Stay On The Trails

BIG_Mark

Old Skool
City
Snohomish
State
WA
#1
This came up locally and I give credit to my homie Shifty for finding it,

Story Published: Apr 1, 2008 at 4:09 PM PDT

Story Updated: Apr 1, 2008 at 4:09 PM PDT
By Associated Press
WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - One night of destructive fun has altered the course of nature in a peaceful meadow south of Wenatchee and left six off-road truck drivers mired in legal trouble.

Five men and one juvenile accused of destroying the meadow with their four-wheel-drive trucks last fall called it the "mudhole" in statements to police and referred to their night of tearing it up as "play."

Wildlife officers called it the most egregious act of nature destruction they've ever seen by off-road vehicles.

"To take that area and turn it in one night from a meadow to a mudhole, it's the worst damage I've ever seen done in such a short period of time," said Doug Ward, who has been an enforcement officer for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for 29 years.

The vehicles opened up underground springs that feed Orr Creek in the Stemilt Basin, rerouted the creek, crushed an irrigation culvert and damaged intakes used by the Wenatchee Heights Reclamation District.

The creek drainage is the primary source of water for the irrigation district and its 300-acre-foot Black Lake reservoir, which supplies water to orchards south of Wenatchee.

Ward and fellow officer Graham Grant were called to the Orr Creek meadow last September after a state fire crew reported heavy damage by four-wheelers. The meadow lies along a green-dot road system, which means vehicles can only drive on dirt roads identified on signs with a green dot and cannot go off-road.

When the officers arrived at the scene, they found the once dry, grassy 2.5-acre meadow transformed into a muddy track, with deep ruts dug by oversized tires and water seeping out of the ground.

"It looked like the Army used it for tank training," Ward said.

Grant, an investigator for the agency, went to work trying to find those responsible for the destruction.

The only evidence found in the muddy meadow was a license plate, presumably dropped from one of the vehicles. In the camp area across the road, they found a small pickup hidden in the brush and stuck on a berm.

After interviewing other people camping in the area of the meadow, Grant learned that there had been a large party near the meadow two nights earlier with more than 100 young people. Large trucks were heard tearing around the meadow in the early morning hours. While Grant was talking to other campers, three people returned to the area in a muddy four-wheel-drive truck to retrieve the pickup in the bushes.

Grant said he talked to the three people and learned some first names of people involved in the meadow damage.

Armed with some partial names and a license plate, Grant spent the next six weeks searching vehicle registration records, staking out homes and searching the Wenatchee area for muddy four-wheel-drive vehicles.

"I visited several residences in the morning, at night and during the daytime to try and find the vehicles," he said, adding that many of the suspects knew he was looking for them because they'd heard it from people he had already interviewed. "Some had been hidden in barns or orchards to avoid detection."

He added, "It took a lot of persistence to keep looking, to keep talking to people."

In the course of dozens of interviews and home stakeouts, Grant said he identified six possible suspects.

"When I finally came knocking on their doors, they would say, 'I knew you were coming,"' Grant said. "Word got around through their buddies. When I interviewed one, I told them to tell their friends that I would be coming for them, too."

Grant won a state award for his investigation. All six suspects were charged with felony first-degree malicious mischief because the damage to the meadow was greater than $1,500.

The state Department of Natural Resources estimated the cost of immediate repairs to be about $14,000. The Wenatchee Heights Reclamation District estimated its repairs at $2,500. But the damage could be even greater if the water flow through the meadow is permanently altered.

The state Department of Natural Resources, which manages the land, and the reclamation district plan to work in the meadow this spring to try to repair some of the damage.

In written statements to Grant, the six defendants admitted to driving their trucks through the meadow.

One of them, 26-year-old James M. Donaghue Jr. of Wenatchee, pleaded guilty in February in Chelan County Superior Court and was sentenced to 22 months in prison for the malicious mischief. Four other men are scheduled to go to trial next week, and a juvenile is scheduled for trial on Friday.

Since their arrests, one of the defendants has been arrested again for illegal off-road driving in another area.

In his written statement, Donaghue said, "We all basically took runs through the mud pit throughout the night."

Another defendant, 25-year-old Kyle Steven Baccus, wrote: "I was playing around in the hole for awhile then I ran out of beer and smokes and decided to leave. The next night I went up there again and went through it again."

Normally, illegal off-road driving is a misdemeanor offense, but it can lead to a felony arrest if the damage is excessive.

"We're looking to educate the community there can be serious consequences," Ward said.

He added that he hopes the agency's aggressive investigation of the Orr Creek incident and the felony charges will deter others from doing similar damage with their off-road vehicles. He said not only does it harm the landscape, it's also a danger to the vehicle occupants and poses a fire risk during the summer.

