Pocatello: George Wuerthner presentations on "Thrillcraft". Nov. 16-17

George Wuerthner, ecologist, writer, photographer, will be the featured symposium presenter in Pocatello, Idaho-

This will be of interest to SE Idaho outdoor enthusiasts.

Here is the story on the Nov. 16 presentation from the Idaho State Journal. Public lands v. Private Recreation. By Jimmy Hancock. Idaho State Journal. The headline is misleading because Wutherner clearly had no problem with recreation in general, just what he called “thrillcraft.”


Based on his third ‘Coffee Table-sized Book’  “THRILLCRAFT”  (motorized recreation), Wuerthner, will be offering a public PowerPoint presentation at the ISU, College of Education, Auditorium, at 6:30 PM, Monday, November 16.  There will be no registration and no admission charge.

The 2007 THRILLCRAFT  edited book has over 100 colored pictures within it illustrating various negative impacts on our public lands and water ways. The text within the large book contains the writings of over two dozen highly qualified authors, each focusing on various aspects of the evolution of ATV and OHV in America and their harmful impacts upon our native public lands, wild life, ecosystems, and upon ourselves.

Then, on Tuesday, November 17, at 9:00 AM in the Pocatello Holiday Inn, a seven person panel, including Wuerthner, will be there to discuss the issues confronting our public lands and our society, including questions, comments, and responses from the panel and the audience.Again, neither registration nor admission charge to attend.

Panelists at the Holiday Inn session will include the City of Pocatello, Idaho Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Idaho Parks and Recreation, and Wuerthner.

The South East Idaho Environmental Network (SEIEN) is sponsoring this event…which will be the eighth ecologically focused symposium sponsored by SEIEN.

Uses of motorized vehicles, whether four wheelers, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, jet skies, and other machines, has greatly increased in recent years. This explosion of motorized use has serious implications for public lands, and has become a growing source of air, water, land and noise pollution and degradation.

Thrillcraft uses negatively impact some wildlife and native vegetation, not to mention the physical health issues related to relying on machines, rather than upon ourselves, in enjoying the world of Mother Nature.

Wuerthner’s presentation on Nov 16 will discuss why motorized recreation is having a major environmental impact on public lands and what is being done to restrict or limit these impacts upon public lands and water ways around the country.

For more information, you may contact Keene Hueftle, Chair, SEIEN at 232-8862.






  1. Elk275 Avatar

    I wish that I could make that presentation. I have known George Wuerthner since we were in undergraduate school at the Universtiy of Montana in the early 70’s. The last time I saw him, 12 years ago, was at a funeral for a professor that we had at the U of M.

  2. nabeki Avatar

    I absolutely love his writings. Sadly I can’t be in Pocatello but I’m buyin the book. ATV’s are a national curse, I hate them. But that’s only after years of watching people do stupid things with them.


  3. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    the meeting was well attended and a good presentation.
    As someone that uses a dual sport highway registered motorcycle to wander the wide expanses of public land that make up the west I however simply can not advocate for the outright ban of motorized vehicles.

    But i do agree fully with him that there are very very serious problems that need to be addressed. Perhaps I am one of the few riders who rides slow enough to see the damage irresponsible use causes!

    The person in the back that claimed that the situation is getting better needs to rethink things, they are getting worse, and I would gladly take him to many areas i personally know of to prove the point.

    If the motorized recreation industry and those who enjoy the activity refuse to recognize and attempt to mitigate it they will be denied access. The first lesson they need to learn is to STAY ON THE TRAIL. The second is to SLOW DOWN! If they refuse to listen than I guess I will be forced to find another hobby which is a shame because I honestly believe I utilize public lands in a environmentally sensitive manner on my motorcycle.

  4. Jay Avatar

    There are over 100,000 OHV’s registered in Idaho, with 10,000 more being added each year. ATV’s are a problem, plain and simple.

  5. Mike Avatar

    Many ATV’s get better MPG than pickups, making them pretty nice vehicles for forest road driving, ranch work and for simple recreation. Where this whole thing goes wrong is when people don’t stay on trails (incredibly common), and when the “rip it up” mentality takes over.

    Looks like an interesting book by George.

  6. Jay Avatar

    That might be true Mike, but the MPG advantage disappears when a family of 4 or 5 are all out cruising on their individual ATV’s.

  7. Mike Avatar

    good point Jay.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It was good to see the new Pocatello mayor at the meeting, given all the controversy with the many kinds of recreational travel in City Creek.

  9. Salle Avatar

    When I first arrived in Pocatello in the early 1990’s I was an ATV rider but when I realized how destructive the local riding crowd was, I gave it up entirely. I had some inaccurate idea that they would be less so compared to the southern California crowd, I was wrong. I recall what a ruckus came about when the Massacre Rocks area was closed to ORV’s due to destruction of Native sacred grounds about a year later. It showed me how the lack of respect for the land and what it means to others was prevalent in among them, just like in California.

    I became a hiker and found that I was in danger of being run down along the trail by these same folks because I was, in their minds, in the way and misusing the trails – go figure.

