The tree in the lower photo is very likely going to die. A large number of very lazy people have used it as an anchor for winching. Not a big deal if done correctly but many used it as an anchor without using a very aptly named, tree saver. The winch lines cut into the bark. This is kind of like strangling a tree.
Please, use a tree saver. You might just...get this...save a tree.
Water crossings can, of course, be both dangerous and damaging to the environment. Some factors to consider include the water depth, the speed it is flowing, and your recovery plan if things go wrong. There is the threat of Hydro-locking your engine to keep in mind too.
Along with safety conciderations, there are also environmental considerations. No matter the water you are crossing, legally we must use the shortest, safest path, while going as slow as possible and as fast as necessary, to connect to the trail on the other side. This minimizes the impact on the river/stream bed and your vehicle.
Going slower may not be as much fun, but it is a LOT more fun than seeing your favorite trails closed. So, in the end, it is just the right thing to do.
NO TOW BALLS FOR SNATCH RECOVERIES
This has been in the news a bit recently. People still seem to think it is ok to throw a snatch strap over the tow ball when recovering a stuck 4WD. This is a dangerous mistake.
Tow balls are not designed for the stresses a snatch strap or even a winch can put on them. Many tow-balls are rated as low as 2000lbs, but even a 10,000 rated ball is not enough for snatching a bogged rig safely. If you snatch off a tow ball, it can shear off and go flying through the air like a cannonball.
That piece of flying metal has the potential to kill and has done so in the past. In just one example, a lady was killed while recovering a stuck 4WD in deep sand. The tow-ball broke off the stuck vehicle and flew through the front window, of the recovery rig, and killed the driver. Such a tragedy and she was just trying to help out.
Please don't use tow balls for recoveries.
A Little Winch Math:
Basic Winching and the effect of MUD.
What if your 4x4 is stuck in the Mud? The depth of the bog will have a massive effect on the loaded weight of the vehicle being recovered. Here is a simple guide for calculating the dead weight of the vehicle when in the mud.
If stuck to the base of your wheels, it will require a pull of 100% of the load. That is the total weight of the stuck rig.
If stuck to the axles, the weight doubles! You will require a pull of 200% of the weight of the stuck 4x4.
If stuck to the chassis/rocker panels, then it is x3 the total weight of the stuck vehicle! That's a pull of 300% of the load. 3x an average JKU Rubi is around 18,400lbs or so.
Of course, pulling uphill makes it even worse.
Have your snatch block handy and make sure that ALL of your recovery gear is up to the task.