Can “Multiple-Users” Rule the World? by Del Albright

I’m so tired of the vocal minority (with money) influencing my public lands that I could puke! I say it’s time for multiple-use to rule the world! (g). By that I mean, it’s time that we take back control of how land use decisions are made in this country. It’s time for recreation and multiple-use to rule!

How do we go about that? How do we get after-market manufacturers, RV groups and industry, motorized recreationists, equestrians, mountain bikers, AARP members, SUV drivers, hunters, etc. all rowing in the same boat so we control the boat? Well, it’s a big order; but we can do it.

Do you have any idea how large our numbers would be if we were standing side by side with everyone who tows a SUV behind their motorhome; everyone who has a four wheel drive; everyone who snowmobiles; everyone who like to ride horses or dirt bikes or mountain bikes; everyone who buys after-market products for their toys; everyone who plays on a personal watercraft; everyone who makes a living off of public lands; and so on and so on??? HUGE! We would literally rule the world because that would be the majority of Americans.

Unity; united front; cohesive effort; banding together; and being on the same side, are all ways to say the same thing. In order to achieve such unity, we must learn the first step: SHARE. Within our own ranks, we must learn to share the trails; share the public lands; share our opportunities with others to increase understanding and tolerance. There’s an old saying: “Seek first to understand; then be understood.” By learning to share with others, we learn their needs and they ours. Once we can see how another use of public lands fits with ours, we can develop a way to share those public lands to the benefit of all.

There will be times when uses of public lands conflict with each other. That’s normal. But here is where we must help our public land managers develop a plan to accommodate the many uses and minimize the conflict. We all need to be a part of this process. We also need to be presenting a unified front while doing so. If I am a dirt biker, then I should help my local public land manager develop a trail system that accommodates both my needs and those of hikers and equestrians. Some trails we can share; some we should set aside for single use or limited use. But I should be right there helping to develop that plan.

If I am a four-wheel drive person who likes to snow-wheel, then I should help my local public land manager develop a trail system that accommodates both my needs and those of snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. We need to work together in order to fully and effectively share the trails while providing great experiences for all users.

The same thing is true for those who make a living off the public lands. Timber harvesting, mining, grazing and other uses are legitimate uses of public lands in many places. We should be seeking ways to help public land managers find opportunities to allow legitimate use of our lands, while still accommodating the needs of recreationists.

Can you see why so many public land managers feel a bit helpless at times? What an overwhelming task they face! And the reason many of them are frustrated (and our land designations get so screwed up) is that WE’RE NOT IN THERE HELPING THEM!

We OWN public land. It’s ours. It’s our right to recreate, make a living, walk peacefully, ride a horse, sled in the snow, crawl over the rocks, whatever. But public land managers can no longer do it without us. You must be part of the solution. We need to educate our elected officials also. It’s the same old story; but this time, the ending can be influenced by us. Sharing trails is one big solution to a national problem.

You can read all the demographic studies you want; and the bottom line is there’s more of us (people) than ever before and there’s a lot more to come. Besides an expanding population base, more of us are “taking to the woods” for many reasons. The use of public lands is growing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately public lands are a limited, fixed asset. There’s only so much to go around. This is one reason many radical protectionist groups are advocating more Wilderness — to preserve and protect from public use what is left.

The counter to this is shared trails, cooperative land management, public involvement and better use of what public lands we have. We can help guide this process.

Let’s take back control of our public lands! Get in the game any way you can. Through involvement, sharing, understanding, tolerance and cooperation, we can “rule the world.”