The national nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! Â® and General Motors' HUMMER division announced Saturday a major restoration initiative aimed at repairing off-highway vehicle trails and informational kiosks at the Gros Ventre area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson, Wyoming. The organizations have committed nearly $11,000 to assist with the rehabilitation of the area.
The project is made possible by an endowment from HUMMER given to Tread Lightly!'s Restoration for Recreationtm program. The endowment is part of an ongoing initiative titled HUMMER Helps, which seeks to aid and protect communities and to restore recreational areas for future generations. The Gros Ventre program was launched at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Horsetail Creek work site along Gros Ventre Road.
"Gros Ventre Road and its northern land comprise one of the few areas in the Jackson Ranger District that allows motorized vehicles and is a key recreation area for the surrounding community," said Mike DiGiovanni, HUMMER general manager. "This restoration effort will not only improve the existing trails, but also aid in promoting socially responsible off-highway vehicle use."
Combined heavy use and poorly designed trails have led to resource damage, trail proliferation, closure violations and maintenance difficulties in the Gros Ventre area. Significant repair to basic infrastructure and trail systems is needed to support the nearly 38,000 vehicles that visit the area each year.
Community volunteers, U.S. Forest Service representatives, HUMMER and Tread Lightly! employees, and various charitable organizations gathered to launch the program and participated in a trail- work day hosted by the Teton Off-Road Coalition. Activities are scheduled for completion in October 2005 and will focus on trail reconstruction, maintenance, improving education and signage, and identifying new sites for future restoration efforts. The Jackson Ranger district will appropriate an annual budget of $2,500 for basic maintenance. The Wyoming state trails program will collect registration fees to help cover the maintenance costs.
"The backlog for needed maintenance and repairs for federal recreation sites is in the multi-billions of dollars," said Lori Davis, Tread Lightly!'s executive director. "This Restoration for Recreation project is part of Tread Lightly!'s movement to help bring together the government, private industry and community volunteers to restore sites as vital as the Gros Ventre area-sites that may not have had a chance at restoration otherwise."
Last October, Tread Lightly! received a $100,000 endowment from HUMMER to signify the launch of HUMMER Helps. The annual endowment is administered as a grant giving initiative to select outdoor enthusiast clubs who are Tread Lightly! members and have pinpointed recreational areas in need. The HUMMER Helps program was created to recognize HUMMER owners who have utilized their vehicle's unparalleled off-road capability for acts of humanity, and to sustain the lands where outdoor enthusiasts enjoy off-highway activities.