PNW4WDA and Desert Rats:
Let me start by saying Sande Nettnin makes awesome raspberry pie and the boys over at the Peak Putters make a mean taco soup and even meaner chili. Either way, it was a good day for the ole phattboy when it comes to meetings. Let me also say that Dave Walters, longtime member of BRC and of the Peak Putters did a great job setting up meetings for my visit to the Tri-Cities in Washington.
The first of those meetings was hosted at Sande and Earl Nettnin's house. For those who don't know, Sande is the Secretary of the Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association PNW4WDA) and Earl is a director of PNW4WDA Region 4 (both also are members of their local club the Desert Rats.) One of the larger regions (if not the largest) of PNW4WDA, Region 4 encompasses a significant land mass in Washington State that includes both BLM and Forest Service lands. I believe they also told me they have 17 clubs in their region. They are longtime members of the BlueRibbon Coalition as well as of WOHVA (Washington Off-Highway Vehicle Association).
More importantly, these folks are busy about their involvement including volunteer activities, travel planning efforts on both BLM and Forest Service lands, and even in broader planning processes such as with the Forest Plan Revision efforts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
I was impressed with how well organized and involved these groups are. They have their ears to the ground and if there is something going on, they are on it. I have to take a minute here and comment on Earl Nettnin's magic folder. In the 2+ hours I was there visiting with them, Earl went to that folder and pulled something relevant to whatever our discussion was at least 475 times. It was like a Mary Poppins bag... just sayin'. That said, obviously my point is, they are on top of things going on in their region
There is never enough space in these blog posts to talk about everything, but one thing that I do want to highlight is the working relationship they have with the agencies. PNW4WDA has worked hard for many, many years to cultivate that, and, in spite of frequent changeover in agency management, they are diligent in their ongoing development of working relationships. Currently, although there have been some challenges to overcome and the progress on most efforts seems stagnant, they describe themselves as cautiously optimistic.
Their volunteer efforts are equally as impressive. Recently, for example, at one of their "Pick up a Mountain" projects, they were able to muster over 200 volunteers to do the work. That kind of showing of volunteers leaves a lasting impression on the agencies.
Another thing that really stood out for me at this meeting was regarding the TWIG meetings they regularly have with the Forest Service. TWIG stands for (hope I get this right) Trails and Wilderness Interest Group and is exactly what it sounds like. These are meetings hosted regularly by the FS for interested parties to discuss the issues and planning efforts. I really think that kind of pro-active effort brings better communications and collaboration among local interests than any other single thing and am glad to see it employed here.
I especially appreciated the thoughtful suggestions on communications and shared resources adjustments that BRC could make going forward. These people understand what we are up against, as a national organization and as grassroots members of that organization. Their input is hugely valuable to keeping BRC as relevant for the next 25 years as it has been for the last 25 years.
With the afternoon meeting over, I had the pleasure of spending a little time with Dave Walters (my handler :) for the day) while waiting for the meeting that evening with members of his club, the Peak Putters. Dave is a wealth of information on the area. One of the things that Dave took the time to share with me was their club forum. Online forums are becoming more and more popular as a means for club members to keep in touch with each other and with what is going on.
The Peak Putters' forum is a prime example of that. In addition to regular communications and discussion, it also allows members to coordinate events, meetings, and, as in my case, special meetings simply and easily. It is also a means to draw other folks in the community into involvement with the club activities. Later that evening, I was told by club members about how the internet/forum basically saved their club. I have seen this happen and heard this same thing from other clubs. For those of you who are reading this and considering a club forum, local club forums are a growing thing and helpful to the club if you are willing to make the commitment to setting one up, which I am told isn't that difficult.
I had a great time with the folks from the Peak Putters that Friday evening (Oct 12). Steve Richards graciously hosted the meeting at his shop. It wasn't a large meeting, but as Shakespeare wrote, "And though she be but little, she is fierce..."
Local clubs and the impact they can have should never be underestimated. In the scant day or two leading up to the meeting, club member Dave Walters had made some extra calls and sent some emails inviting others to come to the meeting. One of those calls was to their Congressional Representative Doc Hastings' office. And who cared enough to show? Barb Lisk, Doc Hastings' District Director. Doc Hastings, for those who don't know, is the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and one of the key offices for me to meet with when this ride is over and I make my way to DC. From a local club in Kennewick, WA came the perfect opportunity to begin the discussion, first hand.
During the discussions in both meetings, again I was struck by who the grassroots club members are and what they do. In the meetings I had were everything from a retired geologist, to a working fish biologist, and professionals from several other notable professions. Again I was struck by the mis-truth of the spin from anti-access groups who falsely vilify who and what we are as OHV enthusiasts.
Lots of good input and well worth my time in the Atomic Cities.