ATV Television's Blog

The Latest News and Doug's Ramblings & Ravings.
Including Doug's "Here's what I think!" and "What were they thinking!"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh No! I’ve Been Outted - I’m An Environmentalist!

I’ve been outted it seems. In a recent blog, one anonymous response called me an ‘environmentalist!’ Finally someone notices. I’ve been outted! So here I must confess - it’s true, I am an environmentalist.

And just so we’re on the same page as to what I consider an environmentalist is I’ve included the definition I use below:

World English Dictionary
environmentalist  (ɪnˌvaɪrənˈmɛntəlɪst)

an adherent of environmentalism
a person who is concerned with the maintenance of the ecological balance and the conservation of the environment
a person concerned with issues that affect the environment, such as pollution

Years ago I got to know Paul Slavik. Paul worked for Honda and for a time as the Public Relations manager. During that period I got to spend a great deal of time with him. He was (And still is) an incredible advocate for keeping our back country open for motorized use. If I tried to name all the things he’s done for the motorsports industry I’d be writing this column for several days! I don’t think I would be exaggerating at all to say he was the single most influential activist our industry has ever had.

One of the things I remember is that at the Rincon Introduction, held on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we were instructed on how to stop and park along the trails and how to turn around – among other ways to ride with as little impact on this area as possible. Even (or especially!) it seemed to fall on a lot of deaf ears. Several weeks later Paul and I were having a nice Italian dinner at a local restaurant when I mentioned the Grand Canyon adventure and commented that being environmentally friendly on the trails was a real shock to a lot of the guys attending.

I mentioned half joking, that since I thought that all that stuff was good that I must be an environmentalist. He looked me in the eye and said, “We all need to be environmentalists.” He went on to say that being an environmentalist just meant that you cared about the environment in which we have the ability and the privilege to ride. And if we didn’t care about the area that we’d lose it to the extreme environmentalists. He explained that there is a great difference between them and us, but there should also be some similarities. Similarities like a concern for the back country we use – how we use it and how we leave it.

That conversation left a mark on me. And I glad it still shows through! Kind of like that saying, “If you were accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We can say anything we want, but as in so many things, our actions speak the clearest!

So I see a lot of us back country explorers (notice how I really don’t like the term off-roaders? That too came from Paul!). So I see a lot of us talk about how we have a right to the back country. I see a lot of talk that if we don’t do ‘this or that’ that we will lose that right to ride our wonderful trails. But I also see a great unwillingness to make any sacrifices for that cause – to draw a line, or make a differentiation in how areas are used. As in so many other areas in our life, sometimes the few get trampled with the many, but sometimes the few are doing all the trampling.

My idea that the Paiute Trail (one single trail system in the US by the way that currently consists of around 600 miles of trail) be expanded in its number of 50”- only trails and be promoted for that use, may very well be unrealistic, but there are indeed other 'single-purpose' trails, hiking-only trails, and even single-track, motorcycle-only trails. I thought the idea of expanding the number and specifically promoting more 50" - only trails was a good thing. But considering how the very ‘idea’ was met with such vicious personal attacks, leaves me to wonder.

Wonder if there are others with concern for the future of all our trails or just a concern for their own self use.

Wonder if an increase in environmentalists within our industry would help us stand stronger against the extreme environmentalists outside it.

Wonder if the more extreme off-roaders can overwhelm the rest of the trail users and force them to open their small trails to them in the name of fairness and goodwill.

I wonder if any of this really matters at all.

And I wonder how Paul did it for so many years – so successfully.

Oh, and I wonder why I didn't pay more attention to Paul when I had the opportunities ;-)


  1. Doug,
    I applaud your advocacy for the environment. I am a UTV rider and have no problem with your ideas about expanding 50" trails and agree with the idea that not every trail needs to be open to every use. Most race tracks as an example discourage sightseers from rambling around the track.
    My problem with you sir is how your chose to classify UTV riders and while I am capable of understanding what you meant, you are a professional communicator and I would think you would be more careful of how you say things that might be misrepresented later. You represent our sport in its entirety (including UTVs) as a professional voice. I can hear the anti ATV adds now from the people you are calling extremists. Even Doug says UTV riders are speeding cowboys that should only have limited access to trails. (I'm paraphrasing or course but the environmentalists would not) If they were successful in limiting our access to the trails it sure would make testing all those UTVs the manufacturers give you difficult. I hope you can appreciate where I am coming from and will consider this for your future articles.


    1. You must be commenting on my previous blogs, right John?

      I think if people would have just read my blog first, before reading Shannon Bushman incredible twist of my article that he posted on the forums, it would have been an easier read and read with far less of the anti-UTV hate.

      I think you give me too much credit - I thought the Doug-haters were calling me a has-been ;-)

    2. it wouldn't have been. And yes, you are a has been.

