Trails are designated for a reason

By David Dennis
Even off-highway vehicle parks like Hollister Hills have to
consider resource management to provide great riding areas for the
future. Not long ago a major hill climb was permanently closed and
revegetated. This hill climb was called Mile Climb.
By David Dennis

Even off-highway vehicle parks like Hollister Hills have to consider resource management to provide great riding areas for the future. Not long ago a major hill climb was permanently closed and revegetated. This hill climb was called Mile Climb. Each year this hill climb was getting wider and deeper. Not only from the amount of off-highway vehicle traffic climbing the hill, but also from the amount of soil that was being lost due to erosion. Mile climb was designed at a time when a trail was made according to how much fun it would be to ride it, not how much impact it would have on the environment.

Mile Climb is a perfect example of what it takes to manage an Off Highway Vehicle Park like Hollister Hills SVRA. Closing Mile Climb was not a popular decision, but it was one that had to be made. Closing trails is usually a last resort in resource management, but it is one that always has to be considered. At the beginning of each trail, here at Hollister Hills, there is a sign that says “Stay On Designated Trails.” Now, to some that means stay on trails that have already been created. What that sign is really saying is that riders should stay on the trails that are marked and maintained.

A volunteer trail (a trail that is made by riders, not the park staff) may not be ecologically sound and even more importantly, may not be safe. I must also mention the fact that there are protected and endangered species here in the park. As managers, we a required to comply with the regulations established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game. Most riders come ride at Hollister Hills because it is a relatively safe and controlled area to enjoy the sport they love.

Can we provide managed, fun Off-Highway Vehicle recreation? I think we can. That is what we have been doing and what we will continue to do. But a major component of managing an OHV area is the proper planning and maintenance of a manageable trail system. Excessive and unrestricted riding and driving up hills and through open areas is not manageable and is not responsible. It gives the sport we all love a black eye that is very visible to the average park visitor or a member of the public that does not participate in off-highway recreation.

So, once again, stay on the trails. Remember, this is your park, but we need your help to manage it. You are all part of the solution! If we all do our part and participate in responsible off-highway recreation, the recreational opportunities will continue to get better and better with each generation.

David Dennis is a ranger at Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area.

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