The BlueRibbon Coalition has been protecting recreation access for all recreationists since 1987. As times have changed our focus has concentrated on off-road recreation, over-snow recreation, personal watercraft, and most recently UTVs. We see it as our job to anticipate what’s coming next. Even though we’re busier than we’ve ever been, we have noticed a disturbing trend that could make some of the fights we’ve fought in the past look small in comparison.
We recently submitted a public comment for the recreation plan for Alabama Hills in California. We also recently filed as a defendant intervenor to defend the BLM’s recent decision on the travel plan for the San Rafael Desert against an appeal by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. In both of these cases groups who want to shut down access to public lands in the West have made serious efforts to restrict, regulate, or eliminate dispersed camping.
We expect to confront the challenges that traditionally accompany different forms of motorized recreation. Balancing nuisances of noise or soil disturbance with the benefits of increased public access are traditional battle lines we encounter in this work. Usually these challenges involve conflicts between user groups that don’t overlap in their interests.
Dispersed camping overlaps with almost every user group! By targeting dispersed camping, the anti-access advocates are showing their true colors: If you are human wanting anything more than temporary access to public land on your own two feet, then you are not welcome on our public lands.
As you travel through areas that are open to dispersed camping, you are just as likely to find a Suburu with a Protect Wild Utah sticker in the back window as you are to find a fifth wheel/toy-hauler.
People are passionate about public lands, and conflicts can get heated. However, most public land users agree that disappearing into an open landscape and finding “your special spot” where you can camp for free is a unique form of freedom and escape that is only available on America’s public lands. We didn’t expect to have to mobilize support for what is probably the most popular form of recreation there is.
But, we’ve been fighting these fights for a long time, and we can tell when there’s a storm on the horizon. If you enjoy dispersed camping on public land, now is the time to start organizing to protect your free access to your public lands.
This will be a fight that will take years to unfold across every acre of public land, but it is coming. It will also impact the millions of people who access public lands by cars, trucks, SUVs, motor-homes, vans, overland rigs, primitive camping, ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, horses, watercraft, and any other use type you can imagine. In order to build the army we are going to need to win this fight, we have created the Dispersed Camping Access Alliance.
The Dispersed Camping Access Alliance is a special ShareTrails project to build a community of everyone who is passionate about protecting access for dispersed camping. By joining our community, we will give you access to the on-the-ground information we are gathering through our day-to-day work. We will also look forward to helping you become strong advocates for dispersed camping in your favorite spots. When push comes to shove, we will make sure we have the lawyers and influencers to make sure public land managers adopt plans and rules that are friendly to the millions of responsible dispersed campers. Together we will work to protect your right to Camp Free! on America’s public lands.