The Sleeping Giant                                           Updated 2/7/2010

Something really amazing has just happened.

The Kern Valley Sun printed my letter about there being no place in our valley for the Sequoia ForestKeepers conflict mongering, pitting different recreation groups against one another.

Two comments about my letter were posted by apparent Sequoia ForestKeepers members attempting to malign Stewards of the Sequoia and everyone who enjoys OHV recreation. Although they would not use real names their negative comments claimed:

Sasquatch wrote on Feb 4, 2010 11:23 PM:
" Which off-road vehicle manufacturers and lobbyists support "stewards" of the sequoia? Who is lining your pockets, Mr. Horgan? "

Hayduke wrote on Feb 4, 2010 11:15 PM:
" Motor vehicles have no place on forest trails. They belong on roads only. Our local Whine Steward works tirelessly to make our forest into a dangerous place for regular folks to hike, ride horseback, mountain bike, hunt or fish. Maybe we should open up the Indy 500 to "multiple use," but I doubt if anyone really wants to hunt or fish there any more than they will in the Sequoia National Forest if this whiner gets his way."

Of course their malicious tone and ignorant comments prove my point.

But here is the really amazing part.

I expected a couple of people might post some balanced rational comments and then we would get another rant from the ForestKeepers.

Instead what happened was incredible.

In just one day 30 people posted comments calling the ForestKeepers to the carpet and supporting the efforts of Stewards of the Sequoia. I must say as I read them I got a bit choked up. It is great to see proof that the majority of people appreciate Stewards of the Sequoia hard work protecting access for everyone, and more importantly people are willing to speak up about it and very articulately. Below are a couple of the comments. They are well worth the read:

" My family and I routinely enjoy the outdoor life in and around Lake Isabella. We hike, fish, hunt, horseback, bicycle, motorcycle and generally enjoy the place. We have met many people on the trail and can say that, not even once, have we met anyone who seems to put forth the hate that "Forestkeepers" does. Who are these people?? Stewards supports access for everyone. I just don't see the problem with that. Keep up the good work Stewards, I hope my $50 goes a long way to "lining your pockets".

" As an ornithologist, hiker, and life member of the Sierra Club and life member of the Audobon Society, I have never felt threatened or heard of anyone else being scared of an off-road vehicle. I have enjoyed the most sacred of lands ONLY because the first several hours of the would be hike were made possible by the swift access afforded first by my small, quiet,lightly treading dirt bike. Walking even 15 of the 60 miles round trip to my favorite hike would not be possible for this working man on his typical weekend off. "

" If your going to be disingenuous in your objections to the Stewards of the Sequoia have the courage to sign your real name.
How many miles of trails have you cleared?
How much have you hiked, ridden your horse or bike in the forest?
Have you witnessed the devastation in the Piutes caused by a law suit in which the the Sequoia ForestKeepers joined?
OHV riders have donated well over a million dollars to the SNF in the last 3 years and thousands of hours of labor. Have the ForestKeepers? "

" Stewards of the Sequoia promotes RESPONSIBLE use of PUBLIC land and donates many man-hours to maintain the environment. The position of the ForestKeepers is simply shallow and selfish and as you can see in their tone, quite negative. "

" The Sequoia National Forest is big enough to share. To exclude one form of recreation just because you don't enjoy it is very self centered."

"It's the same ForestKeeper preservationist mentality that's eliminated the stocking of the Kern River and allowed millions of acres of forests to be consumed by wildfire."

" I agree with Chris we must work together to keep existing trails open. As a property owner on Piute Mtn.I spend a great deal of time hiking and mountain biking Sequoia National Forest. I have as yet to ever feel threatened or in danger of OHV users.
I would also go on record as stating that I have never seen anyone donate so much time, and effort, to keeping trails open than Chris. "

" I’m “lining his pockets” with the princely sum of $200.00 total. Ever look out an airplane window, wonder what your fellow citizens are doing with our land? Well look no further. With the help of negative, politically savvy, well funded groups wishing to make a tyrant’s decision for everybody we can expect increasing loss of access to all you see. Are locked gates, barbed wire and keep out signs really the answer? Welcome Sequoia ForestKeepers to the debate. However, since you brought it up, please open your financial records… so we know who we are actually talking to. "

" Our public lands are there for everyone's enjoyment, not just a select few or for certain activities. The vast majority of off-roaders are respectful of the land and other users. We play by the rules and many of us donate time and money to maintain ALL types of trails. And yet, more and more of our trails are being closed. I am not asking to be allowed to ride on your hiking trail or to disrupt your enjoyment; what I am asking is that the small handful of OHV trails we have left be allowed to remain open. "

" We will probably never hear from Hayduke or Sasquatch. They can't respond factually to the responses to their disingenuous statements.
Last year the ForestKeepers were soliciting negative comments about OHV users on their web site. When I cited this in a letter to the editor the solicitation mysteriously disappeared.
The Stewards have been instrumental in keeping open many miles of trails for the use of EVEYONE. What has the ForestKeepers done for us?
Many millions of acres of our precious forest have been destroyed by fire due to the efforts of preservationist groups like the Sequoia ForestKeepers. "

" Like many others thousands out there I love the outdoors and have supported the use of our land for everyone’s use. Feeling like I have mine and no one else can have there’s just wrong! Use of our open space is the greatest form of freedom not to mention great for family bonding."

" I love backpacking, mountain-biking, and motorcycle riding through the Piutes and Greenhorn mountains. I donate my time and money to maintain trails so that others may share the enjoyment. Please do not exclude or discriminate against folks who chose a different method of transportation through our public lands than you do. Once you're able to see other outdoor enthusiasts simply as people with a similar passion for the outdoors as you, you'll be happier, a lot less bitter, and smile a lot more the next time you hike, bike, or ride through our beautiful Sequoia. "

"Clearly, Hayduke does not believe that disabled people, including our Disabled Veterans have any right to access public lands. It's only for health people like him. Well, Hayduke, I very much hope you are not disabled someday, and have to hear from people that you have no business enjoying public lands. Your selfishness saddens me."

The Sleeping Giant known as the SIlent Majority has awoken. Welcome to a new age.

Chris Horgan
Executive Director
Stewards of the Sequoia

 

You can read all the comments as well as my letter in the Kern Valley Sun at http://www.kernvalleysun.com/articles/2010/02/05/opinion/letters/
doc4b6883f6722d3901110640.txt#blogcomments

You can read the background regarding ForestKeeper hate mail at
http://stewardsofthesequoia.org/ConflictMonger.html

"Kicking Us Off Our Own Land Is Just Flat Wrong"
That is the title of a very good article published in the Bakersfield Californian about the Planned Closure of 181 Miles of Routes from 12/31 to 4/15 each year


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