How exactly do we “unmask” the mess we have been in for nearly a year and get back to saving trails, having vendor shows and events, and doing our motorized recreation thing?
It is not simple. We will have rules to follow, leftover paranoia, and transitional habits to break – and some new ones to perhaps make.
While we admire and thank all those agencies who tried to maintain some semblance of public land access, local, state, and federal land management agencies will likely be overwhelmed with the demand for outdoor recreation. We are going to flock to the fun!
Here are some suggestions and a little insight to help us get “back to normal.”
MEETINGS: We MUST be back at the tables of meetings, face to face, no matter what it takes if we want to keep our trails open. Much of what we do to protect our access is based on relationships — and that means meetings. If that means still wearing face protection and you just cannot do it, find someone who will. But be at the table. Your club/group/association has to have a seat to be heard. Enough virtual meetings, OK?
Let us use virtual (app based) meetings when necessary and when cost effective – not because of some leftover rule.
VENDOR SHOWS: Booths, registration tables, vendor shows, interactive trade show fun and so much more has been taken away from us. And how we “come back” from this saga is going to be different in many areas. Here is the key, in my mind: We must ask the businesses/vendors what they see and want!
Motorized recreationists like to touch and feel products (vendor show) and talk with the company reps in person. But is that really cost effective for YOUR vendors/supporters? Start asking your vendors.
An old rock/sand quarry pit provided a great spot, thanks to Lake County, just outside Leadvile, CO, for the base camp, and here the vendor day layout shows how well organized the Mile-Hi Jeep Club is. Photo by Jeff Miller
You may find your events going to more discount coupons and show prices, rather than a long row of vendors. You may find vendors wanting to be there and lead trail rides with time allowed for short presentations, or more campfire time, rather than the expense and effort of a vendor booth.
The key? FIND OUT what your major sponsor/donors/vendors want to do for your events and go from there.
TRAIL RIDES: Things like convoy participant restrictions, permits and trail availability are still going to haunt us for years – maybe forever. If your riding or event venue is in an area with COVID restrictions, be sure you establish a relationship with county health officials since their approval of your event’s COVID mitigation plan may be required. Be assured, a change has begun, and it will not end for the next several years. DO IT RIGHT.
Gray Colorado skies didn’t stop this convoy from enjoying the Mining remains of the 1800’s that dotted the Halfmoon Creek Trail on the way up to Champion Mine.
It is fair to guess that a COVID-immunized population of motorized recreationists will swarm public lands and OHV areas like never before – there has been enough lock down and stay home to last a lifetime. People are ready to recreate in high gear!
Winding through the High Rock Canyon, this convoy was treated to some of the best scenery the desert has to offer.
Make sure your events and rides/convoys are on target, following the rules and doing it legitimately, or “they” will take them away from us or just make them impossible to pull off. And to be fair, public land management agencies are not to blame for the mess we have been in, and they are left with difficult circumstances as we try to get back to “normal.”
The biggest, slickest trick to making all these changes work in our favor is communications. Yes, talking! We must set aside bickering and who said what to whom, and start serious, honest communications. Start small groups of key players involved in your event/activity and facilitate on-going and regular communications. Solve problems together. Find solutions to obstacles by creating an open dialogue.
Unmasking what we have been through all these months is not going to be easy – and it will certainly never completely go away. But for the sake of landuse, keeping trails open and ensuring our motorsports live on, we MUST do what it takes to clear the fog left over from all this time in masks.