Tuesday, May 4, 2010

5 ATV riders cited for tearing up meadows in the Clearwater National Forest

Restoration work is under way in a meadow torn up last fall by illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use on the Palouse Ranger District of the Clearwater National Forest.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the majority of the work is being funded by $2,000 in restitution paid by individuals responsible for the damage.

The damage occurred during the fall of 2009 when five minors on ATVs were mud bogging in the Lindley Meadows area near Elk River, riding off road and tearing up fragile meadow vegetation in violation of Palouse District Travel Planning regulations. The individuals were cited, brought to court, found guilty, and forced to pay restitution for their actions. The defendants live in E. Washington.

“When we see illegal ATV use like this, we want to both help users understand the environmental damage caused by their actions and correct the behavior,” said Steve Bryant, Law Enforcement Officer for the Palouse Ranger District. “Then we turn to restoring function on the damaged land. In this case, the perpetrators’ actions were so egregious they were required to pay substantial fines, providing the agency with the means to begin restoration work.”

Palouse District Watershed Specialist Meg Foltz developed a restoration plan for the one-acre Lindley Meadows site.

“The ground was severely impacted from the extensive ATV use, plus the area was extremely wet at the time resulting in deep tire ruts throughout,” she explained.

As part of the plan the Forest Service, in partnership with the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, will soon be planting approximately 400 sedges in the area. “As long as the site remains free of vehicles, I feel confident that the sedges will take hold and meadow functionality will return before long,” Foltz said. For updates regarding the project, contact the Palouse Ranger District at (208) 875-1131.