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Anyone who enjoys our backcountry roads in this beautiful country should be well aware of the threat to close our roads and to deprive us of the recreation that we enjoy with our family and friends. If you don’t know what I am talking about you need to crawl out from underneath that rock you are hiding under. Don’t wait for YOUR favorite backcountry road to be closed to finally ask “What can I do?” Now is the time to take action. Below are listed 10 simple things that you can do to help. Pick one, pick them all. Just do something!
In the Blue Ribbon Magazine April 2005 issue, it is stated in the article “Are you in the Choir?” by Brian Hawthorne, “You look at the best case scenario and note that only 9 percent of OHV users are members of a club or access organization!” It’s a sad statistic, isn’t it?
If you have any questions or comments concerning this page please send us a comment. If you would like additional info on how you can help keep our roads open, I will be more than happy to email you with information to get you “pointed” in the right direction.
Gear Grinders 4WD Club, Inc.
- Join your local club. Most clubs require you to attend a certain number of meetings and runs before you are eligible for membership. This gives the club the opportunity to "check you out" and it also gives you the opportunity to "check them out." A good club should meet a member’s social and recreational needs, along with a balance of community and conservation activities. The days of "just runs" clubs are over! A club must be active in their local land access issues and legislation to preserve our roads for future generations. A good place to start looking for clubs in your area is your regional and state associations. Check out the United Four Wheel Drive Associations website for associations and clubs in your area.
- Join and Support your Regional/State Organizations. If you join your local club, most clubs include membership to their regional/state affiliations. You can also join as an individual/family if you have no local club affiliations. There is no better way "to make your voice heard" than adding your voice to a larger group. These organizations will offer members opportunities to participate in family oriented events, publications to keep you informed of club activities, legislation, information "Alerts" on land use matters and related issues AND cool stickers that you can proudly display on your rig. It's a great way to meet new people, have fun and to help keep our roads open! For California check out CA4WDC and CORVA.
- National organizations. These organizations are a united group of individuals that work together with your local/regional/state organizations (not in competition with) to preserve our land access rights on a national level. Organizations like The Blue Ribbon Coalition and Tread Lightly represent all forms of backcountry recreation, not just OHVs. These groups promote education and information as well as conservation as a means to fight the onslaught of road closures. These groups are also politically active on a national level as well as a local level. United Four Wheel Drive Associations are various 4x4 clubs and businesses that span the globe.
- Report Land Use. You've been using this road for years. Maybe many generations of your family has been enjoying this road to explore and to “get away” with family and friends. Yet there are those that say it doesn't exist. It's not on their map. “Roadless Area” designation wording states that no existing roads will be closed. But if that road doesn't exist on their maps so it can be designated open, it will be considered closed. Reporting road usage is an important tool to the organizations that collect and compile this data for documenting road usage and funding!
- Set an example on the 4X4 Road. “Tread Lightly” “Play Nice” “Pack it in, Pack it out” You've heard these expressions before. You know what they mean. Set the example. Even if others don't. I hate picking up the trash of others, but I hate even more for my "recreational group" to be stereotyped by the few that just don't care. Check out Tread Lightly's Recreation Tips page for additional information.
- Set an example on the www. Remember it's called the "World Wide Web" which means the entire WORLD is watching. Your web site should reflect the personality of your club. It can inform, educate and ENTERTAIN! It could also hurt your group and others if you allow inappropriate content on your web site. Remember our recreation is a family oriented activity. Ask your webmaster to assign a member’s only area that’s password protected if necessary.
- Get involved in local meetings that concern local land use issues. If you are a member of an active club you should already be represented, but you can also participate as an individual who wants to make a difference and your voice heard. The three federal land agencies are BLM, National Park Service, and USDA Forest Service.
- Vote. When it comes time for your local/state/national elections, know who you are voting for. Keep yourself informed! And once they are in office, I’m sure they would love to hear from you. Polish up those old letter writing skills, dust off that fax machine and make your voice heard! Visit Project Vote Smart for information on your elected officials and how you can contact them.
- Inform and Spread the word. This approach can be as simple as a t-shirt or a sticker on your rig. Talk and be friendly. Maybe put together an “information brochure” for those you meet on the 4X4 Road that are genuinely interested in learning more on land use issues and how they can help to keep their favorite roads open. If you have a club web site use that bandwidth to inform, entertain and most importantly to EDUCATE. Check out Blue Ribbon Coalition's "Recreation Activist's Toolkit" for a list of publications and other tools for the recreation access activist.
- Get Involved! Go to the Blue Ribbon Magazine site to read John Stewart's article "The 5-Minute Activist" for other ways you can become involved in keeping your backcountry roads open.