Illegal off-road driving is a perennial problem in the Stemilt Basin, on Burch Mountain and at Blue Grade in Douglas County, he said. Two years ago, an East Wenatchee man was killed while driving off-road at Blue Grade.

Enforcement officers for several agencies have increased their patrols of the areas to look for offenders, Ward said. Gates, boulders and deep ditches called tank busters have been put in to deter the drivers from going off-road, but Ward said modern lift kits, suspension and shock absorbers allow trucks to get into rougher terrain than ever before.

He said there are not enough officers to watch all the time, and damage is still occurring in many areas.

"Every year it leads to the closing of primitive roads and other undeveloped recreation areas to the public to prevent further damage. Some people say it's a victimless crime, but really everybody's a victim when you have to close areas to the public," Ward said.
 
City
Hammonton
State
NJ
#3
Yeah, that type of crap always drives me nuts. We have some really nasty trails in the state forest, with plenty of mud and water, but some morons always have to run off the side into green areas or small ponds. They tear the hell out of those areas, and then everybody looks bad because of it. Not to mention all the garbage they usually leave behind. :mad:
 

BOBCAT

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Louisville
State
Ky
#4
It's people like that (%$#&*^#@S) , that ruin things for everyone.

Don
 

BIG_Mark

Old Skool
City
Snohomish
State
WA
#5
Yep loosers and their "Muddin".

For the uninitiated "Muddin" is Four-wheeling. It's been this way for a while. I mean think about it, you're out somewhere, some kid comes over and says/asks "I bet THAT goes through the big mudholes" Heck no!!! I friggin hate mud holes (too much maintenance afterwards). However thats what most folks think we're doing all the time, driving through bigger and badder puddles of mud.

It's not to hard to change their perception of things, but then something like this happens, then some news guy goes out and stands by the destroyed wet;land points the finger and says "this needs to be outlawed" "All four-wheelers are bad take their toys away". Great....

Frustration at it's finest.
 

Boomer

Iron Bender
City
Snohomish
State
WA
#6
Well, you just lost me there. There is no need for blanket condemnations of "mudding". Done in a proper manner, I can see how getting through a mudhole or flinging mud everywhere could be really fun. If it's not your thing, so be it. Doesn't mean it can't be someone else's idea of fun. There should be outlets available for those who enjoy it. I'm sure there are instances of abuses by rock crawlers as well. How do you think that same newsman would portray the recent foray into the "Outlet Mall" trail. That looked like a bunch of earth destroying 4WD machines damaging natural habitat instead of staying on established trails to me.
 
City
Hammonton
State
NJ
#7
Pardon me for living in an area of the country that doesn't have mountains and rocks. "Uninitiated"? I've been driving off-road for 30 years, so I think I've been initiated. I happen to enjoy "muddin", and yet somehow, I manage to do it without tearing up protected lands, and believe it or not, I've even gone muddin without beer.
I did meet up with a bunch of Scrambler owners up in the mountains once, and it was a ton of fun, but I'm not driving 4 hours from home every time I want to get dirty.
 

kohldad

SOA Member
City
Goose Creek
State
SC
#8
I don't think Mark is condemn folks that go "muddin" in the correct places, least ways, I sure didn't take it that way.

I don't like mudding becuase of the extra maintenance required (especially with the extra fine grit we have in my area) but don't mind watching other folks tearing their stuff up, as long as it is done legally.

But a lot of the general public takes it as all folks with big 4x4s just want to find a place to tear up without any regard for the environment. It has taken several years for our club to repair the public relations damage done in our local National Forest by the midnight, alcohol induced mudders. After helping out with trash cleanups and reporting issues, we can at least now run a group of built up jeeps through the forest without being harassed or trailed by a ranger.

As the say, one "oh *#(%" wipes out a 1,000 that-a-boys.
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#9
You want to know what frustrates me more than the outright stupidity of these folks? This:

...these are people that are likely to never visit a four wheeling forum, never pick up a four wheeling magazine, never join a four wheeling club, never pay to go to a "legal" ORV area, etc. etc. so while we can all talk until we're blue in the face about staying on trails, following the rules, it's these people that wont' ever hear a word of it that will ruin it.

Has the Blue Ribbon Coalition and United 4 Wheelers put out statements to the press condeming these idiots and their actions? The general public needs to see that the folks that care enough to join these kinds of organizations and wheel properly don't stand for this. Hell, we ought to be the first to point out how wrong this is. What would be great is if the local wheelers came out to volunteer to fix as much as possible of the damage and talked to the press about the fact that we are NOT like this and emphasise the proper treatment of our natural areas and the practice of only legal wheeling. Could turn this right around in the public's eye...

