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Paying the Price: The Motorized Recreation Community- Part 1

Jim Dixon  | Published on 4/20/2018



Things that are happening


         Why must the motorized community pay the price?  Every year we lose more trails around not only the State of Colorado, but Nation wide.  OHV motorized enthusiasts make up likely, the largest outdoor recreation community.  In the past couple years, Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) did an economic contribution study for the state of Colorado and found that, the motorized community contributes and estimated 2.3 BILLION dollars in direct expenditures annually. This does not include the roughly 17,000 jobs and $914 million in salaries, the motorized community creates.  However this does not seem to be strongly considered when the decisions to close trails and 4x4 roads are made.  It is time we make our voices heard by the US Forest Service concerning “Our Lands”.  Do they not realize that the motorized community is large and willing to do what ever it takes to keep trails and areas open for motorized use? But first I would like to point out some of the current issues that we see happening to our trails.




           A frequent argument that many from the anti-motorized group uses, is that the US Forest Service did not follow laws and regulations when creating the trails found in the National Forest.  This could not be any further from the truth in most cases.  Many of them are old logging or mining roads that were cut into the mountainside long before the US Forest Service began regulating them or existed.

 

            To the upper right you see off-road volunteers working on Pole Hill Trail to fill in a washout that was over 100 yards long and over 4 feet deep in some areas.  This repair was far more extreme compared to the washout found on Sevenmile Creek shown in the picture below it.  Our off-road volunteers always answer the call when asked.

 

            We as volunteers from the off road community, deserve to get answers and be made aware of the intentions of the US Forest Service. These are our trails that we gratefully spend our time and money to maintain, so that we all can all enjoy them.  Many groups and Organizations have repeatedly offered to supply all equipment, man power and material at no cost to the US Forest Service, to maintain trails, but those offers go mostly ignored even though the US Forest Service claims that they do not have money in their budget for any type of trail maintenance or repairs.  However they always have the money to bring in contractors to decommission these roads at HUGE expenses.






            At this point, it seems as though the US Forest Service has no interest in working with the motorized community in a sustainable working relationship.  We have been lied too, ignored, and pushed aside long enough regarding any of our concerns, when it comes to “OUR Trails”.  We as a motorized community must come together and make our voices heard.  Lets not have another year go by where we lose more trails to the anti-motorized agenda.  We must stand up for our right to enjoy the back-country with responsible, sustainable and enjoyable motorized recreation.

           

            One example of their interpretation of maintenance on trails, were repairs made to reopen the Storm Mountain area in Larimer County after the 2013 floods.  After being told by the Travel Management Officer and the District Ranger, that these trails would not be repaired beyond pre-flood conditions, we were skeptical.  Once Storm Mountain was reopened, only a quick trip was needed to see for ourselves what had been done.  The US Forest Service stated that the missing rocks and obstacles had to be removed for safety, in regards to the UTV’s, ATV”s and dirt bikes.


            While their thoughts might look good on paper, in real life, that was the worst decision they could of made if it was in the name of safety. 

 

            I have bore witness to many close calls with UTV’s and dirt bikes traveling at high rates of speed (50+ mph) around blind corners on this trail, since reopening.  How does this make the trails safer for anyone?  Not only does it cause a hazard to anyone traveling in the opposite direction, but creates the likelihood of serious injury when something does happen.  Unless they are planning on patrolling the trails to make sure everyone maintains a safe speed (which is not going to happen),  leaving rocks and obstacles are the only natural way to limit ones speed on the trails.  This is an example where a change was made in the name fo safety, that in fact does not serve the community it was intended to.  It is also a symptom of the detachment of the decision making from the community it claims to serve.

 

            On top of creating a less safe environment for everyone on the trail, it is felt that they are also opening the door for more damage to the areas around the trail.  When people travel to these areas they are looking for a place to challenge themselves, only to find a smooth graded road. They are more likely to travel off the trail, to find a challenge.  I am not saying that this is everyone in the motorized community, as the vast majority follow the rules.  However there are some out there that will, and once one person does, more will follow. 

 

            We can only hope that this trend of eliminating our trails, be it by closure or making them essentially two lane roads, does not continue.  We need to put a stop to the miss-communication and flat out lying that is happening to all of us, in the motorized community.





To read Part 2 Click Here









   
               
                
             
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