Howto: Take Action on US Land Closures

Brent Plummer
by Brent Plummer
Kudos to the AMA for making our effort to keep public US Forest Service (USFS) lands open for off-road recreational use! You can simply fill in your name on a letter they've crafted to USFS Chief Mike Dombeck, print it out and send it. Heck, you can even e-mail your ramblings.

Before you do that, read a speech Chief Mike Dombeck gave to Yale on October 5th, 2000, where he said, in part:

"Our National Recreation Agenda will guarantee the American people access to the lands they love in a manner that protects land health and water quality."

Things like this make me glad I'm a life-time member of the AMA...

Personally, I dig off-roading, but not in a manner you'd expect from a guy that owns a moto magazine -- mountainbiking first, then tooling around in my 4WD truck. That said, I have to admit that the worst impact on forest land seems to be:

  • 4WD Trucks
  • Horses
  • Motorcycles
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Trucks/Jeeps are, obviously, highly destructive: heavy and wide, they can churn up land like nothing short of a bulldozer. However, few equestrians realize how harsh their steeds are -- horses are amazingly able to rut land, and theypoop all over. When was the last time you saw a horseback rider picking up horse doo? On a strange sidebar, dogs aren't allowed in much USFS land, even though horses generally are.

Mountain bikers have the potential to have the least impact -- a 25 pound bike with big, softly inflated tires with a relative weakling of a powerplant can leave almost no trace. Sadly, though, some MTB riders barrel down hills with their rear wheel locked, plow down flora and fauna with abandon, and are general nitwits. The same can be said for motocrossers, I guess, but I personally hold MTB riders to a higher standard since they're supposed to be healthy enviro-friendly types.

But I digress. On a recent extended backpacking trip, I waded through a suddden hailstorm to make it to the summit of SoCal's highest peak, San Gorgonio (pronounced gore-gow-NIO), only to find that a bunch of hikers had left prodigeous amounts of trash. So no class of American USFS land users are perfect, and that sucks.

The examples above are why our land is being closed, and it saddens me: A minotiry of idiots in each group is ruining it for the rest of us. To make matters worse, Equstrians don't like anyone on the trail, hikers tend to bicker with everyone else too, many 4WDers don't seem to care much about anyone in their path (I say this from much experience, having dashed out of the way of Hummers and Jeeps many times while backpacking and bicycling), and so on. The infighting amongst USFS land users reminds me of the sportbike Vs. Harley haters: we'll argue amongst ourselves so much that we can't unite, and thus, we'll all lose our rights. Stupid, stupid stupid.

PS: On that day atop Gorgonio, I buried what biodegradable trash there was, and carried down what stinky remains I could. Do your part, each and every one of you (I know some of you abusers are reading this!), and we won't have this problem.

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Brent Plummer
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