Highs & Lows:
A Practical Idea To Keep Places Open

By Shawn Pagan

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In life, it's the highs and lows that most people remember and possibly want to forget. By nature, we remember the things that bring the most to our lives - or those that take the most from it.

Highs & LowsLet's imagine for a moment that we are paddling down a beautiful, serene river in a canoe or kayak. The trees are beautiful, lit up in all of the glory of Fall - yellows, greens and oranges. The sky is that ever-so-subtle shade of blue that no camera or paintbrush could ever really capture . The only sound is the sound of your heart beating as you hear the rapids approach.

Scenario 1 - you look over to the shore and see a couple of families camping, children happily playing at the water's edge, a couple of four wheel drives parked with the camping gear and other stuff. Everyone waves. Everybody is outdoors enjoying nature. Your mood is calm, relaxed and prepared for what's ahead.

Highs & LowsScenario 2 - in the distance, you hear the muffled sound of a motor and on the adjacent shore line you can see a string of off-highway rigs playing on a trail.

Scenario 3 - as you round the corner of the bend a 4x4 truck comes splashing through the water headed directly towards the entry to the rapids you have been waiting to conquer. The water is churning, there are two or three other trucks sitting on the bank cheering him on. You are annoyed and irritated.

Scenario 4 - as you round the corner of the bend you head toward the rapids, not paying any attention to anything around you but the water, the sky and the sound of your own heart. The experience is great and you have conquered the rapids.

Think long and hard about which of these scenarios you will remember during your life. Like that person in the canoe is now doing, think about which one of these scenarios would make you vote for or against legislation to ban 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Highs & LowsIf I were to play psychiatrist, I would say that most people would remember scenarios 3 and 4, while 2 would be forgotten when scenario 4 played out. But it would be significantly entrenched in their memory along side of scenario 3, and they would remember that it was all the 4x4 causing the problem.

Pretty easy decision, isn't it? Unfortunately, there are many of us that do not think about the consequences of our actions when we are on a trail, when we are leaving mud tracks from the trail onto the public highway or streets, when we are sharing trails (including waterways) with other outdoor adventurers, or when we casually talk about or post information to the web about our adventures.

Ladies and gentleman, I am here to tell you that our sport is under attack. It is under attack by our friends, our government and every person that you meet on the street - whether you (or they) know it or not.

Highs & LowsIf you love the adventure of 'wheeling and you want to continue to do that (especially on public lands) then you need to step up to the plate and spend a little time thinking about what you do when you are 'wheeling. Ask yourself questions like:

"Is this something I would do in my backyard? Would I want someone doing this on my property? How can I best explain that no damage was done to anything but my vehicle? What's the best way for me to cross that stream so I don't leave and damage? How far out of context can this picture be taken?"

Our adventures are ones that make the adrenaline pump thru our veins. This gives many of us the "highs" that we remember throughout life. This pumping of adrenaline is also what gives many others a "low" that they remember throughout their lives. The long and the short is, please think about what you do and why you do it and pass that along through your actions to those inside and outside of our sport. Lead those inside the sport by example and teach those outside the sport that nature, wildlife, habitat and camaraderie are more important then the long skinny pedal on the right.


Shawn Pagan

Shawn Pagan is our ROCKCRAWLER.com Land Use & Environmental Editor and a Staff Writer.  Shawn resides north of Houston, TX.

Contact Shawn at thepagan@rockcrawler.com


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