Loco in Venezuela

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By, Shawn Pagan
Photos by, Jenifer Cohn

A month or so ago I read a magazine article that talked about the difference between tree huggers and those people involved in four wheel drive clubs. The article spoke of an off-shoot organization of the Sierra Club that involved a bunch of people that would get together on the weekends to enjoy the "back country" in their 4 wheel drive vehicles. They were the "predecessors” of the Tread Lightly! philosophy, if you will.

This group was eventually asked to leave the Sierra Club - and not because they had done anything wrong, but simply because they (as a group) were not political enough.

This, in itself, should be a warning to people as they discuss why it always seems that the Anti-OHV groups seem to win hands down when it comes to legislation - and why winning is such a struggle for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, SWFWDA and others that attempt to keep our lands open.

The article went on to say that the main reason is that people that join the Sierra Club and others like it are getting involved because they have chosen to jump into the politics - most people in clubs join because they want to spend time with other people they can relate to and have a good time. The last thing they want is to work and spend their time pushing politics.

So I begin to think about what it is that I do as an individual to keep lands open. To start with, I have joined a reputable four wheel drive club. This club (thru membership) helps to fund Southwest Four Wheel Drive Association and The United Four Wheel Drive Association.

I have written letters to local (and out of state) papers as well as kept in contact with my local and past congressman - letting them know what I, a registered voter, think. I vote - especially on environmental issues and I attempt to be as consistent as I can.

Beyond that have I done anything else?

Yes! At one time I was looking into a Texas Grant that could be used to open an Off-Road play area or OHV Park. When I ran into another group doing the same thing I stopped my process and jumped in with them (TMTC, for information check their web site at http://www.texasmotorizedtrails.com). The goal was to open an OHV park in North Texas. This park would be opened for 4x4s, buggies, motorcycles and ATV's. I have helped to serve on a trails committee and the park is now open to members. Kudos should be given to all involved.

Have I done enough now?

Well, I collect trash almost every time I go out, I keep my Jeep in good shape, and I carry empty bottles to use if I have an emergency on the trail, like draining oils and other messes into.

I try to help my fellow wheelers out when I can. I attempt to Tread Lightly! and tell others when they are not. I carry tree tar in my tool bag and when some one peels the bark on a tree I try to seal it up. I do what I can to leave nature as it was when I found it,. In fact, I attempt to leave it better then I found it.

Have I done enough now?

Shawn and Sierra PaganProbably not. I have been exposed to the outdoors and things that happen out doors most of my life. When I was growing up we went camping. I have seen most of the US by car, not via the Internet or by flying from one city to another; by actually experiencing the US in all its grandeur, from the tiny towns of Vermont and Maine to the huge expanses of nothing between Texas and Arizona. This is how America should be viewed. Hiking, biking, canoeing and four wheeling add to this majestic view of our country and our world.

I guess we will need another 10 to 15 years to know for sure. If my daughter still has the ability to go where she wants with the vehicle of her choice then I guess I and my generation have done everything we needed to do. If not, if she only gets to view grass thru a manufactured plastic window then I have not only failed my fellow four wheelers (who are true environmentalists), but I have failed my daughter and my family.

I urge each and every one of you to please get involved. Find out who your Congressmen are. Use the power of your one solitary single vote. Please, for the sake of our sport, this country and our families.

Thank you,
Shawn Pagan



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