Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, May 12, 2000.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

    Feb 18, 2000
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    Aloha, Oregon

    by Clark L. Collins
    BlueRibbon Coalition Executive Director

    With all the issues we are facing it's hard to decide what to focus on.
    However, one of the underlying problems with all these issues is that too few
    back-country recreationists take the time to make their opinions known. The
    green advocacy groups have the advantage on us. Many of their members are
    zealots who have practically devoted their lives to promoting "their" view of
    environmental responsibility. Our members keep wanting to take time out to
    actually get out and enjoy our back-country areas. Go figure!

    Unfortunately, while we've been playing and working with our land managers and
    other recreationists, the green advocacy groups have perfected being "a vocal
    minority" to a fine art. In fact their vocal minority has driven them to
    positions on recreation access that are increasingly being recognized as
    extreme. Fortunately for us, this is causing them to lose favor with the
    general public and is really waking up our "shared use" recreationists.
    Recently, the Clinton/Gore Roadless lock up has unified the multi-use
    community, on a national level, like nothing I've ever seen before.

    One of the best ways to express your opinion on recreation access issues is
    through the letters to the editor of your local paper. Local politicians, land
    managers and your congressional representatives take letters to the editor
    very seriously. This last month, I've seen several excellent examples that
    help make my point and might even give you some ideas.

    One of our local members wrote a letter to our hometown paper about the green
    attack on snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park. The anti-recreation organizations
    have been distorting the figures on snowmobile emissions and the National Park
    Service even had to retract some of the information they had distributed on
    this issue. Nanci Columbo wrote, "They say that snowmobiles pollute the air so
    bad that it is equivalent to a major city in California. Well, I beg your
    pardon. If we took all the snowmobiles in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and a few
    more surrounding states and put them all in Yellowstone at the same time, it
    still wouldn't be a third of the pollution of a major city in California."

    Nancy didn't provide proof that what she said was accurate. It was just her
    opinion, and certainly carried just as much weight as the trumped up charges
    of the anti-recreation groups. In fact, it should carry more. Nancy's letter
    was considered good enough, and a little long, so the paper printed it as a
    guest opinion with her photo. She was the "hero" at the local snowmobile club
    meeting and hopefully inspired others to write in the future.

    Rainer Huck, President of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, got a letter
    published in the Salt Lake Tribune. His letter was critical of the media for
    accepting green advocacy group claims without question. He accused the media
    of being an accessory to hatemongering. "Why should these self-appointed,
    self-serving organizations pursuing an agenda of hatred and intolerance be
    given front-page news coverage every time they unleash a new attack on their
    victims?" Why indeed! More people need to be asking this question.

    Other recreationists could realize similar success, if they would just put
    their "opinion" in writing and send it to the newspaper. Just complaining to
    your friends accomplishes very little. Expressing your "opinion" in your local
    media can help gain support from the general public.

    Former land managers are also becoming critical of the current administration
    and of the environmental extremists. Retired District Ranger of the
    Patosi-Fredericktown District of the Mark Twain National Forest, Paul Johnson,
    wrote a letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The following excerpts from
    Johnson's letter probably represent the opinion of many still within the

    "The Forest Service has tried to work with the environmental groups to get

    them involved in the agency's activities and programs. Much to the dismay of
    the Forest Service, most of those environmental groups are now controlled by
    extremists who believe that all National Forest lands should be shut down to
    all kinds of activities. If you belong to one of these environmentalist
    groups, start looking at what your group is doing. You may be surprised that
    your money and dues are being used for extremist viewpoints. And to all
    concerned citizens who do care what's happening in their national forests,
    don't let a few extremists determine how your public lands are being managed.
    Get involved in the management of the national forests. You won't believe how
    happy the wildlife biologists and foresters are to receive comments from the
    public that are reasonable, constructive and understanding."

    I hope these examples have inspired you. I recently found some of the letters
    to the editor I wrote when I first got involved in representing local OHV
    enthusiasts years ago. It was very satisfying then and reading them now still
    inspires me. Give it a try!

    BRC Executive Director Clark Collins can be contacted by e-mail at
    brclark@sharetrails.org or by phone at (800)258-3742

    <font color=red>get involved with land issues or lose the land</font color=red>

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