CARSON CITY – A growing number of recreationists are using public land managed by Washoe County and the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. With this explosion in popularity, a large number of illegal trails are being built.
“We’re excited that more people and new users are enjoying the outdoors,” said Colleen Wallace Barnum, Washoe County Parks Operations Superintendent. “Unfortunately, the illegal construction of trails can have devastating ramifications for the local ecosystem.”
User-created trails have their own set of management issues when the location of a trail is not properly considered. Illegal trails can damage cultural resources, destroy wildlife habitats, disrupt wildlife migration corridors, damage fragile or rare plants, spread noxious and invasive weeds, cause soil loss and create safety concerns and of responsibility.
“User-created trails cost the county and the forest department, and therefore taxpayers, thousands of dollars in restoration and reclamation costs each year,” said Matt Zumstein, Carson District Ranger.
Zumstein explained that these types of roads are frequently found on steep hills and cross streams, resulting in severe soil erosion or compaction, problems with slope stability, and negative effects on quality or condition. water flow. This type of damage to natural resources is expensive and time consuming to repair, and restoration can take many years.
“For every user-created lead that we need to mitigate, it prevents us from creating new ones,” Zumstein said. “We recognize the demand for trails and the economic driver of this activity for the local community, but we need to do it the right way by working hand in hand with our partners to build a sustainable trail network that minimizes impacts on them. other resources. ”
Washoe County and the USDA Forest Service have processes to add new trails to the system. It takes time, because it takes into account all the factors that go into landscape management. “We encourage people to bring us trail ideas and participate in our planning process,” said Wallace Barnum.
Wallace Barnum also suggested that anyone interested in volunteering to help with approved trail maintenance and construction projects contact one of the local trail organizations such as Biggest Little Trail Stewardship, Muscle Powered, Reno Area Dirt Riders. (RAD) and Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association. Additionally, the public can contact Washoe County Parks and Open Spaces at (775) 785-4512 x 106 for volunteer opportunities or Washoe 311 to report illegal trail construction. The Carson Ranger District can be reached at 775-882-2766.
Carson Ranger District Recreation Officer Brian Hansen stressed how important it is for recreationists to refrain from building trails and stay on existing designated roads. Those found guilty of causing damage to resources on National Forest System (NFS) land by using or constructing unnamed trails could be fined up to $ 5,000 and / or six months in prison. Violators may also be ordered to pay the rehabilitation fee to repair areas that have been damaged.
“The future of trail possibilities on County and Federal lands depends on YOU! Protect your right to recreate. Respect the land, wildlife and the rights of others, ”said Hansen.
For trail information and tips on how to responsibly recreate on Washoe County land, visit:
For tips on how to responsibly recreate on NFS land, visit:
For advice without leaving a trace or light walking, visit: