It’s Not OK to Illegal Poach Trails in Unstaffed National Parks, Monuments and Wilderness Areas During Trump’s Shutdown

“From mountain bikers in California to snowmobilers in Montana, renegade adventurers see the shutdown as a chance to get away with anything. They need to stop.”

That’s the sub-heading to a story that appeared in Outside back on January 11, 2019.

Here are some interesting accounts from the article (emphasis added):

On Sunday, January 6, two western Montana skiers headed out for a tour. They drove snowmobiles to the border of a federal wilderness area, then switched to backcountry touring gear, expecting to break trail through powder. Instead they found themselves following fresh tread tracks. In the distance, two snowmobilers were high-marking a bowl that was clearly within the designated wilderness. The outlaw motorists paid no mind to the skiers, who were obeying the social contract, and eventually buzzed within 20 feet of them.

Due to the government shutdown, the skiers couldn’t report the incident to rangers, but one of them called the local sheriff with a description of the sleds as well as a truck and trailer that was parked at the trailhead. (He shared these details with me on the condition of anonymity.) The sheriff’s office, not often tasked with public-lands violations, appeared indifferent. As for the throttle-twisting malefactors, one presumes they saw the government closure as an opportunity for an illegal joyride. “They were being so blatant about it,” the skier told me. “It sure seemed like they knew exactly what they were doing—and they didn’t care.”…

In Northern California’s Marin County, mountain bikers have begun poaching the singletrack in Muir Woods National Monument and Point Reyes….Mountain bikers in particular have long dreamed of rolling the trails in national parks and wilderness areas. The former tend to offer zero off-road access except, in rare cases, to flat “carriage roads,” while the latter ban mountain bikers (and snowmobilers) entirely. Such restrictions can be soul crushing to sports-minded visitors. “The mountain-biking access is so bad in Marin that the shutdown gives us a chance to ride trails we normally can’t get on,” says a source who didn’t want to be identified. “We’re not cutting new trails or riding steep trails that aren’t suited to bikes. We’re riding established trails that the equestrians and hikers refuse to share with us. It’s like looking at a bunch of untracked powder and not being able to ski it.”…

The irresponsible dregs violating our national parks and wilderness areas right now are acting like high school kids throwing a kegger because their parents are out of town. Even if, like the Marin bikers, you don’t believe you’re damaging the environment, ignoring the law has consequences, whether or not the rangers are on duty.

1 thought on “It’s Not OK to Illegal Poach Trails in Unstaffed National Parks, Monuments and Wilderness Areas During Trump’s Shutdown”

  1. This proves that we as a society have not evolved that much from our ancestors, who looked at the western landscape as opportunities for exploitation, whether it be for personal or financial gain. Sort of gives creedance to the mindset that an action is not wrong unless you are caught by an official to tell you that action is wrong.


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