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Good info to hold under the belt

Old 11-20-2010, 11:08 AM
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Default Good info to hold under the belt

I am going to college right now, and for my writing class i was assigned to write a research paper on anything that was important to me. I started to research and argue about how offroading is not as harmful to the environment as many people make it out to be.

so i came across these two articles and thought id share them with you.

This one is pro-Us: s&prodId=OVIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&d ocumentId=GALE|EJ3010339215&mode=view&userGroupNam e=pima_main&jsid=4776ebc5d2cca319f235e67a40139f3c
This one is anti-Us:

P.s. if you've got good sites for my research they are welcome here
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:11 AM
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The site wont let us look at those articles.... wants a user ID and stuff
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:16 AM
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oops, sorry about that. my school has an account for the website, i dont know it, so here's the articles:

Off-Road Vehicles Should Be Allowed to Use Wilderness Areas

How Should America's Wilderness Be Managed?, 2005

Off-Road Vehicles Should Be Allowed to Use Wilderness Areas
"Because Off-Road Enthusiasts Deserve Critical Habitat, Too!", April 2002. Copyright © 2003 by American Sand Association. Reproduced by permission.
Jeff Henson is an off-road enthusiast and the desert editor for ATV Illustrated magazine.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a loosely written law that sometimes uses inexact science to list a species as threatened. Environmentalists have wrongly used the ESA to close off huge tracts of land to logging, mining, and off-road vehicle (ORV) use. In the Imperial Sand Dunes in southeastern California, the Bureau of Land Management has locked ORVs out of thousands of acres by claiming that a plant called Pierson's milkvetch is threatened. An independent scientific review has disputed these findings, but this report has not stopped the environmental lobby. In an attempt to turn public opinion against motorized recreation, environmentalists have used a few cases of illegal behavior at the dunes to demonize law-abiding ORV users in the press. While the controversy rages over the ecological health of the milkvetch, responsible off-road riders should not be banned from public lands that are supposed to be managed for multiple use by the public.
Are you one of the hundreds of thousands of off-road vehicle users who consider sand dune recreational areas your home away from home? Do you spend the majority of your holiday weekends cresting dune after dune, racing up the tallest hills, then sharing your adventures with your family and friends around the campfire at night? Do you feel this experience strengthens the bonds between you and your loved ones? Well then, you might like to know a little about the so-called environmental groups that plan to yank this experience away from you—and the negative picture they are painting of you in the process....
In March 2000, the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Sierra Club and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) joined forces and sued the California Bureau of Land Management (BLM), claiming that the BLM failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Written in 1973, the ESA was established to protect animal and plant species when their numbers render them prone to possible extinction. With all of its good intentions, the ESA is a very broadly written federal law, with many gray areas. It allows anyone to petition the FWS to have a species listed or reclassified as threatened or endangered based on "the best available science" rather than requiring science that stands up to critical peer review. This leaves the ESA wide open to abuse from special interest groups such as the CBD, Sierra Club and PEER. These groups are jointly attempting to use this loosely written law in an effort to completely ban off-road vehicle use (even, in many areas, mountain bikes!) within the nine-million-acre California Desert Conservation Area. Surprisingly, the BLM opted to avoid going to trial and agreed to settle out of court—with no public input.
The settlement listed several locations to be temporarily closed to off-road vehicle use until the consultation was complete. Included was 49,310 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in Southern California, more popularly known as Glamis. This closure is an addition to the 32,000 acres of dunes that make up the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness, located north of Highway 78. A plant known as Pierson's milkvetch is the reason for this closure. The environmentalists claim that this plant's numbers are declining due to constant trampling from off-road vehicles. They make this assertion in spite of the fact that Pierson's milkvetch also grows in the 32,000-acre wilderness area and is heavily dependent on rainfall to sustain its numbers.
Plant not threatened

