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Thread: Bill Burke article on Bad Eggs

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    DaktariEd's Avatar
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    Default Bill Burke article on Bad Eggs

    Maybe many of you have already read Bill Burkes April 2005 website letter regarding "Errant 4 Wheelers" in Moab.

    But if not, he's very "ticked" and raises some very important issues we all need to be aware! Bill Burke letter

    How do you counter such wanton destruction?

    Ed

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    Thanks for posting this, Ed.

    Most of the folks we've had actively discussing conservation and land use on this forum are in complete agreement - but the answer to "what do we do about it?" is hard and we never come up with an easy one.

    Education seems to be the biggest thing. A recent article in the Tucson paper showed just how un-educated (note I refrain from using nastier monikers) OHV enthusiasts are: "I used to be able to ride all over the open range," one said, "And now all these rules say I can't!" Or the guy who said, "So many of the trails are so degraded now by overuse, we need more trails." Like, 'scuse me, ever heard of getting your fat heiney out there and using a shovel? voluntarily closing and then fixing the trail for a while so it heals? Jeez...

    We've had some luck on Las Cienegas National Conservation Area where OHVs and buggies were ripping up the grasslands (creating trails) and degrading legal trails with speed and doing donuts. We've had less trouble - but still trouble - with some rock-crawlers who kept opening up the illegal road into the creek. We (the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership, a very diverse group of citizens - recreationists, cowboys, environmentalists, etc - and BLM and wildlife people) printed up flyers and volunteers handed them out on weekends.

    Trouble is, BLM has 2 law enforcement officers - for their entire southern Arizona holdings!!

    But the volunteers talked with people and it helped, for a while. But once you slack off, it all starts again.

    It's like the kids when the parents are gone.

    So that leaves other users to do the educating, but who wants to ruin a nice day by having to confront (even if you do it nicely, these guys get nasty when you suggest they might be wrecking stuff for everyone) a jerk?

    Sigh. It's tough. I like Burke's quip:

    "If you are one of those that needs to fight nature then go SWIM WITH THE SHARKS! I am sure they will have fun with your body. And we that share an environmental ethic will not even remotely miss. Can you say: “Gene pool selection” and Darwin awards?"

    (BTW - the reason the Sonoita Valley PP was wasting its time on the OHV issue is that hard-core enviro groups and some in theBLM wanted to BAN all OHVs AND any 4x4 groups from having access!!! That's the beauty of citizen involvement in management a landscape: we can help keep it open for all, but the users need to help, too.

    4x4 use and OHVs are not currently banned on Las Cienegas. But if the degradation continues - watch out!]
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    An article in this morning's paper in Tucson illustrates what happens when one user group or section of a user group is irresponsible:

    Patagonia Lake gets total ban of jet-skis

    Quote from the article:

    "Tom Matte, co-owner of Arizona Honda, a Tucson dealership that sells Honda's version of the watercraft, says the board's action is unfair to owners and others who enjoy riding Jet Skis on Patagonia Lake, where he conducts tests rides for customers.

    "I think all public parks should be available for all the public to use," he said. "That lake belongs to all of us."

    Well, Tom, maybe you should be educating the people you sell those things to about responsible use . . . instead of just whining!

    And the lake belongs to everyone, yes: that's why one user group ruined it for everyone. I've been there when the jet skis are roaring around, and it's awful. I'm glad they're gone! If they had kept it to a reasonable use (and following the rules), they wouldn't have been banned. Cause and effect.
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    Excellent letter and great points.

    We have some trails in my area that I frequent. Yes trash is left by some idiots that wheel there too, but the worst part is not our fault. The area is within the city limits, is a flood plain, and is easily accessible to everyone. That means that many people decide to clean up their property and dump it there. From limbs and leaves to old tires, old baby beds, strollers, car seats, etc., boards, doors, windows, fencing, you name it you can find it out there.

    Makes me so sick. Many private wheeling locations have quite strict rules concerning littering and the consumption of alcohol while on the trails.

    It's a shame that most of us are quite responsible but it just takes a few to ruin it for everyone.

    There have been some attempts to help clean the area up but the group barely makes it less than one-half mile in before everything is full.
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    goodtimes is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Poseur
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    Bill has some valid points, but getting on your soapbox via the internet does little good. To me, it sounds like Bill Burke is doing nothing more than throwing a temper tantrum. He knows better, he has been involved too long to think that his little rant will change ANYTHING. Why didn't he explain the problem (cause/effect) with the people who weren't acting responsibly? Did they even know that what they were doing was creating a problem? It is entirely possible that these people were ignorant of the effects of their actions....in which case they need to be educated. Rather than rub them the wrong way (at which time they will continue to do exactly what you don't want them to do, just to spite you----just like a testosterone soaked teenage boy), educate them. If that fails, *then* feed 'em to the sharks.

    Having never met Bill Burke, but having read that artical, I have a low opinion of him. He seems the typical passive-aggresive American. It is his way or the hiway. If you don't do exactly what he wants, how he wants, and when he wants, he feels you are a moron who shouldn't be allowed out of the house. Rather than educate someone, Bill Burke would yell at them. How would you react to this if you were on your first off-road trip, and Bill was the first person you ran into? It would probably p!$$ you off, and you would immediately put him into the catagory of "eco-nazi", and would forever disregaurd anything he ever says. Not a very good way to get your message across, if you ask me.

