274 Should we go against the feds again?

Comments

Tom Garrett 10 months, 1 week ago

Have you read the story about HB 2551, which would relieve state officials of the duty of enforcing federal travel rules on federal lands?

At the moment, state law automatically adopts federal regulations on federal lands, making those rules enforceable by Game and Fish employees.

However, new federal rules have been made covering cross-country travel, restricting ORVs, Jeeps, and SUVs to approved trails and roads. Enforcing those laws would turn our Game and Fish officers into traffic cops.

Basically, if HB 2551 bill passes it will allow Arizona officials to enforce only those rules which are part of their mission under Arizona law. Of course, it will be just one more reason for the feds to dislike Arizona, so there's the obvious question:

Should the Governor should sign the bill?

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Ronald Hamric 10 months, 1 week ago

Tom, Personally I'm in favor of this legislation. For a few decades now I've been getting more and more irritated with the "un-funded mandates" levied by the Feds. If they want the laws they demanded be implemented in each National Forest regarding vehicle travel within the forests, then they are the ones that should enforce those laws or else provide the necessary funds to some local law enforcement jurisdiction to enforce the laws. When these whole travel rules were being drafted, I attended a few meetings in Flagstaff to offer my input and hear first hand how all this would unfold. It was apparent from the get-go that this would be pretty much a "toothless" set of rules since the Fed's never intended to provide for the enforcement of those rules. That the forests are being negatively impacted with the unrestricted use of ATV's, UTV's and other off-road vehicles is obvious to anyone who has watched the growth in use of those vehicles. That the officials are late getting a handle on it also should be no surprise. They generally react after the fact with these sorts of things. As with most laws, no enforcement, no compliance. Even our Federal government is guilty of not obeying many of the laws on the books, as they are also the enforcement arm and simply choose to do nothing either in the way of obeying the laws or enforcing them.

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Pat Randall 10 months, 1 week ago

My husband bought a four wheeler had it made street legal so he could ride it from home to the forest. License plate and all. Then he had to go to MVD to buy a tag to ride in the forest. But game and fish gets the money. Is there something wrong with all this?

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Tom Garrett 10 months ago

Pat,

The tangle of regulations is so complex that I have long since given up trying to keep track of ithem. You know what? I think that more than 75% of the laws we have are the result of people sitting around in the legislature with nothing to do. They get some dumb idea, write a law, push it through, and we get to live with the result.

Ron,

You hit the nail on the head. Both the state and the feds are guilty of making rules that cost megabucks to put into effect and walking off without giving us a nickel to comply with them. Ever looked at the hiring pattern in the schools, for example? We are firing teachers and hiring "counselors" to fill out paperwork for both state and feds. They think they have us right where they want us. If we don't do all their paperwork we don't get funds. If it were left to me I'd thumb my nose at them and tell them to put their funds where the monkey put the peanuts.

I agree with the new AZ law. If the feds want their laws enforced, let them enforce them. Most of them are idiotic anyway. Same thing for state laws.

Of course, in this case there's a real problem. The off-road thing has been getting worse and worse. It's even worse up north than it is here because they have to put up with ATV's in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. I've been reading about BIG problems up in Maine. Massholes come across the border and wreak havoc, not just with public land but with private land too.

Maine still enjoys the old open-land traditions. Some old timers own a lot of land but they didn't fence it off. They let people come in and travel across their land to get somewhere, or to hunt, or to just generally enjoy the natural freedom we all used to enjoy. But now the damage has gotten so bad that people are having to post their land, put up fences, and do all the things we see in smaller states.

The result? Fences pulled down. Trees chopped down. People being shot at. ATV's and snowmobiles come roaring in in packs of 15 to 20, or more, and tear up everything. Farmland is being ruined, crops knocked down, houses shot at, and so on.

And mountain biking, so I just read ten minutes by coincidence, is almost as bad in some places. You can't walk a quiet trail without having some %$#@! fool come shooting downhill and running right over you. That's one thing I do not understand. The beauty of a bike is the smooth, silent ride, the feeling of being alone on a quiet, untraveled country road. But bouncing down some rough-adze trail and knocking your kidneys loose? What %$#@! fun is that? I don't get it.

No doubt the feds have got a problem. I'm not sure what they can do about it, but they'll have to do something, and Arizona can't afford to pay the freight. Anybody got any ideas how it can be handled? Would, for example, the on-site confiscation of any ATV or snowmobile that's off a beaten track be an idea? Or would they over-enforce that the same way they over-enforce everything else? I don't know.

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Pat Randall 10 months ago

What is the forest for if not recreation. Cattle or lumbermen are no longer allowed to use it. Most of the roads have locked gates. In the Forest Service book of rules it says the forest is for RECREATION!

