mudding 3Photo courtesy of USFS

 

The U.S. Forest Service is investigating extensive “mudding” damage that occurred at Buck Lake Campground northwest of Winthrop over the Memorial Day weekend.

In a press release, the Forest Service said that a meadow near the campground was torn up by vehicles, leaving deep, muddy ruts. Mudding, described by the Forest Service as “driving through moist areas and puddles while mud sprays up onto a vehicle,” is illegal on national forest lands.

Offenders could face charges including malicious mischief and fines up to and including paying for the costs of restoration, the release said. Restoring damage can run to thousands of dollars, the Forest Service said.

“Mudding can occur on roads or off of them,” said Shannon O’Brien, Public Affairs Specialist for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “It’s more a question of whether the activity is causing damage. Is it tearing through grass to expose underlying soil, or is the individual unnecessarily driving through a soft spot in the road?  If the answers to those questions are yes, the activity is illegal and the individuals involved could face charges.”

Anyone with information about the damage can call the Methow Valley Ranger District office at 996-4000.