    That is my first impression of Bill Burke. He will never get a chance to make another first impression on me, or the thousands upon thousands of people who have read that article.

    I love exploring the back roads, rock crawling, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, ad nausium. But like most of us, I despise trash lying around, wildcat trails, oil spills, and the general destruction of our enviroment. I agree with Roseanne, education is key. Many of us have a huge investment in our passtime (monetary as well as our time). We need to protect our ability to access the wide open spaces this country has to offer. Bill Burke's artical does not accomplish this. What it does accomplish is getting people emotions stirred up but fails to offer any examples of good stewerdship. OK, someone did somethign that they shouldn't have....what did Bill Burke do to prevent it from happening again? Did he explain how a group that he is involved in is out educating people on trail manners? Did he tell you how he tried to block off the illegal bypass around Rock Pile in a effort to prevent someone else from going that way? Instead of telling someone they should be swimming with the sharks, he should be offering examples for other people to emulate. (BTW, I have no idea if he is involved with the above activities....they are meerly examples of what I think would be a better response than the juvinile temper tantrum that he had).

    In short, Bill Burke needs to check his attitude at the door if he wants to be truely effective at keeping people on the trail. This article is a disservice to him and the rest of the OHV community. Offer solutions, not attitudes.

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    How do you suppose BB's article is perceived on Pirate? Probably not good at all and that crowd is full of the people we need to tread a little more lightly.

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    BB's artical was not recieved very well over at Pirate. Many of them feel as I do....BB was throwing a tantrum.

    Granted, there is a high "redneck factor" over there......but make no mistake, many of them are just like us when it comes to "Tread lightly". Just because someone drives a rock buggy does not mean they are out there destroying the enviroment every chance they get. In fact, in many circumstances, a well built rock buggy will do less damage to enviroment than any one of our vehicles. For example, look at gatekeeper on the rubicon (see thread down in off topic). A well built buggy will walk right through that with little difficulty given a experienced driver. A jeep like mine will struggle a little. A stock jeep will have a very difficult time, and will likely be spinning tires, trying several different lines, etc before they get over the obstical. So, in this example, what is worse, a buggy or a stock vehicle?

    Point being, don't blame the rock buggies. Blame the people who are driving off the trail, regardless what they drive.

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    Granted that it's the driver not the vehicle, but bozos are still trashing things.

    I don't believe it will do a lot of good in a reasonable period of time to try to educate the uneducable. It may be similar to trying to change someone's mind about a hot topic like abortion or evolution (now don't go off topic here; those are just illustrations!).

    The question I come back to is what can be done to counter the damage that is efficient, productive, and effective?

    Perhaps our representative 4WD organizations can be helpful in this respect, but what about letters to key congressmen and women, expressing our condemnation of such activities, and offering concrete suggestions for improvement? And writing these letters now, not later. I would bet that there are bills before Congress as we speak that are meant to limit access based on the destructive acts of a few. A letter any time would be better than not writing at all.

    It seems that most of us sit by quietly until the 11th hour when closures are imminent before we take action.

    Perhaps preemptive action would be preferable.

    My 2 cents...

    Ed

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    Very good points, everyone. Who is to know what Bill Burke has done from an advocacy/education angle - perhaps he was just so mad, he had to get it off his chest and had the forum (website) to do so.

    I do think whining/ranting does little to reach the people who really need to be reached.

    But what does (like Daktaried, I want to pull the disussion back to practicality)?

    The clubs are NOT the problem, and most of them down in southern Arizona already do tons of trash cleanups and trail repairs and work with the land agencies to fix things. They also try to do education. But there comes a point: how much time should they waste, of their precious time, trying to reach people? Is it effective?

    Scott once said that he thinks this is more of a whole attitude problem - the "I'm going to do whatever I want" generation and the &*%$ with everyone else.

    And Ed's right: most of us sit back and wait til the 11th hour (or we sit just as passive-aggressively as Bill Burke purportedly did, writing stuff like this!!! ) until the other groups get the trails closed or the rigs banned.

    What to do?

    Wish i had an easy answer. I guess part of me wants to keep going back to education - but it takes a long time (as Daktaried said) and then who's responsibility is it? The land agency ultimately but they have no money. The companies that produce the ads showing new trucks racing around off road - tearing things up and being bozos?

    And part of me wants . . .

    I do know one thing after many many years in the land-use and conservation business: People who don't care, and people with extreme agendas, may temporarily get the most done - like destroying the land, or getting it closed to the majority of people - but ultimately coalitions of like-minded people, people who care, and people with open minds, get the most positive work done.

    So don't give up! Just picking up trash and being POSITIVE force for 4x4 use WILL make a difference when the others try to close areas. The land use agencies need to see that there are responsible users, too - it makes it much harder to close land then.

    In Patagonia lake, there were no responsible users advocating . . .

    So I guess even though it seems like you aren't having an effect by just being good guys, you really are!!
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    How do I know that just being good advocates and users will help?

    I have sat through many meetings with powers-that-be in BLM and Forest Service while the decisions are being discussed and made about just such things as road closures . . .

    And the one thing that strikes proper fear into the heart of a district ranger on their way up the ladder: coalitions of well-organized, reasonable, responsible people. They write one letter: it gets read, it gets copied, it gets passed around, and it weighs a ton.

    Those 10-bazillion electronic letters generated by the humungo conservation machines? They get ignored.

    I gee-ar-un-tee it. Been there, saw it.
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