All-terrain vehicle. Courtesy/articcat.com
SANTA FE – Call them what you will – four-wheelers, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or utility vehicles (UTVs) – but remember that off-road vehicles of any kind are always prohibited within congressionally designated wilderness areas.
This past weekend, ATV tracks were observed within the San Pedro Parks Wilderness on the Coyote Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF). San Pedro Parks is one of the original wilderness areas created by the Wilderness Act of 1964, which set aside “primeval” federal land to be managed as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Wilderness areas generally do not allow motorized equipment, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, temporary roads or permanent structures. In addition to San Pedro Parks, these restrictions also apply to the Chama River Canyon Wilderness, the Dome Wilderness and the Pecos Wilderness on the SFNF, part of the more than 106 million acres of federal lands that have been set aside as wilderness.
Law enforcement officers will be patrolling over the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and throughout the summer. Violators will be cited, and their off-road vehicles will be impounded.
The Coyote Ranger District also discovered a manmade mud pit on Forest Road 461ZC in Resumidero Campground, apparently created by ATV users to ride their vehicles through, which now makes the road impassable to most vehicles. SFNF engineering staff will have to close the road to make repairs. The campground will remain open.
Visitors are advised to refer to the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) to determine which SFNF roads, trails and areas are open to motorized use. The maps are free. For more information, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/santafe/landmanagement/projects/?cid=stelprdb5411664.
“The irresponsible few who damage roads and trails on the forest, illegally blaze new trails and take their vehicles into designated wilderness areas negatively affect the forest experiences of their fellow Americans,” Coyote District Ranger Lee H. Stewart said. “Please preserve the character of our wilderness areas and stay within the designated system of roads and trails that allow motorized use across this beautiful landscape. It’s up to all of us to conserve and preserve these wonderful resources.”