View from the Locked Gate

This is a republish of a post by Del Albright of the BlueRibbon Coalition about public lands being closed by outdoor enthusiasts who fail to act.

Del is a full time land use and access advocate, working to save trails and riding areas for responsible motorized recreation. Retired CDF firefighter; long time ago soldier and veteran; and outdoor recreation enthusiast. He has done a tremendous amount of work for keeping the Rubicon Trail in Kalifornia open fighting all the eco-nazi nut jobs.

Utah is under attack by groups who would remove all access to public lands. A large majority of these groups DO NOT live in Utah but fight against our ability to enjoy public lands in a jeep, on an atv, on a horse and even on a bike.

View from the Locked Gate
A bit of sarcasm about an access lesson

By Del & Stacie Albright, BlueRibbon Coalition

The gal in uniform with the big gun on her hip smiled and waved as she installed the recessed pad lock on the gate. I guess she thought we were happy about the road being closed. Her rugged 4×4 government-bought pickup truck that was kinda parked in our view had all sorts of signs and decals declaring she was a public servant. We figured it must be true.

She had sent us an official-looking letter a while back asking for comments, but the fish were a’bitin’ so we missed out on the letter-writin’. We figured someone else would write those darn letters. We figured wrong on all accounts.

It was a heck of a view we had – trees, rocks, trails, roads, wildlife, mountains, creeks, and vast open areas beckoning to the adventurer in all of us. It’s easy to recall my Dad, Elmer, telling stories of roaming this kind of back country area 40 years ago with the freedom of a jack rabbit in the Mojave Desert. He always told us to get outdoors and have fun while taking care of the land. He figured we would all have the same freedom. He figured wrong.

The ability, and most importantly the opportunity that my dad had to take his kids out and teach us how to fish, hunt, hike, play and breathe in the fresh air is all but gone now. My mind wanders off and I think of what can happen if we continue down this dangerous path of management by closure.
Soon it will be just a happy memory of our nine year old when she was able to see nature, hike, take pictures and jump in and out of our 4 wheel drive while we were on the hunt for a new camp spot. Soon she will not have the opportunity to teach them the same lessons and family traditions that came naturally and innocently in her youth to her tots.

Our view now is tainted, to say the least. Padlocks, iron pipe, closed signs, reinforced hinges, and small-print letting us know under no uncertain circumstances that the land beyond the gate is CLOSED to access – unless of course you want to haul your buns in there via boot rubber.

Now, as I stand here watching that same gal in uniform jump back into her four wheel drive (that I paid for) and drive on down my old favorite trail I get a lump in my throat and I get a little teary eyed just thinking about the view our kids are going to have from this same locked gate that’s in my backyard. I don’t think I’m figuring wrong anymore.

Back to the future: in reality, there are things we can all do to prevent this (sarcastic) scenario from happening. You’ve read tons of articles on getting involved, joining groups like BlueRibbon Coalition, and ensuring your family and friends have a place to ride. Just do it. Visit www.delalbright.com and www.sharetrails.org for more things you can do right now. Make a difference and help prevent closures from blocking our “view” any more. Join up, donate and get in the game. Please, before we have nothing left to figure on…

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3 Comments

  1. While I sympathize with you 100%, on the flip side of that argument I can understand the eco-terrorist point-of-view. The simple truth is I cannot trust humans (being one myself and all).

    I can envision my own future: Spending my children’s college tuition purchasing those two tough looking 4-wheelers only to ride out into the Everglades and find that dirty campsite littered with McDonald’s merchandise and beer bottles.

    I live next to the Homestead Sports Park and we use the ball fields every year for kid’s soccer. Every year we get chased out by the in-coming softball crowd. And every year they destroy the grass and leave bags and bags of garbage everywhere (most notably beer cans and bottles).

    The point is, people in general, cannot be trusted with something as irreplaceable as pristine wilderness.

    I feel for ya. It’s tough.

  2. Thanks for sharing our article.

    It is unfortunate about the “idiot factor” that is out there and they are in every circle not just the four wheel drive world.

    I’m really tired of getting harassed as being an irresponsible trail user just because I own four wheel drive vehicles and use them to enjoy our public lands.

    There is enough room out there for all of us not just the ‘exclusionary elitists’ who want to lock all the gates.

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