In the few short years since its birth, the American Sand Association [ASA] has made tremendous progress toward reversing the closures in the Imperial Sand Dunes area. One of the ASA's biggest accomplishments was the hiring of an independent biological consulting firm to complete a thorough analysis of the Pierson's milkvetch, as well as other species that environmental groups could attempt to use to further their agenda. In the spring of 2001, several ASA members volunteered their time and sand vehicles to transport the biologist across the entire open dune system. The biological team was able to determine that at least 71,926 individual plants exist in the areas currently open to ORV use (this figure does not include the plants in the closed areas or the wilderness area, because the team was not allowed to enter these locations with motorized vehicles; however, an aerial survey was taken of the closed area in which a large number of plants were observed). It is estimated that approximately 140,000 plants exist in the open and recently closed dunes (these figures don't include the number of plants in the wilderness area or the section of dunes that spill across the border into Mexico). This study also reconfirmed that the Pierson's milkvetch numbers fluctuate according to the amount of rainfall each year. It was determined that the plant's biggest foe is lack of water—not the paddle tires [with large flippers for traction in sand] of dune buggies, motorcycles and ATV's. Sand sport recreationalists avoid vegetation because their paddle tires are extremely prone to puncture. Of all the individual plants counted in the open riding areas, less than 1% were determined to have been damaged by off-road vehicles. This study is one that most definitely will stand up to critical peer review. The ASA feels that it clearly shows the Pierson's milkvetch is not endangered. Armed with this info the ASA, along with the San Diego Off-Road Coalition and the Off-Road Business Association, filed a petition with the United States Department of the Interior to have the Pierson's milkvetch removed from the list of endangered species.
The ASA also filed a lawsuit against the BLM to reopen the closed dunes after it was discovered that the BLM failed to follow federal guidelines and produce a required Environmental Assessment in order for it to move forward with the dune closure.... While the off-road groups were successful in getting the BLM to rescind the original closure, the agency scrambled to reclose the areas and follow the proper procedures, effectively bringing the off-road groups' lawsuit to a halt. The good news is the BLM completed the Environmental Assessment and the Pierson's milkvetch study that was paid for by the ASA has been made part of that record.
Name-calling, half-truths and outright lies

It's painfully obvious that the environmental groups involved in the Glamis closure have rarely, if ever, encountered the amount of resistance placed on them by the ASA in any of their many lawsuits. Realizing that it will take more than an obscure plant to rid the dunes of off-road vehicles, they have turned to name-calling, half-truths and outright lies to further their agenda.
PEER, in cooperation with the Center for Biological Diversity, produced a video intended for public viewing entitled "Bottles, Throttles and Preservation—BLM's Desert Quagmire". Right out of the gate, the narrator calls off-road recreationalists "a dangerous breed of wildlife." The narrator also claims that vegetation and wildlife are being trampled in the recently closed areas due to illegal off-road trespassing. Even on the Thanksgiving Day weekend, traditionally the dunes' busiest time in that well over 100,000 people use them, there were fewer than 100 instances where vehicle tracks were spotted in the closed areas—and most of them reversed direction shortly after they entered the closed area, as if the operators realized their mistake. The viewer is shown a picture of a crushed desert tortoise, which was later proved not to have been killed by an off-road vehicle (sand dunes are not desert tortoise habitat in the first place).
We are then introduced to PEER spokesman Eric Wingerter, who claims, "The large part of them (off-roaders) have some anti-government hostilities, so it's a dangerous situation for the rangers." This statement might be true if the United States was the socialist country that most environmental extremists dream of it becoming. The video narrator proceeds to add to Eric's statement: "They (the Rangers) have been threatened at Algodones and attacked. A recent Department of Interior investigation concludes drug- and alcohol-related crimes make the Algodones unsafe for families. The report also recommends BLM Rangers be issued riot helmets, batons and gas masks for their own safety. ATVs run their headlights and ride the dunes all night, and the need for law enforcement goes on 24 hours." What she doesn't tell you is that the report goes on to say that it isn't the typical off-roader who is causing the problem. The majority of these acts occur only on the busiest holiday weekends and usually are isolated to nighttime activities at Competition Hill, located adjacent to Interstate 78. The highway provides easy access to that area for people whose vehicles cannot travel through the dunes. It's no secret that gang activity has become a growing problem at Competition Hill over the last five years, with very little intervention by law-enforcement officers. Legitimate off-roaders, more than anyone else, would like to see this problem eliminated. This is evident in the checkered flag program promoted by the ASA. Checkered flags are flown as a symbol of support for law enforcement in the dunes. The checkered flag pledge reads, "WE FLY IT AND LIVE BY IT! TRASH: WE pack it in and WE pack it out. ENFORCEMENT: WE live by the rules. WE support all law enforcement at the dunes. WE report major infractions. RESPECT FOR OTHER PEOPLE, SAFETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT: WE act in a responsible manner."
The PEER video also introduces us to CBD desert ecologists and Earth First leader Daniel Patterson. Patterson goes on to say, "I see them hauling off people in handcuffs all day for things like drunk driving and drug offenses...." Once again we're led to believe that the majority of ORV users at the dunes are criminals. This is an interesting statement for Patterson, who ran for the Arizona State Senate in the fall of 2000. Topping his list of core issues we find decriminalization of marijuana "for medical and responsible personal use and cultivation." It's hard to believe that someone who has run for political office on a platform of legalizing marijuana has never possessed it or consumed it. Besides, possession of marijuana is considered a "drug offense"—exactly the kind of "activity" Patterson says is so prevalent among off-roaders! As usual, environmental extremists have raised hypocrisy to an art form.
Asking for fairness

