Montana Back Roads 4x4 Club Member Responses
to the 1/27/08 Missoulian Editorial

Motorized recreation

Response to Mr. Wuerthner

The analogy of not allowing someone to ride an ATV across a lawn makes no sense.The lawn is private land so the owner has every right to not allow it.Federal land is not privately owned land. I wouldn’t let someone camp on my lawn, but I can’t tell them they can’t camp on federal land. People camping on public land sometimes let campfires get out of control starting forest fires, which do more damage than all the Off Highway Vehicles, should we tell campers they are not allowed on public land? I think not.

He also said OHVs had a disproportionate impact on the landscape, wildlife, and other people. That OHV have an impact is true, that the impact is disproportional isn’t true. People and Horses both have an impact on public lands and a study conducted on the Gallatin National Forest stated they have a larger impact than OHVs in some respects.

There are hundreds of miles of trails for non-motorized travel on the local national forests, but as far as I know not one mile of OHV trails for full size 4x4s that is any challenge.

The statement was made that he thought it ironic someone could be arrested for spray painting a Forest Service sign, but we assume it is legal to tear up miles of land. Well, it is illegal to operate any OHV off of a road or trail. If you see it happening turn them into the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Public land is our land, and as such I have every right as an OHV operator to use those lands for my recreation, the same as everyone does.

Ron Burris
Member of the:
UFWDA Blue Ribbon Coalition Tread Lightly

Motorized recreation
ATVs no less intrusive than horses

Over the last weeks there have been several columns and editorials in regard to the proper management of our public lands. It seems, however, that George Wuerthner (guest column, Jan. 27) is on a rampage to eliminate any and all motorized usage on public lands. But has he forgotten the saying “public lands for public usage”?

He speaks of “thrillcraft”: Just ask anyone who has spent any time on a horse if he hasn’t had the crap scared out of him. At least I always have control of what he refers to as my “thrillcraft,” something that is not always possible with horses. Oh, and speaking of crap, when was the last time you saw a person picking up what the horse left on the trail? How is that for pollution?

We have hiking trails, we have bicycle trails, we have horse trails that cannot be used by motorized vehicles, but could Wuerthner please show me anywhere in Montana on public land that we have ATC- or Jeeps-only trails. Talk about discrimination.

He seems to be very one-sided when it comes to motorized recreation. Everyone has different stimuli, and yes some do involve motor sports, and some don’t. Perhaps he likes catch-and-release fishing. My guess is that the fish don’t like it at all. Perhaps we should ban all fishing in favor of the trout. Sure that sounds idiotic, but not any more than what he is implying. I guess that means that we should close all the roads leading into and out of public lands.

Wuerthner, and all those who think the way he does, please join us on a trail ride and let us show you there is more to off-highway travel than just a “thrill ride.”

Willie Worthy, president, Montana Back Roads 4x4 Club Inc., Missoula

Off-highway vehicles
Hikers contribute to wilderness damage

It’s sad to see the open expression of bigotry, elitism, hatred, intolerance and ignorance shown in recent anti-motorized recreation letters and guest columns lately. My guess is that this rush to generalize and categorize off-highway vehicle users as undesirables stems from hikers’ own checkered past of creating damaging trail shortcuts, leaving trash in wild areas and leaving a trail of excrement in their wake.

Multi-millions of dollars were spent in the mid- and late 1900s, both publicly and privately, to define and educate hikers in trail ethics and effective self-policing as the number of hikers skyrocketed, and the effort continues today through organizations like the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and others. Similar efforts are developing in conjunction with the Tread Lightly program among the rising number of motorized recreation enthusiasts, so cut us some slack as we go through growing pains like you did.

One more pet peeve - the anti-motorized recreation crowd likes to throw out the number of miles of road on public lands as an insinuation that they provide off-highway vehicle trail experiences. That is just as ridiculous as claiming walking the mall provides the same experience as hiking the Bob. We are looking for the same things you are - a way to challenge ourselves and our equipment while enjoying the beauty of our natural landscapes.

Bruce Erickson, Frenchtown