have always considered myself to be a Four-Wheeling Environmentalist.
In my opinion, four-wheelers and others that use the outdoors are
true environmentalists because we obviously (in my mind) don't want
to destroy that which gives us pleasure. To this end I am the Land
UseEditor for Rockcrawler.com.
As one of
the premier online off-road magazines, Rockcrawler.com receives
a large amount of newswire and other information on a daily basis.
Through this information, I have opened myself up to a new view
about the environment and land use all across this country - both
factual and opinionated.
I am FOR mixed
land usage on almost all fronts. My family and I use a Jeep as a
means of recreation. Whether it be working late at night in the
garage to get my daily frustrations out or taking my daughter on
her first camping trip to Hot Springs (at 18 months) for a weekend
of family fun. I grew up riding motorcycles and even raced them
for a while. I also enjoy hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, camping
and just about anything else one can do outdoors, and I am very
concerned about what "nature" will mean to my daughter and future
that being said, I also believe that there are valid reasons to
close or divert trails. The number of people that think they and
their sport are always right just amazes me. I listen to people
whine on 4x4 lists, I get daily e-mails from large Associations
telling me about so and so's piece of property and how Big Brotheris
taking it away.
A lot of these
articles are opinion and nothing more. Some don't even have facts
to back them up. I know a whole discussion that took place over
a "Poll' about whether or not "Drilling Of Oil" should be allowed
in Alaska. Most of the people in the discussion felt that we (the
OHVers) were losing the poll because many people taking the poll
felt that the drilling should not be allowed. Do any of these people
have any facts that this was a slam against OHV drivers? Are any
of them geologists that understand what drilling may do to the surrounding
land? I know this example is a little bit out there, but it does
reflect the reflex actions taken by some to condemn ANYTHING that
limit's access - regardless of the reason.
There are many
examples of this in my own state of Texas, for example, Fort Hood,
the Angelina National Forest, etc. I am deeply saddened by the fact
that I cannot wheel in either of these spots, but what is much worse
is that I have a hard time not defending the closure of either property.
Those of you that were there three years ago...go look at it today
and tell me what you think? Does it make you proud to be a wheeler?
want to tell you that I am disappointed by many people in my sport
that are always the ones willing to point finger at others. For
example: (I hear this one all the time) "Who does the BLM think
they are? They don't own the land. What gives them the right to..."
of you who have complained about the BLM; or have taken time to
write them nasty letters about a "trail closure," how many of you
have taken the time to write them a nice letter about the number
of trails that ARE open for people to four-wheel on? Did you even
think of that? Did you know that the BLM manages more OPEN trails
then any other agency (private or public) in the US? Did you know
they are one of the sponsors of the ARCA
people have a hard job; one that none of us would want. Everybody
hates them - the "Environmentalists" because they open trails and
the "Recreationists" (Us) because they close trails! Being nice
might just get us more then casting stones. Don't get me wrong,
we still need to fight the good fight, but they might be more easily
swayed if they can realize that we, like them, are people who understand.
For more information on the BLM check this article: Get
to Know Your BLM.
There is a group
of people in California fighting the closure of more then 48,000
acres. They are not fighting the reason the land was closed. Instead,
they are fighting the amount of land closed. They actually
agree that part of the area needs to be closed - just not all of
it. They are working with the Government and the land owners and
hopefully will come up with a reasonable compromise. They even worked
with the BLM to place the signs about which areas to stay out of
because this would drive a faster closure to the lawsuits and get
everybody talking without the actions of a court!
ARE PEOPLE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS!
If you are a
true off-road enthusiast (motorcycle or ATV rider, bicyclist, hiker,
snowmobile rider) then it's time to take responsibility for what
you do! It's time to work these things out and get to a point where
we can all accept a compromise. I know it's hard to do; we have
all been burned in the past. It's very easy for 1 or 2 people to
ruin the months of work and dedication shown by one or hundreds
of others - but we have to try.
is time that we accept our brothers (and sisters) who drive vehicles
that are outside of our personal passion (4 Wheel Drives, motorcycles,
ATVs, sand rails and various buggies, snowmobiles, bicyclists etc.)
- we all need to help each other.
I think Martin
Niemöller said it best "In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came
for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then
they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because
I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and
I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for
me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
Speak up, let
your combined voices be heard. Tell people what's good. Tell them
what's bad! Work together, not against each other. Working together
is the only way we will survive.
The next time
you are out playing and you find an area that has been torn up,
please contact a local club and fix it up or fix it up yourself.
If you run across a fellow outdoors person (hiker, biker whatever)
tell them hi even if you don't get a response. Wave at hikers. Help
out that guy on the motorcycle. Offer the ATV rider a drink of water.
Attempt not to roost through the sand that the Jeep is parked next
too. Basically use your head and do what is right.
what is right also implies responsibility. Being responsible also
means not condoning those that do the wrong thing. Don't ride with
your motorcycle buddy that puts alcohol in his Camelback. Don't
cut new trails unless you have the property owner's permission -
and even then USE YOUR HEAD. Don't litter, don't pollute,
don't go where you're not supposed to. If there's a question - don't
go. If you tried it three times, back off and let someone else try.
Don't build roads (and if you do, clean up your mess afterwards).
It also means reporting those that don't play by the rules. You
all know what you would want in YOUR backyard.
Think of nature as OUR backyard. Respect it, love
it, nurture it and it will only grow to provide a warm and friendly
place for generations to follow.
Note: Before cutting new trails, not only get permission from the
land owner, but also consult with local forestry officials and specialists
to make sure you're doing the right thing in the right place.]
Pagan is a our ROCKCRAWLER.com Land Use Editor and a Staff
Writer. Shawn resides north of Houston, TX.
Contact Shawn at email@example.com