Most fans of off-road driving have a tremendous respect for the environment they use as a setting for their pastime. Drivers go above and beyond to make sure their truck mods are not harming the wilderness, preserving the open space for many other motorists to enjoy. However, there are occasions when the actions of off-roaders impact the environment, causing some issues in the sport.
Off-roading threatens wildlife
Utah's Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a popular spot for off-roading in the western U.S. The public lands are excellent for dune bashing and other adventurous forms of off-road driving, and as such they have become a major draw for recreational drivers.
However, drivers who frequent those lands faced some unwanted obstacles when the space was found to be the home of the tiger beetle. The species lives primarily in the sand dunes habitat and relies heavily on the land for survival, as it is not capable of thriving in other environments. Unfortunately, the prevalence of off-roading within the park has drastically affected the beetle's environment, threatening the species with possible extinction.
Organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Department of Natural Resources teamed up to do something to save this species. At the same time, the surrounding community and off-roading groups from the area wanted to maintain the draw of the dunes for both financial and recreational purposes.
A compromise is found
Luckily, all of the groups involved were able to reach a compromise that will protect the habitat of the tiger beetle while also preserving the land for off-road use. The final deal designates two-thirds of the park, or about 2,276 acres, as a critical habitat that is off limits to off-road vehicles, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. That accounts for about 88 percent of Coral Pink Sand Dunes, with the remaining space available for off-road use.
"We are committed to managing public lands to conserve the tiger beetle while supporting the recreation and outdoor activities that boost local economies in Southern Utah," Juan Palma, Utah state director for the Bureau of Land Management, told the news source.
Situations like these are rare but unavoidable. As more information comes out about the environmental effects of off-road driving, there could be several changes in the recreational driving landscape, but motorists who do their part could help lighten the impact of off-roading on the environment.