There are many Land Use concerns going on around the State of Colorado. Many of these issues are unheard of, because of the refusal of people to get involved in things that they may not have a complete understanding of. The lack of willingness to be involved leads to complacency in the motorized community. That allows many of these trail closures to occur, with little, to no opposition.
I will identify some simple and easy steps everyone can take to start doing a little that can help out in a big way.
- Get involved State Wide: A significant number of local clubs/organizations also include membership with Land Use organizations like Colorado Off-highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO). But COHVCO, and ones like them, can also use your support directly. These are the groups that fight for our community at the political level, within the state of Colorado. They are the advocates for us in the state of Colorado.
- Get involved Nationally: This can be as simple as joining Organizations like Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC). Organizations such as these assist with some local issues around the country, but also fight at the National level in Washington D.C. regarding federal laws and regulations. Joining them as a member gives them more numbers to represent when attending hearings and conferences that concern the motorized community. Numbers speak loudest in politics.
- Get involved locally: Join a local motorized organization/club.It is through these local organizations that we can show the vast numbers of users, and prove without a doubt, we are a force to be reckoned with.
- Sign the Petitions: Aside from money to fight issues, numbers are equally as important. When you see or hear about a petition circulating in regards to anything motorized, do some research and see if it is something to benefit the motorized community.If it is, SIGN IT. Numbers are a key component to winning the battle of keeping our trails and public lands open for motorized recreation.
- Write a Letter: Tell them your position on motorized use and interest in making the recreational hobby better for all users. Stay away from the rude comments that demand action; those get us nowhere. No one listens when being talked to rudely.Speak your mind and make your case.If we speak professionally and maturely, to the powers that make decisions in regards to our trails, we are much more likely to he understood.
- Submit a Comment: Anytime that a land use issue comes around from the Forest Service it is required that they allow public commenting. One myth that a lot of people think is that the commenting is for residents in the area in question. This is false. It doesn’t matter if you live 5,000 miles away, your comment holds the same weight as the person that lives next door.
- Make a Donation to a Land-Use Organization: Along with needing numbers to fight the battle at the legislative level, these groups are in need of money to support them. The anti-motorized groups employ multiple attorneys, spend countless hours in court rooms and a great deal of time reading current bills submitted to the government that are geared towards closing our trails. They only do this because the anti-motorized groups fund them. We have to counter that with equal interest and support in the form of donations.
- Help Teach ethical and responsible OHV use: This is done by politely informing users of the safe, ethical and responsible use of OHV’s on public lands. When you are out on the trails or even standing in line at your favorite off-road shop, talk to people and help them understand the consequences of not staying on the designated trail. Take time and learn the Tread Lightly principles as well as the material offered from Stay the Trail. Help pass that information on to others. We need to police and educate our own so we do not give the anti-motorized groups any more ammunition to have our trails closed down.
- Don’t be afraid to police our own: If you do not feel safe confronting someone, simply get pictures if possible, plate number and report it to local law enforcement and the Local Forest Service Rangers office. There are a lot of people out there that say doing so is being a snitch, and they will never do that. What they fail to realize is that if we do not do what we can to stop and/or prevent these types of acts from happening, we are not preventing the trails from being closed, we are helping close them.
I know that some of the above steps involve us spending some money, that most would rather save for that new upgrade or modification and this kind of thinking needs to stop. We need numbers and yes funding, to fight for access to the trails we build our vehicles for. If I had to put a number on the differences between motorized users and anti-motorized, it would be roughly as follows: The number of involved individuals that do at minimum the steps outlined above are , 250 to 1 with 1 being the motorized. Funding donated or received from membership is likely around $1,000 to $1, with the single dollar being the motorized community. With those types of differences who do you think the US Forest Service and Federal Government is going to listen too? It is time we all band together, put our differences aside and not worry if the other person drives or rides a different brand or form of OHV than me. We need everyone to get involved and work together to make a change.
I know this has been a long article and I would like to thank you for reading it. These are all things we as the motorized community need to start doing, if we want to break the cycle of losing trails. If you take anything away from this, PLEASE let it be to Join a Land Use Organization, join a local club/organization that supports the Land Use organizations and help teach others about safe, responsible and ethical OHV use on public lands. If we do not start doing something now, as a unified community, we will not have anything left. Every year we lose hundreds of miles of trails to the anti-motorized agenda and this year is no different. There are currently hundreds of miles of trails at risk in Colorado, and I personally do not want to see a single mile lost.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me and I will either have the answer or we can work together to find it.
Director of Land Use
Colorado 4x4 Rescue & Recovery