In response to the PEER video, the American Sand Association produced its own video. Rather than descend to the level of its opposition with name-calling and half-truths, the ASA introduces us to the real people who frequent the Imperial Sand Dunes: parents, grandparents, children, firefighters, business owners, the handicapped ... Americans who have a right to responsibly use lands their tax dollars and recreational fees pay for!
We are also introduced to ASA president Jerry Seaver. "We need help with the politicians to take the time to look at the facts and make sure this is all being done in a fair way," says Seaver. "That's all we're asking for—fairness. We are voters. All we leave in the sand is tracks—and the first time the wind blows, those are gone."


Off-Road Vehicles Are Degrading the Wilderness

How Should America's Wilderness Be Managed?, 2005

Off-Road Vehicles Are Degrading the Wilderness
"Out of Control," Forest Magazine, May/June 2000. Copyright © 2000 by Forest Magazine. Reproduced by permission.
Keith Easthouse is associate editor of Forest Magazine, published by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.
Until 1988 motorized vehicles wider than forty inches were banned from National Forest trails. When this obscure "forty-inch rule" was lifted, it opened wilderness trails to snowmobiles, four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, and other off-road vehicles (ORVs). Since that time, many formerly peaceful and serene trails have become noisy, polluted highways. Motorized use has despoiled the wilderness character with the whine of loud engines, the stench of burning fuel, and the pollution of dripping gas, oil, and antifreeze. Powerful ORVs have not only degraded thousands of miles of trails but have allowed users to tear up hillsides, mountaintops, streams, and other fragile ecosystems. Study after study has shown that ORVs are harming plants and animals in a variety of ways and are even responsible for pushing endangered species toward extinction in some places. Despite this negative news, off-road groups, often with the backing of the ORV industry, continue to push the Forest Service to open new lands to motorized recreation. They have also fought nearly every attempt to limit ORVs in threatened areas. While the wilderness managers try to please as many visitors as possible, people riding ORVs are creating noise, air, and water pollution while driving hikers, horseback riders, hunters, and fishermen out of the wilderness.
In the September 14, 1988, issue of the Federal Register, a publication that records and communicates the rules and regulations of the executive branch of government, there appeared a notice from the U.S. Forest Service on page 35,526: the agency was proposing to lift its long standing rule prohibiting vehicles wider than forty inches from using national forest [trails]. The stated purpose of changing the rule, which had made it illegal to drive anything larger than a dirt bike on hiking and horse trails, was to "eliminate confusion and law enforcement difficulties."
The plan to abolish "the forty inch rule," as the regulation is known, was remarkable in how little public controversy it generated. The Forest Service received a total of five public comments and prepared a cursory, two-and-a-half page environmental analysis that concluded that revoking the rule "will not have a significant effect on the human environment." On November 11, 1989, then Forest Service Chief F. Dale Robertson signed the decision notice approving the rule change, and on June 25 of the following year, the final rule went into effect.
The lack of public controversy over the rule change stood in sharp contrast to reactions within the agency. Internal documents obtained in 1998 by the Montana Wilderness Association, an environmental group, show that many land managers were alarmed. "Allowing wider vehicles to use trails may cause trails to become roads," asserted an employee from Region 9, which encompasses the upper Midwest and the New England states. Another Forest Service worker, this one from Indiana's Hoosier National Forest, warned that removing the rule "would generate strong negative reaction from the public. It would be viewed as another step in opening up the forest to unrestricted ORV [off-road vehicle] use."
Some in the agency apparently saw the hand of the ORV industry behind the proposal. William L. Nickbush, recreation officer on the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, wrote in a February 6, 1986, memo that "our responsibility is to the land and its protection. We don't believe we need to accommodate every type vehicle just because someone manufactures it and someone else bought it and wants to use it." Bruce Hronek, director of Recreation, Range, Wildlife and Landscape Management on the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin, agreed: "We see no justification for continually altering our definition of a trail to suit corporate decisions to manufacture larger and larger snowmobiles, ATVs [all-terrain vehicles], or other motorized vehicles."
Trails opened to off-road vehicles

