You know we don't like to get angry; it's bad for our blood pressure, often nonproductive, and we're usually the ones who get hurt after we throw something like a wrench, which bounces back into our skull. But the fact is we're losing places to go four-wheeling and that makes us very, very upset. How would you like to tell your kids someday that somewhere in Arizona is this giant hole known as the Grand Canyon but humans aren't allowed to go look at it anymore because our breathing damages the air that resides in that canyon? Or maybe try explaining Mount Rushmore, "You see, son, we had this amazing sculpture in the side of a mountain that took decades to chisel and was dedicated to our forefathers who fought for our freedom, but some enviro-nuts deemed it detrimental to the Dakota wild slug and had the entire thing torn down so some weeds could be planted." Or worse, what are we going to do when everyone must wear matching recycled paper jumpsuits, only eat organic soy-food wafers, and when we need to go to work we are herded onto a monorail and zipped through a glass tube out to soybean fields so that we in no way harm the natural environment of the polar bears? These scenarios all sound crazy, don't they? Well, imagine how folks feel every year when someone comes along and says, "Hey, I don't care if you're an American, if you pay taxes, or if you vote, we're going to shut down the public lands that you help pay for because we don't like the way you play. We don't care what you think because we're here to make the world just the way we want it to be and we have lots of lawyers to help us." Yeah, it's crazy, and it's time to get mad.
Every year it happens. Trails get shut down due to any number of reasons and we lose another place to go explore in our 4x4s. Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road has been around for 30 years and during that time many of our favorite places have been closed for everything from protecting endangered frogs to lawsuits about noise, trees, dust, and damage to rocks (apparently rocks have feelings too). Places and events like Surprise Canyon; parts of the Tillamook, Croatan, and the Arapahoe/Roosevelt forests; sections of Tellico, Foster's Lake, Paragon, Lower Helldorado, and other parts of Moab, Tierra del Sol, the Jersey Pines, nearly all of the northeast, the Rubicon trail, and sections of the Pismo dunes are just a drop in the bucket of the millions of acres shut down to off-roaders within recent years. Wait, did we say the Rubicon? OK, it's not shut down...yet, but they are certainly trying to close it every year, and we're sure most of you have not yet had a chance to experience it.
Look, we're not here to say, "Woe is me!" That's bogus advice; we're here to give you a wake-up call and some options of what to do to keep your land (if you pay taxes, it belongs to you) open. There are a handful of organizations you can join or support to really show how you feel and get our voices heard. You see, the people trying to shut down the public lands to multiple-use recreationalists like us are well organized, funded, and lawsuit savvy, and we need a solid front on our side to protect our rights and our pastime. By a solid front I mean people on dirt bikes, mountain bikes, horses, dune buggies, rock buggies, pickups, Jeeps, and any other forms of recreation that use the public land besides simply hiking. Not that all hikers are evil gate-lockers either, it's just that we all want to be able to do our certain type of activity, and there is no reason why we shouldn't be allowed to. In fact, it really comes down to sharing, respecting others, and cleaning up after ourselves. Hey, aren't we all supposed to learn this stuff back in Kindy-Garden school? Come on now, where do these greedy environmentalist get off thinking that they should get to have all the public land for their favorite pastime only? We understand the need to protect endangered species, but we're not 100 percent sure this argument hasn't been used in subversive ways to lock out motorized trail users.
There is plenty you can do from the seat of your 4x4. If you're out four-wheeling, remember things like staying on designated trails, taking your trash home with you, and picking up any you see. If you spill oil, gas, or coolant clean it up and pack out the dirty dirt, and don't leave the campsite wrecked when you leave. Set a good example for others! Did you know that the Rubicon is having a big problem with all the human waste left there by trail users? Why not bring an old paint can for your dirty deed, fill it half full with sawdust, and replace the lid after every use? Then toss the whole thing when you get home. It's really not that hard. Also, if you come across someone else on the trail-say a hiker, hunter, or a horseback rider-idle down your truck or even shut it off for a second to let them pass and say hello. Maybe even offer them a cold drink from your cooler. This common courtesy can go a long way. Plus, be sure to educate those around you if you see someone doing something wrong in your own group.
Other than these basics, you should join a local club that can help get your voice heard, or one of the following organizations trying to keep our public land open: United Four Wheel Drive Association, Tread Lightly, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition. This may involve sending checks, letters to lawmakers, or attending rallies or trail cleanups, but it's all worth the effort. Also if you'd like to support one of the world-renowned trails, contact the Friends of the Rubicon and see how you can help.
Finally, if you meet folks who use the trail for other activities ask them how you can help support their cause and if they'll help support yours whether you're a rockclimber or rockcrawler. If you can't get to the rocks you'll be stuck at home getting fat watching TV.
BFGoodrich Tires is giving back to the customers that support it by continuing its Outstanding Trails program. This year BFGoodrich has chosen Redbird State Riding Area in Indiana, The Rubicon Trail in California, the Tillamook forest trails in Oregon, Poughkeepsie Gulch in Colorado, and the "All Day Sucker" trail at the Flat Nasty OHV park in Missouri as five trails that they will help support. Each year BFGoodrich will choose a handful of different trails with a variety of difficulty and help support the local clubs that keep these trails open to the public. This is what we like to see, companies supporting clubs and working together to ensure there are places to wheel in the future.
BFGoodrich Tires, www.bfgoodrich.com
Special thanks to:
Director, Environmental Affairs,
United Four Wheel Drive Associations
Organizations you should call, join, and support:
Blue Ribbon Coalition