Key Tips on How to Get Involved In Public Lands Management
I for one am tired of finding gates, road closed signs, and so called “environmentally” imposed restrictions on my recreation. Yes, we need clean air. Yes, we need clean water. Yes, there are times (wet winter) when it might be better not to take a jeep up a muddy road in a sensitive, erosion-prone area. But this is common sense. Some restrictions have just gone too far.
Radical protectionists have taken these common sense precautions and turned public lands into nearly forbidden territory. It’s just not right! If you don’t want to see our public lands locked up, here are some easy (and proven) steps for getting involved in the management of our public lands. If we don’t do this, we’re liable to find our public lands in JAIL.
JAIL is an acronym that actually stands for 4 points that I feel are crucial to our survival (and to prevent that feeling of being locked up and locked out):
J is for JOIN!
The key to saving our recreation lies for the most part with organized representatives of our sports. They can muster the money and effort to really make a difference. Besides by banding together and sharing information, we all learn to be much more effective.
Membership is the key to survival for organized recreation groups. I strongly suggest everyone joins your local, state, regional, and national organizations that best represent your recreation and interests. Spend at least $100 a year on memberships if you want to be on the team.
A is for ADVOCATE!
Everyone must learn to be an advocate of your chosen form of recreation. Have you noticed how the radical protectionists advocate their interest to the detriment of everyone else? Well, we must return the favor. If you’re not out there advocating your sport, who is? It’s a team effort. We all must do it and convince others (especially city dwellers that control the vote for national legislators) that our recreation is appropriate for public lands. In fact, it’s our right! Tell your neighbors; talk to a non-jeeping family member; explain what we love about our sport and advocate.
I is for INCLUDE others!
The formula is simple: money makes a difference, and money means membership! We must be out there recruiting others to join clubs, groups, and organizations that represent us in the big political battles. We must advocate our recreation and recruit others to help us. Include your family and friends. Make sure at they know our side of the story when it comes to public access to public lands. A few folks properly informed, will inform a few more and so on.
Try out the Adopt-a-Ranger idea. Get your local USFS Ranger (or someone key on the District staff) to come with you on trail rides. Invite them to your meetings/events. Get to be on a first name basis with your federal land manager. You want to be the person he/she calls when there’s a four-wheeling/trail question. You will find this an incredible “in” for being involved in the management process.
Use the Ride-a-Long concept. Get your elected representatives on the trail with you. This includes members of the county Board/Commission, your congressperson and whomever else you think needs to know what it’s like to wheel first hand. For them to understand our needs, they need to experience our sport.
L is for LETTERS – write them!
There are no short cuts here (other than to follow someone else’s sample letter). You must write letters to let folks know how you feel about issues important to you. You need to let elected officials know your position on crucial items. Sometimes it’s just too easy to let someone else do it. But your opinion does matter to your elected officials. You can bet the anti-access groups are expressing their opinion. We need to do the same.
You can hand write your letters; type them; or use the sample letters provided by Internet web sites for many organized groups with your own twist in your own words. However you do it, you must get your opinion down on paper and get it to your elected representatives.
Please consider this idea: One for One. For every trail ride or event you attend, write one letter or attend one meeting. One for one. That’s not much to ask. Encourage others to do the same. One ride; one letter.
Help keep our public lands from being locked up and put in JAIL. Follow these simple steps and you can make a difference.
If you need assistance or further help, please feel free to contact the author.