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Reader comments on wilderness damage to Patriarch Grove in White Mountains

The two tracks

I received several emails regarding my Nov 1 post on the damage to Patriarch Grove by an offroad motorcyclist.

Your Image of the tire tracks in the CA white mnts Bristle cone pines area resonated with my attitudes about this environmental violence. This unique repose of nature has stood unadulterated by mans influence for upwards of 2,000 years. Having visited there last year, my awe-inspired impressions was this was one of natures cathedrals,... the quite, solitude, timelessness pushes you into introspective reflection like few places on earth. Thanks for reporting on this and publishing your Images on your web site. Hopefully the government groups that are our stewards for the preservation of the area can use this information for prosecution or prevention.
— Ed F

DIGLLOYD: as far as I can tell, having visited this area numerous time, there is no budget for patrol. In fact, I’ve never seen a gun-toting ranger as one often sees in Yosemite, though I have seen forest service personnel. Next time I’m there, I’ll inquire at the local office.

I saw your piece on the offloading scaring up on the White Mountains. I too hold that ground sacred and found it upsetting to see.

Factory Butte outside of Capital Reef had a similar fate, with active ATV use right next too it. A local organic farmer worked hard to try to get the area closed off to ATVs, but also to move them to another area. He received death threats. The locals in Hanksville would flip him off every time they drove by his place. It was ugly.

I decided to help. So I plugged him into NDRC. We soon had 38,000 faxes come into the BLM office in Utah. They closed the area to ATVs. It took a national effort to do so. The head of the local BLM office was an active ATVer himself.

I have seen a ton of damage done by ATVs throughout the west in recent years. I share your concern that it is getting to the point of insanity. But I have also seen severe damage done by mountain bikers and equestrian use, so it is a reminder to all of us that we have to tip-toe through the wilderness like it was our grandmother's backyard.

I would write the White Mountain District Forest Service folks, send them your pics, and suggest that it needs to be clearly posted along the entire roadway that off-road travel is prohibited and is enforced. I am sure your readership would echo in if so desired, though it can get out of hand if you don't provide a professional structure for them to voice their support.

Thanks for bringing this important issue to the forefront with your readership. The balancing act of preservation, while still allowing use, is critical to the future of the wilderness of the American West.
— PM

DIGLLOYD: it is probably correct that written communication will be more effective, so I’ll make a point of bringing it in person to the local office, perhaps this weekend if I make it up there again for some shooting before Hwy 120 closes.

As far as off-road travel prohibitions, these tracks come right from the parking lot area, where signs clearly state that the area is closed, even to foot traffic. There are also signs in various other locations a bit lower down, and higher up as well. I don’t think there is any lack of awareness that the area is not available for joyriding, nor would I want to see signs posted every mile on the 20 miles or so up to and beyond this area. One large sign at each of the two entry points would probably be a good idea, and suffice.

My old buddy B, and I got a big charge out of your rant about the motorcyclist's scars over Bristlecone territory. B has been all over that mountain; I've seen some of it. It provoked a long discussion via email of exactly how far I would have had to lead the guy with my 300 Weatherby to bring him down cleanly. At that altitude, you gotta figure a bullet speed of faster than the sea level 3300 ft per second rating. — Anonymous

DIGLLOYD: hunting license required? Maybe the perp should have to drive a senior citizen’s van every weekend for five years, and be banned from ever driving a motorcycle again.

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