Thursday, March 30, 2017

OHV Trail Wet Weather Riding

As we finally thaw from the winter wonderland we experienced the last few months, I want to take a moment to visit the idea of trail conservation and the impacts of riding during times of heavy rainfall and highly saturated soils. As I'm sure you all know, the trails have been virtually shut down for the past three months due to heavy snowfall, making riding in The Burn next to impossible. As the rain starts to fall and the snow starts to melt, I know everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and ride! I know I was starting to go stir crazy not being able to rip on my favorite trails in the TSF all winter and I'm sure you all felt the same. 

Now that the snow is subsiding, we're starting to see lots of people out enjoying the trails (the best part of my job). White it always brings a smile to my face seeing people out on the trails in torrential downpours (the sign of a TRUE Tillamook rider), it is also a good time to consider the impacts of riding on the trails in such conditions. When the dirt gets as saturated as it has been lately, it doesn't hold together like it does when it's dry. Add to that equation a spinning rear tire or a 450 with a heavy throttle hand at the helm, and the trails start to breakdown pretty quickly, especially on those challenging up hills that the TSF is so well known for. While I will never discourage people from riding our trails, this is a good time of year to consider which trails you ride and which direction you ride them.  On especially wet days, go down your favorite hill climb rather than going up, or on trails that are already getting rutted, choose an alternate route. Just a little bit of planning can go a long way in saving the trails from turning into a maintenance nightmare and taking valuable time away from construction projects on exciting new trail opportunities we build in the summer.

On another note, I want to say a huge thank you to all the riders who have done trail work in the forest. From carrying a folding saw on your bike to cutting a few limbs here and there on your ride, to breaking out the Pulaski or chainsaw on more extensive projects, your efforts are greatly appreciated by the entire staff at the Oregon Department of Forestry and all of the riders who benefit from your work.  This trail system is nothing without the people who use it and we're darn lucky to have a group of riders who love it as much as you all do.

Thank you again and I hope to see you all out on the trail,
Reid Brown, OHV Specialist