Public Lands — The Looming Catastrophe

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Navy-Jeeper

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The first part of the two part article written by Martin Hackworth, the Executive Director at Sharetrails.
He is retiring this summer.
I have permission from Martin to share this here.
Link to the actual article.

https://idahostatejournal.com/opinion/columns/public-lands-the-looming-catastrophe/article_4d254f6a-9cc6-5c51-bd72-8d14b204e1e6.html

I’ve spent the last three years as Executive Director of Sharetrails.org, formerly known as BlueRibbon Coalition. Though I’m stepping down in a few months to “ridetire” I feel good about what we’ve accomplished in my time there. Sharetrails stands up for access to public lands for a variety of stakeholders - though mostly from the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) world. It’s been my privilege to represent these folks who I think have been unfairly maligned through decades of protectionist-driven regulations designed to prevent them from responsibly using public lands.

The most interesting thing about my tenure at Sharetrails has been the realization that professionals, even those on the opposite side of the table, are generally easy to interface with. If it were up to myself and the directors of the organizations we work with, even those we often oppose, we could probably work out solutions that all of us could at least live with. There is a remarkable amount of agreement in public land world that recreation should be a component of public land management. Though we may disagree on the details and around the margins, we all agree that responsible recreation, in many forms, is a legitimate use of the great outdoors.

The problem in coming to accommodation without endless lawsuits isn’t the professionals or fair-minded advocates, it’s the zealots. Those who value principle above all else. Every one of these folks I’ve met, on any side of any issue, fancies themselves some sort of gallant warrior in the service of a noble cause. That’s rarely the beginning of a beautiful friendship when compromise is a necessary ingredient in any bonding agent.

I was in a meeting a year or so ago concerning a major land use initiative, with national ramifications, along with several members of the US House of Representatives, a Governor, the Executive Directors of a dozen or so land use groups and some nonprofessional advocates. The professionals in the room were mostly cordial, well-prepared and though they brought with them strong opinions they understood that no one was likely to get 100 percent of what they wanted.

That in contrast to the nonprofessionals who obsessed over relatively unimportant details of the bill on the table and displayed palpable loathing toward everyone who did not agree with them. Folks, I give you modern politics in a nutshell. Throw the partisan hashtag-on-their-forehead zealots out the window and I’ll bet more than I can afford to lose that it’s possible to forge political compromise.

All of the above may be put into the category of preaching to the choir in that the normal audience for my columns is made up of the last group of people who need to see any of it. But I’ll chuck up a Hail Mary and see if it lands somewhere useful. You zealots out there on all sides of the land use spectrum are screwing all of us — yourselves included.

The biggest threat to public lands is not “thrillcraft,” the shrinking of monuments, wildlife management or any of the other things that you spend your time raging about — it’s the complete loss of public lands for everyone (including the critters you obsess over). The only benefit for seething eco-warriors is that they are aging at a rate that makes this consequence something that their descendants are much more likely to confront than they themselves.

A friend recently pointed out that Teddy Roosevelt, for all of his vision in establishing what we now consider public land, probably bought us a century or so rather than posterity. Potent threats to public lands have been engineered into funding mechanisms by both political parties for at least two generations. The fiscal traps are looming, and when we have to choose what we value more, public land or, say, social services, (also placed purposefully behind the eight ball) I’m confident and afraid that I know which way that’s going to go.


Add to that the fact that younger people, as a whole, do not value outdoor recreation the way that older generations did — something to which any honest outdoor retailer will readily attest. The populations of hunters, climbers, hikers, bikers, snowmachiners, skiers and other outdoor recreationists is aging. My oldest son is a great kid, but neither he nor any of his friends think of a week-long backpacking trip as anything other than a seven day journey through no Wi-Fi hell. This loss of a visceral connection to the outdoors concerns me more than anything.

These looming issues represent a veritable meteor bearing down on what we currently view as public land. You put a future population of adults who have no visceral connection with public land together with difficult fiscal choices and I fear the outcome. No one wants to pay dearly for gigantic nature preserves they have no real connection with.

So you zealots out there keep on pushing recreation of which you do not approve aside at your considerable peril. I think that you will not like where it leads.

Associated Press and Idaho Press Club award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist, writer and retired Idaho State University faculty member who now spends his time happily raising three children, llama farming, and riding mountain bikes and motorcycles.
 

MOAK

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I like it. I will add how important I think it is to get our kids and grandkids out there. My grandsons are sadly, suburbanites. We get them out and off the grid at every opportunity and thankfully, they like it, a lot. If we are to preserve our lands we all need to work at exposing the next generations to it. I think it was John Prine that suggested blowing up your TV. Much to the dismay of our then pre-teen daughters we did just that.
 

Justinwrites

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I'm sorry, I've really only just started digging into this particular group, but the blurry use of the word recreation keeps leaving me uneasy. I'm a farmer. I'm a hiker. I've been a road tripping camper my whole life. These are all recreation that can and does use public land. But not all public land is suitable for all recreation. We seem to agree there. But asserting that there's basic agreement that public land should be accessible for recreation sort of glosses over the certain disagreement regarding which method of recreating.

