Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM


(the Off-Road Vehicle menace)

Off Road Vehicle


Unfortunately I receive a lot of hate mail (and, sometimes, death threats) for my
various posts, pix and videos about off road vehicles and environmental concerns.
Here's one sample from a YouTuber ("drewdeepowder") writing me on 03/26/2010:

"I have no regard for living gay ass hippy ass fags!!!!!!! I would ride circles around that guy just to let him
  smell my two stroke exhaust and hear the braaaaaaaap brraaaaaappp brrrraaaaaapppp of my favorite ski lift!"


September 11, 1976 from Postcards from Ed
(Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast)

Dear Sirs:

I read with interest your two stories in the September issue promoting "Traction" - ORVs or "escape machines," as your writers call them.

Let me tell you what a lot of us who live out here in the American West think about your goddamned Off-Road Vehicles. We think they are a goddamned plague. Like the snowmobile in New England, the dune buggy on the seashore, the ORV out here in the desert and mesa country is a public nuisance, a destroyer of plant life and wildlife, a gross polluter of fresh air, stillness, peace and solitude.

The fat pink soft slobs who go roaring over the landscape in these over-sized over-priced over-advertised mechanical mastodons are people too lazy to walk, too ignorant to saddle a horse, too cheap and clumsy to paddle a canoe. Like cattle or sheep, they travel in herds, scared to death of going anywhere alone, and they leave their sign and spoor all over the back country: Coors beer cans, Styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, balls of Kleenex, wads of toilet paper, spent cartridge shells, crushed gopher snakes, smashed sagebrush, broken trees, dead chipmunks, wounded deer, eroded trails, bullet-riddled petroglyphs, spray-painted signatures, vandalized Indian ruins, fouled-up waterholes, polluted springs and smoldering campfires piled with incombustible tinfoil, filter tips, broken bottles, etc.

It is not the bureaucrats back in Washington who are trying to stop this motorized invasion of what little wild country still remains in America; on the contrary, the bureaucrats are doing far too little. What feeble resistance has so far appeared comes from concerned citizens here and there who are trying to prod and encourage the bureaucrats to do their duty: namely, to save the public lands for their primary purpose, which is wildlife, habitat, livestock forage, watershed protection and non-motorized human recreation.

Thank God for the coming and inevitable day of gasoline rationing, which will retire all these goddamned ORVs and "escape machines" to the junkyards where they belong.

Ed Abbey - Moab




Stay the Trail by Roger J. Wendell - 11-02-2010 ATV ATV banned in Zenobia Why do you think there are so many ATV bans all over the place?


Off-Road Vehicles are a bad idea:

Rampart Range, Colorado - 06-23-2007 In addition to all of the damage off road vehicles (ORVs) have done to the land they've also wasted a lot of fuel and taken other valuable resources from the rest of us as well. And, of course, the noise and pollution they create (you can hear and smell snowmobiles a mile away on any calm, winter day while motorcycles and all terrain vehicles are infamous for scaring wildlife and frightening families and picnickers off the trail...) is legendary. Oh, and let's not forget that most Americans are flabby, overweight, and underworked with ORVs contributing nothing to reversing this trend. Anyway, this page will explore the big, wide and expensive world of ORV use as time becomes available for your humble webmaster - stay tuned!
- Roger J. Wendell


YouTube Logo - Small Click Here for the YouTube video of snowmobiles ruining wilderness quiet near Montezuma, Colorado...
YouTube Logo - Small Click Here for the YouTube video of snowmobiles making a mess on Mt. Baker...
YouTube Logo - Small Click Here for the YouTube video of the destruction to plants and landscape caused by snowmobiles at Grizzly Gulch, Colorado.
YouTube Logo - Small Click Here for a YouTube video of a "Road Closed" sign knocked over by ORVers in Canyonlands National Park...


Lots of Snowmobile Accidents:

We often forget, too, how dangerous Off Road Vehicles can be for not only passersby but the riders themselves. In early 2009 there were an alarming number of snowmobile accidents and deaths - mostly due to machines creating avalanches. I don't have enough time and web space to track all the accidents but here's a small sample from the Associated Press on February 28th of that year:
Snowmobiles "CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A mile-long avalanche near the Wyoming-Idaho state line swept three snowmobilers to their deaths, authorities said Saturday.

"Lincoln County officials said the three victims were among four snowmobilers caught by the snow slide Friday near Alpine Mountain in the Snake River Range. Sgt. Shane Tindall said the fourth person walked out and used his cell phone to call for help.

"The survivor, 53-year-old Wade Clark of Soda Springs, Idaho, told authorities that the snowmobilers had dropped off a ridge line and into a draw when they saw the snow slab breaking away. The slide was about 100 yards wide and a mile long."


