Sam McCleneghan: Responsible use |

Sam McCleneghan: Responsible use

Sam McCleneghan
Farmer's Korner

You say your hiking use of public land has “no impact on the environment”? Don’t kid yourself. You and the thousands of others have a very visible impact. You can walk up the trail behind me, my horses and mules and we too will emit an occasional “noxious odor.”

There is no doubt that mountain bikes cause trail degradation. All backcountry users have seen the ruts and some braiding of trails by mountain bikers trying to stay out of muddy and rutted areas.

Responsible user groups, such as The Summit County Fat Tire Society spend countless volunteer hours trying to repair, rehabilitate and maintain trails at no public expense. I personally have pulled down miles of old barbed wire and packed it out along with bags and bags of thoughtless people’s litter and trash on my mules. It cost the public $0.00. Just how much have you done?

Maybe you should petition your elected officials to pass laws like they have in Spain. You need to get a government permit to hike. No camping is allowed unless you have a permit and then only in designated areas, usually something that resembles a grass-less park or in an actual building next to a town. Campfire? Dream on.

At 60 years old, the light at the end of the tunnel shines more brightly than the light at the beginning. I may not want to don snowshoes or X-C skiis or hiking boots, but I still want to saddle up my horse or ride a snowmobile. Even though I probably haven’t ridden a snowmobile in three years or so, I still want the freedom to make that choice and not be vilified.

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