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ATV Races on Ski Slopes

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Timberline, WV, just started hosting ATV races on its property (including several of its slopes) this summer. How destructive to ski slopes are such races?

I inspected the slopes last weekend and was amazed by how many upturned rocks and other debris I found. Having such races seems like a bad idea for a ski slope but maybe I am wrong. Is reclamation possible after such events?

We've had several complaints on the issue on DCSki. Can anyone here offer some insights?

I'm kind of pissed over the deal if you haven't noticed but am trying to learn more before I write a letter to the Timberline management.
post #2 of 30
I personally don't see a problem. Once a slope is covered with 5' of packed snow who cares what the dirt/rocks underneath looks like. They can't do any damage IMO.
post #3 of 30
I see a problem. The biggest environmental impact a ski area has is through erosion which damages the fragile streams and creeks in mountainous areas. Most ski areas today go out of their way to minimize erosion on their runs. Letting ATVs rip up the runs will accelerate the damage to the creeks and streams.
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
In Europe, resorts spend a lot of time removing rocks so that they can open slopes with less cover or alternatively, keep them open longer in the Spring.

Even locally in WV, Chip Chase, the owner of White Grass, solicits help from volunteers to pick stones off his Nordic trails. Again, he does this to keep the trails open even when thinly covered.

BTW, 5 inches is generally not enough cover to open a slope. Snowshoe, for example, will not open a slope unless it has 12 inches or more of cover.
post #5 of 30
I typed 5', not 5". Around here the slopes are generally closed when the base gets that thin (5")...or you at least shouldn't be skiing on it. Pick all the stones you want, small gravel still works it's way to the top of thin cover like that.

As for erosion, it's not really an issue IMO. Grass can be planted over the tracks after the race season. As an ATV rider, I'm a bit tired of hearing the shrubbies complain about damage to the earth caused by ATV's. It's not nearly as bad as they make it seem. There's certainly worse issues in the world to worry about. Just my view.
post #6 of 30
I can imagine what ruts straight up a ski slope would lead to. Mountain soils tend to be thin. Try planting grass on rocks! I hope they didn't get that 12" of rain I've been hearing about on the news! Your ski area may have a few more terrain "features" next winter. 5' of cover in the East sounds like a pipe dream. ATV use on ski slopes is just a dumb idea.
post #7 of 30
Well, they either find ways to make jing in the summer or we may be looking at more closed ski areas in the future.

I guess we better stop mtn biking these hills in the summer too...we're just tearing them up. Hiking may be next, the foot traffic is detrimental to the ecosystem.
post #8 of 30
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
I It's not nearly as bad as they make it seem..
Well how bad is it? Just kinda bad? Not so bad? Half bad?
post #9 of 30
My old ski area in Oregon banned mountain bikes on the slopes because of the erosion they caused and mountain bikes aren't anywhere as damaging as an ATV. There might be some ski areas in the east at lower elevations with deep enough top soil to easily grow grass but out west most ski areas have little top soil and it takes years for them to establish grass on their runs.
post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Whitetail stopped mountain biking b/c of erosian issues. I'm not anti-ATV. I just don't like to see the slopes get torn up. Timberline seems to be going the way of Blue Knob: do anything for a buck and forget about the property owners and others who give a darn about the place.
post #11 of 30
I'm sure the ATV racing is not on high-erosion slope areas, that would be idiotic...plus, after the snow is gone how much erosion can occur?

I used to ride ATV's for many years and the so-called "destruction" is not as bad as one thinks...its the jeeps that really tear things up............ The also so called "fragile" environment is not as fragile as you might think. Ever been to a "lost ski area"? It doesn't take long before the once bare slopes are overtaken by forest/brush..... Remember, we are part of the enviornment too.....
post #12 of 30
Originally Posted by MrHyak
plus, after the snow is gone how much erosion can occur?
Lots. The erosion occurs in the fall when the rains return and there aren't any roots in the soil to hold the dirt in place.
post #13 of 30
Is Timberline on Government leased land or privately owned land?

If it's privately owned land then they can do whatever the ###### they want with it, within the limits of the law. I'm sure a few ruts on a hillside are within those limits. Ever see the environmental transformation when a resort installs a tubing park, or a terrain park?

Timberline is running a business. If the profits they make in the summer overcome the loss of winter revenue from skiers departing because they're pissed off about hitting rocks, then they will continue to put ruts in the slope. That's just the way it is, and the way it should be.