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's non-government website (www.devalpatrick.com)
From the "MyIssue" page in April, 2008 as written by "R.L." of Northampton, Massachusetts:

"ORV use in state parks presents safety hazards to hikers, destroys vegetation, creates noise pollution, and promotes contempt for ordinary citizens who don't buy into the speed freak mentality of the ORV crowd. There may be a percentage of ORV users who are courteous, but most aren't. If you want to create a special park for them, okay, but they should not be given the run of our park system. The resources being preserved in our parks are invarialy put at risk when the ORV crowd shows up."

"To summarize, too many ORV users are inconsiderate, insensitive, and destructive. ORV's do not have a place in our system of parks. Tight limits should be placed on ORV use in our parks."


Judge Refuses to Let Snowmobiles Roam Yellowstone
Federal judge says no to plan allowing 540 snowmobiles to roam Yellowstone during winter

by Bob Moen Associated Press Writer, Cheyenne, Wyo. September 15, 2008

Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park
"A federal judge in Washington, D.C., threw out plans Monday to allow more than 500 snowmobiles a day into Yellowstone National Park, drawing sharp criticism from Wyoming's congressional delegation and snowmobiling advocates but praise from conservationists."

"The National Park Service's Winter Use Plan would have allowed 540 snowmobiles to go through in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway every day, starting this winter."

"But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said in an order that the plan would increase air pollution, disturb wildlife and cause too much noise in the nation's first national park."

"'According to NPS's own data, the (plan) will increase air pollution, exceed the use levels recommended by NPS biologists to protect wildlife, and cause major adverse impacts to the natural soundscape in Yellowstone,' Sullivan said in the order."




Bobby Unser is better than the rest of us!

Snowmobiles in Pagosa Springs, Colorado - 03-08-2007 Racer Unser cited
Snowmobiling in area unlawful
The Denver Post
Friday, January 10, 1997 p. 6B
by the Associated Press
No snowmobiles Butler Gulch trail, Colorado - 12-27-2008.jpg
"Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser survived two nights stuck in a blizzard in the wilderness, but he might not escape the legal fallout."

"A U.S. Forest Service official said yesterday Unser has been cited for violating the federal Wilderness Act by driving a snowmobile into a wilderness area."

"Unser, 63, and friend Robert Gayton, 36, were stranded in the mountains on the New Mexico-Colorado border after their snowmobiles broke down in the South San Juan wilderness."

"The two left Unser's ranch at Chama, N.M., about 6 miles south of the Colorado line, on Dec. 209. They spent two nights in the wilderness and were rescued after hiking through deep snow to a barn and using a phone there."

"If convicted, Unser could face up to six months in jail an a $5,000 fine. A U.S. attorney will prosecute the case, which will be heard by a federal magistrate."




Off-road vehicles run over trail law

Off Road Vehicles for Sale in Southern Colorado - 03-15-2007 Violations Surge
Rangers are overwhelmed by the onslaught, which is
tearing up public lands in Colorado and nationwide

by Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Staff Writer
Front Page, November 8, 2004
"Glenwood Springs - Improbably, the 35-foot recreational vehicle had negotiated its way around several road-blocking-boulders, up a steep dirt hill and past a trench know as a 'tank trap' meant to stop such excursions into the forest."

"With the vehicle perched on the top of a rise overlooking a meadow choked with beaver ponds and willos, the RV's inhabitants - a half-dozen unshaven men in blaze-orange enjoying a hunting camp - said they didn't realize they had done anything wrong."

"'This has obviously been closed, 'forest ranger Mike Kenealy calmly explained at the camp on a recent morning. 'You can see people have been driving around (the barriers), but it doesn't make it OK for you to drive around it.'"

"Kennedy is among an overwhelmed and overextended cadre of rangers fighting the increasing problem of illegal off-road-use on national forests and other public lands, which typically is at its worst during hunting season."




Illegal vehicle use tearing up forests

Off Road Vehicles for Sale in Southern Colorado - 03-15-2007 $1 million needed to fix miles of degraded lands
Denver Post
Tuesday, August 29, 2000 p.1B
by Theo Stein
"BOULDER - Forest Service officials struggling to cope with extreme damage from off-road vehicle use in Boulder's Left Hand Canyon say a spaghetti network of steep, deeply rutted and illegal routes carved into the landscape will cost about $1 million to repair."

"The situation is similar in other forests statewide, as trail planners, resource managers and enforcement officers try to reconcile declining budgets, erosion and overmatched law enforcement officers with an explosive growth in use."

"Complaints about renegade off-road vehicle use have erupted across Colorado this decade as all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike registrations surged from 11,700 to more than 55,000."

"The Forest Service estimates that 600 to 1,000 miles of unofficial user-created roads and trails mark the Routt National Forest. Another 500 miles of unapproved routes cross the White River National Forest."





  1. CarBusters - Journal of the Carfree Movement
  2. Climate Change and Global Warming
  3. Cycling
  4. Fossil Fuels and Peak Oil
  5. Fuel Economy
  6. Hunting
  1. Fish and Fishing
  2. Noise
  3. Recycling
  4. Signs of Protest
  5. Transportation
  6. Walking Ever So Softly




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