American Frontiers Journey across public Lands

Nov. 01, 2002 By Dean Waters
Did you know that there are almost 600 million acres of Public Land in the United States? Much of this public land is concentrated in the western states, but public land can be found in all 50 states. This land is managed by a variety of state and federal agencies, and often with the cooperation and assistance of local land owners or public use groups. With all the recent out-cry of land closures and inaccessible trails, The Public Lands Interpretive Association set out to show just how much of our country is still a beautiful, USABLE resource. Other sponsors included Bureau of Land Management, National Geographic Society, American Honda, Coleman Company, National Environmental Education Training Foundation, Firewise, Utah Visitor Information Service Coalition, Salt Lake City Visitor and Convention Bureau, and National Cattlemens Beef Association.

The purpose of the Journey was to not only raise awareness of the existence of the Public Land, but to also provide opportunities for organizations and individuals to come together to discuss issues such as Public Access and Environmental Impact. To demonstrate the diversity available to enjoy our public lands, the modes of transportation would include hiking by foot, 4x4, biking, motorboat, house boat, canoe, horseback, motorcycles, and of course ATVs.
The format was simple, and yet logistics immense - two teams of four "trekkers" each would travel from Mexico to Canada, entirely on public lands. The support team would include others to help with mapping, equipment, public relations, education outreach, cooking, medical support, and general logistics. Team members were chosen to represent a cross-section of America itself - Trekkers were selected from the Blue Ridge Mountains to New York City, a teacher, a fire fighter, a nurse. The only factor they all shared was a love for the outdoors, and a willing spirit for adventure.
Both teams started on July 31st - the Northern team at the Canadian Border in Glacier National Park, and the Southern Team at the Mexican border on BLM lands in southern New Mexico. Each team would travel for 60 days to meet in Pine Valley Campground in Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah. This meeting date coincided with National Public Lands Day, and was addressed by National Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton.
I strongly encourage you to CLICK HERE to check out the official web site for the event - More than 70 sponsoring public and private organizations helped make this Journey possible, you'll find bios on the team members, excerpts from their daily journals, and full details about the itinerary and route. It was an incredible journey.
Many in the industry had been talking about this event for months, and certainly following along with the teams' daily progress reports, uplinked via satellite to a web site. Aware of the importance of this Journey, we were immediately intrigued when we received a call from American Honda, the Official Corporate Sponsor of the event (along with Coleman) to join them in riding ATVs from Richfield to Provo Utah and meet the southern team.
A bridge across a delicate area
Camp for the night!
We joined up with the team of Southern Trekkers at the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree just in time for a round table discussion about public lands. I had not met any of the trekkers at this point and was very pleased with the discussions that took place. We applaud Honda for supporting this adventure! Much of the talk was about educating the public about our public land and how to use it responsibly. The trekkers had already been on ATV's for day had a chance to see what riding ATV's on public lands was like. It was apparent that many of the team had gained insight as to why so many people enjoy experiencing our public lands via ATV. With representatives from the Forest Service, BLM, community figures, NOHVCC (National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council), AMA (American Motorcyclists Association) , and many others in attendance the discussions were very good and will be a great step in educating the public. Being right in the middle of the Paitue ATV trail system we were able to see how much could be done when all organizations come together and work together towards a common goal.
Jan and Varion planning the days route!
Early morning frost on the Honda Rincon's
The next three days were spent on the trail, aboard new 2003 Honda Rincon's, in the Dixie National Forest and Manti - La Salle National Forest. Along with the trekkers we were able to see some of the most awesome land and scenery that makes up our national forest. It is a shame that more people do not get out and see what is available to us on public land. We covered from 50-70 miles each day. A couple times each day we came to points where the trail crossed through private land, at each of those points the trekkers dismounted the Honda Rincon's and hiked around the private land to where the trail continued on public land.
Honda Rincon in action!
Jan, Richard, Kay, and Julie ready for a hike around a section of private land.
I spend alot of time riding ATV's but but this will be 4 days that I will recall for a long time. I had a chance to meet some great people, enjoy and see more of our public land, and at the same time had a great ride through Utah on the new Honda Rincon ATV. I think this quote from Kay Gandy's journal says it all.
Before this Trek, I didn’t even like ATVs. I had seen riders abusing the land, and I have known of several people who were injured on ATVs. Now I tell everyone that riding the ATV was my favorite part of the Trek.
Enjoy the trail, ride within your limits, and wear your helmet! Talk about the Journey on our BBS! Complete Photo Galley HERE
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