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Tom Garrett 10 months ago

I agree with that, Pat, but times have changed. People no longer care about anything. They take motored vehicles and go into wildlands and turned them into a rutted, useless mess.Then they go to another place and do the same thing. They're not happy with the places they've ruined; they have to go to a new place and ruin that too. I've seen some of that--a beautiful open space not too far south of here that was cut up, rutted, with the cover all gone, just turned into a rutted, dirty, dusty, windblown mess that here in Arizona, with its low rainfall will take 25 years to recover.

If people want to play games with vehicles, let them buy some land, fence in, and use it. But stay out of the nation forests with vehicles except to get from one place to another and quit acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.

Just go to Google Images and enter: atv damage to the environment

Actually, you won't even have to enter the whole thing. The minute you enter atv damage the rest of the phrase will come up. It's a national issue.

Or try this link. Takes you to the same place. And notice, by the way, that either way you get there about the tenth image on the page is from right here in Rim Country.

http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&q=atv+damage+to+the+environment&gbv=2&oq=atv+damage+to+the+environment&gs_l=img.12...0.0.1.163402.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac..15.img.zzxJu4XinJI

PS: Tried link; works fine. Go look at that mess.

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Pat Randall 10 months ago

In other words stay the h--- out of the forest. What are they being saved for? Enjoy them while we can. Or let them get over grown so we can have more forest fires that the FS claims costs millions of dollars to put out. Trees and brush will grow back.

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Ronald Hamric 10 months ago

Pat, I would guess it has been some time since you've traveled the back country around here. Tom is right. No one is talking about denying use of the forest, but at the same time there has to be some control of that use. Currently it is chaos out there and if you haven't seen it recently, then I have little doubt you would be surprised at how much damage has been done by the uncontrolled use of ATV's, UTV's, etc. Nobody is recommending closing the forests to off road vehicles..........YET. If those people that use those vehicles don't get a handle on the 10% that are ignoring common sense and good judgment, then I see little options left to the USFS in light of the damage that is being done. The forests belong to everyone, even those that simply want to escape the hub bub of the city. Those people have as much right to expect the USFS will protect the forests for them as well as the commercial interests such cattlemen, hunters, loggers, off-road vehicles users, campers,etc.

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Tom Garrett 10 months ago

Pat,

I agree that there can be too much of anything. Enjoy the forest? You bet! Destroy the forest? No thanks. You know the kind of people we're talking about.

Ron,

You hit the nail right on the head again. The big danger is that we'll end up with the forest so damaged that all of us will banned from using it.

I just read another article about land abuse up in Maine, where the land is largely private. It's a nightmare up there.

What I don't get is how some people get away with as much as they do.

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Michael Waterman 10 months ago

If the Feds want the states to enforce their laws, then we should be allowed to enforce ALL the federal regulations, including the immigration laws. As we have seen, they don't want THAT! ....Now if a game warden sees abuse and total disregard for the wildlands and wildlife they are the stewards of, then they should act in the forests defense and deal with the perps using what ever regulations are required, to have the best affect. Ban all terrain vehicles! They are destroying our planet! This argument sound familiar.....reminds me of the rageing gun debate. Is there any difference with this debate? My ATV goes where I drive it...mostly on old logging roads, county, forest roads or streets and highways. My ATV doesn't do donuts in meadows.....rarely covers the same ground twice and never goes too fast damaging surrounding flora or fawna. When I want to investigate roadless areas of the forest, I walk in..... I am no spring chicken and do not feel the need for speed . What I'm saying is that the ATV isn't the problem. Those riders who are undisciplined, uncaring and disrespectful of the environment ARE..... I beleive that all law enforcement personnell will actively enforce any existing laws, state or federal when they witness a violation.
Now how do we stop those few from screwing it up for the many? Well let's start with licensing and education...My ATV states directly on it in bold red writing that no one under the age of 16 should be operating this equipment. What I observe most often is the misuse of ATVs by children under the age of 16. Mom and pop go camping and bring their "toys" in their "toy hauler", then hand them over to their kids and let them run wild..."don't get too far away from camp"... ZOOM! off they go round and around up and down over anything in their path quickly! That is the biggest problem we have with ATV use, parents letting their kids go wild in the forest. We stop that by having only licensed "adults" operating the vehicles. Pick any age. Driving education and exams should be prerequisites for having an ATV license. Is it inconvenient for me...SURE it is! But I want to have this priviledge of trail riding public lands sooo....I pass my exam and get my license! These ATVs are motor vehicles, just as snowmobiles, watercraft, airplanes, cars, trucks and motorcycles are. Same category...same requirements! We simply have laws dealing with trail riding same as we have rules for operating all other MV's ( motor vehicles)....More government intervention? Oh Well!.......The alternative is No Motor Vehicles in the forest and we park these "off road" machines in our garages... We can also police our own ranks and defend our forests ourselves, by notifying law enforcement of violaters. Just as hunters have a poaching hotline......Off Roaders should have a LOVE YOUR FOREST hotline. Hey! it works for hunting and fishing.......Just sayin'!

