BRC a Major Contributor at Tread Lightly Convergence Dialogue Series

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by Jack Welch,
BRC President

On September 19th and 20th, Don Amador and I were invited to be a part of the continuing series of Convergence Dialogues on responsible recreation. The second meeting of the series entitled "Setting a Course of Action" was the next step in the series that started this last March in Durango, Colorado. The main focus of that meeting was on the following areas: snowmobiling, water related recreation management, hunting and OHV use, and the management of motorized and mechanized use. In the September session we also looked at other types of back country recreation including hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

All the issues revolved around looking at the future of recreation on public lands and how we can develop a common landscape for responsible recreation. Tread Lightly invited representatives of various recreational interests, including representatives from state and federal agencies, industry, environmental organizations, and user groups. Please note, the final resultant of these meetings will clearly be a function of those who attend. I am glad BlueRibbon is at the table!

The purpose of this series of three summits over the next two years is to open lines of communication, build a foundation of common ground, discuss pertinent issues, and, where applicable, develop a strategic plan for responsible recreation.

This second meeting in the series was held in the Redding, California area and started with get-acquainted activities at the Corum Ranch near Shasta Dam. The Corum Ranch provided an informal and fun time for meeting participants in a friendly setting while learning skills to recreate more responsibly. The major fun activity of the day consisted of horseback riding, mountain biking and 4WD trips. Both Don and I were able to experience several activities. Don was also able to bring his BlueRibbon event trailer and provide dirt bike rides for several people. These activities were a great icebreaker to get summit attendees talking again.

On Wednesday we started the formal session titled "Setting a Course of Action." Because of the importance of getting the most accomplished in the days' activities, Tread Lightly provided neutral professional facilitation which helped make our sessions very productive. The attendees were divided into working groups based on balanced participation of all attendees. Each group was asked to develop a Common Landscape for Responsible Recreation. We did this by drawing a group picture of the back country with all types of recreation taking place. We than added the critical factors that must be in place to achieve this ideal recreational landscape. Each group presented their recreational landscape and critical factors. I presented my group's landscape and critical factors. The next step was to combine the critical factors and develop a series of specific action items.

Don and I both felt that a good start on identifying the specific action items facing responsible recreation use on public lands was made. Four key factors that we saw identified were: first, public land agencies must make management of recreation a priority on public lands; second, all user groups must be willing to compromise and share the back country; third, continued education of back country recreationists is needed; fourth, when land managers make decisions on access to public lands, good science must be applied, not emotions.

In closing this article, I feel it is important to thank Tread Lightly for creating the Convergence Dialogue Series and to also thank the entities that provided the funding for this important effort: Arctic Cat, Inc.; BLM; Warn; Industries, Polaris Industries, Inc; Bombardier Recreational Products' National Marine Manufacturers Association; USDA Forest Service; Kawasaki Motor Corp., U.S.A.; American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; American Suzuki Motors; Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.; Chevy Motors; and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Convergence Dialogue Series is an important effort to provide an opportunity to make a difference in the continuing need for responsible recreation well into future. I am glad that the BlueRibbon Coalition was an important part of this initial effort. Don and I look forward to the third session and will keep the BlueRibbon membership posted.

--Jack Welch is the President of the BlueRibbon Coalition. For questions or comments on this article or related issues, he may be contacted through the BRC main office: 1540 N. Arthur, Pocatello, ID, 83204. Email brjack_w@sharetrails.org.

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