Slow Down! Your OHV Driving is Killing Trees! (errr, maybe it’s the drought tho?)

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
This is an interesting issue that potentially might some day wind up impacting your OHV use, and right now it’s getting some media attention in the Sedona AZ area. But the dying trees problem looks more complicated upon a closer examination. One thing the embedded video makes clear though, is that bumper to bumper traffic (literally) on these back roads shows the hugely increased popularity of outdoor exploration is running the risk of ruining the experience for everyone. Will restricted/limited access and permit lotteries be far behind?


Video shows popular tourist activity is killing trees around Sedona
SEDONA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in this case, the video explains it all. Trees and plants in the forest around Sedona are being damaged. Some are dying.

Sedona is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. Visitors describe views of majestic, towering red rocks as 'spiritual." But if you leave the quaint town that draws more than 3 million visitors a year and drive a short distance into the forest, you see brown, brittle, dying trees along the dirt roads and trails. These areas have seen a dramatic increase in traffic, especially off-highway vehicles (OHV's), during the pandemic. The problem appears to be dust.

Homeowner Dianna Bindley was so concerned over the die-off that she hired an arborist who found the increased traffic is kicking up dust, which settles on the trees, blocking their ability to photosynthesis, the process in which plants turn sunlight into food. The plants are starving. This is not typical dust. OHV's have tires designed to grip the ground.

According to the arborist's report, the heavy traffic pulverizes the dirt on the roads into fine powdery dust, which is kicked up into the air. Especially with the wind, the fine dust can be carried higher and a greater distance, affecting more trees farther away from the roads. Video shows a thick coating of dust on plants and trees. [1]

But this issue clearly seems to need a bit more scientific study done on it because at the same time, we’re also reading news that trees in the piñon/juniper forests here are dying off because of the severe, prolonged drought:


Drought causing juniper die-off in central and northern Arizona
The U.S. Forest Service is investigating a significant die-off of juniper trees across much of central and northern Arizona.

On the Prescott and Kaibab National Forests approximately 50,000 to 100,000 acres of junipers have been affected in the area between Paulden and Ash Fork along Highway 89 and I-40.

Mortality has also been noted north of Williams along Highway 64. Most affected trees are shaggy bark juniper species, including Utah juniper and one-seed juniper.

Mortality is varied, with most areas showing die-off of 5-30% of trees, with some larger pockets of dead junipers ranging from 1 to 15 acres. In addition, forest officials have been noting mortality of individual and small patches of alligator juniper in the higher elevation upland areas surrounding the City of Prescott.

Current assessments by U.S. Forest Service-Forest Health Protection office in Flagstaff suggest that the majority of this mortality is caused by the exceptional drought that this part of Arizona is experiencing.

While there have been some scattered observations of insects on dead trees, Forest Health Protection believes that the initial cause of death is directly tied to water stress. Trees impacted by drought show a change in color of their needle-like scales, which typically starts at the branch tips and spreads down the tree, fading from green to a bright yellow.[2]


[1]https://www.azfamily.com/content/tncms/live/

[2]https://www.paysonroundup.com/news/...cle_d28476ec-d095-5522-a859-9913d2fc8623.html
 
Last edited:

SJARS

New member
It wouldn't surprise me if it is a bit of both the traffic and the drought. There is also talk that the Aspen trees near Flagstaff and in Northern Arizona are being rapidly killed off due to parasitic insects that are infecting the Aspens. Though it wouldn't surprise me if human activity is the major cause. See this article to know what I'm talking about.
 

MOAK

Adventurer
I’ve heard Sedona is beautiful. I drove through the town once. That was enough. I don’t ever need to go there. All of my being rejects the Disneyland atmosphere. Trail dust on trees is a killer. Here in Pa, mud being splashed up on the Mountain Laurel is killing them, but not a big problem, we’ve plenty of green plants and plenty of rain. A few days ago after encountering very few people (3 vehicles as I recall) for over a week, we encountered heavy trail traffic after slipping down a narrow canyon. The SxS folks were clueless, kicking up dust, driving too fast. I gently asked one to slow down. “ I’m not going fast! “ was his response as he throttled up and left us in the wake of his dust. SxSs need to be banned.
 