Top Forest Service officials to this day deny that ORV groups improperly influenced the agency's decision to rescind the forty-inch rule. They also insist that the plan was widely publicized—a claim environmentalists refute. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: the ORV community knew the Forest Service was considering doing away with the rule at least two years before the initial Federal Register notice. In the pile of documents obtained by Montana environmentalists was a September 30, 1986, letter written by Bob Garner of the Montana Trail Bike Riders Association to then-Forest Service Chief R. Max Peterson. The letter begins: "It has come to our association's attention through discussions with the Forest Service Regional Office in Missoula, Montana, that a review of [the forty-inch] regulation is taking place." Later in the letter, Garner baldly asserted that "redefining a trail and correcting the inadvertent exclusion of ATV riders clearly is necessary at this time. Arbitrary limitations such as the forty-inch-width regulations have a serious negative impact on motorcycle and ATV dealers selling these vehicles."
The forty-inch rule was far from arbitrary—it was based on the width of a motorcycle's handlebar—and as the alarmed Forest Service land managers warned, rescinding it did indeed open up trails to four-wheel-drive ATVs and snowmobiles.
More than a decade later, such vehicles—made more powerful by recent technological advancements—are pushing deeper into the backcountry than ever before, not only in national forests but also in national parks and in lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Outraged environmental groups, claiming that the machines are harassing wildlife and tearing up the land, are filing lawsuits—and seeking political support from the Clinton administration. ORV enthusiasts, claiming they are being discriminated against, are fighting every attempt to ban their machines from pristine areas—and looking to the Republican-controlled Congress to advance their cause. Meanwhile, the Forest Service, which opened the floodgates to ORVs on its own lands by nixing the forty-inch rule, finds itself in the middle of yet another environmental battle, one that could potentially be as bitter and protracted as the timber wars.
Perhaps more bitter and protracted: this conflict doesn't pit the public against the resource extraction industry but recreation users against each other. As Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, a man not given to overstatement, put it recently, "This will be the issue of the next decade."
Motorized recreation is growing rapidly