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Ronald Hamric 10 months ago

Mr. Waterman,

  You pretty much hit the nail on the head. I used to own and ride and ATV. Sold it as I didn't want to be associated with what is taking place in our wild lands and forests. Two problems with your solutions, ie. self policing. A very many off road users see this abuse and yet never say anything to the perps nor report their actions. "Not My Job!"

The other issue is, the off-road sticker program was supposed to help fund more law enforcement to police the off-road problem. That approach as well has been an abject failure. I live up here and spend a lot of time in the forests and have yet to witness a USFS Law Enforcement Officer actually dealing with errant off-roaders. As to kids, too young to even possess a drivers license operating these motor vehicles, I see it every weekend in our subdivision. I have called Gila County Sheriff and their response was "we can't be every where all the time". They are correct in the acceptance that there simply isn't enough law enforcement to police the problem./ And the low life's that come up here and turn their kids loose on those machines a aware of the slim chance if any of getting caught doing that. I don't know if you are familiar with the original ATV. They were 3 wheelers. After enough deaths and injuries from these unstable vehicles, the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) actually got the import and sale of those vehicles banned. You don't see hardly any of those around any more. I sense the same thing is ultimately going to happen with the ATV/UTV's if people don't get their act together and start using them properly. And YES, I fully recognize that the majority of RESPONSIBLE users will suffer for it.

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Pat Randall 10 months ago

Ronald, It wasn't the 3 wheelers that injured and killed people. It was the drivers. Like guns don't kill, people do. My husband, two grown sons and 3 grandkids age 4 to 10 all had three wheelers and none were ever hurt riding them. My oldest grandson rode his so much he went thru 3 sets of tires and two motors. The grandkids rode the small ones that were built for kids. They always wore helmets but never needed them. The smallest ran on batteries. My husband and I also had small dirt bikes and were never hurt on them. The only time I had a problem was trying to stop inside the garage. I hit the back wall so many times, I finally stopped in the driveway and pushed it in. My mind always went blank about where the brakes were once I was inside the garage. It had hand and foot brakes. Never had a problem using the brakes if I wasn't headed for the back wall of the garage. This was back in the 70's when we were living in Gilbert. Guess I have always had blank spots in my brain. My husband finally got a 4 wheeler but only rode it maybe 20 miles before he passed away. I think all FS personel that drive vehicles are now law enforcement. They can stop you on the highways for speeding or whatever. There is usually one or more at any accident I see on the Beeline

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Ronald Hamric 10 months ago

Pat, The only reason I brought up the 3-wheeler issue was to point to one possible "solution" the Federal government might use to deal with the rampant abuse by a small minority of OHV users. Both you and Mr. Waterman are correct in that the majority of users are responsible, thoughtful operators. It is that 10%, whether gun owners or ATV/UHV users that create problems for the 90% due to their sheer stupidity. Unfortunately , as a "free ?" people, we have to somehow find solutions to deal with those that would abuse those freedoms. With a global population that is challenging the planet to support it, I suppose we simply have to accept that in all those numbers, there are going to be a growing number of people born with no more than 2 brain cells. Glad I won't be around that much longer. The whole situation makes me want to barf!

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Tom Garrett 10 months ago

"If the Feds want the states to enforce their laws, then we should be allowed to enforce ALL the federal regulations, including the immigration laws."

I like that. :-)

"What I'm saying is that the ATV isn't the problem. Those riders who are undisciplined, uncaring and disrespectful of the environment ARE."

Right. What we are seeing is people who are a bunch of spoiled kids--acting like a bunch of spoiled kids. Who in his right mind wants to destroy our wildlands? I have never in all my life actually met anyone who didn't appreciate the peace and quiet of natural lands. I can only conclude that the people doing all this damage are the same clods I see doing other brainless, butt-headed things I see going on in the world.

You know what it amounts to? Babies playing with toys.

"As to kids, too young to even possess a drivers license operating these motor vehicles, I see it every weekend in our subdivision."

Right, Ron. I see them all the time, tiny little kids who have no idea how to handle a machine they are far too young to be riding. What I don't get is why parents would be so dumb? Are they trying to teach their kids to be buttheads?

As I see it, guns and ATV's have little or nothing in common. By and large, guns are not abused. You don't see people going out in the woods and shooting up the trees. But the point about the proper 95% suffering for the idiots is well taken. We need to find ways to control the buttheads. One way I would favor would be the confiscation of any powered vehicle being used by an underage kid. The other would be the on-the-spot consfiscation of any powered vehicle being used in a banned area of the forest.

Buttheads can't do much else, but they can count...money.