Mountain bikers we're recently co-opted by a lobbying effort to open wilderness trails that we're up to that point closed to anything other than foot and hoof traffic. And yes it would open that wilderness to the bikers, but also to industrial exploitation. We just need to be cautious to not let that happen, or there will be backlash.

Sent from my LG-H932 using OB Talk mobile app
 
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MOAK

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Advocate II

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Wernersville, PA, USA
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Donald
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Diehl
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0745

I'm sorry, I've really only just started digging into this particular group, but the blurry use of the word recreation keeps leaving me uneasy. I'm a farmer. I'm a hiker. I've been a road tripping camper my whole life. These are all recreation that can and does use public land. But not all public land is suitable for all recreation. We seem to agree there. But asserting that there's basic agreement that public land should be accessible for recreation sort of glosses over the certain disagreement regarding which method of recreating.

Mountain bikers we're recently co-opted by a lobbying effort to open wilderness trails that we're up to that point closed to anything other than foot and hoof traffic. And yes it would open that wilderness to the bikers, but also to industrial exploitation. We just need to be cautious to not let that happen, or there will be backlash.

Sent from my LG-H932 using OB Talk mobile app
agreed, I have a post elsewhere on these forums, something about making a bargain with the proverbial devil. There is a very fine political line that we must walk.
 

Desert Runner

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The first part of the two part article written by Martin Hackworth, the Executive Director at Sharetrails.
He is retiring this summer.
I have permission from Martin to share this here.
Link to the actual article.

Public Lands: the looming catastrophe

I’ve spent the last three years as Executive Director of Sharetrails.org, formerly known as BlueRibbon Coalition. Though I’m stepping down in a few months to “ridetire” I feel good about what we’ve accomplished in my time there. Sharetrails stands up for access to public lands for a variety of stakeholders - though mostly from the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) world. It’s been my privilege to represent these folks who I think have been unfairly maligned through decades of protectionist-driven regulations designed to prevent them from responsibly using public lands.

The most interesting thing about my tenure at Sharetrails has been the realization that professionals, even those on the opposite side of the table, are generally easy to interface with. If it were up to myself and the directors of the organizations we work with, even those we often oppose, we could probably work out solutions that all of us could at least live with. There is a remarkable amount of agreement in public land world that recreation should be a component of public land management. Though we may disagree on the details and around the margins, we all agree that responsible recreation, in many forms, is a legitimate use of the great outdoors.

The problem in coming to accommodation without endless lawsuits isn’t the professionals or fair-minded advocates, it’s the zealots. Those who value principle above all else. Every one of these folks I’ve met, on any side of any issue, fancies themselves some sort of gallant warrior in the service of a noble cause. That’s rarely the beginning of a beautiful friendship when compromise is a necessary ingredient in any bonding agent.

I was in a meeting a year or so ago concerning a major land use initiative, with national ramifications, along with several members of the US House of Representatives, a Governor, the Executive Directors of a dozen or so land use groups and some nonprofessional advocates. The professionals in the room were mostly cordial, well-prepared and though they brought with them strong opinions they understood that no one was likely to get 100 percent of what they wanted.

That in contrast to the nonprofessionals who obsessed over relatively unimportant details of the bill on the table and displayed palpable loathing toward everyone who did not agree with them. Folks, I give you modern politics in a nutshell. Throw the partisan hashtag-on-their-forehead zealots out the window and I’ll bet more than I can afford to lose that it’s possible to forge political compromise.

All of the above may be put into the category of preaching to the choir in that the normal audience for my columns is made up of the last group of people who need to see any of it. But I’ll chuck up a Hail Mary and see if it lands somewhere useful. You zealots out there on all sides of the land use spectrum are screwing all of us — yourselves included.

The biggest threat to public lands is not “thrillcraft,” the shrinking of monuments, wildlife management or any of the other things that you spend your time raging about — it’s the complete loss of public lands for everyone (including the critters you obsess over). The only benefit for seething eco-warriors is that they are aging at a rate that makes this consequence something that their descendants are much more likely to confront than they themselves.

A friend recently pointed out that Teddy Roosevelt, for all of his vision in establishing what we now consider public land, probably bought us a century or so rather than posterity. Potent threats to public lands have been engineered into funding mechanisms by both political parties for at least two generations. The fiscal traps are looming, and when we have to choose what we value more, public land or, say, social services, (also placed purposefully behind the eight ball) I’m confident and afraid that I know which way that’s going to go.


Add to that the fact that younger people, as a whole, do not value outdoor recreation the way that older generations did — something to which any honest outdoor retailer will readily attest. The populations of hunters, climbers, hikers, bikers, snowmachiners, skiers and other outdoor recreationists is aging. My oldest son is a great kid, but neither he nor any of his friends think of a week-long backpacking trip as anything other than a seven day journey through no Wi-Fi hell. This loss of a visceral connection to the outdoors concerns me more than anything.

