Traditionally, most editors use their very first editorial to tell the readers about who is heading up their magazine nowadays. I'm supposed to make some self-proclamation of who I am, how many pets I've had, where I went to school, and what lies decaying in my driveway for neighbors to gawk at. Fortunately for you, there are some more relevant matters at hand. Right now I need to tell you a bit about what's happening to your Off-Road magazine and what's happening to your off-road lands.
If you read Phil Howell's editorial last month, then you know he's departed and I have recently taken over. But I'm not going to try to fill Phil's shoes. Instead, I brought my own shoes. There are a lot of ideas that I have, and that the rest of our staff has, that you'll see influencing the content of the magazine starting this very month.
I'm sure many of you will miss Phil Howell, but you can now find him at 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, where he'll be taking his Suzuki and Jeep projects with him. Kevin Blumer is going to spend the majority of his time with Phil, but you'll still see his fine work show up in Off-Road as well. Jordan May has come on board with me full time as my senior editor, and I'll be making the most out of his excellent photography and design skills.
Over the next three issues, you're going to see Jordan, Kevin, and I pushing Off-Road toward the hardcore fullsize truck, prerunner, UTV, and sand and desert toy magazine we think it needs to be. We'll be including more tech stories and product reviews in the magazine and getting into the dirt, dunes, and the desert to capture more shots of your rides than the magazine has ever had before.
Anything that goes fast in the dirt is fair game in Off-Road from now on, along with any chase truck, toy hauler, or diesel-powered tow vehicle that supports the off-road lifestyle. If tears pour from your eyes, dirt is in your teeth, and a rollcage is mandatory, Off-Road will be there.
Not to take away from the news of our born-again status, but there are some things that you need to know because the future of your hobby depends on it. I'm guessing that are aware of the ongoing battles concerning public lands being shut down to off-road use. Lately, it seems like some enviro-Nazis and government officials have declared all-out war on off-highway recreation. And this isn't just limited to off-road vehicles. Horse riders, mountain bikers, and snowmobilers are feeling the crunch of closing lands too. Even hikers are starting to get shut out of some areas, making them allies in this fight as well.
For the rest of your life, people will try to shut you out of areas that you once played in, and you'll have to fight if you want to keep the freedom to recreate in those areas. It's your responsibility to take interest in what's happening, looking at both sides of the argument, and understand why you are taking the stand that you are taking.
Personally, I am a big believer in reasonable sustainability. You can recreate in natural lands without causing irreparable damage, but care has to be taken to not only clean up after yourself but also careless others as well. It's up to all of us to make sure that the areas we use are kept as nice (and as open) as we want them to stay for future generations.
Now is the time that you as an off-road enthusiast has to take a stand, become educated on these matters yourself, donate time and/or money, and really take the time to fight the fight and spread the word. Otherwise, how could you expect an uneducated (at the matter in hand) government official to know anything about sustainable use before he votes on some bill to keep the public out of the lands that we own?
Below, I've listed a few of the organizations that dedicate their time to preserving your right to off-road use. I really hope that you'll take the time to sign up, donate, send a letter, or at least call someone and let them know that what is happening to our off-road areas is not acceptable. Every voice and every vote matters, and hopefully together we can keep using the lands we love for a long time to come.
American Sand Association
California Off-Road Vehicle Association
Friends of Dumont Dunes
Friends of Oceano Dunes
Friends of the Rubicon
United Four Wheel Drive Associations