Utah off-road group vows to fight closure of government land.

Here is the AP article.

The article says the “president of Americans with Disabilities Access Alliance, is looking for a crowd of off-roaders to drive . . . ”

The idea is to get some tickets and challenge them in court, but I want to comment on another aspect of this.

For years, off-road vehicle activists have tried to use the disabilities laws, which in my opinion are good and important laws, to bootstrap their way out of regulations to protect the land, the wildlife and other users.

The point needs to be made clearly that being lazy, unfit, outdoors incompetent and fat is not, and should not be a disability for these purposes.

They should waddle their way up to Factory Butte on their own two legs. If you need a wheelchair, fine, but not wheelchair that is really an ATV.

Added on Oct. 16. I’ve found no news about their protest. Maybe it fizzled. RM







  1. schreinervideo Avatar

    Well put. I’ve got a video for that.

  2. Mitch Avatar

    Laziness and obesity have to be two of the most loathsome excuses anyone could conceive to destroy the Creation.

  3. Alan Avatar

    Here’s how a Vermont outdoors organization helped REAL wheelchair users: http://www.greenmountainclub.org/news.php?id=57
    Off-road cowboys and cowboyettes have great places to right in Pennsylvania. They’re called stripped out coal mine lands. But that’s not good enough for most. They’ve also got to slash and cut their way through fish and wildlife habitat, which is in short supply here.

  4. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Rather than rip into the law abiding majority of off-roaders, focus on the ding-dong who have no regard for the BLM nor the laws that govern the BLM and the citizens of the U.S. I used to be an off-roader until the lawless 10-15% got to me. I quit off-road riding. Most off roaders are not obese. May are fine athletes who compete in lawfully permitted off-road events. It just seems the ones that you hear about are 5 foot, 300 pound, couch patatoes, that could care less about natrual beauty. These are the people that we need to focus on. And Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha have ads that show how to rip up streambeds and fragile habitat with their 200 horsepower ATVs.

    Many BLM offices are going through management plan revisions and amendments. Get with the BLM recreation planner and insist on “designated routes” in defference to “open” or “existing” routes. And insist that the BLM enforce the desiganation.

    Too often, when a BLM ranger writes a ticket (if he/she even gets out a pen), the fine is minimal. I would suggest that the BLM impounds the violator’s toy. That will get someones attention.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks, Rick.

    I know must of these folks are not obese. In fact good riding requires fast reflexes and balance, but the disabled person argument is used again and again, ad nauseam.

    Therefore, I think that whenever it is used by people who are plenty able, they should be shamed.

    They used to use “the family” argument, i.e, women and children can hardly be expected to walk. This really irritated women, however, and they modied that argument.

    P.S. My cousin is a major manufacturer to off-road vehicles as well as champion rider, and he is anything but disabled.

  6. mike Avatar

    Obesity or no obesity, spending money on destructive toys and time tearing stuff up is childish vandalism that, in today’s impoverished and overburdened world, is just another aspect of the spoiled predatory behavior that has become our hallmark.

  7. Howard Goldstein Avatar
    Howard Goldstein

    Unfortunately, I think there is often a large gap between the agendas of the majority of ATVers (andd ranchers, and hunters, and gun owners…) and the organizations that supposedly represent them. They then use the justified response of nature lovers to “prove” to their constituents that the environmentalists are out to get them.

  8. Highlander Avatar

    I think that many folks that use ATV’s for hunting, fishing, farming, etc. are disillusioned by the arguemtents of the national groups. The national groups tend to promote the trail riding experience; getting from one point to another. Most folks that I know would rather hop in their truck and drive to the next town. For these folks, the ATV is a tool that gets you somewhere to do something other than just ride your ATV. And yes, they want some sort of solitude that can be afforded by getting to places where there aren’t a lot of people.

