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Course Outline

Ecosystems as well as smaller area habitats are complicated, fragile, and subject to slow recovery from human impact. For example, World War II tank commanders trained in the desert near Yuma. Their tracks can still be seen to this day, over 60 years later.

  • To protect soils and vegetation, off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators should make every effort to stay on designated trails and in designated areas.
  • Do not participate in cross-country travel. Other riders will see the tracks, assume it is a new trail, and further damage the area.
    • The impact to soils from an OHV is acceptable only if managed and confined to existing trail corridors.
    • Avoid riding on steep slopes and erodible hills.
  • Habitats take a long time to recover, particularly desert habitats. Damage to soil and vegetation from irresponsible OHV use may last for several years. Some areas may never recover because of the impact of erosion.
    • Plants reduce erosion by increasing the stability of the soil.
    • Vegetation is highly susceptible to vehicular damage. For example, it could take up to 50 years for a creosol plant to recover from being run over by an OHV.
    • If the plant cover is destroyed, the soil can be compacted by heavy human use and further eroded by wind and rain.
  • Streams and their banks are exceptionally fragile.
    • Traveling along banks or through stream beds causes stream sedimentation and can contribute to destroying an existing fish habitat.
    • Take extra precautions where trails ford streams. Go directly from an established trail to the trail on the opposite bank. Avoid spinning tires or losing control.
Arizona's White Mountains
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