This is America people. If you don't like the perfectly legal practices of a business you voice your opposition by withholding your dollars. If enough dollars are withheld the business will respond. The system works.
post #14 of 30
Originally Posted by Kima
Well how bad is it? Just kinda bad? Not so bad? Half bad?
I'm gonna go with "not so bad". Not as bad as driving the gas guzzling SUV's out to test how bad the ATV tore up the soil. When does the madness end?

Everything is detrimental somehow, it's a never ending circle. And trust me, around these parts, the soil is deep and the brush, grass and weeds will fill back in in a few weeks on their own.
post #15 of 30
Originally Posted by Rio
Lots. The erosion occurs in the fall when the rains return and there aren't any roots in the soil to hold the dirt in place.

I believe they usually toss straw on the slopes to reduce erosion in areas around here and it could be done there as well........Its not like there are going to be huge canyons from dramatic erosion pockets...

Its not that big a deal....................

Anyone have a link to the area mentioned at the start of the thread. Maybe if we saw pictures it would clear up much of the issues. Its not like ski areas have 'free reign' to do as they please. The enviro-wacko's are all over and will pounce on any area they feel is going to hurt Bambi's habitat and would be all over these people if they were just "tearing-up" the slopes....

so, link???
post #16 of 30
Ok, I found the site and all it mentions is "Timberline 50 dirt-bike race" Aug 28th. I wouldn't call that opening up the slopes for ATV races.... Sounds like one day, and it doesn't even give any details as to what kind of race it is.... COuld be in the parking lot as far as I can tell......
post #17 of 30
Wisp just had a GNCC (Grand National Cross Country Race) at the resort. This race includes ATVs and dirt bikes. They were on the ski trails and back in the woods on our mtn. bike trails. They did a great job reseeding and getting the ski trails back into great shape, however, the bike trails are ruinned, all rocky and rutted up. Some of us believe that it is a quick, bad way to make some money.
post #18 of 30
I see it at "our" little regional park, when there was no Park, I could go and, keeping to the trails (I always kept to the trails!) drive around at will my motorbike, ford creeks and the likes, and basically have a great day. Then the Park was established, a good thing, but motorbikes were forbidden, ok, no problem with that, tha's a fact of life, do I want to see some wildlife? Then better to forget about off road motorbikes (remember, Northern Italy is soo densely populated). On the other hand, Horses, pedestrian and MTBs were still allowed. Now, pedestrians are complaining about Horse riders, Horse riders are complaining about MTBs, all claiminig that the other is the most destructive factor to the trails!!!!
I'd say use a little bit of mind flexibility, smile when you cross someone else and say Hi, and remember the world is not only ours.
As for the lack of grass on slopes, good grass will help retain the snow on the slopes, thus helping to establish a base which will last for the season.
post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Rick
Is Timberline on Government leased land or privately owned land? .
Yes and no. Most of the land is private but one trail (a key trail for races) is partly on Forest Service land--Salamander. There's also National Wildlife Refuge Land that abuts the west side of the resort but I don't think the ATV race is encroaching on that land.
post #20 of 30
We were having a problem(Central Oregon)with the Hikers vs Horses vs Mt.B too. So finally everyone got their own little trail and it was good. All had valid complaints. Horses cob up the trail from their hooves and make it hard to ride-walk on not to mention road apples. I own horses too. Kind of like the Nordic vs Sledhead battle. As far as Erosion factors and ATV-SUV's alot of it lies in how you operate them. Being a log truck driver years back we had to take care of our haul road in order to keep working. Anyway the point being if there is one. Everybody has a right to enjoy the outdoors. Even if you have trail fees but that's a whole other issue.
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Mountain Top Hunting club in Davis, WV, gives permission to ATV and motorbike riders to use their land. There's also the Hattfield and McCoy ATV area in the southern part of the state, so there are alternatives to Timberline for ATVing.

A friend of mine whose son raced in the recent ATV race said that reclamation as a general principle at Timberline is a joke. In other words, Timberline is not taking a Wisp approach to managing these races. It's just another summer money making scheme.

In the meantime, the resort continues to sell $350,000 1/3 acre unfinished lots on this mountain and intends to make no substantive improvements this year. We really need a new lift, and the resort has no intention of installing one.

Basically, the approach of management seems to be: let's mine the mountain for everything its worth, including wrecking trails with ATV races, and then pop smoke and leave once all the land has been sold. Meanwhile, property owners (myself included) will be left scratching their heads with a bankrupt mountain that needs 7 million dollars worth of improvements to be a viable ski center.

