Give Me Your OHV Keys
By Jerry Smith
Grand Mesa Jeep Club; BOD
Grand Valley Trails Alliance -- De Beque Working Group,
Colorado Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs – Western Land Use
United Four Wheel Drive Associations
Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO)
Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL)
I have never claimed to be a prophet, but back in 1979 as President of the Montana 4x4 Association, I warned that if our small membership didn’t make some serious noise or at least support the few that were, their days of wheeling were numbered. They kept silent.
Now, Montana wheelers have far fewer places to go by more than even I could foresee. (And I was pretty pessimistic at the time)
WARNING: I’M ABOUT TO SINGE (Burn) QUITE A FEW OF YOU WITH SOME SERIOUS THINGS TO THINK ABOUT… SO EITHER PREPARE YOURSELF OR QUIT READING NOW!!!
“It is the only way that YOUR access to YOUR public lands in YOUR chosen 4x4 or other mode will continue. YOUR SUPPORT… be it YOU doing something or YOU supporting the people who do it on YOUR behalf is the only way this can work.”
You will hear this again at the end of this article. Think about it.
The “Preservationists” have pushed entire industries such as logging out of the state of Montana and most of the western U.S. for that matter.
More and more Wilderness is being designated (most of it should never have even been considered… much less designated; but that’s another story.
My point is: The Preservationists have become bolder and better funded than you can imagine. They won’t be satisfied till the entire western U.S. is one giant Wilderness Area. Yes, it is that serious!
I will predict that they won’t be stopped there either. Once they get nearly the whole of the west locked away, they will begin finding ways to make the privately held eastern OHV properties close. They’ve already begun this process in some places.
When asked why I support entities like United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the several state associations, it makes me want to take a bat to the questioner’s head.
Give me Your OHV keys!
If I had the power to do it, I would take away the keys and titles to their 4x4s, ATVs, UTVs, Motor Cycles, and other off road toys. They simply do not deserve to participate in something they want no part of supporting in return.
Even if that were possible, these folks would only find the time and resources to sit around the table with a beer and bitch about the “good-ole-days”. They won’t even send the price of one or two of those beers to support the people who are doing all they can to stop the anti-access crowd because after all… “what have they done for us?”
I’m sorry, but you damn fools don’t deserve what little access you have left. If you have been around very long and have paid any attention (unlikely as that may seem), you may have heard some of us talking about road and trail closures and Wilderness and National Monuments with millions of acres being closed to motorized use.
What have YOU done to stop this from happening???
I can understand you not wanting to write letters, study land-use laws, read the Environmental Impact Studies, and all the other government crap that they write for either lawyers or some other kind of idiot. That is totally understandable. Not many of us do.
But prying a few measly dollars from your tight fist in support of something you claim to “Love” is becoming such a waste of breath; most of us would rather save the precious oxygen.
In the past 35+ years, I have written easily over 2000 comments and letters to the BLM, USFS, Senators, and Congressmen. What have YOU done to support ME??? Come on, what?
I’ll tell you what little you’ve done.
I have represented YOUR interests whether you liked it or not. Just being a member of an organized club, state organization, and/or United makes you worth supporting. You pay your small amount of club dues, often a portion of which are passed up to support your state association and/or United. Often, that piddly amount is paid under protest as being "too much".
They in turn, support you in ways you seldom hear about because the limited resources of time and money are so short at that level, they don’t have time or money to tell you about it. Often too, they are too humble to expound on all the work they do on YOUR behalf.
United has lawyers and lobbyists that contact your Senators and Congressmen and their staff. United representatives plead with them to support YOU mostly with empty hands. They can’t pledge monetary support because there is no money for them to pledge.
Do you think that might be a tough sale when the Preservationists are pumping YOUR Congressman or Senator with campaign funding in the $millions of dollars? WHO DO YOU THINK THEY WILL SUPPORT?
Do YOU have the time, the knowledge, and resources to craft a congressional bill to support our sport of 4-wheeling?
Do you think that the United Four Wheel Drive Associations or the BlueRibbon Coalition, COHVCO, USA-All, and others like them might be in a position to do that if they had the resources to hire the lawyers and lobbyists to write and then present the bills to the correct people who would push them through all the committees and congressional hoopla to make them laws?
