Sunday, March 22, 2009

RTA - Trojan Horse or Skunk at the Party

A rider sent me an email not too long ago about some new eco-group’s attack on OHV and the BlueRibbon Coalition. My first thought was…”heck, what else is new?” Over the years, I have seen virtually an endless parade of attacks by anti-access organizations on BRC’s credibility or on the pastime of OHV recreation. When you are flying the lead plane in the battle to champion responsible recreation use of public lands, you are the first to get flack.

As a consultant to BRC, I work hard on their behalf to strongly defend legitimate OHV access to public lands and promote a responsible land ethic. In my many engagements with anti-access groups, I have found a worn-out tactic often employed by them to give the impression that a new broad-based OHV coalition or group now speaks for multiple-use interests and BRC is simply an extreme organization that should not be listened to or supported.

For example, in the early days of the debate on the Boxer/Thompson Wilderness Bill, the wilderness advocates said they had the support of OHV clubs and a mountain bike group for the bill. When asked for the names of the OHV groups – they could not give any. Also, the “mountain-bike” group turned out to be the owner of a small bicycle shop in Lake County.

It appears that Responsible Trails America is one of the newest shadow groups that are pretenders on the national stage of OHV.

See March 11, 2009 RTA News Release

Linked in that news release is an 11 page report “Ads, Rhetoric, Behavior” filled with some legitimate concerns about inappropriate advertising but mostly it ineffectively uses eco-dribble, distortions, and half truths to try and smear BRC.

Rather than join with BRC and help promote our trail ethic that supports riding on designated roads, trails, and areas or helping with our OHV sound programs or research projects, RTA pulls quotes from various BRC representatives to paint the organization as extreme.

They quote Del Abright as basically saying we (OHV) are in war because special interests are trying to take away our liberties. I guess Del bases his concerns on the infamous quote from the founder of Whole Earth Catalogue who said:

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!"
—Stewart Brand (printed in the Whole Earth Catalogue)

The RTA report then makes a half-hearted attempt to smear Brian Hawthorne when they point out his views that basically eco-groups often have a blind allegiance to their ideology. He also states that he thinks it is fun to battle eco-groups ( I agree). I guess Brian based some of his concerns on the following statement from a green guru:

“We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects…. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.”
—David Foreman, Earth First!

RTA then tries, but fails, to attack Ranier Huck because he feels that some eco-organizations are “hate groups.” Maybe Huck got the feeling that green advocates hate humans when he read David Graber’s or Prince Philip’s infamous statements:

"Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planets…Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."
—David Graber, biologist, National Park Service


"If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels."
—Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund

See how easy it is to play the “quote game.” I too have said things over the years that if taken out of context could be used to paint The General in a bad light.

RTA also tries the old “BRC is funded by big business” tactic as if being funded by big business is bad. I have often told reporters that they will be the first to hear when BRC gets its first 500K industry check. In contrast, RTA appears to get most of its money from Arabella LLC which – according to an excellent article “Know Thine Enemies” in BRC Mag by Dave Skinner – is run by Eric Kessler who was an old drinking buddy of Earth First! founder Dave Foreman. Kessler then served as an aide to former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

BRC “Know Thine Enemies” Article (Lot’s of good info on RTA and Arabella)

Link to 2007 500K grant to RTA from Arabella LLC

Arabella Legacy FundWashington, DC

For general support of the Responsible Trails America program 500,000

RTA also got a 25K grant from the Rockefeller Family Fund (Standard Oil Money)

Other RTA grants from Arabella and Wilberforce

Since RTA did not mention even one of BRC’s many land-use ethic articles or programs promoting responsible recreation such as,


they lose all credibility from my perspective. The General has not seen RTA at any national OHV leadership meetings offering solutions and help. The General has not seen any RTA representatives at Forest-level Travel Management Meetings offering ideas or support.

No… it appears RTA is nothing more than a faux grassroots OHV organization that is really a small group of enviros – funded by left-wing foundations - parading around as a counter to the BRC.

Based on my research, RTA is an enviro PR stunt managed by the Tigercomm group. If you look at the bottom of the news release below you will find

RTA contacts – Brian Mahar and Brian Willis with Tigercomm email addresses. How cleaver is that?

What do you know? Both Brians are listed as Tigercomm staff

If RTA had done their research on BRC being funded by “Big Industry” they would have found the 2006 article on the subject printed in the North Coast Journal (an enviro publication) that investigated and found out that BRC is indeed a grassroots organization funded by our members and clubs such as are highlighted in a recent BRC article:

North Coast Journal on BRC Being a Grassroots Group


Also, on the RTA website they link to “responsible legislation” and have links to state by state legislation. They even link to CA’s SB742. Funny, while I see BRC’s support for SB742… RTA is strangely absent from the “support list” - see groups that supported SB742

SUPPORT : (Verified 9/10/07) American Motorcyclist Association, District 36 American Motorcyclist Association, District 37 Dual Sport American Motorcyclist Association, District 37 Off-Road American Motorcyclist Association, National American Sand Association Blue Ribbon Coalition California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs California Nevada Snowmobile Association California Off Road Vehicle Association California Wilderness Coalition California Wilderness Society City of Rancho Cordova Friends of Oceano Dunes Off Road Business Association San Diego Off Road California County of Santa Clara, Board of Supervisors

Why didn’t BRC get recognition from RTA in their report for supporting this bill?

Is RTA a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a Trojan horse, a PR stunt, or the skunk at the party? Since nobody (except for some in the media and congress) is buying their story, it appears folks are getting a whiff of that pungent odor you smell when a skunk gets run over in the middle of the road (or trail in this case). Yes, their report is indeed a stinker.

# # #

No comments:

Post a Comment