Ugly fences, dead cows and bulldozers

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Recently I came across a blog called “Utah Trail News”. The post of September 5th caught my eye. A long-time back country user wrote an open letter to the forest service. He said that he has ridden in the back country for years, staying on the trails, choosing lighter tires and trying to do his part to protect and enjoy the outdoors.

However, he now wonders why he even bothers. He was out riding a few weeks ago and came across a gate blocking access to the ATV trail. That entire area is now charred black from the “let it burn” policies of the forest service. Says he:

Your decision to let it burn has not only cost us taxpayers many MILLIONS of dollars more than if you had put it out when you had the opportunity, but it has now burned through many more acres of pristine wilderness, including the very trail you had closed off to me so I wouldn’t damage the environment. I now question your judgment, and wonder why I bothered not going ahead and riding onward. What difference would it have made in the end? I trusted your judgment and yet I now realize you didn’t have my interests at heart at all. It was merely control.

Further, he took another ride to a high country lake with his disabled daughter, only to find that access had been cut off by a crudely erected fence. That same day, he continued and found this:

I then rode further down the trail only to find several big pieces of machinery working through the forest. They were cutting down trees. Nice trees. Not the hundreds of trees dying to the bark beetle. Nope. These were healthy trees. And the machines went wherever they wanted, leaving tracks much more severe than my ATV ever could. Or all the ATVs I’ve seen on the trail as a matter of fact! They also left fuel and oil spills – something I know I have never done. I questioned you again. Is this what I wanted? Who wanted this? I rode on the existing trail, keeping the area clean all these times only so you could do this?

And then this:

Once again I set out to explore another wonderful 2-track trail I had ridden just last year. When I got to the trailhead, it had been, ah, changed. Once again, you had spent my hard-earned money to close this trail to my use. But you didn’t just set a gate to limit travel. Or even a 50″ gate to limit the type of vehicles. Nope. You used a piece of heavy equipment and destroyed it. And scarred this beautiful area. Once again you spent my hard-earned tax dollars doing more damage to the environment to keep me out than I could have done in many years of riding the trail!

And for more back-country fun, you can ride past dead, rotting carcasses of cows left on the trail until you get to the fence meant to keep you off trails you’ve ridden for years.

Apparently the federal government’s take on “wilderness preservation” is to bulldoze and clear-cut the back country, let wildfires burn because it’s good for the environment, while keeping ATV riders off of trails and away from lakes. Oh, and while taxing us all for the privilege. Sounds about right – for a federal government that’s clearly insane…. (and btw – make sure you check out the pictures on the original blog.)

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12 Responses to “Ugly fences, dead cows and bulldozers”

  1. rmwarnick Says:

    Don’t blame wilderness preservation for bulldozers and clear-cuts. That makes no sense whatsoever. Also, statistics prove that most national forest wildfires occur in roaded and cut-over areas, not wilderness.

  2. bbart76 Says:

    And what is the answer most ATVers have? Take over the federal lands? And then what? Are they state lands or private? If they are private, then expect more road closures, more development and destruction of forest. If state lands, what is the state going to do that’s different from the feds?

    What are you going to do when you take back Utah and what does that mean? Many of those who want to “take back Utah” want to use the natural resources up. What do you think that will look like? Really think it will look better?

    Utah Environmental Congress is a group of people who are working for Utah’s wilderness in a good way. They make sure that the Feds follow the rules and don’t brake laws without being abstractionist like other environmental groups.

  3. Kevin Garn Says:

    Sheldon and I agree that the government is failing us. No hot tubs or Metal Bar Nights on the back roads! That sucks!

  4. John Cheshire Says:

    No rm, we dont blame bulldozers and clearcuts on wildeness preservation. Just the federal organization that is put in charge of wilderness preservation. Can you see the distinction? Also, statistics can prove just about anything you want if the right ones are used…either way Europe has adopted incredibly strict rules regarding public land use and guess what? The Statistics remain static. In other words, keeping people from the public lands didn’t stop fires.

    Either way, I am not sure that forest fires at what is at issue here.

    My question to you and bbart is this; What is so bad about the state controlling the land versus the ferderal government? Wouldn’t more local control give all groups involved a louder voice?

  5. rmwarnick Says:

    John–

    The Sagebrush Rebellion has been OVER for what? Thirty years now. It fizzled out when state governments realized that they couldn’t afford the management costs if they took over federal lands. Those public lands are already a gift to Utah and other western states that take in more federal money than their resident pay out.

    This is why I say Morgan Philpot is spouting nonsense.

