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December 2011 Trail's End Editorial

Jeep Rubicon Front Three Quarter
Posted December 1, 2011

Trail Access: Who’s Your Daddy?

If you’re a gun owner and want to protect your gun rights, do you join/donate to the Cheese Lovers of America? No. You support the National Rifle Association (NRA). If you treasure the freedom our veterans gave us, do you join/donate to the Unified Hippies Liberation Front? No. You contribute to the VFW, or the American Legion, or similar vet groups. Well, in simple terms, more of us need to figure out that if we want to save trails, we must apply a similar formula.

Saving trails and keeping the sport of four-wheeling alive requires all of us to support those groups/individuals fighting daily for us. That starts with the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), our national grassroots champions of responsible recreation. From there, your support needs to be distributed to other specialized national, regional, state, and local clubs and groups.

When it comes to land use and trail access, BlueRibbon Coalition is your “daddy.” All song implications aside, BRC is the big dog in the grassroots national front and needs to be your first stop with your land use membership money.

So why support BlueRibbon Coalition to start with? BRC has a successful legal team with plenty of wins in court. BRC has an incredible full-time staff of professional land use folks trained in fighting for our sport the smart way. BRC kicks it and gets it done by empowering local clubs and groups into making a difference in our ownership and use of public lands.

You can see more of BRC’s accomplishments at www.sharetrails.org/accomplishments. Realize that getting this kind of action done is not cheap, and support basically comes from members. Folks like you. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking someone else is covering the bases.

The tangled web of land use and trail access starts with all of us uniting together to build a web the anti-access folks cannot penetrate or break. Even with the big dog BRC at our back, locally we still need to buck up and fight back in an organized fashion. That means cooperating with other sports/activities like ATVs, dirt bikes, UTVs, hunters, and so on. That means getting past club personalities and organization infighting. That also means getting up to speed with things like NEPA, public scoping, letter-writing, and all of the wrestling moves of public land management.

The key with BRC is that they work with you and for you. BRC is about the team; local, state and national groups working together to fulfill a local issue. In the end, together, the team puts action on the ground at the local level.

Do you know what a pond duck is? It’s a duck that quacks, blusters, swims a bit, but does not fly like a real duck. I suggest that you do not get tangled up with pond ducks in our sport. There are a few. They talk a lot but get nothing done other than to criticize those who are forging change in our sport and access. Attach your support and your energy to groups that make a difference, that focus on the positive, that get things done, that help local groups, and who empower members to save trails. That is the BlueRibbon Coalition.

Remember that your “daddy” wears blue – and that is where land use starts: the BlueRibbon Coalition. Then join and support all those other organizations that you believe in. Our wins start with membership.

Learn more and join BRC at www.sharetrails.org.

About Del Albright
Del and Stacie are internationally published photojournalists providing leadership in volunteer recreation and land stewardship and specialize in social marketing to improve trail access.

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