I stole this one from the Billings Gazoo, hope I didn't violate any copyright laws but if I did I ain't the first. I wonder why they haven't invited me to write a "Guest Opinion"? Probably because I'm one of those guests that nobody invites back twice.
Guest opinion: Off-highway vehicles overrunning public forests
Really? Where? I've ridden nowhere that I would call overrun, except perhaps Ah Nei on a busy weekend. Can you quote a source for that information perhaps, besides the Sierra Club?
By JIM FURNISH
I've ridden off-highway vehicles and enjoyed it. They're fun. In the spirit of fair play I need to get that off my chest.
Oh, so you're saying that you're a hipochrite then?
The Forest Service, with whom I spent a 34-year career prior to retiring as deputy chief in 2002, just issued new regulations intended to blunt the threat posed by OHVs, whose use "has reached critical mass," according to Dale Bosworth, the agency chief.
Well, according to Justin, the world's greatest blogger, OHV use has reached nothing like "critical mass", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. And let me ask you this, if there's so damn many of us, then why are we being ignored so?
I think that assessment is a serious understatement. OHVs - including ATVs, dirt bikes, 4WDs, and snowmobiles - may be fun to ride, but they are ruining the last best places in America's national forests. Clean water, fragile soils, fish and wildlife are taking a beating, and there are fewer and fewer places to pursue quiet and solitude. And don't get me started on how OHVs spread noxious weeds.
I would've left you alone if you hadn't made that one single blatant bullshit statement right there. I'm not even going to get started on the crap about our toys "ruining" the last best places in America's national forests, even though that's entirely a matter of opinion and hardly a statement of fact. I'm gonna tear you up over your statement about noxious weeds. Noxious weeds? I would love to take you on a ride with me some time, really. I have seen examples of noxious weeds being spread along the trails oh yes I have. Next time I see one of these examples, which are very easily found in most areas by the way, I will be sure to document it with photographs. I will most definately take a picture of every pile of horse shit that I see, especially the ones with big ol' purple Canadian Thistles growing out of them. My ATV has yet to shit thistle seeds out along the trail, if it ever does, I'll call you at home dumbass, what's your number?
I commend the Forest Service for directing that OHVs be confined to "designated routes," rather than running loose on the land. But a small step in the right direction is not enough when a giant leap is needed. The new OHV regulation falls woefully short of the bold steps necessary to beat the problem.
Hmmmm? So let me get this straight, you think that requiring OHVs to be confined to the roads and trails that are already there and have been there for years isn't enough? Oh, I know, you think they should just be outlawed entirely, right? That would be a bold step wouldn't it? You wouldn't be feeling very bold after a few million ATV riders got done kicking a mud hole in your ass and stomping it dry though would you?
This issue has been festering for more than two decades on public lands as OHV use has mushroomed. Manufacturers crank out ever-more muscular machines along with slick ad campaigns. And the Forest Service has been largely asleep at the wheel, except for some courageous officials who care enough about your public lands to try and stop the abuse.
Festering, mushroomed, how articulate, there's somebody mushrooming here alright, but it ain't the ATV riders pal. And let me ask you, WTF does more muscular machines and ad campaigns have to do with a damn thing? Are you trying to say that the fact that manufacturers happen to advertise a product that's been particularily lucrative to them and meanwhile attempt to improve said product is the reason that this "problem" is "festering"? Some of us call that free enterprise, but I suppose that you want to outlaw that as well.
And screw your "courageous officials". The only thing that they've courage enough to do is bow to inflated email and letter writing campaigns financed by special interest environmental groups and carried out by paid and likewise unconcerned college students, most of which have probably never been to a National Forest and truth be told could probably give a rat's ass what's best for one. Lucky for us these "courageous officials" are still outnumbered by "common sense officials" that can see this for what it is, just another legitimate use of public lands that when carried out properly and in accordance with the law is no more dangerous to the forests than this lard assed blow hard plodding along a hiking trail puffing wind, farting noxious gases, and dripping sweat all over the ecosystem.
Most private lands are closed to OHVs, as well as state-owned lands. National parks are generally closed (yet there is increasing trespass even there!). That leaves other federal lands as the primary playground, and national forests are the choicest morsels - stunning beauty, vast room to roam, clear streams and skies and freedom to explore. Small wonder so many love it.
