There are always people out there that like to complain about all the laws made by the United States government. Most kids don’t like some of the laws that are enforced these days. You have to go to school every day and you can’t drive yourself to school until you’re sixteen, then after all that you have to be home by eleven or you get in trouble for curfew. These are a few laws that all kids hate to have enforced today.
Although these are just a few laws that really stand out to us now as kids, unfortunately they are probably for the better. Everyone knows that there are a lot of different recreational laws enforced in the world too. Every spring you have to get a new license for a boat to be able to put it in the water and a hunting license before you go hunting. Maybe we should step back and take a look at some laws that truly do not need to be enforced. The public’s rights to use off-road vehicles on federal lands are a huge issue in the Colorado Mountains.
Without organizations like COHVCO, many more trails in the Colorado Mountains would be closed to the public. For example while the Colorado off-highway vehicle coalition is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public land and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations (“Who is COHVCO”). The Colorado off-highway vehicle coalition is a strong supporter of trails systems in the Colorado Mountains as long as the public is obeying the laws.
If the public is following the laws, COHVCO will help the public stand up against the government trying to shut down access to public land. In addition, because the COHVCO protects the interests of off-road enthusiasts, the COHVCO is fighting against a proposed law that would close access to trail #667 in the Pikes Peak National Forest. This law suit, if passed, will cause off-road motorized vehicles to be banned from trail #667 (“Colorado off-highway vehicle Coalition”).
When the government tries to shut down a trail, that specific trail may lead to several more, so really it shuts down a trail system instead of just one trail. The reason the government is trying to shut down Trail #667 is dirt bikes and ATV’s on the trail are causing erosion. The erosion damages the habitat and the loose dirt from the erosion is getting into the stream that runs along the trail and is killing a native trout species. When there is a hard rain and the stream is really flowing hard, doesn’t dirt get into the stream? That doesn’t kill the native trout?
More over, because of the work it has done representing off-roaders, COHVCO was selected as organization of the year by the Blue Ribbon Coalition (Sheets). COHVCO does outstanding work with the off highway vehicle workshop which includes sessions for land managers, and have been working on land use planning for several of the national forests in Colorado. The Blue Ribbon Coalition made a really good decision to select the COHVCO organization for the award because they have been really working hard to keep trails open and allow the public to ride mountain trails with off-road vehicles.
All in all, the COHVCO fights for the rights to ride on public land in the national forests across the Colorado Rockies. While many more trails would be closed to the public without organizations like COHVCO, the federal government also needs to recognize the public’s right to enjoy federal lands. For instance, although the government has a lot bigger issues in the Rocky Mountains than the public riding issues, the government is trying to shut down the rights to ride on public land throughout Colorado when there is a pine beetle killing all the trees. Davenport).
When we are out riding on these trails, we are not hurting the environment nearly as bad as the pine beetle that has been tearing through the Colorado Mountains. Research says that the government does not want to kill the pine beetle because it’s part of the natural habitat. If the government is so worried about the dirt bikes tearing up the ground and possibly hurting a trout species, what do they think the pine beetle is doing? The pine beetle is killing the trees that many of the mountain’s wildlife live in.
The government should try to kill the beetle that is affecting a lot more of the wildlife and habitat than dirt bikes. Furthermore, although the answer to cutting down on the number of forest fires is not to shut down public riding, the government says dirt bikes can cause forest fires (Quinton). Dirt bike laws in Colorado, written by the Off Highway Vehicle workshop, require that every off-road vehicle is to have a spark arrestor. Spark arrestors make sure that there are no sparks blown out of the exhaust to cut down on the fire risk.
Pine beetles killing all the trees make it a huge fire risk: one lightning strike or even someone throwing a cigarette out of his or her car as they drive by could ignite all the dead down timber caused from the pine beetle that we cannot kill because it is part of the natural habitat. Also, even though the mountains would be a lot better off if the government could help save some of the environment, the government is so caught up in the issue of dirt bikes tearing up the land they are ignoring the pine beetle (“Beetle mania”).
The erosion issue the government says is hurting the environment is only in a few small areas of the Colorado Mountains, but the pine beetle is a very wide spread situation. Researchers say there have been over 1. 5 million acres of pines killed by the little bug. In brief, the public’s rights of enjoying federal lands are not hurting the environment nearly as bad as the pine beetle. Without organizations like COHVCO, many more trails in Colorado would be closed to the public.
The Federal Government needs to recognize the public’s rights to enjoy federal lands. It doesn’t seem right to help the wildlife and habitat more than the public. The government needs to focus on helping the public instead of all the wildlife and habitat in the mountains. To illustrate, even though the wildlife could care less if the public enjoys federal lands, the U. S. Forest Service Wildlife Commission thinks that off-road vehicles scare the wildlife (Daily).
The government thinks that all the off-road vehicle traffic through the national forests of Colorado is noisy and scares all the wildlife as the public drives by on the trails. The U. S Forest Service Wildlife Commission thinks the loud exhaust and engines spook the wildlife, causing them to migrate to a different part of the forest. The government thinks that the wildlife shouldn’t have to change their living habits because the public scares them. From personal experience, the wildlife is not scared at all as we ride by them out on the trails.
The animals have gotten so used to the public and all the off-road vehicles that most of the time when someone comes up on deer or elk, they will just kind of walk out of the way and then just stop and stand there and look around. The wildlife doesn’t seem too scared to me. If the government tries to stop public land use because of how loud off-road vehicles are, then why aren’t big diesel trucks scaring the animals out of the forest when a truck goes by on the road? The wildlife knows how to survive on their own, so why take the rights away from the public when the wildlife will be fine?
Equally important, because government should not set up families for failure because of habitat and wildlife reasons: the government is trying to shut down a family operated business that sells and rents out new and used ATV (“Forest Service Blocks High Country ATV Business”). The federal government says that the business needs to be shut down because of the high number of ATV rentals the owner has per month. They say trails near the business, where most of the ATV’s are ridden, are starting to show some serious erosion and this erosion is getting hard on the habitat. Once again, the wildlife will adjust to a little bit of habitat change.
Even if this were something the federal government actually needed to take care of, why would the federal government try to shut down a family owned business? Shouldn’t the government shut down the trails for no reason, like they did on trail #667, instead of killing someone’s business? If all the government does is shut down the business, public land users will just go ahead and bring their own ATVs or rent them from someone else and still ride the trails that have the erosion issue. Therefore, shutting down a family’s business is not the right way of going at this issue.
Moreover, while the residents of small towns are worried, the government trying to shut down all the off-road vehicle activity in the mountains will hurt a lot of small businesses (“Responsible Trails America”). If the government tries and succeeds in shutting off public use to parts of the Colorado Mountains, the small dealerships of off-road vehicles will notice a big change in sales. During the hunting season, the businesses in a small town could lose a lot of income because few hunters would come to hunt a section of the mountains where they couldn’t use an ATV.
It is not a good idea to put so many small businesses in danger over a little problem with erosion or the issue of scaring the wildlife in their habitats. The habitats are known to heal themselves and the wildlife knows how to survive on their own, so why put all the small businesses in danger? Altogether, the government should not place the environment over the local economy.
In conclusion, the public’s right to operate off-road vehicles in the Colorado Mountains is a big issue. The public is very lucky to have organizations that work hard like the COHVCO to help keep as many of these trails open to the public as possible. Hopefully, the government will end up taking care of the serious pine beetle problem before the whole forest is dead instead of worrying about how off-road vehicles hurt the land. Small town businesses are putting up a heck of a fight to keep their businesses open and to keep food on the table for their families all because the government wants to enforce a few little laws when there are a lot bigger issues to be solved.