“Off Road Warriors” filming permit

Dear BLM,

The following comments on the Original Productions application for an
“Off Road Warriors” filming permit are submitted on behalf of the Alaska
Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC).

Founded in 1996, AQRC’s mission is to maintain and restore natural
sounds and natural quiet in Alaska through advocacy and education for
the benefit of people and wildlife. More particularly, we’re dedicated
to protecting the rights of Alaskans to quiet places for the benefit of
public land users, home and cabin owners, communities, businesses,
visitors, future generations, and wildlife. We believe that natural
sounds and natural quiet should receive the same consideration given to
other ecological values, such as clean air and water, fish, wildlife,
soils, vegetation, scenic beauty, and wilderness character. Although
there are many places in Alaska that look the same as they did 100 or
more years ago, very few sound as they did just 10 or 20 years ago.

In addition to protecting ecological values like the ones listed above,
one of AQRC’s specific goals is a fair and equitable overall balance on
the public lands between those managed for motorized recreation, and
those managed for quiet, truly traditional forms of recreation like
hiking, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

At the present time on BLM lands in Alaska, there is a very substantial
imbalance between lands managed for motorized, and lands managed for
non-motorized, recreation. Lands managed for quiet sports are only a
small fraction of the lands managed for noisier and more damaging
motorized sports. It would seem that forms of recreation that create
far fewer conflicts and far less damage would be favored, but that is
certainly not the case at this time. Because of the inevitable conflict
between the two types of recreation, the result is the displacement of
quiet users from vast areas of BLM lands, in spite of misleading terms
like “shared” or “multi-use” trails and lands. Consequently, quiet
recreationists seeking a high quality–as opposed to a highly
frustrating–experience are unfairly restricted to the very small
portion of BLM lands that are managed for non-motorized sports. And
since the situation is even worse on state public domain lands, BLM
should be providing opportunities for quiet recreation that are
effectively unavailable on general state land.

Consequently, we are seriously troubled by any activity that would
encourage–and in fact glorify–even more OHV use and the resulting
damage and conflicts. So it is certainly disturbing to see an
application for a filming permit about off-road “warriors”. This type
of language and attitude towards the public lands is exactly the wrong
one. We urge BLM to deny the requested permits and send a message, not
about dominating and conquering the public lands, but respecting and
stewarding them.

It is unclear what the magnitude of the direct effects of this filming
would be on public resources. Undoubtedly, however, as many as 11
additional machines and 15 additional people would produce significant
adverse effects on the natural soundscape. The trails that would be
utilized, and the lands surrounding them, would effectively be sacrifice
zones, at least in the short term. Non-motorized recreationists, and
wildlife, would suffer. And some additional damage to clean air and
water, soils, vegetation, scenic beauty, and wilderness character would
certainly result.

But the most serious damage is likely to be the long-term indirect
effect of publicizing Alaska’s public lands as meccas for largely
unregulated motorized recreation. We have yet to see an un-sensational,
responsible “reality” TV program; we have no reason to believe that this
show will be any different.

Too much generally unregulated motorized recreational use already occurs
on far too large a percentage of our public lands; to encourage even
more use would be irresponsible. And even more use, and the damage that
inevitably occurs, is likely to then lead to agency efforts to repair,
at very great cost, that damage. That money–and agency funding is at a
low ebb–could be far better spent on a host of other public lands needs.

Thank you for this chance to comment on this disturbing proposal. We
very much hope you will agree that denying the application is in the
best long-term interest of the BLM public lands and resources, as well
of course of a great many of its users.


Cliff Eames
Board Member
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition