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Who Stole Our Crown Jewels?
By Del Albright

 What do these have in common: the Rubicon; Utah's Escalante; Glamis dunes; Death Valley's Surprise Canyon; the Mojave; and Yellowstone National Park? Well, first of all, they ARE our Crown Jewels of motorized recreation. Secondly, they've been stolen (or are nearly in the hands of a thief)!

Who stole our crown jewels? Who put a gate across Surprise Canyon? Who told snowmobilers they were about to become extinct in National Parks like Yellowstone? Who shut down the Mojave Road? Who on earth closed off so much of Utah to us? And just who in this world thinks they have the right to close the Rubicon trail? A thief; that's who.

These locales represent some of our best and most precious wheeling, dirt biking, snowmobiling and ATVing in the world. We hold these (and of course a few more like Farmington and others) in the highest regard. Many of us thought we'd never see the day when the world famous Rubicon would be gated. Well guess what! A gate was considered and has been suggested by a few radical environmental groups. It hit the email networks like a wind-driven wildlife in dry grass.

As of this moment, the Rubicon gate idea is off the table because motorized recreationists have banded together to work with Placer County in keeping the trail open. See my web site for the latest update ( ). But how could anyone think they could take down the Rubicon (or at least attempt it)??? It's literally shocking to some of us.

Further, to close the icon of snowmobiling, Yellowstone. My goodness, who would have thought? Our Crown Jewels being taken right from under our noses. So who is this thief? Who is this person or group that is taking away, piece by piece, our best recreation opportunities?

It's ME!!!! That's who. I confess. I did it. It's my fault.

That's right. I'm telling the world. The "famous" Del Albright, land use guy and access advocate, let these crown jewels slip right through my hands. I turned my head and BOOM! they were gone. But at least I was not alone in this caper.

Oh, you ask? Who was in on this with me? YOU! That's who. We did this together. We didn't work hard enough; we didn't write enough letters; we didn't make enough political hay; we didn't get enough folks to join motorized recreation; we didn't......

Ok, enough of this sarcastic stuff. Let's be honest, many of us worked our TAILS OFF on land use and public land access. Many of us have done way more than our share. But yes, it's us, the users, who really have to stand up to the fact that we, as a whole, just didn't do enough. It's time to change that. It's time to really STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.

Yes, we have had a few crown jewels slip through our hands. But we have tons more to keep open and useable. We've got to take this attack on our prime recreation sites as a WARNING and a precursor. I've mentioned in other columns not that long ago, that under this new Administration, the attacks on our recreation will increase. I CALLED IT. Back in January of this year I predicted this would happen. The radical enviro's have stepped up their efforts. And now they've started really getting high profile (our crown jewels).

I told folks that because this new (Bush) Administration would NOT be as friendly to their radical causes, that they would HAVE to intensify their efforts in order to justify collecting dues money from their members. And they have.

The bad part is that most of us who work part time in land use and access (nights and weekends on the computer) cannot possibly keep up with the onslaught any more. We are over-loaded with agency documents, meetings, email networks, and just plain old local issues of land use/access. It's time to get more folks working full time; paid; on land use and access issues.

We need more like Don Amador, Adena Cook, Carla Boucher, Don Klusman, John Stewart, and ??? Oops. I just ran out of names. I know I missed a few folks; but this is our list of full time, paid staff who do land use stuff for a living. Given that I missed a few, do you see that we can list our full time folks in a very short paragraph?

For me to turn around and list the full time, paid, radical environmental staff would take an attached zip disk! We're terribly out-numbered. And yet we still have wins! And those wins come in when you jump in and help!

So where do we go from here? FIRST, we get more folks to jump in and JOIN our recreation groups. SECOND, we start working towards a future of more full time, paid staff to take on these issues for us. THIRD, we do OUR part -- write letters, adopt a trail, ride alongs, meetings, scoping, etc.

Visit more here on my web site for more ideas on how to get involved in land use/access .

The future is in our hands. The time is now. Let's not lose another Crown Jewel.

More on Land Use and Access here.

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