The Paiute ATV Trail, in central Utah’s Fishlake National Forest, and adjacent BLM land comprise a network of roads and “motorized trails” that have been linked and promoted for off-road vehicle recreation by public lands agencies. The routes range from custom-designed ATV-only tracks to paved roads through small towns. The majority of the trail uses ordinary dirt roads on federal public lands, sharing them with general traffic.

Its supporters promote it as a win-win model for public lands throughout the nation, bringing in tourism dollars and resulting in less damage to the landscape overall: Theory has it that when you build and sign roads for off-road use, there’s no need to go off-road.

Reader support makes our work possible. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations TRIPLED!

Only not. As this story in Wildlands CPR’s journal The Road RIPorter states, it doesn’t lead to less damage, only more: the Fishlake has a higher density of "user created" routes than do many other forests without a designated ATV-trail system. And the economic benefit to the local area is overblown: The study on its fiscal impact does not stand up to scrutiny.

My advice to these guys: Take a hike.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.