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Team *******
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This article appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on August 25,
2001.
Off-roaders seek fun, leave damage:
Shut out of other public land, adventure-seekers in four-wheel-drive
trucks are transforming some of the state’s rivers and streams into
motorized playgrounds.
Some off-roaders tread lightly, inching their rigs along the water’s
edge to reach a secluded campsite. Others play out mechanized fantasies
fueled by TV commercials, gunning their monster trucks through the
middle of shallow streams, leaving deep ruts as they spin oversized
tires.
State biologists say the destruction of the streams and the wildlife
they support has escalated dramatically as more 4x4 drivers take part in
the sport. Organized outings on the Neuces River near Uvalde have
attracted as many as 108 vehicles.
“I didn’t comprehend how much damage they were causing to the Nueces,”
said Gary Garrett, a fisheries biologist for the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department. “The rocks didn’t even have algae on them, as if
the area had been scoured by a really extreme flood.”
A fish survey Garrett conducted in the Nueces River found that half as
many fish were in the area crisscrossed by tire tracks near the Texas 83
bridge as in similar undisturbed waters upstream.
But the real eye-opener was the dearth of game fish-no bass, just one
catfish-in the high-traffic area. Eighty percent of the 81 fish found
there belonged to three minnow species that flourish in stressed waters.
Four-wheeling also has become a problem in the Llano, Brazos and Frio
rivers, in Village Creek near Beaumont, Spring Creek in Houston and
Cibolo Creek north of San Antonio, state officials said. There have
been contests to see how quickly lines of 4x4s, including pickups with
their beds full of water, can churn their way up steep riverbanks.
Under Texas law, which guarantees public access to public waters,
driving in a riverbed is legal as long as the vehicles stay within the
normal boundaries of the river. That includes streambeds that may be
dry.
None of the state’s resource agencies have explicit authority to stop
the abuse. But staff with the Parks and Wildlife Department believe the
threat to the state’s rivers is serious enough that commissioners will
get a special briefing Thursday.
“There are some parts of the Parks and Wildlife Code that may apply,
and we’re having our attorneys look at it,” said Larry McKinney, senior
director for aquatic resources.
Legislation that would have granted power to regulate vehicle traffic
to all river authorities-the state-created agencies that oversee river
use-died late in the last session. The issue was given to a legislative
committee for interim study.
Conflicts between the managers of public land and off-road enthusiasts
have been mounting, particularly in the West where desert landscapes are
vulnerable.
The area’s off-roaders accuse the landowners of trying to close off
river access to everyone. “Four-wheeling is the excuse they’re using to
make the river their own private country club,” said Richard Jones of
Uvalde.
“That’s not true. We know the rivers are public,” said Allan Bloxsom,
who’s lived along the Nueces for five years. “I’m an oil and gas
operator, and if I did this kind of damage on an oil lease on public
land, I’d be tarred and feathered by the regulators.”
Leaders of off-road clubs-there are at least 59 in Texas-say they try
to promote respect for nature.
“Some people see the automakers’ adds on TV showing vehicles blazing
through rivers at 30 mph, tearing everything up, and think that is how
it’s supposed to be done,” said Shawn Pagen of Houston, secretary of the
Texas Motorized Trails Coalition, which is working to establish
off-roading sites on private land.
But it was visits to Web sites operated by members of other clubs,
with photos showing scores of vehicles cruising through the water, that
convinced Parks and Wildlife staff they had a serious statewide problem.
One Web site listed the equipment that 40 members and guests of a San
Antonio club damaged while running the Neuces one day in July: four
broken axles, a cracked differential, two trashed radiators, two burned
up rotors, three drowned transmissions, a ripped bumper and three flat
tires. It didn’t mention the grease and radiator fluid that would have
flowed into the river.
“It reminds me of what happened when dune buggies got popular,”
McKinney said. “Initially, nobody realized all the long-term damage to
the sand dunes that occurred when you tore up the plants whose roots
held the dunes together.” “In the end, there was no option except to
ban driving in the dunes.”

People we've go to take care of what we've got if we expect to keep it. I've been to the places that thier talking about and It's great wheelin'. I'd hate to never be able to go back.
 

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Matt,
Do you have any kind of address to write to about this? Maybe a local club could "police" the area and do clean-ups. At least that would show that all people arent there to destroy the environment.
 

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Team *******
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Discussion Starter #3
No, I don't have an adress but this is the E-mail of the guy that sent it to me. [email protected]
He lives in the austin area and should know.
 

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Hey, my club, Longhorn Offroad, responded to this guy that wrote the article. We invited him to come along with us on a run. He declined, but said maybe in the future. Unfortunately offroaders using the land responsibly doesn't make news, destroying the land does. Check out our BBS for more info about who, what, and where. But replying angrily to the article's author isn't going to help anything. We need to keep abreast about legislation and try to stop it at that leval, IMO. Here's the link to the messege on our BBS: LHOR BBS topic on offroading article
 

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Its sad but it's true. Around here most people's idea of fourwheeling is to simply drive off the road near a creek or mudhole, many times doing this at high speeds. As you can expect the damage is horrific. The simple fact is that this is the closest most of these people have ever gotten to four wheeling. I have made many enemies because if I catch someone doing this I will report them. Sometimes these people have been my own friends who needed to be taught a lesson. I try to help people understand that what they are doing is wrong, and there are plenty of places they can legally wheel, but some people will not listen. I'm just glad that more clubs are forming, and that with thier help, and the help of 4x4 magazines and sites like this, people are beginning to see that to enjoy this sport they must do thier part to protect the land they wheel on.
 

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Sounds like you Texan's need to stand up, not only against these retards accusing fourwheelers...but also those who might possibly have acted in such a wild manner

But please..."cracked differential" I have never heard of a cracked diff...dented but please...what are these guys doing...driving off cliffs?
 

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Zesty Toy, I have to disagree with you. I have Cracked my Diff in a Dana 60 before.

Dimitri
 

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Originally posted by TheLakeRat:
<STRONG>
Shut out of other public land, </STRONG>
<FONT COLOR="Red"> These are the key words here....

This goes along with what I've believed all the time. Closing down trails causes overuse and damage to other areas that would not have happened without the closures.
</FONT c>
 

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Originally posted by Slick:
<STRONG><FONT COLOR="Red"> These are the key words here....

This goes along with what I've believed all the time. Closing down trails causes overuse and damage to other areas that would not have happened without the closures.
</FONT c></STRONG>
I totally agree with you here, Slick. Many of you out west have no idea how blessed you are to have public land that you can legally wheel on nearby. Perhaps if there were more places for people to wheel here in Texas, this kind of damage and overuse could be eliminated. But sadly this will most likely never happen, and these kind of actions will continue, causing the few public places we have left to be closed. <IMG SRC="smilies/frown.gif" border="0">
 
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