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Pat Randall 10 months ago

Tom, I went on the website and some of the pictures should not be there if they are trying to blame the 4 wheelers for all the damage and the roads. Some pictures were drawn, some were graded roads for cars, you could see the berms on the side of the roads that were graded for cars. and some looked like some kind of outer space vehicles. Yes there are people that break the laws just like on main highways. But not all people should be banned. What is the forest for if not to look at and enjoy riding thru them? No one was around to keep the dinosauers from destroying things. What are we saving for? The good people should not be banned because there are a few people that are not doing what they should. Do you all just want the animals in the forest, for the few people that are able to hike and be able to see them? It isn't a perfect world and won't be for a long time. Live with it. Do you think I like what all of you have done to Payson since I left in 1952 and came back in 1993? It was a great little town then. No town council, no fighting, everyone helped everyone else. You weren't afraid to let your kids out of your yard for fear something would happen to them. Every one looked out for everyone else. We had great rodeos with lots of people for one week in August. Tom doesn't like what they have done to his home town.

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Ronald Hamric 10 months ago

Pat, I think you are still missing our point. We have not and are not proposing to close the forest to those who use it responsibly. Am I to accept that you are okay with what is happening to the forests since a similar thing happened to your once wonderful little mountain town of Payson? Are you okay with the indiscriminate damage being done and are justifying that damage with ".. because there are a few people that are not doing what they should."? I think if you read our views, you will see that we are directing our concerns directly at those "few people". Not sure how we can make it any easier for you to understand our position regarding this issue. And are you also okay with what you saw in the majority of those pictures at the link Tom posted? I've seen personally seen much the same all around this area. That's the condition of our forests you can accept?

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Pat Randall 10 months ago

Ron, I am not missing your point at all. Most of the forest roads are closed with locked gates or have you noticed? The forest service is trying to manage the people not the forest. They don't want to get off their butts and do anything so they lock the roads and people go around the locks and are resentful. There are hundreds of wild horses and donkeys running loose in the forest eating all the wild life food and people think that is great. No one wants them or they wouldn't be there. The last auction that was held for them, I don't think one animal was bought. I almost hit a herd of twenty that broke the fence down on the road to Saguaro lake one day. Called DPS from my cell phone to tell them horses were on the highway. Not thier problem, told me to call game and fish or forest service. No I didn't, figured it was a highway dept. problem. If ranchers and lumber men were let back on the forest they would take care of a lot of what is going on. And ranchers pay the forest service for having thier animals out there. They would keep the fences in good repair and be out and about watching what was going on. Of course after reporting it the FS would probably just sit in thier office and complain. Since most are law enforcement now, all they want to do is ride up and down the highway with thier little red lights flashing. They don't have any ranchers to check on. They used to be out in the forest on horses. I know I am not getting my point across so will shut up after one more remark. Blame the FS for not doing thier job by being out in the forest on horse back or even a 4 wheeler.

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Tom Garrett 10 months ago

Pat,

I agree with you on the bit about animals being on the highway. Whoever talked to you was doing the usual governmental song and dance. By his or her logic it would be the Forest Service that cleared the highway when a hill slumped and came down on a road. It's not where the animals or the rock and dirt came from that counts; it's where they are and who get paid to take care of the roads and keep them safe.

In fact, I think we all agree on everything except one point: Whether or not powered vehicles should be allowed off the forest roads.

The answer to that brings up a simple, basic question: Why are they being used?

If the answer is "to transport people to some place where they would like to camp" then it could possibly be allowed. But we all know that's not the answer. The answer is: "To race around in the woods having fun."

That leaves no question where the line has to be drawn. Because they cause too much damage when they are used for recreation instead of transportation, we have no choice but to restrict powered vehicles of any kind to the roads. If people want to go off the roads and into the forest and other wild lands, they'll just have to hike it. The day of the ATV is over. It has proven itself to be too destructive. We learn. We adjust. That's it.

It isn't a question of whether or not the forest is closed to people. It's a question of what you can do after you reach your destination. Drive in, wander around, and enjoy the wilds all you want, but do it on foot. It isn't even a question of whether vehicles are "good" are "bad." They are fine when used for what they were intended to be used for: To transport people to some given location. Using them for recreation on forest trails is not the same as using them for the serious purpose of getting somewhere. Right now, roads let people get where they are going, but when they get there they are forbidden to use machines to tear up the woods. That's the way it has to be. Because of the damage, there isn't any other choice.

As for animals, they're beside the point. Whether or not they are there or not there, the vehicles still do damage. I agree that wild herds of once domestic animals have no place in an area where they are not natural. Since they lack natural predators, and have no value as game animals, they will reproduce until they overwhelm the land. Whatever has to be done should be done. The best solution, though a hard one, is to hunt them to extinction so they do not require continual harvesting.

Once again, an era has ended. The day of roaming herds of horses and donkeys is over. We learn. We adjust.

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