Newswise — July 17, 2017 –  Thinking of going off-trail this summer? The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) July 15 Soils Matter blog post explains how trails protect the environment—and how off-trail recreation can be damaging.

Good trails build upon careful consideration of the environment. “Land managers try to keep the amount of soil compaction to a minimum in the forests by creating the path system,” says soil scientist Adrian Gallo. “Off-trail use compacts the soil. The weight (of humans, ATVs, and motorcycles) can easily generate deep ruts with even one pass.”

Minimizing these ruts means erosion is minimized, and streams are cleaner. Trees and other vegetation also need loose, uncompacted soils to access water and nutrients to stay healthy.

Soil compaction also decreases how water is filtered by and absorbed in the soil. That water becomes our drinking water! “So in order for us to have clean and safe drinking water, our forests must have healthy and undisturbed soil,” Gallo says.

To read the entire blog post, visit   

Follow SSSA on Facebook at, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on, for teachers at, and for students through 12th grade,

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members and 1,000+ certified professionals dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. The Society provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

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