The Four x Four Group
The Four x Four Group is for people with Off-Road (ORV) or Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) interests. It is a profitable enterprise but has secondary objectives of contributing to the Rural System objectives, motivating learning, developing meaningful student projects, increasing employment opportunities, developing related land-use guides and techniques, and conducting research on vehicles and their effects in the open terrain. Reducing conflicts and stresses and gaining improved land management are clear objectives. Many of the activities are already well developed in several groups. Opportunities for affiliations exist throughout the region. The selection of a "personality," activities, and outreach will determine the local group and its lasting influence and benefits to its members.
Profit oriented, the Group is likely to be engaged in activities and services selected from:
- Developing a procedure for scoring trails and routes
- Developing a software unit (GIS) for locating and selecting areas within large parts of Virginia and West Virginia for desirable use of 4-wheel drive vehicles
- Developing a GPS related activity or use with vehicles
- Developing an open organization with newsletter and meetings for 4-wheel drive enthusiasts
- Developing a tagging program, offering a tag for vehicles based on special inspections (at reduced rates for members)
- Arranging for a special insurance with reduced rates for members or those who have taken a course
- Conducting a course for fees (safety, first aid, repairs, emergency work, driver safety, driver health)
- Developing trails or routes with maps and advice for members.
- Conducting trail rides (for fees) with educational stops, and catered meals at destinations (winter and fall rides are highlights)
- Conducting night rides (in connection with Owls Group and Coyote)
- Conducting shows (for fees and with advertising opportunities)
- Conducting contests (entrant fees)
- Encouraging the Belles and Whistles Group
- Developing affiliation with The Jellico Rock Obstacle Challenge Course
- Developing affiliation with The Eastern Rock Crawling Contest
- Being available for rescue missions
- Conducting random (planned) safety and security citizen checkup routes
- Being ready for fire-fighting assistance
- Developing a unit of The Wildland Crew
- Conducting reduced maintenance and care costs programs with 1-2 garages under contract (with discounts for members)
- Conducting instruction in road layout, erosion control, care and maintenance for bulldozer operators, loggers, land owners
- Selling parts
- Selling maps and related services
- Selling special paint products and services
- Creating and selling software
- Selling publications
- Creating and managing a web site with sales of memberships, books, supplies, trips, tours with other groups, vehicle parts, videos of driving, safety, insurance, vehicles themselves (the e-auction).
- Forming partnerships with off-road manufacturers such as Range Rover, Jeep, and Honda to educate drivers, riders, event observers, and land owners.
- Inspecting road sections and filing reports on the Internet on conditions for members…and security or searching/emergency forces.
- Lobbying (supported by vehicle sales groups, parts retailers, etc.)
- Research grants (overhead) in connection with Virginia Tech, with results plowed back into the enterprise.
- Commissions on parts sales inspired by the Group.
- Becoming a transportation unit for Rural System within System Central
- Immediately closing renegade routes.
- Working for user interest, one said to be long rides with things to see (thus no reason to go off-trail)
- Assuring off-road vehicle use only to the extent that effective monitoring and enforcement are adequately and timely funded
There are Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plans (1999 message) to prevent motorized cross-country travel on federal lands (with a few exceptions, e.g., handicapped access and firewood cutting with a permit). Cross-country travel, it has been claimed, can spread noxious weeds, cause erosion, damage cultural sites, disrupt wildlife, and create conflicts among land users. There have been difficulties and most can be eliminated, or tradeoff realized, especially with the combination of strategies suggested above. The potentials on federal lands, if closed, regrettably, open new private-land opportunities.
One group, suing the USFS for closing roads said there was no evidence of correlation between ORV uses and water quality, sedimentation, fish decline, etc. They also claimed "Active and effective management of motorized recreation, not
prohibition, is the only good answer for protecting water quality and species habitat." The costs of such effective management year around on most public lands is very high, probably unrealistic and clearly prohibitive .
United Four Wheel Drive Association http://www.ufwda.org - Dedicated to Promoting the Great Outdoors
Baltimore 4 Wheelers/OHV
21000 York Road
Parkton, MD 21120
The concepts for management of related lands and practices are available in The Trevey.
A revised version of this unit, suggestions for a Virginia Tech Student group, are also available.
See Belles and Whistles.
See Tread Lightly! at www.treadlightly.org and www.ShareTrails.org the web site of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, "working hard to keep public lands open.", and The Wilderness Society.
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005