By now, this is probably common knowledge to the four-wheeling community at large, but at the end of July, the Rubicon Trail's Spider Lake was closed to all access for 120 days because the sheer amount of human waste that had accumulated in the area had made it a danger to public health. It remains to be seen whether this limited closure will turn into something more permanent, but it has brought to our attention what can happen when a trail suffers from the kind of popularity that the Rubicon does. Apparently, discussions are currently under way about limiting the number of campsites that will be allowed around Spider Lake in the future, possibly creating a permit system to monitor the flow of traffic in and out of the area.
Many four-wheelers will groan at the thought of government regulation of what has traditionally been an open four-wheeling haven. But as distasteful as this might be, it is in our own best interests to be involved in any regulatory decisions made about the trail so we can protect our access to it. If that means that we have to find a way to limit the amount of traffic seen on the trail, so be it. Friends who are frequently on the Rubicon during the summer months have told me that it is not uncommon to find upwards of 1,000 rigs or more camped around the lake on the weekends. Obviously, this is going to create some issues when nature calls. Some four-wheeling clubs have already suggested bringing in portable toilets or digging pit toilets in the area. Whatever solution is ultimately reached, the situation has created a new outcry amongst environmental groups, so the issue is not going to go away. Either we will work with the government agencies involved to find a solution, or they will reach a decision on their own.
I have already gotten reports from four-wheelers in the area that certain irresponsible people are defying the closure and sneaking up to the lake with signs saying "f**k the government," among other things. If there is any certain way to ensure that Spider Lake remains closed, this is it. If there is any way to renew efforts to close the Rubicon Trail to four-wheelers altogether, this is it. If there is any way to play into the hands of far left-wing groups who say that we are nothing more than environmental hacks bent on destroying Mother Nature, this is it.
I implore you to consider the long-term consequences of your actions. I expect you to be concerned. I expect you to fight for our right to be on public land. And I expect you to be involved at all levels of this discussion. But bear in mind that our opponents are well-funded, well-organized, and politically very suave. As a group, we must present a united front that is capable of moving forward purposefully and intelligently. As individuals, we must ensure that our behavior on the trail is neither reckless nor destructive. Otherwise, I'm afraid we will find ourselves helpless to act as another trail is carefully dismantled before our eyes.