December 9, 2009

Runnin' On Empty



Whose Job Is It?


Runnin' On Empty

I was sitting in a lecture hall at a local university the other day and noticed a bank of burned out lights in the ceiling.

I don’t know how long the lights have been burned out and while noticeable to me, there was still adequate light in the room. Maybe no one else noticed it.

I also don’t know the procedure at that university to get something like that reported and fixed. But here’s what I’m guessing is going on. The professor I was listening to lectures in that hall a couple of times a week and while there he is busy running herd on 25 or so college students. Maybe he’s noticed the burned out lights but hasn’t reported it.

The students are busy listening to and taking notes from that same professor and may or may not have noticed the burned out lights. If they have noticed, it just doesn’t affect them that much.

The person who cleans the lecture hall is probably so busy trying to get his work done that he’s rushing through each room in the building to get it all clean before the next day of classes. He might have made a mental note to report the burned out lights but forgot or just didn’t get it done.

My guess is that most who enter that lecture hall are assuming or at least thinking that someone else will report the burned out lights so it can be taken care of.

Meanwhile, the lights are still burned out.

That same thing is happening in the public lands debates all over the West. Are outdoor recreationists assuming someone else is taking care of defending our right to recreate on public lands?

Sure, some recreationists are paying attention to our version of the burned out lights (taking away access to public lands) but not near enough of them. And those few people are doing their best to do something about it. Again, they are just a few troops fighting the battle when an entire army is needed.

There are basically two groups of snowmobilers: hard core and recreational. I have no idea what the percentage is of each group who are those few troops while the other larger percentage stands idly by thinking someone else will take care of our issues. Thank God there are at least those few troops willing to write a letter, attend a meeting or call their Congressmen or we would most likely be sitting in a dark room just looking at our sleds.

What group do you align yourself with? Better yet, are you one of the few doing something about all the public lands issues facing winter recreationists—there is definitely no shortage of issues—or are you waiting for someone else to report the burned out lights?

It’s high time we mobilize the army to help support the troops already engaged in defending our rights to recreate on public lands. Public lands are under attack with a myriad of proposals from new Wilderness areas, to shutting down trails to supposedly protect wildlife habitat, to outright closures.

I’m convinced if every sledder in the West did something—write a letter, make a phone call, attend a land use meeting—about a land use issue in the area(s) they like to ride, we would make a difference—even if just to keep an area open for a few more years. There are nearly 350,000 registered snowmobiles in the western United States. We can safely assume that there are at least that many snowmobilers—both hard core and recreational. That’s quite a number and that should be enough to convince politicians at all levels of government that public lands are for the public. So what if there is no current land use issue in your area? Then help a neighbor. And what would happen if you talked to a friend and explained exactly what was happening with our public lands and he or she also wrote a letter or made a phone call or attended a meeting and let their voice be heard? Think of the impact that could have.

If nothing else, every snowmobiler should be engaged in protecting public lands for outdoor recreationists. There is absolutely no excuse for not being engaged in the debate.

If we don’t get involved, eventually it will be lights out for all of us who like to recreate on public lands.
















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