In a recent post, the U.S. Forest Service office in charge of Stanislaus National Forest took advantage of a funny situation to educate the public.
Last week, a video of the stuck truck was making the rounds on social media. The vehicle was a little ways off the nearest forest road and appeared to be in use to pick up a Christmas tree. But, it didn’t have the right tires for conditions, and was good and stuck. But, even with better tires, there are doubts out there about whether the vehicle has a decent all-wheel-drive system or has some other problem that’s keeping it from being able to tackle off-road challenges.
At the other end of the tow cable is a Ford pickup. This led to Ford CEO Jim Farley making it clear that this was not a planned photo-op of any kind. A Ford truck’s owner really just happened to be there to help.
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) December 13, 2023
But, when the U.S. Forest Service supervisors came across the video, they weren’t as happy. Their job is to manage federally-owned forest lands, and that includes making sure the forest stays healthy. This not only provides lumber for the future if managed responsibly and not over or under-cut, but also helps protect precious watersheds that people rely on for drinking water and farming.
One of the key problems for both forest products and watersheds is erosion. Soils have to remain stable and healthy for the forest and the rivers to thrive. So, most forests have rules about where you can drive vehicles. Generally, full-sized vehicles have to stick to forest and fire roads. Smaller ATVs, UTVs, and dirtbikes can access additional trails. Finally, non-motorized bikes can access a few more trails while people on foot can go pretty much anywhere.
But, instead of chewing Tesla out for having an employee go off established roads, managers took it for an educational opportunity. In a tongue-in-cheek manner, the agency asked Tesla to partner with the on educating the public about motor vehicle use maps (MVUMs), which specify where vehicles are allowed, as well as where vehicle-based “boondock” camping can be legally done.
“We are always thrilled when new opportunities to explore our public lands become available,” said Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken. “But feel there may be work to be done in educating users about our Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM). We feel confident that had the driver of the Cybertruck had a better understanding of the topographical feature indicated on our maps, practiced Leave No Trace principles, and generally been more prepared, this whole incident could have been not only avoided, but also provided much-needed education to many new off-road users.”
The supervisor also poked fun at the problem of software updates.
“You never have to worry about a software update at an incredibly awkward moment with one of our MVUM maps,” Kuiken said. “We would invite executives of Tesla Motors to sit down at the table with us and develop an educational experience for new Cybertruck owners. We expect we could see this excited new user base joining our well-established OHV community and want to ensure we’ve done everything to create a positive user experience.”
Featured image: screenshot from the U.S. Forest Service post.
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