OHV Summer Safety
Over the summer, the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) crew of the Siuslaw National Forest hosted Saturday Summer Safety events. They are held from 10am-2pm at the staging sites around the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Each week the event is located at a different staging area, so they can inform riders about the hazards on the northern and southern OHV areas. I participated at the event at the Goose Pasture Staging Area last month, but this weekend’s event was at the South Jetty Staging Area. Our Field Rangers go to the event to represent the outreach and education aspect on the forest. We share a table with the OHV crew, but our topics are a bit different. As it is a safety event, their primary focus is safe riding for everyone who decides to go out onto the dunes. They have a map of all of the area on the dunes that have had the most incidents. Anyone is welcome to come up and ask them about which areas they should be careful with or avoid when they are out on the sand. They also have ATV safety packets for kids and maps of the area for guests to take with them. If visitors are worried about the noise level of their equipment, they will provide free sound checks for the vehicles.
Our table sits right next to theirs, but focuses on dune species education. We bring a touch box with us for people to play with; they can place their hand in the box and guess some of the different items they may see while they’re at our recreation area. Clues are provided on the top of the box for them to read before they stick their hand in and guess, and they can lift the lid after to see what they were feeling. The box includes items like rocks, roots of the European beach grass, cones from a shore pine, and Scotch broom seedpods. We also teach about some of the predators that roam the dunes. Many people don’t believe us when we tell them that cougars, bobcats, and red foxes live in the forested areas on the dunes. Their tracks can be seen in the early mornings on the sand before they’ve been blown over by the wind or ATV tracks. We bring pictures of the animals and silicon molds of their tracks so people can get a look and hopefully a better idea of what to look for if they want to identify the species. It’s interactive for both children and adults who want to test their knowledge of the dunes.
There will be one more event in September on the 7th, which I will hopefully attend with some of the other Field Rangers. We learn a lot about OHV safety from the crew and they learn a bit about interpretation from us. It’s a fun, small scale event to bring people in to learn from the Forest Service without feeling overwhelmed by our presence.