Monday, January 5, 2009

An Actual Trail

In my opinion, a lot of confusion exists about trail designations on public lands. More and more trails are being converted to roads for motorized use. Sometimes the conversion occurs through legal processes, but more frequently, trails become roads through illegal off-road use. Since public land manager have few if any resources for enforcement, the conversion continues at an ever increasing pace. The public is generally unaware because most people don't travel very far from the pavement and into the back country. If they followed along with me and my buddies, they could see first hand the changes that are happening. Maybe they wouldn't be taken in when someone talks about developing more "trails" for public use if they saw for themselves. Horse riders and hikers are finding fewer and fewer places to ride and hike in peace and quiet.

Without places for horsemen and hikers, conflict with motorized users is inevitable. I have had a front row seat on a bunch of occasions when Ole' Dangerous Doug and his buddies have met ATV riders who don't know much about trail etiquette. A while back, Dangerous forgot to let me out of my pen in the back of his truck. He started back and met an ATV rider coming up the "trail." As I mentioned, Dottie, his Walking Horse mare has a tendency to spin when spooked. Well, I got to watch Dottie spin backwards around the ATV and its rider while Ole' Dangerous shouted in some very colorful language for the ATV rider to shut off his machine. By the time he turned it off, Dottie was sitting on his handle bars. Dangerous maintained his seat, and the ATV rider had eyes as big as saucers.

Let's do what we can to keep the few trails left from being converted to roads, and work with motorized users to understand that a 1,100 pound horse has a mind of its own.

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