Volunteers from the Friends of Wilson Canyon joined federal land management agencies over the weekend to undo damage to their favorite dirt-biking area.
"There's been increasing use here at Wilson Canyon every year - especially the last five," said Friends member Chuck Whorley. "For the past year or so, we've been trying to help the (Bureau of Land Management) manage recreation here as the area gets more and more populated."
With the scenic Walker River running through it, the canyon has attracted motorcycle and off-highway vehicle users for decades. Scars left by "hill climbs" mar the canyon. The Friends, BLM and the U.S. Forest Service want to limit the number of trails.
"There are plenty of trails already," said Whorley. "You don't need a track going up every single hill. And you don't need to do it within view of a major highway."
The trails damage the area's "view shed," he said.
Most members of the Friends, which Whorley helped create in 2002, are dirt bike riders. They donate their time to manage the area.
Fran Hull, a BLM outdoor recreation planner, appreciates the help.
"We find, from an agency perspective, it works better if the riders themselves are telling each other, rather than the agencies going out and policing."
As local riders see an increasingly influx of riders from out of town -even California - they want to protect their favorite spot, she said.
"They love it here - and they know if they don't treat it right, they could lose it," she said.
The Forest Service, which manages land on the south side of the river, has closed more than 300 acres to motorized vehicles. Boulders have been placed at the bottom of hill climbs and signs erected.
On the north side of the river, crammed with RVs and about 30 dirt bikers Sunday, BLM is also limiting access.
"We're working to reclaim some of the river banks and identify some truly (dirt bike) tolerant campsites," Hull said.
The land managers and the Friends have put up signs. Whorley and his 40 volunteers put up three large signs encouraging riders to stay on existing trails and monitor the volume of their engines.
"People who have never been here before, they're going to go along with it," the Yerington man said. "People who have been coming here since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, they're going to be (angry)."
His group got a grant from the Recreational Trails Program, which is funded by the federal highway administration's gas tax. It is applying for funding from the Nevada Department of Tourism. It will use that money to put up signs on back roads with mileage and global-positioning system information.
For more information on the Friends of Wilson Canyon, go to www.wilsoncanyonnv.org.
Contact Karl Horeis at email@example.com or 881-1219.