  6. John Cheshire Says:

    It was about 30 years ago. I wasn’t that familiar with it so it looked it up and I found that most of the bickering was not so much about money but instead it was about control and power, much like today. In fact, I couldn’t find one source that sited state money as a compelling issue in the matter. Do you have a link that could point me in the right direction on that?

  7. John Cheshire Says:

    …and I just found this article…it looks like the feds can’t afford it either.

  8. Representative Mike Noel Says:

    I am writing in response to the ATV rider who is upset with the Forest Service for shutting off his access to the National Forests. I am strongly in support of his ability to access our Forests in Utah. As long as OHV people stay on existing roads, don’t litter and have respect for the wildlife, access should be allowed to our forests. I do have a different opinon on his position on the tree cutting. Harvesting timber on the National Forests is important to all Americans and should be allowed to continue. Of course the trees that are harvested are big healthy trees, where does this person thinks lumber comes from? Because of the radical environmental community, harvesting trees on the national forests has almost been totally eliminated. This is not good for the public nor for the forest health. Proper cutting and replanting of trees is not only econmically sensible, but it improves forest health. The dead and dying bark beetle infested trees on the Dixie National Forest and all around Utah are the result of the lawsuits brought against the forest service by a few radical environmental groups that believe it is better to allow trees to die than to cut them for homes. This makes no sense. In regard to the dead cow, this again is part of the multiple uses of our public lands that help support the local communities where the forests are located. Grazing cattle on the national forests is both beneficial to the land and watershed and to the local and national economy. Cattle do occasionally die like deer, elk and other wildlife. The rancher does everthing he can to keep his cows alive or else he is out of business. The majority of the OHV community and Take Back Utah recognize that only through Multiple Use of our Public Lands can we be assurred that all users will benefit from the forest service and BLM managed lands in our state. The radical left wants him off the public lands and their effrorts are directed to single use. I had to laugh at the statement that there are few fires in wilderness. The fire that burned for 240 days in the Yellowstone National Park could have been stopped early on. Because of the wilderness designations in the area only mules and hand tools could be used on the fire, which was allowed to “let burn”. Not being allowed to even ride your bicycle in a wilderness area is a extreme position that all public land users should fight against. Proper management of our public lands which includes timber harvesting and cattle grazing, both of which are renewable uses benefits all of us. Taking an extreme position that this OHV users has taken on these two issues, is the same type of selfish behavior exhibited by those that don’t want him on the public lands at all. Working together to support multiple use of our public lands which is in fact in the federal land policy and management act, is the only way we can continue to protect our access to and use of these lands. I believe that the federal government should be forced to turn over management of these lands to the people of Utah. Should this happen, we would see a much more balanced approach to the management and use of our public lands in Utah.
    Rep Mike Noel R Kanab

  9. rmwarnick Says:

    John–

    You are right, the Sagebrush Rebellion never made any economic sense, yet it always gets talked about whenever there’s a Democrat in the White House. The idea of privatizing public lands is mostly hot air, and full of internal contradictions. Wallace Stegner once wrote that the basic attitude of the West toward Washington can be summed up as: “Get out, and give us more money.”

    There are many, many sources. As a starting point, I suggest reading the fairly concise Congressional Research Service report, Federal Land Ownership: Constitutional Authority and the History of Acquisition, Disposal, and Retention (PDF).

    Chapters 6 and 7 of Robert H. Nelson, Public Lands and Private Rights, are also worth reading. Nelson isn’t wedded to the policy of retention of lands in federal ownership, but he’s realistic about the alternatives.

    The Reagan administration actually took the Sagebrush Rebels at their word, and proposed to sell off public lands to reduce the National Debt. But they ran into fierce opposition from ranchers, miners, loggers and other beneficiaries of federal subsidies under the current system.

  10. John Chehsire Says:

    Thanks for the link…I am not sure that it will speak to your point that the Sagebrush rebelion failed becasue the states decided they could afford it…but I will read through it just the same.

    Probably it always gets talked about when a Democrat is in the White House becasue it is always the Democrat in the White House that tries to keep people off public lands. Just thinking out loud….

  11. rmwarnick Says:

    John–

    There is no way state governments could afford to manage all the public lands in their respective states. And even if they wanted to sell off land in order to levy property taxes on it, aside from a few choice parcels the good land was already privatized a hundred years ago. There are few buyers.

    However, as you say public lands are a perennial political punching bag for the right. Their proposals don’t have to make fiscal sense.

  12. John Cheshire Says:

    I never said that. You did. Just right there. I guess you could say I called it a political punching bag but I never attributed it soley to the right. You did. You’re wrong of course. Partially correct maybe…

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