Off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation, though still a small segment of overall public land use, is growing in popularity and poses a grave threat to the Greater Gila Bioregion. Damage from ORVs is often disproportional to their size and number and includes:
- damage to soil, watershed, riparian, vegetation and of other Forest resources;
- disruption of wildlife and their habitat;
- conflicts with other recreational users of the Forest (such as hikers, horse riders,birders, hunters, campers, bicyclists, etc.);
- proximity to populated residential communities adjacent to the Forest;
- damage to cultural resources (such as archaeological sites);
- public safety hazards (from unsafe or unmaintained roads); and
- redundant roads and trails and road densities in general.
Off road vehicle recreation in Greater Gila Bioregion, and its concomitant damage, has increased dramatically in the last decade. Despite the extent of their destruction, ORV users remain in the minority of users of the Gila National Forest. According to the most recent Gila National Forest Visitor Use Monitoring report, less than 2% of forest visitors listed “Off-highway vehicle travel (4-wheelers, dirt bikes, etc)” as their “primary activity.”
WildEarth Guardians is working in coalition with other conservation groups to restrict motorized uses in the Gila Bioregion. This coalition recently participated in the Gila National Forests’ travel managing planning process and was successful in limiting motorized uses significantly on the Gila.