Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Forest Service

Dear Mr. Service, et. al.

For years I have practiced riding behavior that I felt was the best for preserving the wonderful back country environment that I love so much. That meant riding quietly on the trails. It meant staying on the trails. It meant going so far as to not even run overly aggressive tires so not to overly damage the trails and create added erosion. Treading lightly!

For many years I have spent my time attempting to transfer these principles for treating our environment kindly as a duty - a service (so to speak). I hoped that as others realized how important it was to protect our wonderful back country we would see s difference.

I now question why I bothered with any of this.

Several weeks ago I rode one of the most incredible and pristine 2-track ATV trails I have come across in a very long time. It wandered for several miles through incredible country. Unfortunately at one point I came across a gate that stopped my travel by ATV. Although I couldn’t understand the reason for this closure, I obeyed. I even questioned the tactics of other trail users that attempted to show their disdain for the needless closure.

Today I look out and watch it all burn. Yes, it was a lightning strike, a natural cause, but 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.

I more recently took a ride up to what had been a wonderful high country lake only to find it had been fenced off to use by ATVs. No longer could I ride to the shore of this small lake and park my ATV and have lunch with my (handicapped) daughter. It was crudely fenced and gated. And all quite ugly actually. Much uglier than the ATV tracks I’d seen on the shore before. Or even the trash I’d seen there left from campers. I can pick up the trash left by the idiot inbreeds and haul it out. I’m rather certain I can’t dismantle your fence and haul it out without spending some time in a small grey room with free meals. I question you again as to whose interests you had in mind when you made the decision to fence this lake. I’m rather certain if you had my daughter’s and my interest at heart, you wouldn’t have made it impossible for me to get her to the shore. We didn’t eat our lunch on that wonderful shore that day thanks to you. But I left wondering why I paid you to do something so against what I wanted?

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? 

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!

Shame on you! I hired you to manage this great backcountry area for my kids, and myself and even paid you well to do it. Let me also remind you that while I may someday get older and have to stop working, when you stop working for me (us), we will continue to pay you! How can this be?

How can I have hired someone who works so against me rather than for me?

I question you. Why is it that I’m such a bad person that you must close trails to my use, only so you can then let then burn, bulldoze them over, rape them, or let dying cattle lay on them and rot? Oh, that’s right! I struggled to get to the fencing I paid to have you install, having had to ride past a rotting, maggot-infested carcass of a dead cow. Don’t remove that. Nor the trash. Just spend thousands of my tax dollars building an ugly fence to keep me out!

So let me get this straight. I pay you, but you tell me what I can and cannot do? I pay you and yet you do not protect the riding areas that I want preserved? I pay you, but yet you call me bad on the environment? All this while you destroy trails with bull dozers rather than let me ride on them, let fires burn through pristine trails, all the while costing me more money than I wanted to spend had you put it out when it started, rather than let me ride on them? I pay you to build fences around lakes rather than let me ride to them? And this while knowing full well that cleaning up the trash would cost less, and look better than what you did?

I didn’t hire you for this! How long would Home Depot remain in business if you went in and paid for the material to rebuild your kitchen and although they took your money, they said all you could do was have new dishtowels? Or worse yet, hired a contractor to remodel your kitchen and they put up barricades to keep you out. They tore down your kitchen while you ate TV dinners in the family room? I say not long.

So let me get this straight one last time – I can’t ride there, but you can bulldoze it, fence it, cut it down, let rotting carcasses lay, and burn it all down, and that’s okay?

And through all this, you want me to pay you? How do you sleep at night?


Maybe two!

Yes, two!