We're seeing this happen time and time again at small resorts across the country, but hey its America, and private property is sacred here. There's nothing I nor any other property owners who give a darn about the place can do about it.
post #22 of 30
Right, that'sthe difference with here, resort aren't owned by corporate companies,
Resorts are part of the villages, and all inhabitants or the vast majority prosper from tourism. Go to Alto Adige, Austria or Switzerland, villagers perceive the ski-thing as a mean to make out a living (and becoming rich), but would not try to over exploit the mountains and then run for cover since those same people have been living in the same area for generations.
post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 
I could just imagine what the villagers of Lech would do if they saw someone riding an ATV on their precious, rock free slopes. It's this type of love and community involvement, passed down from generation to generation, that is really missing here in the US. Some of us try to pick up trash on the slope and do other volunteer service but that pales in comparison to what commuties like Lech do to make their village a true ski paradise.
post #24 of 30
I guess it all depends on the specifics of the situation.

One observation: ski areas aren't exactly the most "eco-friendly" use of the mountains either.

One way of looking at it: start with the assumption they're going to have an ATV (or motorbike, or whatever) race somewhere. Is it better to have it on the ski runs, or some place else? I don't know that the answer is obvious ... it depends on what "some place else"s are available, whether and how you're going to remediate the damage on the ski run or the other place, etc.

Another way: don't start with the assumption they're going to have the race. Ban them altogether. I guess what bothers me about this is that the same impulse that says "ban the ATVs" also says "ban the skiers." Probably more forcefully, if anything.

A different issue is whether the management of this particular ski area is doing what they should to remediate the damage caused by this particular ATV race. On that topic, I have nothing to add.

On the whole quasi-political Alps v. America, corporations vs. the people thing, the situation is a lot more confusing than it might at first seem. The US is, if anything, probably more "socialist" in some sense regarding ownership of mountain land. A large percentage of the country's mountains are owned by the federal government, for one thing. I don't think it's obvious whether that's a good thing or a bad thing ... but ski areas (at least Western ones) are probably not a great example to use if you're trying to make a case against corporate ownership / capitalism and in favor of government ownership or whatever. I suppose you might say the problem is that the government leases (grants permits) to evil corporations to use the government-owned land. The obvious rhetorical question: would you prefer to ski at a federal-government-run ski area? On the other hand, there are a few local-government (or community) owned ski areas, which are fairly nice, if typically not very fancy.
post #25 of 30
Originally Posted by Nobody
Right, that'sthe difference with here, resort aren't owned by corporate companies,
Resorts are part of the villages, and all inhabitants or the vast majority prosper from tourism. Go to Alto Adige, Austria or Switzerland, villagers perceive the ski-thing as a mean to make out a living (and becoming rich), but would not try to over exploit the mountains and then run for cover since those same people have been living in the same area for generations.
Interesting observations! "Nobody's" decription describes a very different set of conditions surrounding European ski resorts from those which characterize the typical American mountain community. Typically a ski area here is a monopolistic enterprise owned by an absentee corporation and is basically a real estate scheme. Ski area employment is apt to be at or near minimum wage. Locals participate very little in the resort economy. They just don't have access to the capital required and business tends to be monopolized to the greatest exent possible by the ski area corporations. The business is an extraction enterprise rather that any sort of cooperative intended to serve the community or region. Ski areas are apt to be located on publicly owned land, leased quite cheaply to the ski corporations. The public lands management agencies, however, do tend to be somewhat sensitive to erosion producing activities such as ATV use because the resulting problems; flooding, siltation, property damage, loss of topsoil etc. were the leading cause of public acquisition in the first place and their reason for being.

Much of the mentality here in America is still hung upon an anachronistic philosophy formed during a not-so-distant period when it seemed as if our resources were limitless and the consequences of our behavior negligeable. "Slash and burn and move on." A lot of our behavior , and some of what you hear, derive from this.
post #26 of 30
post #27 of 30
Resorts do not like to lose money. So if anything they permit causes enough damage to hurt their bank account, it will no longer be allowed. The D.E.P and such will look after the erosion and environmental problems and will fine the resort accordingly. If the ATV's, or anything else, at a specific resort cause these problems they will be banned. So the resorts that allow such activities must be having few problems and be doing OK IMO
post #28 of 30

ATVs are for idiots.

why would anyone "race" an ATV?

while we're at it, let's race lawn mowers.

and ants.

and sloths.

and mousetraps.

FAT PEOPLE SHOULD THIN DOWN OR DIE. and they should quit saying that it's a "sport" to do something unathletic.
post #29 of 30
You should never speak again
post #30 of 30
Amen. I've never seen a fat racer in my life. The reason for riding is like that of skiing, the thrill, the adrenaline and the amount of physical effort it takes to pilot a race quad in race conditions exceeds the output of a recreational skier for a day. That was just one assinine/ill-informed statement if you ask me.
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