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Clinton Land Grab

We're Next!

by Barrett Mercer

I got a note from my friend "Mike the Bike" the other day. He was up in arms like I had never read before, usually I just get dirty jokes and links to outrageously funny sites from Mike. His reason for being upset kind of took me by surprise though, as he was mad at "Bill Clinton"! Mike had made untold amounts of, and almost fierce arguments for voting Clinton into his second term, just a couple of years ago. Why the sudden turn around?

Well, Mike has always been a supporter of all that is green, including having a Greenpeace bumper sticker on his "high boy" F-250 4x4 pickup truck. He supported the counter culture all the way, as they were the anti establishment kinds of people we grew up respecting in the '70s. The ones that raised their voices and stopped all the evil greedy corporations, from taking over the land etc…, but now that they have set their sites on his favorite riding areas, well, that is a different story, now isn't it? I had tried to warn him about the land grab in Utah during the election cycle that closed much of Utah's best dirt riding and hunting areas. But, "That will never happen here, we don't have problems with strip miners here in Washington…"

In the Old Days

I grew up on dirt bikes in Washington state, and didn't own a street bike until I was nineteen, in about '79. I road the trails at Mattawa, across the Columbia river, and camped out at the "slag piles" at Cle Ellum. My father used to take all of us up to Tiger Mountain, back when you could ride all the way to the Radio Wave Repeaters overlooking North Bend from the north ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain. It was a blast in the early Seventies, but those days are long gone… Mattawa, and all the areas around it are now off limits to trail riders. The Desert Races have been moved to the west side of the Columbia, on Federal government land, by the Yakima Firing range. This piece of property was up for confiscation by the feds in the early nineties, to expand military maneuvers, but I think they stopped that one…

Tiger Mt. has been off limits for years, (hikers and bicycles only) and the gates to the forest and Weyerhaeuser land on Rattlesnake Mountain have been locked for more than two decades. You could still ride outside of Cle Ellum though, but not at the slag piles, as someone broke their leg, and then sued the City of Cle Ellum for not getting them off the Mountain fast enough, and not having a general hospital to their liking. So no riding on all the Plumb Creek Corp. land, which included what we called the "Slag Piles".

The Future Is Now

Now it seems that the Federal government, without representation via our elected officials, is set to collect most of the rest of the prime riding areas in Washington State. Which may include the last close dirt riding to the Seattle area, Taneum Ridge, Cle Ellum Ridge, and the Teanaway Ridge trail systems. This, and about 50 million other acres of land under the protection of the US Forest Service, via the auspices of the new "Forest Service Roadless Area Inactive". This would be granted via an "Executive order" by President Bill Clinton and would greatly restrict the travel of all "motor vehicles, domestic animals used for conveyance, and other vehicles…."(read Bicycles) on Forest Service roads, not more than 50 inches wide. (read Motorcycle, Snowmobile, Bicycle, and Horse trails).  It would also restrict other activities that could cause damage to the land, i.e. hunting, fishing, mushroom hunting, mining, logging, etc… This to protect the land for future generations of Americans, who also won't be able to use these lands either.

If it wasn't for that old story my father used to tell, about "it depends on who's Ox is being gored, or who's rice bowl has been broken", I would have less than a good sense of humor about helping out on this "threat to motorcycling" as Mike describes it. I haven't owned a dirt bike since 1987, unless you are stupid enough to believe that a '73 Honda 360 "scrambler" is really a dual sport, but I am one that knows that if they come for my neighbors' "rights" today, they will eventually get around to mine.

Executive orders have been the catch-all for the Clinton Administration, and made Bill, "King of all he Surveys". One of his aids once quipped, "A stroke of the pen, the law of the land, pretty neat, huh!", after another Executive order ceremonial signing. Anyway, Congress, or the Senate, is trying to quell some of that power now, but will need Bill Clinton's signature to get things under control, "Good Luck". I personally think the American Motorcycle Association has a better idea, and that is informing the public, and getting them all up in arms to their Elected officials, or ones running for office, and thus putting pressure directly on the political machine to sway "Bill's Power Hungry Ways" (statement all mine).

If you would like to have your voice heard, get involved,  need more information, or just like to surf around and see what's up, here are the appropriate starting web sites.

Write your Senator

Barry Mercer is a long time member of VME, has riden in Washington state since he was a tike, leads Monday rides when the season is right and the Harley is up for it.


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