Just about every time we’ve attended a ride organized for motorized recreation, there has been someone who suffers from a physical disability who chooses motorized recreation as their preferred way to access the public benefits of outdoor recreation on public land. From veteran groups providing therapy to the wounded and those suffering from PTSD, to retirees who have aged into a disability after spending a lifetime exploring their favorite places, to those who have been blindsided by accident or disease, and to those whose loved ones suffer from chronic lifelong mental and physical disability it is no surprise that an organization like BlueRibbon Coalition who fights for outdoor recreation for all would cross paths with the millions of Americans who choose motorized forms of outdoor recreation because these forms of recreation are their only choice.
In the 2001 case, Black Sands Beach v. Pool, BlueRibbon Coalition and other litigants challenged a BLM decision to prohibit motorized access to Black Sands Beach in Northern California. We were unsuccessful in these claims, and the current policy of the BLM and other federal agencies is that as long as they close areas to all motorized users they aren’t discriminating against those with disabilities. This unenlightened policy doesn’t capture the sentiment that we often hear from the disabled, that they do in fact feel discriminated against. The glaring blind spot of this policy is that it doesn’t recognize that areas closed to motorized use can be enjoyed by the able-bodied in almost all cases. The disabled find this to be discriminatory because it excludes them from receiving public benefits available to others but not to them solely because of their disability.
There is another case working its way through the court system by Rainer Huck that makes similar allegations of discrimination, and we are watching the case closely and are eager to see how it turns out. You can learn more about this case at http://saveourpubliclands.net. He is fighting the case pro se and could certainly use any help from the motorized recreation community.
However, as the number of disabled Americans continues to grow and the number of acres where motorized access is restricted continues to increase, it is time to finally reverse the systematic discrimination against those with disabilities that is entrenched in public land management agencies at all levels of government. Unfortunately, we can’t rely completely on the courts to deliver access justice to those who are discriminated against by restrictive land-use designations.
We have substantial plans in the works to correct this injustice, but there is an important opportunity happening right now that we shouldn’t ignore. At the beginning of his term, President Biden issued an Executive Order that focuses on addressing “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies,” and mandates a “comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” Americans with Disabilities are listed as a group that has been historically underserved and marginalized.
The Department of Interior is accepting public comment on how it should implement this Executive Order until Nov. 18th. Please make your voice heard to let the Secretary of the Interior know that road closures and motorized restrictions discriminate towards every American who is mobility impaired. Roads and trails on public lands are necessary to help uproot this pernicious form of discrimination.
Please let we seniors who can no longer hike have access to public lands via our Offroad vehicles.
This is an incredibly important issue that has been overlooked for too long. I have a friend who lost the use of their legs a few years ago and is trying desperately to maintain the way of life they had prior to their accident. They would hike, camp, bike, dirt bike and explore our public lands most weekends. While they continue to explore our lands, they are now severely limited in the areas that can accomodate wheelchairs and adaptive vehicles like bikes. While state & national parks can typically accommodate – areas like our national forests and BLM lands require motorized vehicles to allow access to the same places those of us without disabilities are able to access without a second thought.
I am a senior citizen and have Arthritis in my back and shoulders. Hiking and back packing are really not possible for me and I love and enjoy the outdoors. We value and take care of nature as best we can. Please keep the trails and roads in the back country open so we can enjoy them.
I ask that you please carefully consider all of the ramifications that go into shutting down access to public lands. There are many uses for these lands and I think rather than shutting them down, we need to figure out how to keep them in the best shape possible while still allowing recreation.
Our public lands and parks, national, state and local, are just that. Public. They are for everyone and should be open and accessible to everyone regardless of race, creed or color.
I don’t know what to say at this time other than our Goverenment has gotten so well orgenized that they have forgoten what I as a tax paying voter hired then to do. I would like to fire most of them.
I am a disabled Veteran therefore, the only way I recreate is through motorized access. I currently live full time on the road and it would be a shame to see such beautiful back country access denied through bureaucratic nonsense. The four wheel drive clubs and local groups do more than the actual government to keep these trails open. We all know it. Where does our money go to that we are taxed to use these public lands?
My wife and I are senior citizens and partially disabled, we cannot access trails without an ATV or Side by side. We do not need anymore trail closures. The last thing the USA needs is another Wilderness area nor Monument area. Please don’t close us out..
As personal vehicles have become more efficient at helping the less able see remote places, the cry to keep them out has only increased. Closures should be used sparingly.
I have lived and worked in Wyoming for over 50 years. As a younger person I hiked and hunted over many trails and mountains for many years. Now at the age of 82 the only way I can enjoy these areas is with an off-road motorized vehicle as I have been disabled by a neurologic disease. These pristine areas are still my main interest and if you close them to motorized vehicles myself and others with physical impairments are denied access to these areas. Other than already designated wilderness areas I implore you to maintain access via motorized travel to public lands. I could go on at great length about my frustrations. My saddest moments are when I say goodbye to my children and grandchildren as they go off
To enjoy these public lands on foot. I always tried to show tolerance towards other users
of public lands.