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Warning!  Motorized Outlaws Ruin It for All Warning!  Motorized Outlaws Ruin It for All
PURPOSEFUL OR ACCIDENTAL, THE RESULTS ARE DISASTROUS Motorized outlaw and idiot behavior that endangers our sport must come to an end. Recreationists must start... Warning!  Motorized Outlaws Ruin It for All


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.

Del Albright Ambassador

Internationally published author; WorldWide ModernJeeper Abassador and 2014 Inductee of the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Del has been involved in the Jeeping Lifestyle for longer then most of us can count. His educational and mentorship programs have helped developed warfighters in the ongoing battle to keep Public Lands Open to the Public.

  • Don Amador

    July 5, 2019 #1 Author

    As those of us in trail advocacy know, a lot of irresponsible trail activities and resultant impacts are often caused by off-roaders in the following four categories:

    1- New to the sport and have no clue about trail ethics
    2- Part of the 94% of off-roaders who DO NOT belong to, or support, an OHV club or organization
    3 – Do not consider themselves part of OHV recreation (i.e. hunters, etc.) hence they are not subject to OHV travel management prescriptions
    4 – Have no interest in following land use rules or regulations

    I think OHV advocacy efforts should continue to engage with categories 1-3. However, category four requires enhanced law enforcement and agency presence/programs that convey their commitment to managed recreation on said unit.


    • Del Albright

      July 5, 2019 #2 Author

      Excellent, Don. For sure. Thanks for this addition.


  • Robert Easley

    July 5, 2019 #3 Author

    Perhaps the rest of the states should follow Oregon’s example and begin to require a license for off road vehicle operation. A long time ago when I was 15, I had to study and take a class to learn the rules of the road. We don’t teach outdoor ethics .Today for $2000 you can buy a vehicle capable of destroying an alpine meadow in just a few minutes with very little chance of getting caught.


  • Harry Palmer

    July 8, 2019 #4 Author

    Another action we can take is to invite the officials, whether they are BLM, Forest Service, Sheriff, or others to go along with us on our rides. Most Federal agencies are underfunded and very short of staff. In my area, most of the BLM people had never gone off road on a trail ride till my local club invited them to accompany us as we did trail maintenance and trail updates. These efforts have really helped both our group and the BLM to understand each other and to learn to work together. Now we are gaining respect and they know some faces for when they want to go to new places for review. If we learn to work together, we can avoid losing our trails and keep them open for OHV.


  • Lou

    July 10, 2019 #6 Author

    I don’t belong to any of those groups, or even know anything about them, BUT I do live out in the country, in the woods, and I can tell you, you may call it ignorance, but behavior like that is simply a “I don’t care what you think, I’m gona do what I want” mentality.
    Anyone with a lick of common sense knows that getting off marked trails, only damages the area, causes ruts that, with the next rain, will fill up and cause erosion, and other ways of damage..
    Around here we have to guard our private property from (not all of them, but) a LOT of people who own 4-wheelers, who live in town, but think that on weekends, if it’s not paved, it free for them to go hog-wild on! And a lot of them don’t seem to realize that if you carried a full container in, it’s even easier and lighter to carry the EMPTY container back out!
    My family polices the gravel road and creek that fronts of our property at least once a month to keep it clean..


    • Harry

      July 23, 2019 #7 Author

      I understand the challenge. Depending on the state, the rules differ as to who is responsible and how far out the right of way goes. One of my brothers-in-law owns a fair amount of land in Montana. Access to his property is by several private roads. In other states, the land is protected but access must be allowed for the public to access the Federal lands. Learning what the rules are for the area where a person plans to off road is critical so we don’t lose our access.


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