OK.. I just sent a letter off to the Governor, to the State Forester, The DEP Commissioner, The Eastern Region Manager, The Unit Manager and to the four major television stations here in CT.
Many of you expressed an interest in taking part in some civil disobedience to protest the closing of the roads at Pain Hill and Breakneck. The most recent word is that Pain Hill and Bear Den have already been posted closed and the Breakneck Roads are not far behind. Being posted would mean that we would knowingly travel on closed roads, where as, if they are not posted and we get tickets, we have a case to fight.
So.. there are some that believe that the pen is mightier than the sword (however, those people have never felt the sting of truly well placed blade...LOL) Anyway...
This is what I want to do.
Take all that anger that has been hanging out since you heard that the only legal places in CT are now closed and direct it to this project.
Take what I have written below (or from the letter posted below) and paraphrase it into your own words. Take just a couple of pieces of it and send an email to those that I did. Simply state:
I am a 4WD Scenic Drive enthusiast. I used to enjoy the roads in Nipmuck state forest. Now that they have been closed to the responsible 4WD community, I (my family) will no longer travel to that part of CT (or to CT) to enjoy our favorite form of recreation. We will no longer spend the money here in CT, instead, we will take it to neighboring states. We shall no longer volunteer our time to the state of CT.
Your name and address.
If you are writing from out of state, make sure to mention you will no longer be traveling to CT to enjoy your sport nor will you be spending your money here either.
Here's anther important part:
I would like everyone to list Connecticut's Loss as the subject.
This way, when these people open their mail over the next few days, they will see the )hopefully) large list of emails with the same subject showing and will then know what they are in for. If we all write something just a little bit different in our letters, it will go a longer way than if we write a form letter.
Here's what I'm hoping for:
In EC4WDA's Northeast Region, there something like 13-15 clubs. If just 3 people from each club writes a letter, that will be 39-40 letters written. If just two people from each NEA club writes in, we'll have another 35 letters.
Realistically, I figure only about 10-15 people will actually write but I can still hope right?
Also, please fwd/post this on your forums/email lists.
Here's who to send it to:
Governor Jodi Rell Governor.Rell@ct.gov
(you will recieve an email back rather quickly. There are phone numbers listed. Take 5 minutes and call her tomorrow on this. If speaking to an assistant (which is about 99.9% likely) mention you are calling about... CONNECTICUT'S LOSS. and relate what you wrote.)
Commissioner of the DEP, Gina McCarthy email@example.com
State Forester, Jim Parda firstname.lastname@example.org
Unit Manager, Dean Hyde email@example.com
Unfortunately, the email for the eastern region manager bounced back and I haven't been able to find another for him.
Here's my letter:
Hello Governor Rell,
I'm contacting you today to let you in on a situation that I feel would interest you.
The DEP is closing State Forest Roads to responsible enthusiasts.
My name is David Brill. I am 42 years old and have been enjoying the sport of 4WD Scenic Road driving for well over 20 years. I hold many positions within the 4WD enthusiast community.
Before I get into all the details, please allow me to briefly explain what a 4WD Enthusiast is. I own a 1987 Toyota 4Runner, not an ATV. It is a fully registered and insured passenger vehicle (SUV). I enjoy taking my truck out on old, unmaintained roads throughout New England (and until recently here in CT) with many friends who enjoy the same. We typically travel at less than 2 mph. Our trucks are modified to travel much slower than the average 4x4. Our joy comes from traversing these unmaintained roads for the scenic beauty and the actual challenge of driving them. Our organizations are environmentally conscious. We will pack more out of an area than we bring in, leaving an area cleaner than before we arrived. We participate in local community projects and events, the most recent being a Touch A Truck in North Branford, CT. We donate time, toys, food and money to the Toys 4 Tots program and local food banks. We are NOT a group of yahoos flying through the woods, swigging beer whilst firing our shotguns as seen on many TV shows and commercials.
We have been using a certain few roads in the town of Union, CT, within Nipmuck State Forest, for the last 20 years. I have seen Jim Kane come and go as Unit manager of Shenipsit/Nipmuck, Marilyn Aarrestad retire from the same position and have welcomed Dean Hyde to his new position. I have even had a written relationship with Joe Hickey over the years.
Recently, to celebrate National Trails Day, June 7th, I had gathered a group of volunteers to assist Dean Hyde remove trash, junk vehicles and generally clean up Nipmuck State Forest. When approached with this assistance, I have to say that Dean was excited. In speaking a bit more with Dean, we found that we could be of even greater assistance by helping out with other maintanence issues around the forest and Bigelow Hollow State Park. IE Painting buildings, road maintanence, hanging signs,etc. At the same time, I notified him of the charity drive that we were taking through the forest within a couple of months, Wheelin 4 Healin, sponsored by Capitol Jeep in Willimantic and funding the Windham Hospital expansion project. Over $50,000 have been raised so far for this project from this event over the last 4 years.
Dean suggested I call the DEP Eastern Region HQ and make sure I didn't need any permits.When I spoke with Mike Reid on this and fully explained what we do and what we would be doing, he said we wouldn't need permits.
Unfortunately, there are people within the ranks of the DEP who feel that responsible motorized recreation is not conducive with state forest use. These people put forth the motion to close the roads that have been open and used responsibly for the last 20 or more years.
Granted, there are those who use the state forest irresponsibly. They cut trails off through the forest and do not stay on the marked roads. They dump garbage. They ride their ATVs and OHMs because they have no where in the state to recreate, despite a law on the books for 22 years saying there shall be land dedicated for such use.
However, closing the roads with signage and even gates will only keep the responsible people from using the forests. The abuses taking place will only continue to take place as the responsible enthusiasts will no longer be there to help with maintanence, clean ups, and keeping an eye on things.
Aside from the free labor that the state is losing by closing these roads (the National Trails Day clean up would have easily saved the state thousands of dollars if Dean and his crew had to remove the three junk cars, couches and stoves and such on their own) the state is also losing the economic impact generated by those responsible users, both in state and those who travel from other states to enjoy those roads. Case in point: North Adams, a small town in north west MA, sees about 30 4x4 enthusiasts each weekend enjoying their old, unmaintained town roads. Those 30 families will easily spend $100 there over the course of a weekend. The small town of North Adams sees a yearly impact of over $90,000 from our community. CT is losing that at least, as the responsible enthusiasts will surely travel to other states to enjoy their form of recreation.
As you can see, the State of CT is losing. In a time of budget deficits, I find it difficult to understand why the state of CT would want to turn away from revenue and free labor, but politics have never really made sense to me.
You may reach me via this email address or via phone at 203-676-1286 if you have any questions.
This has been CC'd to Jim Parda, State Forester; Gina McCarthy, DEP Commissioner; Mike Reid, DEP Eastern Region Manager; Dean Hyde, Unit Manager Shenipsit/Nipmuck State Forests and is being sent to our local CT television stations.
Thank you for your time Governor Rell,
160 Woodland Rd.
Land Use Chair: East Coast 4WD Assoc.
V.Chair/Land Use Chr. Region D/Northeast of EC4WDA
President, Eastern 4 Wheelers
Tread Lightly! Master Trainer
Blue Ribbon Coalition, National Land Use Action Council Northeast Rep.
I know, not as much fun as takin on the popo but maybe it'll do us more in the end.