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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Thursday, September 19
An Eye-Opening Experience
I learned something about ATVs today – when riding them, they seem so big, but try driving a Honda CRV in Richfield, Utah with those machines zipping here and there, all on city streets! I have never seen so many ATVs in one place! They seemed to always be on the move, busy with one task or another, whether it be cleaning their machines at the local car wash, picking up food & drink at the supermarket, or just buzzing around looking for places to go and people to meet. ATVs carrying bags and boxes, dogs and duffels, kids, adults, and more! A cautious driver normally, I had to be even more wary of every move I made out there on the streets. I felt out of place, like a monster truck on a Hot Wheels track. I couldn’t help but notice that some of the riders weren’t even wearing helmets. Well, let me tell you that the American Frontiers teams were certified in proper ATV use and safety during our training prior to the start of the trek. I can’t imagine going 35-40 mph down a street with other ATVs and cars without at least wearing a helmet.
It wasn’t just coincidence that we were in Richfield this particular day --- we were there to learn more about ATVs and the issues surrounding their use. Hundreds of ATV enthusiasts were in town for the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree, an annual event that draws riders from many states to take advantage of the recreational opportunities on public lands. In the morning, after another luxurious shower in the hotel, we piled into the CRVs and followed droves of ATVs to the city park, which seemed to be the hub of all the activity. We were asked to mingle a bit with some of the participants, so mingle we did. After about a half-hour, people began to sort themselves into various groups in preparation for the day’s scheduled rides. I had seen a sign earlier for a “Ladies Ride” so I moved close to the group leader in an attempt to hear over about fifty ATV engines. As the leader explained various safety warnings and gave an overview of the day’s ride, I glanced over the group of “ladies” on this particular trip. Even if I had wanted to come up with a stereotypical “woman ATV rider” I couldn’t have, not here. These ladies were as unique as their ATVs. Some of the women sported machines with all the latest “fashionable” accessories, while others were only equipped with the bare necessities. Some dressed in camo gear, while one lady wore a pink coat and white gloves. Some wore makeup; others slathered on sunscreen. Some were grandmothers, others were granddaughters. Despite all these differences, the one thing they did have a common was an interest in ATVs. I felt certain that they would have quite an enjoyable ride that day.
The park soon cleared out (let me pause for a moment of silence…aaah, that was nice) and we were left with the remains of breakfast and (presumably) many questions. My most pressing concern was addressed right away at the beginning of the roundtable discussion. As we spread ourselves into a circle in the sun (thank goodness for the heat of the sun that morning), I was told that a few areas in Utah have passed special ordinances to allow the use of ATVs on city streets. How could anyone object, when these areas depend on the annual boost in their economy directly related to ATV use? Even with all this positive attitude and cooperation, problems still exist. No one is blind to this, including the mayor of Richfield, who was present for a portion of the discussion. He agreed with others that the land needs to remain public, and that self-policing is necessary to enforce existing rules and regulations. So what are the problems with using ATV’s on public lands?
Safety is the first issue that comes to my mind, due to the high speeds that ATVs are capable of and the fact that they can drive on the roads out here. Just on the drive to the park this morning, I saw people in short sleeves, with no helmets, sometimes with children or animals on board. One guest at our discussion, Kareena, stated that “wearing a helmet is not the thing to do around here.” Various groups have been formed in an effort to educate ATV users in proper safety gear and responsible riding. Fred Hayes, from Utah State Parks, is interested in legislation that would make helmet use mandatory for all riders, not just those under sixteen (the current law). One strategy that people involved in the activity are beginning to use is that of peer pressure. Mike Browning, Executive Director of the Great Western Trail Association, said that this peer pressure is important in enforcing compliance among riders. The difficult task is to reach that one person who will think twice, who will go against the grain to make the right choice, whether it be to wear a helmet, stay on the trail, or ride “smart”.
Some ATV users fear that giving in to the proposed rules and regulations will result in decreased riding opportunities on public lands. I think that maybe some people are seeing a decrease in access, but the feeling I got from this discussion was that proper riding areas need to be identified and areas that are subject to complaints will be relocated. There are a couple hot issues surrounding land accessibility right now. Some riding areas border private land, and are therefore subject to noise complaints. This issue may even be the biggest threat to ATV access on public lands, and with good reason. I believe that there are many areas that could be designated for use that would not pose a noise problem. Is it not true that a third of this country is public land? Another issue surrounding accessibility is the protection of environmentally sensitive areas. Irresponsible use of ATVs can lead to serious erosion problems and eventually closure of trails. A group called the Utah Shared Access Alliance (represented today by Brian) is working to promote multiple use sustained yield. This is defined as “active management of public lands to achieve a balance between users & access and preservation & conservation.” Many groups have similar goals in mind and strive to create a better name for an activity they care deeply about. Almost everyone agreed that the key to reaching these users is education for both children and adults. Even ATV manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. American Honda (represented today by Paul Slavik) offers environmentally friendly products and advertises their use keeping these principles in mind. One example includes the production of quieter ATVs. Kawasaki (represented today by Rus Brennan) offers free training courses for new riders.
No matter how many conflicts arise, ATVs are here to stay on public lands. Informed citizens must voice their opinions on the various issues at hand. The goal, as stated by Mike Browning, is balance. I believe we can eventually reach this balance, where responsible users voluntarily comply with the rules and regulations of their riding privileges on public lands. This roundtable discussion was an eye-opening experience for me, and I will certainly continue to teach others what I have learned.
for Thursday, September 19
North South Both




Biographical
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Team: South
Jessica Terrell
LM-jessicahorse04-08.jpg

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List of All Journal Entries
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Friday, November 15
Jessica Terrell
National Trails Symposium
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Sunday, October 27
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Meeting Team North
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Saturday, October 26
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The Finals Days...
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Thursday, September 19
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An Eye-Opening Experience
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Wednesday, September 18
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Days and Days of ATV's
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Tuesday, September 17
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My "Favorite" Day
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Friday, September 6
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Monday, September 2
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Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
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Sunday, September 1
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Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
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Saturday, August 31
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Grand Canyon Day 2
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Friday, August 30
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South Rim, Grand Canyon
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Monday, August 26
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Grand Canyon Sunrise
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Sunday, August 11
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Snow Lake
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Wednesday, August 7
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Silver City, NM
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Saturday, August 3
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Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
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Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
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Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
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