FOUR-WHEELING — A 22-year-old Ellensburg man who was outed by disgruntled off-road vehicle enthusiasts was ordered last week to pay $2,000 to help restore a Reecer Creek meadow that he extensively damaged with his pickup.
Jose Mora Villanueva, 22, was charged in U.S. District Court in Yakima with damaging the land through off-road use of a vehicle, according to the Associated Press.
The case was filed in August after off-road enthusiasts reported to the Forest Service that they saw pictures of the damaged area posted on a Craigslist advertisement where Mora was trying to sell the truck.
Forest Service investigators and Kittitas County sheriff’s deputies were able to locate the damaged area — which covered about a half-acre — and obtain a statement from Mora, acccording to court records.
Mora pleaded guilty and the case was closed last month.
The Forest Service issued a news release this week, noting a zero-tolerance policy for illegal “mudding.”
“We have zero tolerance for mudding and will similarly prosecute other mudders. It is a problem every year, and leads to erosion, spread of noxious weeds, loss of water storage in the ground, and the damage remains obvious for years,” said Tim Foss, trails manager for the Cle Elum Ranger District.
A Wenatchee man was sentenced two years ago to nearly two years in prison for a similar incident, according to the news release.