We Have The Numbers!
From the Delta County, Colorado, Independant
I have been attempting to deal with, negotiate with, partner with, agree with, disagree with, collaborate with, and yes, even side with various user groups on the public land issues for years. When the new buzz word "travel management" started coming from the Forest Service it became clear to me as an avid OHV user, the OHV community needed a seat at the table.
Hence, the Thunder Mountain Wheelers (TMW) ATV Club of Delta was formed. It is important to note that TMW doesn't expend its energy opposing other forms of recreation or user groups, or try to undermine other activities on public lands. We recognize the diverse interests of all users and applaud them, rather than oppose them.
I vividly remember how contentious the travel management process was early on. It actually began with the Grand Mesa travel group which was attended in force by Western Colorado Congress and Trout Unlimited along with a variety of user and interest groups. We were all thrust together to talk about this new travel management concept, each group having its own agenda with little concern or caring for the other guy. At that time the word "consensus" was used. Finding that coming to a "consensus" in this new process was sometimes difficult and occasionally impossible, the word "collaboration" became the new buzz word. Collaboration gives the participants a little more flexibility in their efforts to agree on issues. Collaboration evolved into meaning, "I don't totally agree, I have some concerns, but I can live with it."
So here we are, many years later with several Forest Service travel plans behind us. And most of the same players and user groups are still prevalent in the "travel management" arena today. While TMW participates with volunteers, the environmental groups have paid staff. Observing these groups for years, and more specifically in present time, it seems it doesn't matter that they can't win their arguments or substantiate their position on facts or science or sometimes even the ballot box. In other words, there is NO collaboration on their ideas. It does not matter to the environmentalist that other user groups may be adamantly against their project or that it will have devastating or negative effects for the local community or government. And when they don't get their way in the "collaboration" process, then they pay lobbyists and pressure lawmakers to support their cause. Or, more often, off they will go, hiring high-powered lawyers to continue their fight in the courts. It doesn't matter many times if they win or lose, they simply want to make others spend more money and cause more delays in land use issues.
I have yet to be involved in any land use process where the environmental community would compromise or even acknowledge the position of the other user groups involved. It seems that the only solution they ever have is to make everything roadless, wilderness, or some other type of a controlled restrictive area. The word "multiple use" does not exist within their vocabulary.
It is no secret that the small local OHV clubs around the state and nation are limited by their resources in what they can do to protect our trails. So how do we survive you ask? First off, realize that we have the numbers to win! OHV users just need to get involved at the grassroots level. We can't just relax, sit back and think the TMW ATV club or COHVCO, TPA, or Blue Ribbon will take care of land use issues for you. Why? Because one day soon you're going to load up your trusty OHV and head out to your favorite trail and find it "CLOSED TO MOTORIZED USE."
Let me be perfectly clear: We can beat these well funded groups! Just because we are a local or a small OHV organization, that does not mean that we're limited by what we can do or how effective we can be. The key to defending and protecting our public lands is grassroots action at the local level. Every OHV club member needs to get on board and become a member of all or one of the "heavy hitters" — the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition, (COHVCO), Trail Preservation Alliance, (TPA) or Blue
Ribbon Coalition. Look. These organizations are present at the legislative, legal and administrative levels. These local, state and national organizations mostly survive on membership alone. So, while you're thinking about it join, renew or become active in one of the organizations today!
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