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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Video: Four-Wheelers Tearing Up the Desert

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: wilderness, public lands, off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, desert, outdoor recreation, Southwestern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Redrock Wilderness, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Four-wheelers ripping through Southwestern U.S. desert landscapes can do a lot of damage to fragile ecosystems. And some of the best evidence comes in the form of YouTube videos made by the drivers and their buddies themselves.

To see for yourself, tune in to the ORV Mayhem video collection created by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. (ORV means off-road vehicle, a broad class that includes full-size 4x4 vehicles as well as all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, and motorcycles). SUWA challenged its members to submit videos showing ORV abuse on Utah’s public lands, and they responded with a veritable gallery of jackassery.

Watch in awe as groaning Hummers clamber over boulders, spewing exhaust and burning rubber. Thrill as Jeep Cherokees overturn and clatter down slickrock. Cheer as a helmet-mounted cam follows off-road motorcycles on a thrilling race of destruction through scenic arroyos.

Here’s just one of the videos on ORV Mayhem:


You may form some opinions about the folks in the videos. For instance, I found myself thinking, “Golly, that certainly is inconsiderate. Someone should teach those naughty people some manners!” Here’s what a less reserved Edward Abbey had to say about this breed in Postcards from Ed:

“The fat pink slobs who go roaring over the landscape in these over-sized over-priced over-advertised mechanical mastodons are people too lazy to walk, too ignorant to saddle a horse, too cheap and clumsy to paddle a canoe. Like cattle or sheep, they travel in herds, scared to death of going anywhere alone, and they leave their sign and spoor all over the back country: Coors beer cans, Styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, balls of Kleenex, wads of toilet paper, spent cartridge shells, crushed gopher snakes, smashed sagebrush, broken trees, dead chipmunks, wounded deer, eroded trails, bullet-riddled petroglyphs, spray-painted signatures, vandalized Indian ruins, fouled-up waterholes, polluted springs and smoldering campfires piled with incombustible tinfoil, filter tips, broken bottles. Etc.”

Source: Redrock Wilderness (the newsletter of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance), Postcards from Ed