There's no question the chances are growing greater that your next outdoor experience may be shattered by the deep roar of a four-wheeler or the angry-hornet whine of a Jet Ski.
Motorized recreation on public lands seems to be growing rapidly, but it's not clear by how much. Although individual national forests may track ORV use, the Forest Service keeps no comprehensive figures. The agency has estimated that ORV visitor days will reach 118 million by 2020, although some within the Forest Service believe that figure has already been reached.
There are several factors driving the increase: the growing tendency of Americans to turn to nature when they want to have fun; an increasing number of Americans with money to burn, thanks to the unprecedented economic boom [of the late 1990s]; and a growing number of Americans who have hit middle age and are less inclined to strap on their hiking boots and break a sweat. Add to these demographic trends the fact that the motorized recreation industry is churning out bigger and more powerful machines than ever before and you have a peculiarly American phenomenon: wilderness traffic jams.
"It used to be that if you had a snowmachine and you really wanted to get out there, you took your shovel and snowshoes with you because you knew you were going to get stuck," said Robert Ekey, who works in the Wilderness Society's Bozeman, Montana, office. "But now these machines have a broader track and a platform so they don't sink in the snow anymore. Places that only skiers used to be able to reach are now all tracked up by snowmachines."
Harried hikers and skiers aren't the only outcome of the ORV boom. The abundance of machines roaring through the backcountry has taken a tangible toll on wildlife and the environment in general. Solid information on ORV impacts on national forests is difficult to come by, largely because the Forest Service—contrary to its own regulations—does very little monitoring. But there is scientifically documented evidence of negative impacts outside national forests. Here are a few examples:
In the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California, a number of species, including the endangered desert tortoise and the desert kangaroo rat, have suffered hearing loss from the roar of dune buggies. Some of the rats were found to have bloody ears and to have been deafened for as long as three weeks—a period during which they were extremely vulnerable to predation by their main enemy, snakes.
In the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, ORV use in the 1970s decimated the ghost crab population, reduced the number of sanderlings—a shore bird—from 30,000 to 5,000 and compacted the sand so densely that sea turtles could not establish nesting sites.
In Canyonlands National Park, ORV users tore up an eleven-mile stretch of Salt Creek, the only clear perennial stream in the park. The machines left fuel, oil and antifreeze in the canyon bottom and damaged habitat for the Southwestern willow flycatcher, an endangered songbird.
A nonnative root fungus that is fatal to a rare conifer called the Port Orford cedar, found mostly in southern Oregon, is spread readily by motorized vehicles, which transport spores on their tires. An environmental group called Friends of the Kalmiopsis claims that ORVs regularly trespass into the wilderness, where the fungus has killed hundreds of the cedars in recent years.
A study in Montana found that a single ATV can disperse more than 2,000 knapweed seeds over a ten-mile radius. Knapweed, in contrast to most native vegetation in Montana, thrives in soils compressed by the weight of ATVs.
A study in the early 1980s found that runoff in the Southern California desert was as much as twenty times greater in areas where soil was compacted by ATVs.
Damage from snowmobiles

Some of the dirtiest air in the country hangs at the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where snowmobiles congregate. The highest carbon monoxide level recorded anywhere in the United States in 1996 was recorded at West Yellowstone.
Several studies have found that even though snowmobiles do not directly impact soil, they still damage vegetation. Compressed snow caused by the machines' weight produces colder subsurface temperatures that reduce plant vigor come springtime. The compressed snow also harms and even kills small rodents that spend the winter in burrows.
Fuel and motor oil leaked by snowmobiles during the winter in alpine regions of the northern Rockies has been found to produce a poisonous pulse of snowmelt in the springtime, resulting in the deaths of aquatic species.
A study of white-tailed deer in the Rockies in the mid-1980s found that the animals used up vital energy reserves trying to escape snowmobiles. Another study later that decade found that harassment of mule deer by ATVs resulted in reduced reproduction rates.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the hardening of snow produced by snowmobiles decreases the competitive advantage of the Canada lynx, a protected species that is adapted to deep snow.
Wolverines, an imperiled species found only in remote areas, have abandoned their dens when faced with minor human disturbances, according to a study done in the 1960s. Conservationists speculate that wolverines, not to mention grizzly bears and wolves, are severely taxed by ORVs—not only in winter but at all times of year.
Evidence such as this helps explain why environmentalists get a tad emotional about ORV use on public lands—and more than a little angry when it comes to what they perceive to be weak or nonexistent regulation of ORV use by land management agencies.
"If your idea of Forest Service management is a bad scene from [the film] Road Warrior, then that's what we've got out there. Chaos. Entire trail systems are being destroyed."
So says John Gatchell of the Montana Wilderness Association, the group that brought the agency's internal deliberations on the cancellation of the forty-inch rule to light. The association, established in 1958, is Montana's oldest conservation group. It was also one of the first to recognize the danger posed to public lands by escalating ORV use.
In 1996, at a time when most environmental organizations were still focused on logging, mining and grazing, the association filed a lawsuit alleging Forest Service mismanagement of seven wilderness study areas totaling some 700,000 acres, all in the Big Sky State. The suit charged the agency with violating the Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977, a federal law meant to ensure that areas pristine enough to eventually gain formal wilderness designation remain protected. The Forest Service was degrading the wild character of these areas, according to the suit, primarily by creating and expanding trails for ATVs and grooming trails for snowmobiles.
In a federal district court hearing last spring, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deanne Sandholm, representing the Forest Service, did not deny that the agency was accommodating motorized recreation in potential wilderness areas. Nor did she deny that such use carries a high risk of degrading the environment. But she argued that such use does not necessarily preclude wilderness designation. The agency is handling the issue of ORV activity in wilderness study areas—which exist on national forests across the country—on a case-by-case basis, she said. In some wilderness study areas in Montana, she said, motorized use is off-limits.
The lawsuit, which is still pending, is significant in many ways aside from being one of the first major challenges of Forest Service management of ORVs. It reveals that the agency was aiding and abetting an intensive—Gatchell would say destructive—form of recreation on lands that are among the most pristine under its jurisdiction. It shows that Forest Service engineers who formerly built logging roads are now building ORV routes ("miniroads," Gatchell calls them), without any public review or detailed study of potential impacts to the environment or wildlife. Finally, the lawsuit makes clear that when it comes to ORV use, the Forest Service has no uniform policy that applies to all of its wilderness study areas, let alone to all of its national forests.
Bid to manage ORVs