Private lands? I won't even slam you for that one, you did it yourself. Increasing trespass in National Parks? Are you perhaps referring to the fact that every year a few wayward snowmobilers happen to wander inside the boundaries of Yellowstone? That's been happening for years, don't even act like it's a recent development, or that it's that big of a problem. The buffalo wander out, the snowmobilers wander in, it's a fair trade I think. Don't like it? Make sure the boundary is well marked, most people really would rather steer clear than risk a fine but everything looks the same when it's buried in snow. If the Buffalo can't tell where the park boundaries are, how the heck is somebody on a snowmobile? At least the guy on the sled can read, probably. All you need are some signs.
The Forest Service is long overdue in reining in abusive OHV activity to protect resources and restore balance with the majority of outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to pursue quiet, human-powered activities. OHVs have a huge "footprint" - they can easily cover 100 miles a day and are noisy. And instead of one family riding in a four-wheel drive pickup, now there are four or five OHVs tooling around instead.
Sorry to bust your bubble buddy, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts prefer riding motorized toys, if they didn't, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You said it yourself, the ATVs are "festering" and "mushrooming", remember? The majority of big city environmentalists enjoy "human powered activities". Like sitting around writing bullshit like this, because most of them haven't ever set foot in a forest. Yes, ATVs can cover a lot of ground, 100 miles a day is a bit of a stretch unless you're really in a hurry, but they can cover a lot of ground, that's why they need more ground to cover. If a hiker can cover say 10 or 20 miles in a day, and an ATV can cover a hundred, then tell me the logic of letting the hikers have the whole damn forest and giving the ATVs a little section, especially when no one is asking to tear up anything. The trails are already there. Kinda like wipin' before ya poop, it just don't make no sense.
And as far as the family in the pickup is concerned, a lot of trails aren't open to trucks, but they are open to ATVs. That's reason one.
Take a road trip with a couple of kids once, see how bored they get? Now let 'em drive, they ain't bored now are they? Neither is the ol' lady, is she? Hell no, the 8 year old is drivin' and mom's wide assed awake ain't she? A family will have far more fun if everyone can ride their own ATV than they will going for a drive in the family truckster. And if little Junior goes in the ditch and plows into a rock he just gets up and dusts himself off, instead of killing the whole family. That's reason two.
Take a four wheel drive pickup sometime and drive across some wet, soft ground and see what happens. Did you get stuck? Did you leave big ol' nasty assed ruts all over the place? Now go climb a steep hill. Did you spin all the way up? Did you dig big trenches all the way and plant a perfect seed for a washout? Now go do the same thing with an ATV, hell, do it with 4 ATVs. Did you skim right over top of that mud? Did you make it up that hill and barely move a little gravel in the process. Now you get the picture. That's reason three.
All that tooling around by 30-40 million OHV riders has created a web of hundreds of thousands of miles of unauthorized, renegade routes that finally spurred the Forest Service to say "Whoa!" Sort of. The Forest Service did not take the much-needed firm stand against these renegade routes.
Uh, they didn't? First of all, the offroad community took that stand before the Forest Service did with things like the Tread Lightly program. We've been educating users for years that off trail travel was a no-no, long before it became universal law on Forest Service land. Go and ask any ATV rider if it's ok to ride off of the trails. If you find one in a hundred or even a thousand that said that it was ok I'd be really surprised.
I don't know how much more "good times" our national forests can stand. Clean water and wildlife will continue to suffer along with increasingly disenfranchised recreationists who long for naturalness and quiet. The Forest Service has allied itself with the wrong values on this issue.
Our, keyword our, National Forests can stand a whole lot more good times, as long as users continue to be as respectful as the ones that I've encountered. Clean water is not suffering, that's just plain crap and you know it. Wildlife? I don't think so. All the critters have to do is move 50 yards one way or the other and no one on an ATV is likely to even see them. As far as these poor "disenfranchised" recreationists, can you say "Wilderness"? There's loads of that around, as well as Forest Service land where ATVs are not allowed. I know, I go there sometimes when I want "naturalness (is that even a friggin word?) and quiet".
