Here are some suggestions for those who are willing to take action.

ATV Trails: Brush Clearing

Our government run trail systems have been taking huge hits in the repair and maintenance budgets and without the help from clubs or individuals the trails will only get worse. Do you have a local club for ATV riders that you know about? If you look around the trailhead and parking area sometimes there will be small pamphlets for local clubs and organizations that you could get involved in. These clubs will generally not only ride the trails but they may have Clean-Up Days to get the trail in shape. If no club has been organized in your area, you can always start one with a group of your riding buddies.

ATV Trails: Maintenance Teamwork

If you want to get an ATV club off the ground you’ve got to have a couple things in place to be recognized as a legitimate entity. Organizations such as the National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) can be a great resource to guide you through the process. This council even provides a free club start-up kit if you simply email them. Some items covered in the free kit are:

• Agendas
• Cash Management
• Club Names
• Committees
• Communication
• Directories
• Membership
• Meeting Management
• Mission and purpose statements
• Officers
• Parliamentary procedures
• Problem solving
• Task Coordination

ATV Trail Tree Trimming

This sounds like a lot of work for the average group of guys and gals, but is can be streamlined if everyone pitches in and with the help of grants it can reduce the financial burden as well. You might even just adopt your favorite trail segment and work on it instead of the entire trail.

There are many different ways we can help as individuals as well. Start by simply keeping a trash bag or two in the vehicle you haul your off road vehicle to the ride site in. Try to spend a few minutes each time picking up trash and before you know it this will become routine and you’ll not even miss the time. Most ORV trails have some kind of trash cans at the parking area and if they do not then maybe that is the next item on your list of things to think about installing.

Trash is not the only thing to consider when maintaining a trail. The trail itself needs help form time to time and here are a few things to think about.

• Creek crossings may need bridges repaired or installed
• Trail markers must be easily identified
• Clearing away downed trees and debris from recent storms
• Simply planting trees or shrubs in appropriate areas can prevent erosion.

ATV Trails Drainage Ditch Clearing

If keeping the trails clean and maintained seems like a huge undertaking then maybe just learning how to use the trails correctly would be a step forward for some of us in the ORV community. Simply staying on designated trails and out of preservation areas would be a huge leap forward.

ATV manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make funds available for clubs or organizations to help keep the trails alive. Yamaha has donated hundreds of thousands in Grants through its Yamaha OHV Access Initiative program, which was started to be a proactive, grassroots effort that is supported by Yamaha dealers and their customers across the country, promoting safe, responsible riding and sustainable, open riding areas. If you take the time to fill out a Grant proposal, these funds can be procured to do trail work in your area.

Polaris is another example of manufacturers getting involved. Polaris has initiated their T.R.A.I.L.S. program to help preserve our natural resource and to keep trails to ride on alive and well.

ATV Trail Repair with Small Bulldozer

If you have any doubt that there isn’t any help for your club out there then these two organizations should clear that up. Remember, there is no remote control for trail maintenance so you must get up and change it yourself!

Related Reading
Destination Off-road!
10 Things To Check Before Riding Your ATV
Yamaha Working to Keep Trails Open
Yamaha Approves 10 New GRANTs in the First Quarter of 2012
Polaris grant program tops $700,000