    I use an ATV for work; it saves me (and my employer) a lot of time. I try not to widen mud holes or sink deeper ruts in areas that others have torn up. It a tool to help me do my work more efficiently, but I’m not in love with the thing.

    I’ve seen the ads, too. You know, the ATV company ads that show folks (even little kids) ripping through the woods and the streams. And then at the end of the ad, in fine print, it says “please ride responsibly, tread lightly, professional drivers on a closed course, do not attempt”.

    The national groups are also pushing to have many side roads made into ATV trails. Again, if its a road, and ATV are for off-road use, why are they promoting on-road use? In most states, ATVs are illegal on public roads. Most ATV warrentees are void if you operate them on paved surfaces.

    ATV use can cause a lot of environmental damage. I’ve seen it first-hand. But most people ride responsibly, if they know better. And a lot of people would like to do just the “trail ride” thing. But when the ATV groups start banging the “we want more access” drum, look out. Enough is never enough for them.

    I think this is an important observation. The national groups don’t necessary represent the average rider who does see the machine as a tool.

    That’s true of a lot of groups who say they represent somebody or another, not just ATVers.

    There are people, however, for whom ATVs and dirt bikes are almost a lifestyle, and I think they have a disproportionate influence. They sit on state trails committees and have access to funds to build new trails and convert other trails or roads into ATV trails. They especially like loops, and loops bring a lot of new riders into the area, often pushing local folks out.

    I think ATVs present a danger to truck access in the backcountry. As you say, they want to turn as many side roads into ATV trails as possible.

    I have no experience with the backcountry in the Eastern U.S., so I’ll have to use an example from central Utah — The Paiute Trail. I have relatives in central Utah and visit the backcountry there often.

    When this trail first went in, I thought “well it’s not much of a problem to share.” However, as the trail was promoted regionally, and many alternative routes and side trails (formerly roads) were taken over, it became a real danger to avoid hitting an ATV, and I found it increasing difficult to navigate what had become a maze of wide trails rather than definite mountain roads.

    Now they are talking about ATV trails that go beyond local access in the area around Jackson Hole, WY. Other forest users and landowners need to follow these groups’ every move.

    Ralph Maughan

  9. Dorde Woodruff Avatar
    Dorde Woodruff

    The local vociferous ATV group USA-ALL did really disabled riders a dis-service by confusing the isssue. You also dis-service do real disabled riders and other disabled people that want to see rock art, or their favorite canyons or rare plants, but can’t walk very well any more, by inferring that all disabled riders are just fat and lazy. Shame. You should try being a formerly proud, athletic person who has some disaiblity that they handle as well as they can figure out to. Disabled people thankfully have helpful concessions in cities, but nothing for the outdoor-oriented. Surely there must be some way to manage. We’ve all lost privileges because there are just too many people out there, and way too many are vandals in one way or another, the ones that steal rare cacti, write obscenities over centuries-old rock art, or refuse to believe that they are damaging the landscape terribly. What can you do besides restrict them with laws and punishment> Just don’t confuse law-abiding people with those that aren’t. I’m really tired, decades tired, of all riders being demonized because of the actions of a (relatively) few.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    You might not have read the entire thread.

    I am not inferring that all disabled riders are fat and lazy. I am suggesting that many fat and lazy people like to argue they are disabled, and so should be allowed to ride their ATV wherever they want. They are the kind of folks who would take a disabled parking place at the supermarket just because it is closer.

    These latter folks are the ones that deserve shame.

    I really doubt the argument that the damage all over the country is done by just a few. I think nearly a majority ATV riders will and do ride off the trail (based on a recent survey).

    Those people who want to ride all over Factory Butte in southern Utah are hardly a bunch of disabled people, nor is Factory Butte some critical landmark (like Mt. Fuji) to which people are being denied. The closest town is Cainville, Utah, which is nowhere plus 5 miles.

    People ride around on Factory Butte precisely because they like slipping around in the bentonite clay and pleasing themselves with all the marks they make on the landscape.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan