UTV users are the most vilified users in the offroad community.
We all know the stereotypical UTV user. You know, “The ones who tear up the trail” and, “Leave trash everywhere they go.” The ones that are ” loud and obnoxious with their load music and multi-colored whips.” We always hear stories of “UTV users doing this” and “UTV users doing that.” It’s gotten so annoying that I can’t help but point out how counterproductive and terrible it is for the 4×4 community.
While I recognize there are issues with the UTV community, I am not willing to pretend there is nothing wrong with other user groups. It doesn’t matter what you choose to drive. Shitty people are everywhere, and the moment we choose to turn our backs on each other is the moment we swoop to new lows.
The slandering of UTV users reminds me of the environmentalists who hate the offroad fellowship. It’s the same argument. “They destroy everything. Stop them!” Not only is it counterproductive, but it also works in favor of environmental groups that want to cancel the offroad community. It’s similar to the angry hiker who doesn’t want to hear the sound of an engine. Taking this stance, you are doing the offroad community no good.
UTV users are the majority in Arizona.
A recent study published by Arizona State University and Arizona State Parks and Trails estimate that UTV users are 43% of the offroad community in Arizona. Combined with other user groups that fall under Arizona’s OHV laws, a total of 71% of motorized users are OHV users. In other words, according to this study, SUVs and other registered motor vehicles are the minority in the offroad community in Arizona.
OHV users are a part of the offroad community, just like you and me. The policy that treatens OHV users also threatens the rest of us. By vilifying UTV users, you are shooting yourself in the foot. If we could put feelings aside, we would be an unstoppable force for change. Matters like the recent changes in Moab have expressly highlighted this divide in our community. By closing the gap, we would have a better chance to retain a future for our backroads. We should be listening to each other, riding trails together, and coming to each other’s aid.
Instead, OHV users have their own trails, and attempts are made to keep us separated in the name of “user conflict.” They maintain, fight for, and protect their own trails, and they are highly successful. These folks are a big part of public perception, policymaking and have done a lot for our community.
In particular, OHV groups actively work with the Arizona State Parks and Trails to recognize and designate 4×4 routes all over Arizona. This is important because it puts these trails under local control, provides a maintenance plan, and gives the state legal standing under ARS 37.931 and RS2477. It’s too bad that more groups don’t do the same.
The offroad community used to be a fellowship. It didn’t matter what you drove. Of course, there was the occasional brand bashing, but tension among user groups never existed. We never wished that other user groups were punished for the ignorant mistakes of a few. We focused on education, passing knowledge, and there was little to no animosity towards one another.
Our Community is fractured. The more popular our lifestyle becomes, the more we must step up to the plate and educate folks who are new to our backroads. We need to fuse the severed bond that used to be a tight-knit family who was happy to come to each other’s aid. There are real problems everywhere, and we need to acknowledge them and fix them.
We understand some folks are ignorant about the consequences of their actions. We should not assume these folks don’t care or are purposely being destructive. Some folks honestly don’t understand the consequences of leaving trash or driving off the trail. We have all made ignorant mistakes, and some of us have learned the hard way. The answer is the law, and we should advocate for its enforcement.
UTV users are NOT the problem
Many folks believe that UTV users are the problem with the offroad community. UTV users frequently take the blame for closures and other restrictions that harm motorized access. Some counteractive actions may result in some closures, and being the majority makes it easy to lump everyone into the same category. However, user conflict, trash, and driving off trails are not why places are being closed.
Radical federal policies are focused on closure rather than management. Policies such as Travel and Resource Management are the driving force behind most of these closures, not the actions of any particular user group. Instead of demonizing the majority of offroad users, we should be educating and instructing, building and promoting, and strengthening our involvement with managing and maintaining our trails and recreation areas.
I urge everyone to re-evaluate your position on UTV users and understand the consequences. We must stop driving a wedge between each other and start creating alliances. The very existence of our lifestyle depends on it.
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