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February 2011 4Word - Editorial

Posted in Features on February 1, 2011
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Recently Assistant Editor Kevin Blumer was cited for speeding on the Pismo Dunes. He had been driving toward the highway in the dark when a vehicle came up behind and tailgated him. He sped up a bit to get a safe distance away. As soon as he did, the red-and-blue lights came on, and it turned out to be a California state ranger. Kevin stopped and received a citation. This kind of enforcement isn't good for anyone except the state coffers that receive money from these bogus citations.

Kevin blogged about this incident on both Off-Road and 4WD&SU's websites. If you go to read his blogs, you won't find them. He was told by "friends" on our side that they were afraid his blogs might upset the powers-that-be and cause the government to close more public land, so he voluntarily removed them. I was livid. These incidents need to be told. As long as they're suppressed there will continue to be abuses by rangers and others who don't like vehicular recreation. No one should muzzle the truth.

Kevin's incident got me thinking back. Every time I've written about closures, land grabs, and abuses, I get hate mail. In the last decade, many go on Internet forums and complain about what's been exposed. I find it strange that this hate mail and negativity doesn't come from members of the Sierra Club. It comes from vehicle owners, groups, and organizations - many that receive money from our side - supposedly working to keep our public land open. These people toady up to the government agencies managing the areas they're involved with and get so close to them that they shift to the other side and start fighting us; many times using our money to do it!

As I explore the backcountry in areas I've driven for decades, there are now fences, posts, signs, and paint telling me I can no longer go where roads and trails have been for decades, sometimes for centuries, and that aren't in designated wilderness or closed areas. These impediments are placed, not by environmental organizations, but by individuals or groups that are supposed to be on our side. Before now, public land survived with negligible impact. Aired-down tires on rock or dirt don't do damage and black marks on slickrock wash away with the first rain. Pipes drilled into rock; concrete poured over earth; barbed wire hung up; plastic strewn about; highway paint saying, "NO ROUTE," "NO ENTRY," or "KEEP OUT" - these things don't wash away and they damage the environment. Why do the agencies managing the land allow this to be done?

There are clubs and organizations that want donations, promising to use the money collected to fight closures. At least one club that does this has never donated money to groups that actually work for us, such as The Blue Ribbon Coalition.

Do not support motorized recreation groups that work to close legally open public land. Before donating money to any organization, especially any called "friends" of an area, investigate its history. Does it work to keep public access, or does it put up fences, signs, and roadblocks on open public land? Are they working with other groups that want access, or are they sending hate mail to, and spewing garbage about, people who are trying to keep public land open?

One other thing: open access on public land means OPEN ACCESS to ALL. That means hikers,equestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, buggies, utility vehicles, full-size vehicles, etc. People working to illegally close public land to anyone are our enemy whether they are individuals, a group, or the government.

We're going to start naming organizations that are supposedly on our side that take money to close access. We'll also be exposing government abuses on public land. We don't have enough open land left to let anyone close more.

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