August 1, 2017
After graduating high school I left to explore bigger, better, and more exciting places in the world. Just short of twenty years later, I returned to start a new job just a few miles from where I used to live. Things had certainly changed.
When I returned, I noticed some differences. Population exploded from 16,000 residents to 20,000. That may not seem like much, but to some of us small-town folk, it's a lot. An interstate highway now cuts a swath of gray across the landscape, bringing thousands of motorists each day. New hotels, gas stations, and restaurants cling to the exit ramps just waiting to make a profit from travelers.
Paiute ATV Trail
I have now been back home for almost ten years, and I have to admit: I like most of the changes.
Part of my job makes me a member of the Paiute ATV Trail committee, which consists of employees from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, county tourism, state parks, and law enforcement. We wouldn't be successful without the help of volunteers, though, as they dedicate thousands of hours each year to trail improvement.
National Trails Day occurred not too long ago, and everyone got together to complete several projects. It was fun to see so many ATVs loaded up with hand tools, utility trailers, and other maintenance equipment. 30 of us tackled 4 projects:
- Trash collection
- Barrier placement where riders tore up landscape in attempts to avoid a rutted trail
- Picnic table installation for rider rest stop atop a high overlook of the Rocky Mountains
- Water bar creation for erosion control
Volunteers help in a number of ways. Of course, there's monetary donations, meetings each month, and larger gatherings during events like National Trails Day, but they also donate their time and effort to build fencing, write columns for magazines, fundraise, teach safety courses, guide local rides, patrol trails, work at travel shows and attend expos, and lobby officials for support, safety laws and land access.
The next time you get those Maxxis tires rolling up the trail, remember: it takes a lot of work to maintain ATV trails. If you want to contribute, join a club, trail committee or contact a local land management agency in your area. If organized groups aren't your thing, bring trash bags on your ride to collect litter, contact local officials to vocalize your support, or just be a responsible, respectful rider who helps keep trails clean and safe.