It should come as no surprise that Arizona is a focal point for outdoor enthusiasts all over the U.S. and the world. Our landscapes are beautiful, our wildlife is unique, and for years, we have maintained a delicate balance between recreation and nature. No matter your recreational activity of choice, we are all passionate about preserving our beautiful Arizona. We do not believe in making new trails, destroying natural landscapes, or dumping the trash. We do not want to threaten endangered wildlife or delicate ecosystems.
We do not want our trails closed down. Our trails are a footprint of the pioneers who came before us. It’s important to understand our history to grasp this idea. Like the rest of the west, our ancestors came here searching for gold, agriculture, and other forms of work. Today you can visit a ghost town and only imagine what it was like back in its heyday. It’s hard to understand that towns like Wickenburg, Jerome, and Tombstone were once connected by dirt trails. It often took multiple days on horseback to travel from town to town. Outlaws, attacks by natives, raging rivers, and unfortunate accidents were just some of the obstacles they faced daily.
The idea? The American Dream!
Today’s ghost towns like Bradshaw City, Tip Top, and others once had hundreds of people living there. The only difference is, some survived and some did not. Just about every Arizona town and city started off as a small mining camp or a farm town. Phoenix, Arizona, was founded in 1881 and was once nothing but farmland. People traveled from all over Arizona to trade multiple items for grain and other foods. Today, Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the US and the capital of Arizona. Prescott, Arizona, was once called Fort Whipple and was founded in 1863. Originally a Military base that supported hundreds of us troops to help protect settlers. Prescott now supports a population of 42,500 people and is well known for its downtown historic district and Whisky Row.
Many things were considered while building these routes. Trails were created in every direction with the straightest possible route. It took an incredible amount of labor under the hot Arizona sun. The Military built a lot of these trails to haul supplies and protect settlers. It was important to access water and food and supplies needed along the way. Stage stops were created at various water springs, ranches, mining camps, and other convenient places. Stage stops were vital to the survival of travelers and their pack animals. Eventually, commerce and trade developed at stage stops, Jobs were created, towns were built, and the trail was vital to the area’s settlers. They were living the American dream.
Destroying history in the name of environmentalism. When is it ever gonna change?
Today, our history is plagued by environmentalism. Hundreds of thousands of miles of historical routes all over the US have been removed from the map under the name of environmentalism. Wealthy organizations control the policy with intimating tactics that push our lawmakers and land managers into a corner. These organizations are forcing disturbing policies that violate the vital laws that give the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service its powers. Only large corporations have the money and resources to fight a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Lawsuits have dictated the outcome of decision-making rather than the actual science. Organizations like the American Sand Association have spent millions on keeping areas open for recreation and the fight continues into the foreseeable future.
Mining and agriculture in some states have nearly been wholly eliminated which causes a chain reaction in the lives of every American.
We need to understand that things are changing now!
Our voice matters now more than ever. A lot of executive powers have been canceled. More laws by our legislatures are being introduced to roll back the overreaching power that has been rigorously pushed through. Not only do we need to urge our legislators to support the people who voted for them. We also need to voice our opinion in a way that matters. Factual, detailed information is key.
This will all change when we pressure our lawmakers and elected officials to do the right thing. Most of us can agree that our comments to the Bureau of Land Management won’t make a difference to the final decision. I will, however, send a tsunami of opposing opinions to our elected officials. Our attorney general, sheriffs, representatives and congressmen, and woman are in the highest position of power to fix these issues. They will do what they need to keep your vote. Let’s call them and urge them to protect Arizona’s historical legacy, mining, agriculture, and outdoor recreation.
Kevin is an American outdoorsman born and raised in rural Arizona who grew up exploring the Arizona backcountry with his father. Today, he and his son travel to the most remote regions of Arizona, scavenging for the remains of early western pioneers. As a lifelong outdoorsman, Kevin has learned to stick close to his roots while engaging in important advocacy work regarding motorized access to public lands. You can find his work in many local and nationwide publications, including The Western Journal, 4Low Magazine, and his website AZBackroads.com.