    Then I remember hearing Mike Finley, former superintendent of YNP, give a speech the week he resigned from that post about the widespread destruction of public lands all over the country from unregulated ORV use/abuse. He described what it looks like from the air. That was back in 2001, he was talking about how important it is for we Americans to protect what’s left of our public land heritage and the need for the Roadless Rules as Clinton had designated.

    And still, the ORV crowd has become more blatant ~ and excessively rude ~ in stating their claims of their right to ride being more important and valid than that of other public lands users, like hikers and skiers and nonmotorized cyclists. They threaten people and damage private land. Makes me think that they have a mentality that somehow makes their point by pissing on their most valued possessions to show that they have some imagined power greater than that of the folks they oppose. Sound like some other groups of late-?

    I noticed, on a recent tour in Gallatin County in Montana, that due to new road use rules the FS has actually gone out with plow blades prior to hunting season and tilled up a bunch of illegal trails to keep the ATV hunters off them. (maybe some flora regeneration can get started in the spring.) You should have heard the griping about that from some locals I spoke to. They didn’t give me five minutes before the griping ensued. They know I have environment-friendly views and like to argue about these topics with me when we visit. I tell them it’s about time the roads were closed and that it’s their own damned fault for ripping it up in the first place. They don’t like it but that’s just too bad. Who in this world always gets whatever/everything they want? Why should they be exempt? What makes them more special than anyone else? I don’t bother arguing with the Idaho crowd, they’re too violent and unable to grasp the concepts in the conversation.

    I hope George was able to make a few lightbulbs flicker some. Sorry I missed the presentation, haven’t talked to George in a long time.

  10. catbestland Avatar

    On the BLM that adjoins National Forest near my home where I hike, I came across a heartbreaking sight. Two ATV drivers had had a competition to see how many and how large a Pinion tree could be uprooted by their ATVs. There was about 15 or 16 small trees uprooted with huge ruts in the ground going up to them. This is all the more tragic because we have had an IPS beetle infestation for the past several years which has destroyed up to 90% of the Piniion trees in the lower areas. However, at the elevation (8000 ft) this Pinion forest is quite healthy. Now the beetle will be drawn to the uprooted and damaged trees as they seek the sap in damaged trees.

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Salle wrote:

    “I became a hiker and found that I was in danger of being run down along the trail by these same folks because I was, in their minds, in the way and misusing the trails – go figure.”

    Last night there was an off-road enthusiasts of some kind who actually believed hikers should have to purchase a permit to use the trails like ATVs do in many states.

    A tax on walking! This, when we have such an obesity problem.

  12. Jay Avatar

    Salle–don’t single out Idaho; during a FS public meeting in Darby regarding motorized use a few years back, there was a comment directed a a woman who was suggesting that there ought to be some areas off limits to ATV’s. I can’t remember exactly the comment, but I’m pretty close when I say they said something about she should be shot in the head.

  13. Salle Avatar

    I’m not surprised, Jay. I’ve had such comments directed at me. When I forst moved to California in the 1970’s, there was dirt bike trail along my mother’s backyard fence. I was awakened every Saturday and Sunday at sunup and EVERY afternoon/evening was overwhelming our dinnertime by these horrid sounding things and was horrified to se four-year-olds on them. It was in the San Diego river bed and it was, at that time, a free-for-all, complete with unbelievable dust that settled in the house on a daily basis. The fence was only about sixty feet from the house, it trashed the swimming pool filters so often that we ended up filling in the pool with a bulldozer because it cost too much to keep it nice. Then, years later a big wall was built and a Walmart was erected on the otherside. Glad she moved out of there. It just wasn’t like a home, ever.

    If you ever go to San Diego you will see the scarred up hillsides everywhere thanks to offroading. The only wildlife that I know of that exists there anymore are coyotes, and they seem to be living off of stray or unattended pets and an occasional jackrabbit. There used to be quail and lots of other fauna. Now it’s all paved over, you have to go another forty minutes up the freeway to find anything resembling “wild” and by then you’re in the desert.

    It’s sad, there’s no respect for anything with these “enthusiasts”…

  14. Percy Avatar

    As someone who is sensitive to noise pollution, I consider anywhere with even a single ATV to be “off limits” to me. There need to be places where people can enjoy the subtle sounds of nature, where walking is the only mode of transportation allowed, and animals are neither shot nor collared like lab animals. I would gladly pay a fee to visit such areas. ATV riders have many more places to go that fit their criteria than I do.

  15. Virginia Avatar

    As a hiker and cross-country skiier, I am vehemently opposed to ATVs of all sorts, including snowmobiles and four-wheeled ATVs. We see their tracks in wilderness areas when we are hiking and skiing. They attempt to get up into areas that are supposed to only be hiking trails. About three years ago, my nephew who was 10 years old, was allowed to ride an ATV around the hills in the Big Horn Mountains with some friends. He was driving a four wheeled ATV wildly, somehow it turned over and landed on top of him and killed him.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan