The Western Slope 4-Wheelers Take the Initiative
Editor's Note - The staff at 4WD&SU can't think of a four-wheel-drive club these days that isn't in some form or another involved in land rights and usage issues. It wasn't that long ago that a person didn't have to think about losing their rights to enjoy and explore our public forests and wildlands. Today, however, it's an uphill struggle for us to maintain our rights as American citizens to use these lands for recreation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with conservation and trying to protect the environment and wildlife, but the line has to be drawn when it comes to complete and unreasonable closures. This is why so many clubs, organizations, and individuals are getting involved and proving that we are responsible and that working together can help keep our public lands open and fee-free. Clubs such as the Western Slope 4-Wheelers are making great strides in relations with government agencies and working to maintain trails and forest lands for all of us to enjoy.
The Western Slope 4-Wheelers 4WD club was formed in February 1998. It started out as most clubs do, with a few friends getting together and running trails. Like any organization, a few of the members have come and gone, but the club still holds true to the goal of promoting a fun, family-oriented club that works to save our public lands for responsible usage for years to come.
WS4W are active members of the Colorado Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs. The last few years the group has made great strides in building a good working relationship with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in their area. They were an important part of the project to eliminate the fee area in Yankee Boy Basin in 2002. The fee for area usage was implemented because federal land managers didn't have the funds to maintain the area as recreational use was on the rise. The club's stance against the "pay areas" wasn't so much about the fee itself but the commercialization of public lands and turning them into a money-making venture. Now, they volunteer and help the Yankee Boy Coalition maintain and clean the campsites, install road signs, and help visitors. They also have volunteers to serve in conjunction with the Yankee Boy Coalition, as alpine hosts, to visit with people and provide information about the area and promote responsible land use.