A lack of consistency lies at the heart of another, more recent challenge to the Forest Service's handling of ORVs: a bid by environmentalists to persuade the agency to fundamentally change the way it manages the machines. The challenge, mounted by the Wilderness Society; the Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads, a Montana group; and 100 other environmental groups, takes the form of a 180-page "rule-making petition" that was submitted to the agency last December. The petition asks the agency to ban ORVs from the roughly 54 million acres of unprotected roadless areas in the 192-million-acre national forest system. It also asks the agency to allow the vehicles only on designated and signed routes and only where the agency can show that the vehicles will not cause undue environmental harm.
Currently, the Forest Service has no uniform policy addressing ORV use. Some forests restrict ORVs to designated routes; others do just the opposite, allowing ORVs to travel everywhere except in areas that have been closed off.
Mike Anderson, a Wilderness Society lawyer based in Seattle, said in March that Forest Service officials have indicated they are not likely to respond to the petition anytime soon (a response is required by law, but there is no deadline by which a response must be made). "They've told us there's too much on their plate," Anderson said.
That's understandable, considering the agency is in the midst of preparing a controversial proposal to protect its roadless areas, as directed by President Clinton [in 1999] in a much ballyhooed announcement. But even in the absence of other priorities, it seems unlikely that the agency will meet the environmentalists' demands.
Chris Wood, an aide to Dombeck, said the question of where off-road vehicles should be allowed is best left to local forest supervisors. But in those places where ORV users have created unauthorized trails—a rampant problem, environmentalists say—Dombeck wants forest supervisors to limit vehicle use to designated areas, Wood said.
Dombeck, in a speech last October, stressed the need for public review of plans regarding ORVs, something called for in the petition: "Off-road vehicle use decisions will be made through an open and public process unless there is justifiable need for immediate action to protect forest resources or public safety," Dombeck said.
He also sided with environmentalists on another issue—that the Forest Service must stop sanctioning, with no public review, illegally created routes. "Any decision to make currently unauthorized roads and trails a part of the authorized forest road and transportation system will be made through open and public processes," Dombeck said.
Although environmentalists praised the speech, they have been disappointed by the lack of response to the petition. And while no one from the environmental community will say so at this point, it seems likely that they will eventually go to court to try to force the agency to adopt more severe restrictions on ORV use.
Anderson said a lawsuit might charge the agency with violating its own regulations, which include restrictions that grew out of a pair of executive orders issued in the 1970s by presidents Nixon and Carter. The orders direct all land management agencies to "protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users, and to minimize conflicts among the various users of those lands."
Opposition from pro-ORV groups

