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[pct-l] Dirt Bikes on the PCT

Kevin Corcoran has raised an IMPORTANT flag on a major issue that confronts
the future of the PCT; that is illegal dirt bike use on the trail. I'm the
PCTA Area Coordinator for the trail through the Tehachapi area (about 100
miles or so of PCT at the southern end of the Sierra), and I'm disgusted
with the growing amount of OHV abuse I'm seeing.

It goes without saying that it doesn't take but one mindless idiot on a
dirt bike to cause damage that will last for years. It's a nauseating sight
to behold after DOZENS of bikes have recently ridden the trail, as they
often do in this area. The problem grows worse year after year, and I am
now seeing damage where I have never seen it before. The range of a dirt
bike is phenomenal, and unless there is a compeling reason to turn around,
the rider usually doesn't. What we are going to be left with unless action
is taken are: dangerous confrontations, noise and exhaust, ankle-breaking
ruts, erosion, sloughing, incredible damage to the flora, five foot wide
tread, and the inability to find solitude on the trail. It angers me to see
all the hard work of volunteers, many of whom spend days on the trail using
their vacation time, evaporate in a short period of time. (It blows my mind
that there are some groups who can't handle HORSES on the trail! Wake up
and smell the coffee! Unless we can stop it, the end of the PCT will be
through the mechanical locusts, not hooved animals! And that would be
because nobody will want to walk a trail infested by these things.)

Fpr some dirt bikers, riding the trail is the Disney E-ticket. And if by
some miracle they get caught? Get this: it's just a $30 or so slap on the
wrist. What dirt biker without a consience wouldn't have a go at a pre-cut
ride-from-heaven? And the Forest Service and BLM has so little funding for
the trail, it's doubtful that they'll spend much time or energy on the
problem, UNLESS THEY HEAR FROM US! OK. Enough of the complaining. What are
possible solutions?

1) PLEASE write your local Forest Service or BLM office if you have an OHV
problem in your area. Complain to them. Tell them how important the trail
is to you. Remind them that riding the trail by bike is a violation of law.
Demand that the fines be elevated to an amount that will make enforcement
efforts worth the cost. Suggest that offenders' bikes be confiscated.
Suggest specific ways for them to protect the trail. Find out who the law
enforcement rangers are and speak to them personally. And write them
EVERYTIME you see any significant damage to the tread. I have established a
good relationship with the Ridgercrest BLM office. They are sympathetic,
and have said they plan on start doing aerial enforcement of the
Tehachapi/Jawbone area. Funding is tight; however, there is usually always
money for the squeaky wheel. So the more they hear from people tired of the
abuse, the more likely they will follow through. Remember that there are
far more hikers and backpackers out there than dirt bikers.

2) Find a sympathetic ear at your local newspaper (i.e the reporter who
often writes about outdoor or equestrian activities) and let them know
about the problem. Send them pictures of the damage (send copies to the
government agencies too). Invite them out on a work outing to get first
hand experience of the problem and the people who are trying to do
something about it.

3) If the PCT is being abused through areas of trail easements, not only
are the bikers against the law by being on the trail, they are also more
than likely trespassing on someone's property. Let the land owners know
about the problem on their property. The liability issues alone may cause
the owners to take action themselves.

4) Actively work for ways to reduce the freedom that dirt bikers have on
public lands. I am generally opposed to unwarranted restrictions of
personal freedom. Call me a hypocrite, but when it comes to dirt bikes, I'd
love to see them severely restricted. They don't have a place in the arid
parts of this country. Their range is too wide, the damage they cause is
too great, and as proven by their ranks, their owners are not very
effective at policing themselves. (Perhaps if the green sticker fee was
raised to a value equal to the tremendous damage control and government law
enforcement they require, we'd see a few less bikes out there.)

5) Keep hiking the trail. Get your friends out there. Heck, get a few large
horses on the tread, too! The more people hiking the trail, the less dirt
bikes we'll find there. I'd certainly rather meet fellow hikers on the
trail than a bike with a rider in one of those loud plastic uniforms.

I certainly don't have all the answers, and I'd sure like to hear any ideas
that you all might have. If you'd like the names of government officials in
this area that you could contact, please let me know. I'll forward the

I want to see OHV's completely off of the trail, not only in the Tehachapi
Mountains, but along its entire length. I want to see the trail restored to
what it's original purpose was intended to be. I hope you all do too.

Sorry for the huge posting.

Tim Conners

P.S. By the way, Kevin, contact Cam Lockwood of the Angeles National Forest
regarding the specific problem you spotted on Liebre!

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