These looming issues represent a veritable meteor bearing down on what we currently view as public land. You put a future population of adults who have no visceral connection with public land together with difficult fiscal choices and I fear the outcome. No one wants to pay dearly for gigantic nature preserves they have no real connection with.

So you zealots out there keep on pushing recreation of which you do not approve aside at your considerable peril. I think that you will not like where it leads.

Associated Press and Idaho Press Club award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist, writer and retired Idaho State University faculty member who now spends his time happily raising three children, llama farming, and riding mountain bikes and motorcycles.
Politicians........they move as the wind blows. Almost all of them have shallow convictions, that will change on a dime. And yes, money and influence are their currency of choice. Knowing what is right and doing what is right, will always come behind what benefits them. Oath of office means little, as they propose regulations and laws that are unconstitutional, AND THEY KNOW THIS. Yet they do it anyway, and rather have it go thru the courts, hoping people forget what they did.
 

MOAK

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Politicians........they move as the wind blows. Almost all of them have shallow convictions, that will change on a dime. And yes, money and influence are their currency of choice. Knowing what is right and doing what is right, will always come behind what benefits them. Oath of office means little, as they propose regulations and laws that are unconstitutional, AND THEY KNOW THIS. Yet they do it anyway, and rather have it go thru the courts, hoping people forget what they did.
What does your statement have to do with what was read? Much of what he is discussing has come about because of the paranoia of parents back in the mid to late 70s I was a free range kid,, go out and play were words heard loud long and often from mom’s and dads all over the country. That stopped with the aforementioned paranoia. Now he have a few generations of people that are afraid of their own shadows, have zero ability to deal with confrontation and ( the big one ) have lost connection with the outdoors..
You of course are an expert in the constitution. I mean, how else could you possibly come to any rational opinion concerning the constitutionality of any act of Congress? The problem has little to do, if anything to do with politicians blowing in the wind,, the right thinks it’s ok to privatize public lands, the left does not.. I’ve a few hard core lefty friends, one trip, off grid, and they get it..
 
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Desert Runner

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And you of course are an expert in the constitution. I mean, how else could you possibly come to any rational opinion concerning the constitutionality of any act of Congress?
I don't have an example at my finger tips, but I will apologize for stepping on your toes. Congress approval at around 12%, MUST MEAN THEY ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. The 9th circuit court being chastised more than any other circuit means they are making constitutional decisions, even in the face of the supreme courts disapproval.
At what point does a opinion become a total beat down. I have been out from under a rock for many decades, and not lived in a bubble. Please don't attack me because of my first sentance of this reply. Doing so would be petty. This is not a political constitutional discussion. Instead it is about policies that are enacted by politicians because of departmental committees.
This thread started, and is about land use policies, that are influenced by Sierra Club groups who can get and keep the ear of politicians, even when 30 other groups oppose it. They just do not have the numbers or influence of that one group. A fact that others besides me alluded9 to.
I was there for the GOLD BUTTE decision, write ins, etc. I saw how many groups were marginalized, pushed aside, and ignored. How the Sierra Club got the last word before a desicion was finalized. People in Nv, As, and Ut had to suck it up.
 

MOAK

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I don't have an example at my finger tips, but I will apologize for stepping on your toes. Congress approval at around 12%, MUST MEAN THEY ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. The 9th circuit court being chastised more than any other circuit means they are making constitutional decisions, even in the face of the supreme courts disapproval.
At what point does a opinion become a total beat down. I have been out from under a rock for many decades, and not lived in a bubble. Please don't attack me because of my first sentance of this reply. Doing so would be petty. This is not a political constitutional discussion. Instead it is about policies that are enacted by politicians because of departmental committees.
This thread started, and is about land use policies, that are influenced by Sierra Club groups who can get and keep the ear of politicians, even when 30 other groups oppose it. They just do not have the numbers or influence of that one group. A fact that others besides me alluded9 to.
I was there for the GOLD BUTTE decision, write ins, etc. I saw how many groups were marginalized, pushed aside, and ignored. How the Sierra Club got the last word before a desicion was finalized. People in Nv, As, and Ut had to suck it up.
Not stepping on my toes at all. You brought up the constitutional angle, not I. And you brought up the 9th circuit .. are you aware that 68% of all circuit court decisions are over ruled by the supremes? Are you aware that only 61% of the ninth circuits rulings are over ruled by the supremes? The 9th circuit takes a lot of heat for decisions they come to that are no different than any other circuit, in fact, 7% less . you brought politics into this, not I.

I was a free range child at the age of about 6 and am not offended by differing opinions.
Once again,, the problem we face is a lot deeper than the modern divisive politics we have today. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Sierra Club, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with the Blue Ribbon Coalition as each of these organizations do important works to protect our environment and to keep access available. Instead of fighting one another they should be making a joint effort.. I have a difficult time understanding how any organization can align itself with political entities that would choose to sell off or otherwise privatize public lands... once it is private the gates go up and the no trespassing signs are posted. Once again, the author touched on the foundational problem, I extended that a bit, attempting to lay out a generational correlation. People in general, have lost touch with nature.
 
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