Recreation requires Collaboration                 

What is the most important thing you can do to continue recreating on public lands? Preserve your Access. Without Access you will no longer be able to enjoy the forest on your OHV, or mountain bike, or horse. Without Access you cannot fish or hunt or rock climb. Face it, without access you would not be able to do whatever you enjoy on public lands.

It would be hard not to notice more & more trails being closed to OHV’s, mountain bikes & even horse riders.

Why is this happening & what can be done to protect our Access?

The theory of divide & conquer is as old as time & closure activists have used it very well to pit each type of recreation against each other. They have also used it to pit recreation against grazing & timber harvest. Then they stand back while we fight over who should be allowed to use our own trails.

One of the primary justifications for closure is “User Conflict”. You know, where some intolerant folks say they cannot enjoy their day because OHV’s are allowed to use the same trail. Of course those folks could choose to visit a trail which does not allow OHV use & more than 80% of the trails are already closed to OHV use. In other cases it might be horse riders objecting to mountain bike use, or mountain bikers objecting to horse riders, or any combination. It is very easy for folks to get greedy & want public lands all for themselves. That is unreasonable & unrealistic. Past history has shown closing trails to one type of use often produces a domino effect of closures for other uses.

Remember when camping & forest access were free? In those days many of the facilities were paid for by income from timber sales & grazing permits. Now we prohibit common sense forest thinning & grazing while incinerating millions of acres each year with unnatural Wildfires. We pay higher & higher user fees with a net reduction in forest health to supposedly save the environment.

Today recreation is being portrayed as consumptive, just as timber & grazing have already been. It seems to matter little how well we take care of our trails or how much we care about the environment or how little our impact in the overall picture. In the political arena recreation is now being pitted against protecting the environment.

One likely answer to this dilemma is Collaboration among all recreation groups, as well as with timber & grazing. The common ground is we all need Access. We need to work together & combine our voices to be effective in showing we are not harming the environment while protecting our Access.

Each of you can help by reaching out to people who enjoy other types of recreation, as well as timber & grazing interests in your area. Form relationships with them & work on projects together if possible. This way when the intolerant, but vocal minority, pipe up & yell “User Conflict”, you can ask what conflict? You can ask them why they are the only ones not willing to work with everyone else? When they claim one type of use needs to be eliminated all of us can stand together & say NO WE WANT OUR ACCESS.

Chris Horgan
Executive Director
Stewards of the Sequoia
Division of CTUC 501c3

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     © Stewards of the Sequoia 2005

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