Hi, my name is Jerry Smith and I have just been put in the position of "Director of Environmental Affairs" on the Board of Directors for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations. I would like very much to give a small bit of my background as a way of introduction.
Presently and well into the future (I hope), I live in Grand Junction, Colorado. This sleepy (sometimes) town has been far off the radar of the "Jeeping" (my way of saying Wheeling, 4-wheeling, etc.) way too long. Only 100-miles east of Moab, UT -- the "Mecca" of Jeeping, 100-miles north of Ouray, CO -- the "Switzerland of America", and roughly 100-miles west of the central Colorado high country... we are spoiled in so many ways.
I currently wear several hats in the world of Jeeping.
First is: Vice President of the Grand Mesa Jeep Club (GMJC).
Second: Director of Environmental Affairs -- UFWDA
Third: Board of Directors of the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition - COHVCO
Fourth: Colorado Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, Inc. Delegate to UFWDA
Fifth: Member of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance "Round Table" - a local group of ALL trail user groups that meet to discuss new trails and old trails in the area.
The GMJC is a club of about 80-families. We are a very active club with someone doing a trip nearly every weekend in the non-winter months. We do an overnight trip normally every month.
The first Saturday of June, we have our "Off Road Show" at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. This is a large event and growing every year. Vendors like TnT Customs from Cheyenne, WY; GenRight Off Road and Poison Spyder Customs -- both from California; and several others, come to talk shop and show off their products.
But that is not the only reason the come to Grand Junction. Ooooh no!! The three-days prior to the Off Road Show is "ROCK JUNCTION". "Rock Junction" is three-days of non-competitive trail riding on some of western Colorado and Eastern Utah's premier Jeep trails. Trips from mild to extreme leave Grand Junction every morning for Jeeping heaven. Each evening, we return to a hosted BBQ to discuss our adventures.
The GMJC is extremely active in land use issues as well. We are still awaiting the outcome, but the local BLM Field Office put us through two Resource Management Plans and Travel Management Plans last year. Between the two RMPs and TMPs, the club generated over 1000 written comments. (my comments alone were nearly 100-pages between the two). Yes, we are active.
Although we have not been able to officially adopt them, we maintain several area trails by reopening them each spring. Removing rock falls, downed trees, miles of brush trimming, and repairs of washes are commonly done.
One such trail; known as 21 Road, we found out has a toad that is on the "threatened species" list. When we were turned down to adopt the trail, we decided to adopt the toad -- The "21 Road Toad" to be exact.
(a full article explaining this will be in the upcoming UFWDA newsletter and/or the "VOICE").
Back to my introduction -- My first Jeeping experience happened back in 1966. A high school friend's dad had a '56 CJ5 that we took for a ride. Once we dropped the windshield down on the hood... with the wind in my face and the 360 view of the Thompson River country of northwest Montana -- I was SOLD!!
After high school came a year studying at what used to be the Denver Automotive Institute, now Lincoln College of Technology. Then it was off to 4-years in the US Navy.
My first Jeep was a brand new 1973 CJ5. It took me all over western Montana, Idaho, and into Canada while living in Montana. We were inseparable when I was not working as a heavy equipment mechanic.
Not long afterward, I bought two flat fender Jeeps... one of which was converted into a highly modified (for its time) racing Jeep. This was also when my first experiences in organized Jeeping came along.
The "Five Valley Four Wheelers" of Missoula lead the way to the Montana 4x4 Association. I served as President of the M4X4A in 1979.
By then, I was attending meetings with the USFS and BLM fairly regularly. I also worked with Harold E. Brown of Bozeman, MT in the organization of the UFWDA. Funny how that has come around...
In the years since, there have been many, many meetings with the USFS, BLM, DOW, Congressmen, Senators, (both US and state levels), county commissioners, and land use entities all over Montana, Colorado, and Utah. Just an estimate of over 2000-letters and comments have been written regarding land use issues.
Yes, I am a land use junkie. Between the actual Jeeping of the lands and the fight to access them, I don't know which I enjoy the most. (a slight edge goes to the Jeeping).
In all of those comments, there have been many, many disappointments and some jubilation.
There is no give in my passion to fight the "Preservationists". I would do it full-time if it would pay a little better.
Through the years, there has been an upward curve in my written comments as I learned the "correct way" to comment and what to comment about.
This knowledge is something I wish to pass on to anyone who will use the knowledge.
As the new Director of Environmental Affairs for UFWDA, I KNOW we CAN make a difference if we will "learn the system" and "work the system".
If your comments simply say "Leave this trail open"... you just wasted a stamp.
Comments must have substance that relate to the laws of land management. NEPA, FLPMA, and others are where the war is won. You probably don't know Mr. NEPA or Mr. FLPMA.... the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
If you are one of the very few who are willing to DO SOMETHING like attending land use meetings or writing a letter once in a while, WE NEED TO TALK!!! We need people from all over the country (and the world) who will make the right kind of noise to the right people.
I want to lead that kind of people to make their "Noise" mean something to those who make the decisions.
What those people and I need from the rest of you is your monetary support. Yeah, I said it… MONEY!!!
If you enjoy driving your Jeep or other 4x4, ATV, Motorcycle, or whatever – in the Great American BackCountry, but can’t find the time to attend meetings and write letters, or just don’t have that kind of interest --- that’s perfectly OK!!!
ALL WE ASK IS THAT YOU SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPORTING YOU!!!
With a little help from some dedicated individuals, the question regarding State Associations and UFWDA I’ve heard too many times will never be uttered again… “What have they done for us?”
be doing something for YOU
!!! Will YOU
do something for US
Come along for the ride.
One last thought; When you come to a fork in the road ------- Take It!!