Clark Collins, executive director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the largest pro-ORV group, has no doubt that the Wilderness Society and the other petitioners will go to court. He also is certain of something else: what environmentalists—he calls them "wilderness advocates"—really want to convert as much backcountry as possible to protected wilderness.
Some might see that as a laudable goal. But Collins says it smacks of "selfishness" and "elitism." "It's been their position all along that any area of scenic or recreational value should be closed to motorized recreation. They want to lock us out."
When asked if ORVs damage the backcountry, Collins suggested that horses are more destructive. (The leader of a Montana ORV club made a similar remark recently, claiming that hiking was more disruptive to grizzlies than motorized recreation. The proof? More hiker's are mauled than ORV riders. An environmentalist retorted, "It's hard to surprise a grizzly on an ATV.")
Even if ORVs do harm the land, Collins said, local ORV clubs are quite active in their efforts to repair the damage by maintaining trails and roads that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management cannot afford to maintain themselves.
Wood, Dombeck's aide, agreed. "The environmental community hates to hear this, but some of our best partners, some of the people that show up most often to do volunteer work on weekends, who leverage more money for us for maintenance work, are the OHV [off-highway vehicle] clubs. We don't turn up our nose at that. They're organized, they turn out people, they help cash-strapped forests. The work they do helps stop erosion."
Money for such maintenance work, however, doesn't come out of the pockets of ORV clubs; it comes from American taxpayers through a 1991 law known as the Symms Act, named for its main sponsor, former Senator Steve Symms, an Idaho Republican and ally of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, based in Pocatello, Idaho.
The act funds trail construction and maintenance through a gasoline tax distributed by the states. In theory, 30 percent of the money is reserved for building and maintaining motorized roads, 30 percent is to be spent on hiking and horse trails, and the remainder—40 percent—is supposed to go toward "multiple use." In practice, the hulk of the multiple-use portion of the fund has been spent on projects benefiting ORV groups.
Environmentalists say the fund gives the Forest Service an incentive to do the bidding of the ORV community. They also complain about a provision in the act that allows Forest Service land managers to widen trails without public review. (Perhaps the most extreme incident occurred last year on the Dixie National Forest in Utah, when a district ranger—at the behest of local ATV users—widened a horse and hiking trail with a small bulldozer. After environmentalists complained, he was ordered to restore the trail to its original condition.) And conservationists were aghast, though not surprised, when congressional Republicans not only resurrected the bill [in the summer of 1999]—it lapsed in 1997—but pushed through legislation that will provide $270 million over the next five years to build new ORV routes and shore up old ones on national forests and BLM lands.
Victories for environmentalists

