As the Executive Director of BRC, I can't fix what I don't know is broke. Part of the reason I am out here is to meet with groups that aren't members too. If they aren't a member, I want to know what we need to adjust as an organization. When Sam BuchKovich contacted me via Facebook, of course I wanted to meet with them. Sam is the founder of a group known as Big Rubbers Custom 4 X 4 club in Windber, Pennsylvania. So happens, they were right on the course I was following. I am also sure that, now that we have met and learned what we needed to, Big Rubbers Custom 4 X 4 Club along with many of their members are going to join BRC.
Thursday (August 30), I left Bill's haven in Ohio (thanks again Bill and Sharon for the hospitality) and set east to Windber to meet with Sam and his crew at "their park." They couldn't have picked a better location to have the meeting. I was wondering what Sam meant by "their park" when we talked, but he gave me an address, so I plugged it in and pointed my front wheel that way for several hours.
When I arrived, where I found myself was little more than a turn off the main road with a gravel road that led into the woods. I went back in a ways and, seeing nothing other than the gradual diminishing of the gravel road, I turned around and headed back out to the intersection with the main road. Confused, I shut down the bike, dug out my smart phone and double-checked that I had everything right. Sure enough, I was in the right location, so I decided to stretch, rest my backside, and wait, confident that Sam would show up (I was a little early after all.) I didn't have to wait long, Sam showed up just a few minutes later.
Turns out, the gravel road led back into "their park" and Sam thought it appropriate to arrange their meeting with me there to show me what they are up to as a club. Well, that picture was worth a thousand words. Pretty cool stuff. The Big Rubbers Custom 4 X 4 Club has made some special arrangements with a private party to use/lease some of his land on which to put together a pretty nifty trail system over the last couple of years. On the way in and out of the "pavilion" they have put together for the events they run there, I saw trails for just about everyone, whether you were a newbe or a vet.
Why the private property? Well, from the discussion I had with these guys, they were frustrated by the minimal amount of trail opportunity for full-size four wheel drive vehicles in Pennsylvania and the confusion over roads and trails on state lands. They decided they needed to take matters in a different direction to ensure the viability of the 6 charity fundraising events they hold each year. I'm impressed with what they are doing, what they hope to do, and with the way they are going about it. I had just a great meeting with these folks.
Unfortunately, like what I have so often heard as I have been travelling east of the Mississippi River, their issues are more often at the state agency level. And, similar to what I have heard elsewhere, it appears the state agency either doesn't want to, or doesn't know how to manage for recreation. Even though there are a lot of historic roads and trails throughout the area, none are open for access. What is up with that thought process? Management by closure is not management. Don't they realize how much good OHV recreation brings to those dependent rural communities?
As it turns out, their concerns with BRC are also pretty common. Many of their members had simply never heard of the BlueRibbon Coalition... (Note to self: We have got to find a way to get better at getting our name out.) I spent quite a bit of time answering the "BlueWho?" question. We also talked about what we could do to improve on that. Thanks guys. Our time together was exactly what I wanted in a meeting and "the park" was a great place to have a meeting. I'm just sorry I can't be there for your event next weekend. For those of you who might be able to, it is right outside of Windber, PA... check them out at http://www.bigrubbers4x4.org. I am betting you won't be disappointed.