Using smoking as an analogy, I make the point that smokers affect nonsmokers, but not vice-versa. OHV users similarly affect "quiet recreationists." Society has settled the smoking issue by demanding that smokers practice their habit in confined areas. The Forest Service needs to get on top of the OHV issue and require that their use be confined to relatively small, suitable areas and leave most national forest lands the way they should be - natural!
Now I've seen stretches, I've seen people grasping at straws, I've even seen people perform drastic abominations of the truth in times of hopeless desparation, this my friends takes the cake and eats it too.
Smoking? Come on man, is that the best that you could come up with? First of all, nonsmokers do affect smokers. Their elitist "I'm better than you so I have all the rights" attitude forces people to stand outside in the cold and smoke, which pisses them off, so that if they formerly would have not smoked in the presence of a nonsmoker out of courtesy, they will extend that courtesy no longer. They'll flat assed blow smoke in your face and laugh because you're a self righteous elitist prick that thinks your way is the right way and that's how it is, period. Never mind steps like seperate smoking areas, or special ventilation systems that could've alleviated the problem of second hand smoke without banishing anyone to stand out in the cold like a second class citizen.
Likewise, "quiet recreationists" affect me. They piss me off, not simply by being quiet, that doesn't bother me at all, but by being elitist snobs that somehow think that the forests belong to them and only them even though numerous steps have been taken to reduce or eliminate the very things that they proclaim as annoyances, pollution, noise, off trail travel, ect. That's the reason why some people that I've talked to don't feel bad in the least when they bury a couple of hikers in dust, or blast by a mountain biker at 50 MPH, if I knew it was this guy, I wouldn't feel bad either. Tell me where he hikes, if he even does, so I can pull the baffle out of my pipe and go do donuts around his overinflated ass.
Let's face it, if I invented an ATV that hovered two feet off the ground, left no tracks, made no noise whatsoever, and shit wolf puppies out of the exhaust it wouldn't be good enough for these people, they wouldn't acknowledge the effort in the slightest. They want the forests all to themselves, plain and simple. They probably get pissed when they see another hiker, if there were too many people walking through the forests they'd want to outlaw that too, for everyone except themselves. Get out your dictionaries boys and girls and let's look up the word "elitist".
The last statement is the worst one of them all, I addressed it earlier, cramming more ATVs into smaller areas. What kind of a "festering mushroom" do you think it's going to create if you take the current number of ATVs and cram them all into the parking lots at our favorite riding areas? Don't deny it because I've seen the travel plan proposals, it's exactly what you want to do to us. It's gonna create one messed up parking lot is what it's gonna do. The more room that ATVs have to operate, the less that they're going to be operating on any one particular stretch of trail. Make them all ride around in a little circle and that's going to be one screwed up circle in no time at all, besides the fact that it's about as much fun as watching grass grow.
But then again that's the whole point when we really get down to it, isn't it? These people want to ruin the whole allure so we'll just give up. Never mind what people want, never mind the economic backlash, environmental groups have never felt bad about destroying entire local economies before, why should they start caring now? Sounds a lot like what these left wing extremists are trying to do with guns, they know they can't get away with straight up outlawing them, so they'll just keep putting restrictions on them until it's such a pain in the ass to own one that it just isn't worth the hassle anymore.
I think that there's enough motorized recreationists out there to have a better voice than this. This is why we need to make that voice heard, sitting on our asses and expecting the trails to still be open next year is no longer an option. These people are making us out to be a minority, we are not a minority, not by a long shot. The sales and registration figures for ATVs and other off highway vehicles proves it. If you want that new 4 wheeler you just bought to rapidly become a $7000 worthless piece of shit, then keep sitting back and being quiet. Mine's an old beater and I'm making noise but I can't do it by myself. Write your Senators, write your Representatives, write the Forest Service, write the BLM, write your state legislators, join the Blue Ribbon Coalition, join your local OHV clubs just do something and do it often. The future of our chosen form of recreation depends on it, unless of course you like riding around in circles.
Jim Furnish is a former deputy chief of the Forest Service, and now a consulting forester living in the Washington, D.C., area.
Former? I like the sound of that. Consultant? If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand, but just in case: CONSULTANT = OVERPAID LEECH. Washington D.C. area? Oh, that explains how he knows so much about National Forests in Montana, I get it now.
Sorry if I offended anyone, except of course for Mr. Jim Furnish, he can kiss my hairy white ass.