Not all the news is bad for those seeking more restrictions on ORV use on public lands.
Yellowstone National Park, perhaps the Mecca for snowmobile enthusiasts, is leaning toward banning the machines altogether. The BLM, long criticized for doing even less than the Forest Service to control ORV use, in January unveiled an initiative to develop a "national strategy for ensuring environmentally responsible [ORV] use." (Perhaps not coincidentally, the announcement came a few months after a coalition of environmental groups sued the agency for failing to control ORVs in the spectacular canyon country of southern Utah.) And the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision in March to list the Canada lynx as threatened could conceivably lead to a moratorium on new groomed snowmobile routes in lynx habitat. At the very least, the listing gives environmentalists an important legal weapon to wield.
A clear cut victory was achieved in February when a federal judge rejected a bid by a Montana snowmobile organization to reopen fourteen western Montana roadless areas on the Lolo National Forest.
The Montana Snowmobile Association claimed the forest should have held public hearings before closing about 400,000 acres to motorized uses last year. However Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the Forest Service had already held public hearings back in 1986, when the ban was incorporated into the Lolo's management plan.
Gatchell of the Montana Wilderness Association said that while the ruling was welcome, the snowmobile group initiated the lawsuit only because Lolo officials largely ignored their forest plan for thirteen years and then belatedly enforced the ban after Gatchell's group threatened to sue them if they didn't.
"If they'd only implemented the ban from the beginning, none of this would have happened," Gatchell said.
Last December, environmentalists added another win to their tally when the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington backed away from a plan to build a six-mile-long dirt bike trail from a campground to a roadless area. The cancellation followed a court ruling ordering the forest to look at the cumulative impact on the environment of its entire trail system before proceeding.
Although there is plenty of evidence of pro-ORV bias within the Forest Service, the agency has taken some steps to curb ORV use: In 1994, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests closed fourteen square miles of the Selkirk Mountains to protect endangered woodland caribou.
Colorado's Routt National Forest has closed 250,000 acres to motorized recreation an action that is being challenged in court by the Colorado OHV Coalition.
The Dixie National Forest in Utah has closed ninety miles of trails and roads in a scenic but badly degraded alpine area known as Boulder Top. For that step they have also been sued by ORV groups claiming that the Forest Service is discriminating against people with disabilities who can reach the area only on motorized vehicles.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, which cover 1.7 million acres in western Colorado, along with the Gunnison District of the BLM, which manages 600,000 acres, are proposing to restrict motorized vehicles and mountain bikes—both of which have heavily impacted the mountainous region.
Managers with the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia have banned ORVs entirely.
On other fronts, environmental groups recently sued Montana's Gallatin National Forest for failing to halt ORV caused destruction of grizzly hear habitat (grizzlies are a threatened species). And in February, a Missouri-based group called Heartwood turned to the courts in a bid to halt the opening of thirty-four miles of ORV trails in Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest. (In 1998, that national forest confined ORVs to 117 of the forest's 500 miles of trails. Prior to that, ORVs were permitted to travel cross-country.)
Conflicts will escalate

Dombeck is on record saying that in this day and age, the Forest Service's top priority should be protecting the integrity of watersheds. That means, as he has repeatedly explained, keeping the air and water clean, maintaining good wildlife habitat and ensuring that significant portions of the national forest system remain places of serenity.
But he is also bound by law to manage national forests to satisfy multiple uses. Like it or not, for a growing number of Americans, one of those multiple uses is driving through the woods on a four-wheeler or zipping through a winter meadow on a powerful snowmobile.
Therein lies Dombec's dilemma.... But it seems safe to say that court battles will escalate, as will conflicts between hikers, hunters amid anglers on the one hand and ORV riders on the other. In the meantime, the predictions of trouble that some Forest Service land managers gave voice to when the agency was mulling whether to do away with the forty inch rule fourteen years ago have largely come true.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, to let a Forest Service employee, one Marsha Lee Winkle of the Wayne National Forest in Ohio, have the last word. A letter she wrote to her superiors on October 29, 1998, is often cited by environmentalists. It reads, in part: "I am disheartened by our inability to control ORV users. On every visit to the trail system, I find new trespass and resource damage. We cannot meet our mission to protect watersheds and allow this type of use to continue."
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:21 AM
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stupid anti-off-roaders..... go stick it...
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:38 PM
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very good article,
i once saw green peace at dumont trying to tear down the sand dunes with a tractor and they flipped it, unfortunately the operator survived
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:57 AM
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ha i did the same kind of research paper and actually used one of the articles you posted best thing about the paper is i got an A
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:20 AM
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If you are looking at stuff for an argument paper see if you can find any articles about what ORV clubs are doing to protect environmental stuff.

I did a paper on wheeling as well years ago, and my teacher was a huge tree hugger. Her argument to ORV was the damage the vehicles do to the environment such as making trails, tree damage, mud holes, etc, pollution.

I found articles about how the differnent ORV clubs do things to mitigate damage. Treading lightly, tree savers, staying in designated areas, responsible wheeling. Also see if you can find anything about the good stuff clubs do for the environment such as, cleaning out trash, protecting frog wildlife, crap like that.

Aulthough you cannot deny that trucks in the woods impact the environment, you CAN argue they have a much smaller impact than the average strip mall whose parking lot leveled acres of trees, whose vendors produce mountains of trash, and whose patrons cars pollute a hell of a lot more than a few cherokees with leaky 4.0's. Not to mention there are a hell of a lot more strip malls than there are legal places to wheel
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