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The Wilderness Train

Size Does Matter & Beware of Turtles

By Del & Stacie Albright, BlueRibbon Coalition4x4  Top Sites

Imagine a huge diesel powered locomotive lumbering steadily down the railroad tracks with that big headlight beam pointed right in your eyes as you watch it coming closer and closer. You can feel the ground shaking from the sheer weight of this behemoth.  This monster is the Wilderness train and it’s coming to a town near you.

The designation of unnecessary and inappropriate Wilderness (by Congress[1]) is one of our biggest issues facing motorized and mechanized recreation in the next several years.  This “train” is coming if we don’t take some steps to stop it and it’s a big one!

The Wilderness Train is rolling and we have to ask, are we getting on board?  Are we jumping off?  Are we stuck on the tracks waiting to get run over? Are we getting out of the way?  Did we even buy a ticket for this ride?  And hey, how do we divert this train to some other tracks? 

Stacie and I attended a BlueRibbon staff meeting and this concept came up.  Our attorney and proud BRC member, Paul Turcke coined the term in the meeting – Wilderness Train.   After Paul described this train, Stacie said she felt like the damsel in distress, tied to the tracks, watching the monster bear down on her.  But then again, she knew that BlueRibbon and several other great recreational organizations were fighting to stop this locomotive and that she would be saved!

Metaphors aside, we DO need to do some saving – and stopping of this train.   If you don’t want to get run over or “railroaded,” then you’d best be doing some specific things to help stop this train.

Realize that the anti-access radical preservationists are trying to conjure up Wilderness designations where ever they can get them, from the oceans to the highest mountains.  They could care less about the original 1964 Wilderness Act that made some sense. 

Congress worded the 1964 Act to include some common sense and a real sense of wilderness. It talked about huge expanses of land (5000 acres or more), untrammeled by man, where the imprint of man’s work is unnoticeable.  That is not the case now.

Today’s eco-wackos are talking about Wilderness in your town, in your backyard, and in your recreation area for sure.  If you look at such things as The Wildlands Project[2] (explained here at ), you will read how they want to set aside half our country as Wilderness. They even go so far as to call this Turtle Island based on ancient Native American folklore and the great turtle or serpent-of-eternity[3] (Snyder, 1969, Turtle Island).

Many Wilderness advocates and supporters of the Wildlands Project are using the turtle as their symbol of choice.  So beware of bumper stickers showing turtles with our entire continent emblazoned on their shell.  This represents a return to the concept of Turtle Island. These people are funded with millions of dollars from anti-access Foundations and all they want to do is to lay claim to earth for its animals and not its people.  And now the turtles are riding on trains. J

This train is huge and moving fast – and with this big train and its inertia, size does matter because this one isn’t easy to stop.  So what do we do?

First, get in the right organizations that are doing something for land use and access like the BlueRibbon Coalition and your favorite sport-specific group, like United 4Wheel Drive Association.   Don’t waste your money on groups or politicians that aren’t helping us stop this train.  Remember that “quacking like a duck ain’t the same thing as flying like one” (says Del).  So join up and get in the game.  Start with BRC.  Join everything you can afford to join after that (as long as they are helping us in the access struggles). Use the Internet or your trusted friends for advice on which clubs/groups to join.

Second, buy from businesses that are helping us.  Skip the guys that are just out to make a buck off our recreation while not supporting the access battles.  Ask them before you buy if they are members or supporters of land use/access organizations and trails.  Check the web sites of your favorite club/group to see what businesses are helping out.  Then buy.

Third, learn more about the access fight so you can be better prepared to help stop the train.  Take a training course from Tread Lightly or NOHVCC or Del’s RLTC course ( Read web sites that offer information to help you better understand just how serious are the turtles and trains (such as and 

Finally, if you are not in a position to attend meetings and get involved with clubs and organizations, then realize you can do your part by donating to the cause – donate to someone who has the time.  Give to an organization that can fight for you.  Large trains do not stop on a dime, so we need to start doing everything we can, now, to eventually stop this Wilderness Train!


The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,100 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide.  Call 1-800-258-3742 and visit BRC online at

[1] Only Congress can designate Wilderness.

[2] The Wildlands Project is a well-funded plan to return 50 percent of the North American continent to wild land or wilderness for the preservation of biological diversity.

[3] Turtle Island, by Gary Snyder, 1969; published in book form, 1974, A New Directions book.

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