And what about entities like the BlueRibbon Coalition, COHVCO, USA-All, and others like them? They are the primary sources providing lawyers to represent YOU in court on land use issues you likely don’t even know about. Do you think that maybe those lawyers demand something for their time?
If these same organizations had the resources to hire the people to research and then write high quality and meaningful arguments to the United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), and other entities that manage our public lands to keep YOUR roads, trails, and areas accessible to YOUR motorized use, would that be a good thing?
And what if those high quality and meaningful arguments were made available to others (including yourself) who would reword them to make them original in nature and send them in to these land management agencies, U.S. Congressmen, Senators, State Congressmen and Senators, County Commissioners, and the President? Do you think that the volumes of good quality comments might make some difference?
Would YOU take a few minutes to even just send a copy to those entities??? My guess is; NO… you wouldn’t.
But what if the few of us that would, could have those comments to work with without every one of us doing the same research. What if there were paid people compiling those comments for the rest of us to either simply copy or to take the time to re-word to make them original in nature? Do you think that might make sense??
There are retired USFS and BLM people with the expertise and knowledge of how to research the Draft Environmental Impact Statements, Draft Resource Management Plans, Travel Management Plans, and all the other Land Use issue documents who would do this if WE would give them the motivation to do it… think… MONEY.
Wake up people!!!
Things are happening that you don’t hear about often enough. Too often, it’s because the outcomes are too negative to speak of because the money wasn’t there to get the job done right.
The few who fight for YOUR access to 4x4 roads and trails do what they can with precious few monetary resources in comparison to what the Preservationists flaunt. Most of us take money from our own pockets to buy the office supplies, pay for the fuel to go to meetings all over the place, even occasionally pay for a motel room to support YOU. Which one of you have even thought to thank any one of us, much less offered to compensate us for our expenses?
Most of these folks have a job to support their families just like you do… yet they find the time to DO SOMETHING more than just complain and whine “What do they do for us?”
Do What YOU Can Do
So, what can and should you do to support the few who DO SOMETHING? There are a few easy things you can do.
Ø The next time someone asks if you would like to buy some raffle tickets to win a “whatever”… either buy a book or two of tickets, or;
Ø Donate the money to the entity and tell them to keep their tickets. Your donation saves them the time, cost, and aggravation of administering a raffle… which is considerable.
Ø Take one or more of those books of raffle tickets and sell them to someone. Surely you can find time and a way to sell just one book of tickets. Take them with you when you shop and ask for some support from the places where you spend your money.
Ø Rather than buying a six-pack, donate the money to one of these entities. You will get back much more than those beers will ever provide even if you don’t personally see it. (It might save you a DUI too)
Ø Encourage your co-workers, friends, and neighbors to join your club, state association, or one of the Land Use organizations. Many of these people use the public lands without a second thought. Give them a reason to “think about it”. Get them involved.
Ø Quit asking: “What have they done for us?” It is wrong thinking. The real question is: “What can I do to help or support you that do the work?” When you turn your thinking to this question, you’ll find more things will get done.
Ø The next time the question of club dues comes up, support a small increase. When multiplied by the number of members in most states, the money will go a long way to supporting YOU!
Many of you have heard the old saying: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” Remember, that “ME” is YOU! The ball doesn’t move till someone moves it. BE THAT SOMEONE or SUPPORT THE ONES THAT DO.
It is the only way that YOUR access to YOUR public lands in YOUR chosen OHV will continue. YOUR SUPPORT… be it YOU doing something or YOU supporting the people who do it on your behalf is the only way this can work.
Think about it. If everyone who used public lands just once a year would donate $1.00/year for that right. We all know that's not happening. Someone has to make up for the several who won't do their part. BE THAT SOMEONE!
Otherwise, just send me the keys and titles to your 4x4, ATV, UTV, Motor Cycles, and other off road toys. I will sell them and donate the money.
Then you can buy a Subaru or CRV to crawl the Walmart Parking Lot until they “Preserve” them for whatever wonderful name they want to call it.
Now, when you come to a fork in the road, TAKE IT!
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