I received a call from Jason Williams (Regional Director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition) this morning regarding the letter I sent to them. We had a nice discussion about my concerns I pointed out and I thought I would relay them to everyone here at TTORA.
He basically wanted to call me to confirm that someone actually got my letter and discuss what their organization is actually supporting and working towards. He appreciated my passion for the great outdoors and desire for keeping trails open. He discussed the Martinez Cabin issue and had some valid concerns. There is a real problem on that trail with vandalism and the masses of OHV users. The cabin has been seriously vandalized and scavaged for fire wood and recent roll over accidents on the Luge has caused leakage of harmful fluids into the water source for wildlife in the area. That is why his organization is in favor of closing that trail. I expressed to him that yes, that is a serious problem and unfortunate. I also went on to state the following.
"Yes, that is a problem and it's unfortunate that there are a few bad apples out there that have to ruin it for the rest of us and give all of us a bad name. However, that happens everywhere, not just in the backcountry. We see it all over the city, suburbs, and even in the pristine North Scottsdale area which is the Beverly Hills of Phoenix. That does not mean that public roads are just shut down as a result. I am against closing Martinez altogether to solve this problem. That sounds like the easy cop-out solution that doesn't take any effort or thinking. Instead, try working WITH the off-road community on a solution rather then just shut it down. Let's see if we can come up with a better solution. If the Luge is a problem because of the water source at the bottom, then let's have a bypass for that one section. That would be a whole lot more reasonable then closing the entire trail down completely. As far as the vandalism is concerned, let's put up a gate or fence of some sort around the historic cabin. The point is, let's work together on a solution rather then against each other. Also please remember, the guy with a beer in one hand and the steering wheel in the other does not represent us responsible 4-wheelers."
He agreed that working together is a good solution and said that they do work "with" the off-road community on these issues but there's always the guy that says "I want to go anywhere, anytime". Of course then there's the guy on the other end of the spectrum that says "I want everything closed to motorized vehicles, period!" Those two guys are the reasons why we have a problem working together and we need more people that are willing to compromise involved in solving these issues. As far as the Martinez issue is concerned, I proposed the idea of creating a new bypass for the Luge to avoid rollovers into the water source. Jason said that could be very expensive, but I think there may be ways around that as well. We could have fund raisers, or a portion of the State Land Permit money go towards it, or just charge a fee for using that single trail. There are numerous options to raise money if we are willing to work "together".
He also stated that the big problem they are seeing is the creation of new roads and trails. Apparently, from what I'm told, it has gotten out of control in Arizona and becoming a real problem. He said that if we could all agree that no more trails would be created as of today, then they would be "good". However, that probably isn't going to happen at this point. Most of the trails he is referring to is the quad and dirt bike trails, but he also mentioned a new trail in FJ called Jawbreaker (I think). Apparently some trees were cut down to make this new trail without any approval. They have a problem with this because there is no regulation on what & where someone can just make a new trail. I have to agree with him that we need some kind of control on new trails/roads being created so no one is inadvertently destroying endangered wildlife or historic areas or just doing something stupid. They are not against new roads and trails being created as long as it's not out of control.
The bottom line: WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER! After talking to this organization it doesn't sound like they are the hard-core liberal tree huggers we portray them to be. They are certainly willing to work with us and compromise to reach some common ground, but it's a two way street. We have to give a little for them to give a little. Not to mention, it's better for everyone in the long run. The scenery will be that much more spectacular, wildlife will actually survive and be part of the scenery, the trails that we know and love will continue to stay open, and we could actually create new trails without offending the environmentalists. All-in-all, a better wheelin' experience for all of us.