by Ray Paige, Trail Steward, Lewis & Clark/Helena National Forest
This seasonal temporary work as a trail steward begins about June 1st and extends through the end of the general big game hunting season. Most visits to USDA Forest and BLM lands allows the steward to visit and educate public land visitors and recreationists.
As an Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Steward for the Forest Service, I dress in full uniform, depending on the intended task for the day. A Forest Service vehicle is loaded with the supplies needed to complete the daily tasks. These tasks include a wide range of duties ranging from: sign installation and repair, brushing trails, posting maps at portals, picking up garbage, noxious weed control, chainsaw work and providing individuals with maps for the areas they are visiting.
Roughly 60% of an OHV steward’s duties are education, 30% are route maintenance and 10% are enforcement. Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ OHV grant program which funds this position sets these guidelines.
The presence of the OHV steward in the field provides an opportunity for users to learn about regulations, receive directions to various routes, learn camping locations and learn which areas are non-motorized. A new area of concern is the type of motorized vehicle and where they are allowed. Keep in mind the 50-inch width restriction on trails. Users should check with local Forest Service and/or BLM offices to learn the regulations for the area they intend to visit.
A day in the life of an OHV steward may have a tremendous effect on the knowledge of OHV recreationists and other users, the enhancement of safe maintained trails, and the prevention of damage of public lands, and the continued future of OHV recreation. The report of a single abuse can prevent years of healing of a mud bog, destroyed by a single abuser.