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According to Friends of the Clearwater, “all of Grandmother Mountain should be closed. Trails 275, 261, 251, and 273 are already seeing extreme damage from motorcycles vehicles [sic]. Trails 52, 34, 35, and 36 are also already impacted, and should be closed.”¹ That includes everything we’re riding today and everything connected to what we’re riding.


I support empirically driven behavior modifications. If the forest ecosystem is damaged by something we’re doing then we should change our behavior. Rookeries disturbed by noise or creeks unable to sustain fish because of sediment or cattle feces are evidence of impact.


But hyperbole isn’t evidence. I’ve seen unauthorized tire ruts that caught and redirected water, forming a large ditch² but that’s not what we’re seeing today. These are all planned, maintained trails. Yes, wheels make grooves in dirt, as did the first wagons on the Oregon Trail.³ But a groove is not “extreme damage” in any relevant sense.


No side of an issue — left, right, up, down, open, closed — deserves a “pass” on empiricism. We can’t allow policies based on prejudice.


¹ Friends of the Clearwater, “St. Joe Travel Plan Alert” (Sep 4, 2015):

² For example, Trail Image, “Hunter Rides Daggett”:

³ See wagon wheel grooves at Trail Image, “Swan Falls Dam to Wilson Creek via Murphy”:

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Taken on September 4, 2016