The "Letter of the Month" author will be sent one of Four Wheeler's highly prized license plates. So be sure to include your full name and address when you write Four Wheeler at:
Four Wheeler Magazine
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 9004
Reader: What are all these lift laws ("Lift Laws Revealed," Nov. '04.)? I'll bet 85 percent of all four wheelers don't even know about these. And how many cops do you think are gonna get so technical that they'll get out their tape measure and measure every aspect of the vehicle? I understand safety, but some of those laws are kinda harsh. I'd love to see the cop that pulls over 10 of us going in a group to the mud to have a little fun. You can't have wide tires. You can't be so high. What's next?
Thank you for letting most of us who didn't know in on this. And for those states that don't have laws (yet): Mud on!
Editor: A little knowledge, as they say, can be a dangerous thing, but no knowledge at all is almost always worse. We can't say what your local law enforcement will do, but the folks at your local DMV will almost surely have tape measures at the ready when you pull in to register your lifted truck. Either way, the subject of lift laws is one we think deserves reviewing every now and then, just to keep folks informed of legal changes that may have transpired in the interim.
Reader: In his "From the Back 40" (Aug. '04), Ken Brubaker complains about environmentalists who want to exclude OHVs from public lands. You mention that one of their goals is to "eliminate damaging motorized recreation from the National Park System." Well, what's wrong with that? You notice they used the word "damaging."
I love to go out there, too, in my '01 Tacoma, but I also stay on existing roads. Nature doesn't need to be conquered anymore. It needs to be protected from people who don't want to pay attention to the destruction their "recreation" is having on the world around them. As an example, all you have to do is flip the page of that same issue, and there is another column ("Bed Toys") with a picture of a guy on an OHV driving through a creek. That's the problem. If you don't know what that can do to the creatures and plant life that live in and around a creek, inform yourself. Ignorance is no excuse. And when other OHVers go out and see that a vehicle has previously gone through there, they're likely to follow suit. Why is recreation at the expense of other living things OK?
If you want to drive out and enjoy nature too, killing or disturbing it as you go is not a good plan. It isn't fair either to nonhuman life, or to other people who also want to go out and enjoy it. I agree it would be a shame to have to limit motorized access to our public lands and parks, but if recreationalists can't demonstrate a respect for the natural settings they're in, then access to these settings, which are getting fewer each year, should and must be limited.
Editor: First, we should mention that all our own testing is done solely on designated trails, roads and byways. We obtain all necessary permits, permissions and insurance before we depart for any 'wheeling excursion, and we urge all our readers to do the same. And yes, we do drive through water sometimes, but always at legally designated stream crossings.
We think you might be overstating your case just a bit. As an example, the act of spinning a tire inadvertently on a muddy trail could theoretically disturb the habitat of worms and grubs. Does that mean vehicular access should be curtailed, even if the trail's a government service road? That said, we do understand the gist of your argument, and agree that we can and must do a better job of promoting environmental awareness and responsible four wheeling. We don't think they're mutually exclusive concepts at all.
Unfortunately, we still have a ways to go to educate people, and not just about public lands. See the next letter.
Reader: Dennis Pierce's "Low Rage" column in the October '04 issue ("What Part of 'No' Don't You Understand?") sure sounded familiar. I have more than 6 acres of family property to look out for. Add a 200-year-old abandoned house to the equation, and that means quite a bit of trouble. Everybody around here seems to think that "No Trespassing" means "House for Sale" because everyone I catch trespassing on my property tells me they are "looking" to buy the house. As for trash...well, people seem to think my property is their own personal dump! I've found truckloads of garbage bags, tires, air conditioners, old carpeting and just about anything that can be tossed out of a car window. I've had an ATV rider purposefully try to run me down, and even had a hunter asking me why I was trespassing on his property!
Anyway, to the point: I'm 20 years old and an avid off-road enthusiast. I have put up with just as much insolence, and I hold the same values and respect for property rights as any decent person should from any generation or involved in any hobby.
Robert E. Stroupe
Editor: The Greek philosopher Aristotle once wrote that the noblest virtue that a man could cultivate in a democratic society was the virtue of self-restraint. Too bad that seems to have gone out of fashion in too many places these days. We post your letter here as a reminder to all concerned wheelers to respect all property-public or private-and to heed all posted signs you see along the way. And yep, 'No Trespassing' indeed means 'No'.