On Wednesday night (August 22), I was fortunate enough to have another session with enthusiasts in a "town hall" type meeting, this time in West Branch, Michigan. The meeting went for over two hours and many of the folks had come from an hour or more away, which I appreciate. Thanks to all for taking the time out of your day to share with me.
There is a common theme developing from these sessions that I need to acknowledge here and that has to do with the frustration with what has happened through the Planning and Implementation of the Travel Management Rule. "It is like the Forest Service doesn't even care about the affects their decisions have on the local economy," one person summed it up in this meeting. "Our communities depend on OHV recreation up here, it is all we have and that recreation depends on the connections those roads and trails make. It is like that doesn't even register with them. Businesses are closing because the connections that used to be there were closed. It is like the Forest Service is just 'flushing' tourism up here."
A second common theme I keep hearing is the question, "Why do I have to keep writing legislators and agencies on all these processes? Half the time it is about the same thing over and over again."
There is so much more to all this, I wish you could be here to hear. For example, two frequent threads of discussion in the meetings I have had showed up at this meeting as well. The first has to do with facilitating better communications both with BRC and between other local groups, and the second is with regard to how hard it is for them to get new members and to not immediately burn out the ones they do get. I can see we have a lot of challenges and work to do.
I am continually encouraged by folks telling me this outreach effort with the Turn the Tide Tour is a critical first step and the timing is right. I agree, I am getting a lot of good feedback from the grassroots. I am also continually amazed at the generosity of our people. Not only are they willing to take the time for meetings like this, but they passed the hat so they could make a donation at the end as well. Thank you!
Enthusiasts in Michigan are great and thanks to Dick Ranney for setting this meeting up. Hearing what the people have to say is exactly what this tour is all about.