Exhibits: Resources: ATV Use
A Bountiful Harvest
The nation's public lands provide many benefits to their owners, the American people. For more than two centuries, we have extracted a wealth of natural resources from our Public Domain, such as minerals and coal, oil and gas, timber, and forage for livestock. Some of these resources, like timber or forage, are "renewable" if managed carefully, and can be used over and over again. Others, such as minerals or oil, are "non-renewable," meaning that once used up, they are gone forever.
Important as the natural resource commodities are to our lives, and to the lives of many communities adjacent to public lands, they are often overshadowed by the importance of another use of our public estate: recreation. To be sure, hunters, anglers, hikers, among others, have long enjoyed our publicly owned mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests but recreational uses mushroomed toward the end of the 20th century as increased leisure time, a growing population, and new ways of enjoying the outdoors drew more and more people to our public lands. Predictably, the different activities often conflicted with each other and at times impacted the health of the land. Managing agencies found themselves in a difficult situation as they tried to balance different uses. Added to their difficulties was the perception by many public land users that the public domain personified freedom as they were lands where, in the words of an old Utah cowboy, "ain't nobody can tell you what to do."
The debate among different recreational users continues unabated. There are no simple solutions but as with endangered species, there are a few success stories, which rest on peoples' willingness to compromise and work together. One such story is Utah's Paiute ATV Trail in Fishlake National Forest.
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