PURPOSEFUL OR ACCIDENTAL, THE RESULTS ARE DISASTROUS
Motorized outlaw and idiot behavior that endangers our sport must come to an end. Recreationists must start volunteer trail patrols, report bad behavior and exert peer pressure to curtail the idiot factor that will get our trails shut down. We must also support law enforcement and encourage it on our trails and back country.
Sheriff’s OHV Patrol working on the Rubicon Trail
It matters not whether the behavior is purposeful or out of ignorance. It must be curtailed (managed, regulated, stopped).
Years ago while at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, I had the chance to speak with some zealots from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), as well as some respected Recreational Planners from the BLM. I must say that something they said struck home with me big time. It has to do with the image of motorized recreationists ruined by outlaw behavior.
We have some work to do in the area of image. It seems that the adage can be true that a few bad apples can spoil the barrel. The folks who don’t play by the road rules are causing us (organized. responsible recreationists) a lot of harm. Allow me to call them “motorized outlaws.”
The outlaws in this case are getting off the road where they don’t belong, doing damage to recognized important resources, and ignoring the future of our sport. In Utah there are places where off road/trail travel is significant enough to cause the SUWA folks to rise up in arms.
Even BLM folks see too much of it. It is ruining the reputation of us law-abiding riders to have outlaws getting off the road/trail. Unfortunately, our image as a whole is being judged by the actions of a few. It has happened on the Rubicon Trail and other trails as well.
I say that our challenge for the future is to strategize on ways to curtail illegal motorized outlaw activities, thereby improving our image (or at least the perception non-motorized folks have of us). Obviously if we can have the “right” image to bureaucrats and politicians, our goal of continuing to have access will be easier to obtain. Our credibility will go up as will our results.
So how do we go about that? The first steps are the same as they’ve always been as far as I see it: and that is my “JAIL” speech:
JOIN, ADVOCATE, INCLUDE Others, and LETTERS (write ’em). Read the JAIL speech and suggestions here.
Then, after we do the above (I should say *continue* to do the above, because many of us are already doing that), we MUST police ourselves. I see no better alternative.
There aren’t enough federal bureaucrats and cops around in the back country to catch the idiot-outlaws. In fact, it’s kind of obvious that some federal law enforcement officials pay more attention to highway violations (National Park Service in particular) and organized (Special Use Permit) trail rides, than they do back country outlaws.
How do we police ourselves?
If you drive/ride by a violation of responsible recreation principles, or worse yet, see a blatant Wilderness violation, stop and do something about it. Tell the person involved what they’re doing and how it impacts the rest of us. Ask them to stop.
If they refuse or tell you to pound sand, then take their license number (and maybe a picture) and report them to the nearest law enforcement official. Report them to the folks who have adopted your trail.
If you witness such an extreme event as to cause you to take this course of action and want your “case” to hold up in court, your evidence should include witness statements, license numbers, and photos.
Talk to your local Sheriff if you’re confused about this step. But at least gather the data and give it to someone who can follow up. Federal law enforcement officers do not have to actually see a crime to pursue justice, most County Sheriffs and Highway Patrol officers do have to witness the event firsthand.
In all cases, you can serve as an educational force on your trail. Carry brochures and give them out. Carry club brochures and other group memberships and hand them out. Talk to people about responsible recreation and saving our trails. It’s a duty we can all have with pride.
The MOST important thing we can do is continue to strategize on ways to improve our image and get rid of the impact of idiot-outlaws. Your conventions, meetings, annual big events should have a session wherein you help us all come up with ways to enhance our image to the voting public. It boils down to votes and the political system that comes from those votes.
I look forward to hearing about your ideas for improving the image of motorized recreation.
Feel free to comment if you have additional questions or need any help.
Thanks, and keep recreating on your public lands.