Our annual trek to Moab is over and done with, at least as far as the annual Easter Jeep Safari is concerned; but the lessons learned there can have far reaching effects. Our number one thing learned? Fuel costs have skyrocketed and there is no end in sight. Does this mean people won't wheel, or travel far to do it? No, we don't think so, but as evidenced by the dramatic downturn in overall attendance this year at Moab, we think people will be a bit choosier about when and where they wheel. In addition, more fuel-efficient powerplants will be popular, which is why we have the exclusive inside look at the proposed Jeep TJ diesel crate engine swap on page 82 of this issue. We've hammered Jeep for years on this idea as well as a factory option, while the engineers silently agreed and corporate suits hemmed and hawed. It looks like this could be a big break, as Mopar takes the lead in an ever-changing industry and aftermarket. The benefits could be astounding. Kudos to those guys and girls that push the envelope as real wheelers, not just corporate players.
But even more important to all of us is the continued push to keep our trails open. While the zealous anti-access folks continue to brainwash the general public and public land managers, groups such as the BlueRibbon Coalition (www.sharetrails.org/history), ORBA (www.orba.biz), United Four Wheel Drive Associations (www.ufwda.org), and others fight for our rights to access our public land. These groups need your help and your contributions. And if you wheel in Utah, you should join the Utah 4-Wheel Drive Association (www.u4wda.org), the Utah Shared-Access Alliance (www.usaall.org), as well as Tread Lightly! (www.treadlightly.org). For that matter, every state and region has at least one organization that you should support or belong to, as the pressure to close your trails is increasing at an ever more alarming rate.
Most important is the ground-level help that we as wheelers need to practice every day. I saw great evidence of this in action on a trail at Moab by the Off Kilter Fabrication group (www.offkilterfab.com ). After someone made an oil spill on some of the rocks, the group pitched in and cleaned up the mess and restored the area. They are members of the Utah 4-Wheel Drive Association, which promotes "protecting access to public lands through education and stewardship." This is exactly what we need at the grassroots level, educating others on the trail and taking an active part in preserving what we have left. We don't need the other areas we wheel in to go the way of Tellico or Surprise Canyon-we may never get those trails back. Just do your part-just do something!