Death Valley seeks to restore ORV damage

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK — Visitors from around the world complain about off-road vehicle tracks marring the beauty of Death Valley National Park. Illegal off-road driving is a problem in multiple areas of the park, including the Racetrack, Ibex Dunes and Badwater. The National Park Service seeks public support for a grant application that would help fund restoration of these damaged areas.

Desert landscapes typically heal very slowly. Tracks left by even a single vehicle in areas with fragile crusts, such as the Badwater Salt Pan or Racetrack Playa, can last for decades. These tracks detract from thousands of later visitors’ experience of the landscape’s beauty. Off-road driving also harms plants and animals, such as desert tortoise and the endangered Eureka Dunes evening primrose.

Vehicles and bicycles are required to stay on established roads or road shoulders at all times within Death Valley National Park. However, off-road driving is permitted in some areas adjacent to the park, such as Dumont Dunes.

Death Valley National Park has applied for a grant from the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of California State Parks. The requested grant would help support a three-year project to restore damage done by off-road drivers throughout the park. This is the first year that Death Valley National Park has submitted a grant request.

Public opinion is a significant factor in the grant evaluation process. The public can show their support by commenting online at http://ohv.parks.ca.gov or by writing to California State Parks, OHMVR Division, 1725 23rd Street, Sacramento, CA 95816, Attention: Grants Manager. Comments are accepted until April 7, 2017.

The OHMVR Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program supports well-managed off-highway vehicle recreation in California by providing financial assistance to cities, counties, districts, federal agencies (including the NPS), state agencies, educational institutions, federally recognized Native American Tribes and nonprofit entities.

Pictured: Off-road vehicle tracks mar the Badwater Salt Pan — detracting from the pristine surface that has attracted millions of visitors to Death Valley. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-03-17