Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly

Rock Crawling

In an earlier post we mentioned how the U.S. Forest Service’s Leave No Trace program for non-motorized recreationists was later complimented with the Tread Lightly program aimed at motorized recreationists.  The Forest Service started the program in 1985 to address impacts associated with off-road and sometimes on-road motor vehicle use.

In many areas within the National Forests, motor vehicles simply can’t get off the roads.  There might be too many trees or canyons or rivers or boulder fields that constrain off-road use.  In other areas, however, motorcycles, small all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and even pick-up trucks (usually 4 wheel drive) can easily, or not so easily, traverse the countryside.  Like non-motorized users,  these users loved getting out and having fun so much that damage to vegetation, soils, wildlife habitats and even streams and roadbeds was occurring.  The idea behind Tread Lightly was to let people know that a responsible land ethic leads to appropriate use of vehicles and protection of the resources that make the outdoors such a fun place to recreate.

Five years after the Forest Service got the program going, the non-profit Tread Lightly took it over.  The program currently gets a lot of support from Federal and State agencies as well as firms that offer vehicles and supplies to motorized recreationists.  The organization promotes the following principles:

Travel Responsibly on land by staying on designated roads, trails and area. Go over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trails. Cross streams only at designated fords. when possible, avoid wet, muddy trails. On water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.

Respect the Rights of Others including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. Leave gates as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill. On water, respect anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and those on or near shore.

Educate Yourself prior to your trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies. Plan for your trip, take recreation skills classes and know how to operate your equipment safely.

Avoid Sensitive Areas on land such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Don’t disturb historical, archeological or paleontological sites. On water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.

Do Your Part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and repairing degraded areas.

All great, but simple, rules to follow whether you are out there in a vehicle, on a horse or on foot.


Tread Lightly


Please Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

Pin It on Pinterest