So I get berated when I've said there needs to be gatekeepers on the trail and here yall are begging for them due to sxs.
Guess what a convoy of overlanding vehicles doing 60mph down trails isn't helping either and I see it all the time, a row of 20 jeeps or tacomas etc coming down the trail, Half of which are driving like they are in the desert kicking up all the dust. Then there are those of you that don't understand when you should use a winch and leave ruts in the trail when it's wet because you just for sure know that max Trax are the best option which causes tons of erosion making the trails just that much worse.

Since the forrest service stopped letting us block of trailheads with obstacles and overland became popular (15 years ago) which only the most well built rigs could get by. since then it's been a free for all, these days it's not unheard of to see crossover mini vans and sedans on the k trail stuck rutting the trail in need of help.

To sum it up it's not sxs that's the problem it's that offroading is all-inclusive now days, you used to have to know how to fix a broke down rig be it wrenching,welding or recovery and spend time building a rig to offroad now if you have wheels it's good enough.
 

MOAK

Adventurer
So I get berated when I've said there needs to be gatekeepers on the trail and here yall are begging for them due to sxs.
Guess what a convoy of overlanding vehicles doing 60mph down trails isn't helping either and I see it all the time, a row of 20 jeeps or tacomas etc coming down the trail, Half of which are driving like they are in the desert kicking up all the dust. Then there are those of you that don't understand when you should use a winch and leave ruts in the trail when it's wet because you just for sure know that max Trax are the best option which causes tons of erosion making the trails just that much worse.

Since the forrest service stopped letting us block of trailheads with obstacles and overland became popular (15 years ago) which only the most well built rigs could get by. since then it's been a free for all, these days it's not unheard of to see crossover mini vans and sedans on the k trail stuck rutting the trail in need of help.

To sum it up it's not sxs that's the problem it's that offroading is all-inclusive now days, you used to have to know how to fix a broke down rig be it wrenching,welding or recovery and spend time building a rig to offroad now if you have wheels it's good enough.
I agree, there’s nothing much worse than a convoy of vehicles. I despise them. 3 trucks, ok, any more than that? Nope, not doing it. Nitwit in a truck? They’re gonna get stuck, roll it over, or have a major break down. Then never ever try it again. Nitwit in a SxS? Different story. They just keep coming.
 

bri

Adventurer
So I get berated when I've said there needs to be gatekeepers on the trail and here yall are begging for them due to sxs.
Guess what a convoy of overlanding vehicles doing 60mph down trails isn't helping either and I see it all the time, a row of 20 jeeps or tacomas etc coming down the trail, Half of which are driving like they are in the desert kicking up all the dust. Then there are those of you that don't understand when you should use a winch and leave ruts in the trail when it's wet because you just for sure know that max Trax are the best option which causes tons of erosion making the trails just that much worse.

Since the forrest service stopped letting us block of trailheads with obstacles and overland became popular (15 years ago) which only the most well built rigs could get by. since then it's been a free for all, these days it's not unheard of to see crossover mini vans and sedans on the k trail stuck rutting the trail in need of help.

To sum it up it's not sxs that's the problem it's that offroading is all-inclusive now days, you used to have to know how to fix a broke down rig be it wrenching,welding or recovery and spend time building a rig to offroad now if you have wheels it's good enough.
ATVs and SxS ARE a big problem, their goal is fast transit through wilderness. They suck. Never seen a caravan of "overlanders" doing 60.

I get the use of public roads/lands issue, but the changes I have seen in use since summer of 2020 make me not concerned about the price of gas even one bit. You can triple it and I don't care. I'd prefer if all the yahoo's that have invaded the back country and every remote road in the Iower 48 would just go back to working their office jobs.

These days any cool place is shared via social media. There is no longer any remote place in lower 48.

What is the meaning of your user name?
 
Last edited:

bri

Adventurer
There are still a few places...but I'm not going to talk about them! :)
Agreed. But they really are no longer remote. just isolated I only take people there and swear them to silence. Recently found 1000+ elk. No hunters near by which amazed me. Past few years I've been helping hunters. Funny that I come across them when hunters are elsewhere.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
179,246
Messages
2,793,842
Members
214,230
Latest member
Ricjames81
Top