Taking Back What Is Mine!

Note: I can not take credit for coming up with the basic idea behind this article. That belongs, as I understand it, to and unknown person that attended the 2002 High Desert Roundup.   A big thank you goes out to that person for coining the phrase “anti-recreationist”.  I hope we can all put it to good use in our day to day conversations as well.

I looked it up in the dictionary, environmentalist, that word we often times hear spoken with a colorful explicative preceding it. In the off-road community, it is used as the politically correct word for “those damn greenies”….those folks that are out to shut down our favorite past time.

In Webster’s, an environmentalist is defined as a person working to solve environmental problems, such as pollution, resource depletion, or uncontrolled population growth. It doesn’t say anything about “those damn greenies” or their multi-million dollar non-profit corporations that have been built to support their “environmental” cause.

From my viewpoint, a fence has been erected and as is always the case, there are two sides to the fence. On one side are the greenies….the self-proclaimed  environmentalists that are here to save the world. On the other side of the fence is the off-road community, you, me, and everyone else that wheels for recreation.

The greenies have put us, the off-road community, on the side of the fence where the environmentalists don’t live….WHY?  Because they need us there so their cause can be made more just.  Example:  The greenies start a campaign to “save the short nosed gopher”.  OK….whoopy doo goes Joe Citizen.  However, if they are saving the short nosed gopher from “the beer guzzling, gopher squishing, weekend slobs that are tearing up the gopher mounds with their monster trucks”, Joe Citizen will better respond to the cause and send plenty of money to the greenies so they can make the world safe for the gopher (and that means closing down all the trails that go anywhere within a 100 mile radius of any short nosed gopher).  Why do they do this to us?  Because we have let them.

But, that is about to change if I have anything to say about it.

As an environmentalist, I very much care about the land I recreate on.  I have a passion to drive on old Jeep trails, to see those beautiful sites, the old mining towns, and to enjoy everything the wonderful outdoors has to offer me, my family, and most importantly, my friends.  I also try very hard to NOT drive over short nosed gophers, spotted owls, Mexican wolves, and the other plethora of species that have been placed on the endangered species list.  I want my kids to see all of these neat animals, fish, and birds too!

As an environmentalist, I worry about the depletion of natural resources, such as our land. They are not making any more of it and when it is all used up, where will we be then? When our land is closed to public access by land management agencies that yield to the threats of greenie lawsuits, where am I suppose to recreate?  I care about managed timbering and how it helps protect our forest from over growth and leaves them so vulnerable to forest fires.  (As I sit here writing this, a 30,000 acre forest fire burns in the Coronado National Forest, out of control now for two weeks.) 

As an environmentalist, I worry about the pollution I see on our land. Uncontrolled water sheds cause run-off into our rivers and lakes. I supported preventative trail maintenance so as to control top soil run-off.  Uncontrolled dumping of hazardous chemicals destroys our ground water and kills both plant and wildlife.  Breakdowns on the trails, if not properly attended to, could cause oil or other fluids to be released to the environment.  I always carry a container in which I can safely capture these fluids and take them home for proper disposal. 

As an environmentalist, I help our land management agencies, such as the BLM and Forest Service by supplying constructive input for their land management plans.  Their job is not an easy one and I believe they deserve all the help we can provide them.   I assist in public land clean ups every year….cleaning up the mess I did not make and trying to educate others on how to TREADLightly when they recreate on our lands.  

As an environmentalist, I mentor new people who have just discovered how great it is to go wheelin’ with new found friends.  Although I am no expert, I try to pass along all the important things that I have learned from those who helped me when I got my first 4×4 vehicle.  The new folks need to understand how important it is to treat our trails with respect.  They need to understand about “Pack it in, Pack it out”.  They must understand that cutting new trails is not what our sport is about….it is about staying on the trail and building their ride so that it is capable of traveling on the trails without impacting the environment.

As an environmentalist, I have two trash containers that get emptied every week.  One holds the recyclable material and the other holds the trash.  When I come back from a trail run, I help fill the recycle container with bottles and cans I picked up while on the trail.  I also recycle the engine oil from my vehicles.  It goes to the local auto parts store where they collect used oil.

When I look back at what I do as an environmentalist, I am proud of my actions and accomplishments. 

The more I think of it, the more I realize that the greenies are really not environmentalists at all….they are anti-recreationists.  They threaten our land management agencies with law suits and they demand that access to our public lands be denied to the off-road community.  There solution to the problem is to lock everyone out.  I don’t see them helping on the trail cleanups and I don’t see them providing constructive input at the public land use meetings.  From now on, I will not degrade the environmentalist label by applying it to the greenies.  They do NOT deserve to be called such a thing.

Yes…I am an environmentalist and I work hard to help support our right to access public lands.  I am taking back the title that is rightfully mine.  I urge each and every one of you to inform your friends and family members about the anti-recreationists and their agenda.  It is time for you too to take back what is rightfully yours too….you are an environmentalist.

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