  2. Hey... I know Paul Slavik; got him on my friend list. I agree that he was a shaker and mover in promoting responsible riding opportunities around the country. But did you know in the early years Paul actually bad mouthed the Paiute ATV Trail? Yep, on a half dozen occasions Paul would stand in the back of a conference room where a presentation was being made about the Paiute and he'd comment half under his breath that the Paiute was nothing but a bunch of roads and not a good riding experience. I asked him several times where in the heck he got his information from that caused him to be so negative about the Paiute. After several half arguments on different occasions Paul stated that he had come to the Paiute in the early years and Dennis Jorgensen had taken him for a ride on the Paiute, and it was nothing but a ride west of Richfield on dusty roads. He saw about 1/2% of the trail system. So, based on his experience, he kept talking the Paiute Trail down. Then Paul came through with the great American trek, where two teams started on the Canadian and Mexican boarders and worked their way across the United States entirely on public lands using various conveyances including hiking, horseback, canoe, ATV etc. Paul came with the southern group to cross the Fishlake on ATVs donated by Honda. In two days Paul and the team road across the Fishlake from south to north and 90% of that trip was on trail. At the end of that two day ride, Paul commented that it was the best trail riding, and we did a lot of it in a snow storm, that he had ever experienced. Quite a compliment coming from Paul. I told him that should be the end of his bad comments about the Paiute. He said he had been converted. True to his word, at the next NOHVCC workshop we did together, after a presentation about the Paiute, Paul jumped out of his chair at the back of the room and testified to the group that the Paiute ATV Trail was the best designed and managed trail system in the country, bar none. Funny what experience can and will do for us. We form opinions by our experience, and Paul just needed a little better experience on the Paiute to change his opinion. And you know what's even funnier? On that two day ride across the Fishlake, Paul never actually got on the Paiute... he rode on the Great Western... but it was good enough for Paul. Paul has always been my friend and I'm glad he saw the light and started working for the Paiute instead of against it...
    Sorry I got so long winded....

    1. In Paul's defense, in the early days I remember a great deal of the Paiute Trail was indeed graded roads rather trails. While the number of 2-track trails has certainly increased, I'd sure like to see more ;-)

  3. Sorry Doug but your wrong. The main Paiute was originally 152 miles long and went through Second Creek. The Forest Service changed the main route in about 1996 to come down Dry Creek,,, now Max Reid... and up Sam Stowe. With that modification the main trail loop dropped to a total length of 138 miles and added only about 8 miles of two track to the system. Other than that, the main loop of the Paiute hasn't changed from the original layout back in 1988. There have been a few miles of trail added over the years to bring the total Paiute system up to 876.5 miles. The stuff that Paul saw in the early years of the Paiute west of Richfield, haven't changed a foot since the initial layout. Paul got his impression... right or wrong.... from those few miles of road that are still part of the system. He just didn't get a good feel for the trail the first time he rode it. After his American Trek experience, he knew that he had ridden the best of the best.

    1. Well, you obviously know what you're talking about - which is of course is hard to really comment on without a name ;-)

      But I, just like you accuse Paul of doing, was making my statement of graded roads based on my first circumvention of the trail back in late 94 (or maybe '95). It seemed that to take the whole trail, we traveled on a lot on roads that trucks could /and did drive on.

  4. Another fact about the Paiute Trail you might be interested in; of main Paiute #01 loop only 20.2 miles are restricted to 50 or 60"; the remaining 118 miles is open to all vehicles. That means with just 5 detours of varying length you can take you jeep around the Paiute. You can take your 60" Polaris Ranger or a Rino around with just 3 detours. Makes it pretty user friendly. Now granted, a lot of these roads are rarely used by full sized vehicles. Some only see full sized use during the opening day of the deer hunt. As for a name... well I try to sign in as something else, but system for signing up is so complicated I can't do it... so here I'll just have to sign in as Anonymous

  5. Another fact you might be interested in is that the entire 01 loop has been opened to 60" travel.

  6. Not quite true First... you are still limited to 50" on the Max Reid and Sam Stowe segments of the #01, and also the Koosharem face segment. But you can take the #13, #15, and Koosharem Canyon Road to get around these three segments, so technically you can take a 60" wide Polaris Ranger around the entire of the Paiute.

  7. “a person who is concerned with the maintenance of the ecological balance and the conservation of the environment”
    According to that definition I would most definitely say I am an Environmentalist!
    I would like to add a little perspective to this subject, if I may.
    First off, it is our God given duty to have dominion over the earth and to take good care of it. Secondly, I was clearly taught in my Natural Resource Management classes at Southern Utah University that the overriding goal of our land management agencies is, “Wise use of our Natural Resources.” That includes minerals, water, land, plants, animals, etc.
    It is my opinion that a God given duty to wisely use and take care of the environment should not be taken lightly. From my earliest recollection my Dad instilled in me a grand reverence for, and respect of, God’s marvelous creations. From the sandstone formations of southern Utah’s National Parks to the majestic mountains of the Fishlake National Forest, my love for these places is forever engrained in my heart and soul. That love and respect is something I am striving to engrain in my young children as well. I love spending time in the outdoors, especially with my family, be it camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, snowmobiling, or atv/utving. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so much time in my life doing all of these things, and gaining what I think is a great perspective of our natural resources.
    So now I pose a question to all of you.
    What is your perspective? Is it one extreme end of the spectrum where you are willing to exploit our natural resources to anyone and everyone, just to make a little cash? And willing to desecrate and destroy them in the name of profit and self-pleasure? Or how about the other extreme where you want to close down all access to our natural resources so that no one can enjoy them or use them, thus fulfilling your ultimate goal of driving our species extinct? Or hopefully, like we all should be, somewhere in the middle, trying to walk the fine line of balance required to wisely use and preserve our natural resources?
    There is a bigger picture here to think about, and these principles should always take precedence over our own self pleasure or agenda.
    Hope this helps!

  8. Im Montana we have a few 50" trails and they are great if you have a ATV most of them are old wagon or jeep trails. In the Deer Lodge Distric they what to keep all side by sides of of the 50" trails including the 50" Polaris.I agree with them becauce from what I have seen they are way to long to work on the tight trails.They also are very hard on the trail because of their weight.