Habitat varies from species to species, but it encompasses all of the needs
of that species. It is the total environment upon which a species depends.
There are four basic elements; food, water, shelter, and adequate space.
Also included is the arrangement of the basic elements to one another.
Each species must have all the basic elements in the necessary order to
A resource that is sometimes overlooked and that is difficult to quantify,
is "solitude" (or lack of disturbance). Many species of wildlife have negative
(flight or fight) reactions to approaching noises, including OHVs.
You can minimize impacts on wildlife by staying on designated roads and
trails or in special use areas. Wildlife will avoid or adapt to trail corridors.
When you see wildlife, stop and enjoy its presence. Go around them or wait
for them to move. Never chase wildlife.
The survival of animals is often precarious and disturbances by humans
can result in death. Animals survive winter by creating fat reserves and
limiting activity to conserve energy. Fat is needed to sustain body temperature
in the extreme cold. Since plants are dormant and maintain low nutritional
value during the winter, creation of sufficient energy reserves during
the summer is critical. OHVs can destroy the plants animals need to create
fat reserves. Turning a meadow into a mud bog reduces forage resulting
in higher mortality for wildlife.
Vegetation also reduces erosion by increasing the stability of the soil.
If the plant cover is destroyed the soil can be eroded by wind and rain.
Impacts to soils are acceptable if managed and confined to trail corridors.
For the land manager, this carries the responsibility of doing a good job
of locating, designing, constructing, and maintaining trails. For users,
it means staying on designated trails or in designated areas.
Streams and their banks are exceptionally fragile. Traveling along banks
or through stream beds causes stream sedimentation. Stream sedimentation
is the process where the stream fills with silt, soil and gravel (sediment)
and slowly fills in shallow pools. The water may still pass through the
sediment but not at the surface. The pools that once contained fish and
other aquatic species become nothing but moist sand.
Take extra precautions where trails ford streams. Go directly from an established
trail to the trail on the opposite bank. Avoid spinning tires or losing