Just my thoughts.
 

scott anderson

Old age Mutant Ninjaneer
City
Paragould
State
ar
#10
..some of you might have read about all the flooding in northeast arkansas..i am ok...i built on a hill..lol...but what u dont hear is that the local 4x4 clubs help evac people...funny how they want jeeps with 42's when they need them
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#11
scrambler81 said:
but I'm not driving 4 hours from home every time I want to get dirty.
That's fine as long as you have done your due dilligence in assuring that the land is open to wheeling. And that does NOT mean that there's no signs saying you can't be there.

From what I've seen, it's on you to know (and be able to prove if needed) that the land is legal, it's not on the property owner/state/county/etc. to post that it's not. Lots of people find this out the hard way when driving power lines only to end up with fat tickets because it's the power company's land and not open to public driving.

If you have some private property with the landowner's permission or a public area for muddin (the Mounds here in MI is a public ORV area with tons of mud to play in), go for it! :thumbsup:

I'm not accusing you of anything at all, I'm just pointing something out that I thought needed to be mentioned. I hope you have a great muddin area for when you want to get dirty! :D
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#12
scott anderson said:
..some of you might have read about all the flooding in northeast arkansas..i am ok...i built on a hill..lol...but what u dont hear is that the local 4x4 clubs help evac people...funny how they want jeeps with 42's when they need them
That's another situation where the PR folks for the major 4x4 groups could be putting out press releases to get coverage of some "good" wheelers' efforts!
 

scott anderson

Old age Mutant Ninjaneer
City
Paragould
State
ar
#13
we lost one of our favorite wheeling places locally..it was private ground and the farmer gave permission ..but..aholes would not stay out of the edge of his soybeans...so he posted it and put up a gate....a local club as since gained access by maintaining trash cans on the trail and keeping it clean...
 
City
Hammonton
State
NJ
#14
bigwalton said:
That's fine as long as you have done your due dilligence in assuring that the land is open to wheeling. And that does NOT mean that there's no signs saying you can't be there.

D
What I meant by the "4 hours" is that it's 4 hours to the mountains, and therefore the rocks, and I'm not driving all the way there to use my Jeep. I live next to the state forest, and there are plenty of open trails in there, and at certain times of the year, those trails can become very difficult, when the rain comes and the sand becomes a particularly nasty form of mud. There was a question last summer about a pic of my Jeep in what appears to be a swamp, but it was actually a trail, the very same trail the "Jeep Jamboree" runs in the spring. But there are also trails that are off limits, and areas off the trail such as marshes and vernal ponds, that some morons just can't stay out of.
Every October there is a volunteer effort that sees over 100 Jeeps, and 250 people, going through Wharton cleaning up trash, and it's all coordinated with the park rangers. I just recently posted a thread showing my club doing the same thing, on a much smaller scale, in a wildlife management area that is also currently open to the public. Again, that effort was done with the blessing and assistance of state officials. Just because people like to play in the mud, doesn't mean they can't follow the rules.
 

Truck

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Manassas
State
Va
#15
scott anderson said:
..some of you might have read about all the flooding in northeast arkansas..i am ok...i built on a hill..lol...but what u dont hear is that the local 4x4 clubs help evac people...funny how they want jeeps with 42's when they need them
Scott, that is great to help out. Funny I was reading the same kind of thing over on Steel Soilders about guys who own M35s. How all the neighbors complained about them and sitting in drives and on the streets, but they sure weren't complaining when it was those guys during hurricanes and floods helping everybody out with rescue, recovery, trash haul etc...Some folks are so fickle it disgusts me...

Truck
 

Super 8

Legacy Registered User
City
Bozeman
State
MT
#16
How about getting together some Washington 4-wheelers and doing a restoration and education project on the damaged site? Lets get out there and earn some good PR. I will volunteer my time as a biologist/ecologist. I even have some sources for supplies!

What do you say???
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#17
scrambler81 said:
I live next to the state forest, and there are plenty of open trails in there, and at certain times of the year, those trails can become very difficult, when the rain comes and the sand becomes a particularly nasty form of mud.

...
Every October there is a volunteer effort that sees over 100 Jeeps, and 250 people, going through Wharton cleaning up trash, and it's all coordinated with the park rangers. I just recently posted a thread showing my club doing the same thing, on a much smaller scale, in a wildlife management area that is also currently open to the public. Again, that effort was done with the blessing and assistance of state officials. Just because people like to play in the mud, doesn't mean they can't follow the rules.
Awesome, that sounds pretty sweet. Right on :thumbsup:
 
City
White Rock
State
NM
#18
I'm with Super 8, I would hope that the local club or association of clubs would step up and volunteer to do, or at least help with, the restoration. It won't get the press the damage did but it will help with the agencies.
 
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