- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Illegal off-road driving has prompted officials at a state park southwest of Lawrence to close some areas while they prepare for more damage during the winter months.

The Rock Creek Boat Ramp on the southwest side of Clinton Lake and portions of Green Road on the wildlife area’s western edge have been closed after both areas were extensively damaged by motorists - typically in recreational or sport utility vehicles, said Justin Hamilton, public lands manager for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Because of the damage, potholes and ruts have developed over time, making the pathways unnavigable, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1MuObX2 ) reported.

“There were people who were actually trying to use the road, but they got stuck in it,” Hamilton said. “What really needs to be done is we need to put some culverts in, smooth out the potholes, build up the road and put more gravel on it.”

Earlier this month, areas around Douglas State Fishing Lake near Baldwin City were damaged by off-road driving, he said. There also have been issues with people driving in muddy fields after crops have been harvested.

The closed roads at the Clinton Wildlife Area will probably stay that way until a state-funded grant comes next year, Hamilton said.

Bruce Husman, acting park manager for Clinton State Park, which operates the northeast section of the lake, said there has been some significant landscape damage recently, forcing officials to restrict certain areas to authorized people only.

One of the park’s most prominent features, Bunker Hill, has been taking a beating recently, he said.

“It’s pretty common. People come out to the state park and see this giant hill and they’ll drive off roads all through these natural grass prairies where we’re trying to grow the natural grass, even where the wildflowers are blooming,” he said. “They scar it for years. It’s just terrible.”

Off-roading is popular in warmer weather, especially after it rains, but Husman expects the activity to pick up even more once winter weather hits.

“The snow, it beckons those guys,” he said. “It increases when you’ve got snow on the ground because then they come out and purposefully drive over the fields.”


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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