I and many others, having served our country, both in Korea and Vietnam, made great sacrifices to assure that every citizen continue to exercise their rights, to live under the protection of the Constitution of the United States of America while abiding by its laws and the laws of this state, county and municipality.
Some by choice, others by conscript, sustained disabilities, while others, through the normal aging process, have become infirm, disabled or just plain tired. I, for one, have been decreed as totally service-connected disabled as a result of service to my country and unfortunately my 13-year-old golden retriever, born with hip dysplasia (arthritis), also must share my only form of mobility for recreation purposes, an ATV.
Recently, to my dismay, it was noted that the Payson Trails and Recreation Department has appropriated most of the local national forest trails surrounding not only Payson, but the Town of Star Valley. It was advertised that thePayson Trails System would utilize the newly made available fire suppression cleared areas for the establishment of these trails, thereby enhancing business and promoting recreation.
Not only has PTS deferred the development of new trails surrounding Payson, their trails and recreation department has placed trail markers on many Tonto National Forest longtime established and maintained trails for the exclusive use of hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders. They have omitted previously authorized ATV users, such as me, my critter and other disabled, aged, infirm and other legal citizens.
For the past 17 years I have policed, repaired trails, removed down and dead trees and filled in erosion areas to prevent injury to hikers, horsemen, bikers and yes, ATV operators. I have trailed behind horseback riders and hikers and picked up their water bottles and yes, behind ATV Riders with their pop and beer cans. I have swerved off the trail to avoid kamikaze bikers, stopped with engine off for hikers and horsemen, given direction to lost personnel and generally been a good citizen, as have those with whom I ride.
So why do the hiker, the mountain biker and the horsemen/women feel that their taxes allow their individual group the exclusive right to the enjoyment and use of the national forest?
On Saturday, Feb. 9, I rode the South Boulder Trail, in both directions. In order to continue my travels, I was forced to remove 42 man-caused obstructions. I either rode over or around about 20 other selfishly placed blockages on that trail. Such disrespect and stupidity can cause grave injury to a fallen rider, be he or she a biker or horseman, or even a hiker. Any experienced ATV rider will do as I do, clear the right-of-way, or others will simply make a new trail.
There are federal regulations that will dramatically affect the establishment of the Payson Trails System that I will address with Payson Trails and Recreation, the Tonto National Forest representative in the Payson district and the federal attorney in Phoenix.
In addition, I and other ATV users, will be photographing those individuals who choose to block the use of my national heritage, the forest and its wonders of nature. License plate numbers combined with photos are easily combined, so says one of my former Marines, an ex-FBI agent.
The solution to the problem of misuse is simple. It is the same as enforcing the effectiveness of any law or regulation. Effective enforcement. Without it, anarchy. Dumping trash should be a $5,000 fine, but enforced. New DNA procedures would make enforcement much easier. Something to consider, huh!
Robert D. Maupin, USMC Ret.