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Training & Education Command (TECOM)

United States Marine Corps

Depot warns against off-road vehicle traffic

By Sgt. A. Lyn Bell | | January 17, 2003

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The Depot issued a reminder Jan. 9 to all four-wheel drive owners to keep their wheels on the pavement.

Depot Order 5090.2 states that no all-terrain vehicles are authorized on base and no off-road capable vehicles are permitted off paved or graveled roadways aboard the Depot.

"There have been incidents in the past where people have driven through the marsh on ATVs ... but it has mainly been four-wheel drive vehicles," said Ron Kenlaw, natural resource manager. "It wasn't done maliciously, just people trying to get to their favorite fishing spot, but these are sensitive areas and it damages the marsh, especially when they get stuck."

The damage done is not just tire tracks in the mud. Plants, invertebrates and bird life can all be disturbed or destroyed by careless off-road traffic. The damage grows even greater in the highly probable event the vehicle gets stuck.

"When high tide comes in, then you have a gas and oil spill to worry about," said Kenlaw. "It has a detrimental impact on a very sensitive area."
Retribution for off-roading on base may come not only in the form of Uniform Code of Military Justice prosecution, but also from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control who monitors the wetlands for damage.

"The base is liable to restore the damage," said Kenlaw. "The persons responsible could be liable to restore the area to state satisfaction and the state could prosecute, as well as the federal government."

"There is no place designated for off-road operation on base," warned Gunnery Sgt. Howard Shappee, Provost Marshals Office operations chief. "And no ATVs are allowed to operate on base. Government vehicles involved in official business can be off road and may have to go somewhere they have to lock in their four-wheel drive, but there is no place for recreational four-wheel driving."

Only two ATVs owned by Natural Resources can be used on base and government vehicles necessary to training can operate off road, but must be mindful of sensitive areas. There are places around Elliot's Beach and 3rd Bn. PT field where vehicles can leave the pavement behind, but motorists are warned against any damage to the marsh.

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