CORVA President Michael McGarity explains Land Use you can understand on Episode 145
Want the insider's view of Land Use? This is the episode you need to listen to, then go back and listen to Del Albright and John Stewart and stay tuned for future episodes. Michael McGarity leads the conversation in Episode 145; the current President of CORVA brings a lot to the table, so listen close. Find us on your favorite podcast app – a new episode releases every Thursday at 2 a.m. – if you subscribe on an app or YouTube, you’ll get notified weekly.
5:54 – the Sheriff would just wave and tell us to be careful
11:10 – the accident changed the course of my life
33:59 – servant leadership and followship
45:13 – in collaboration with the land they manage, they don’t own it; they manage it
54:36 – what’s going on with the Rubicon trail – TODAY!
1:10:32 – we need a Panda Bear to protect
1:25:30 – I need others to object and rip them on social media so I can refer to that
1:40:39 – let me tell you about the 30x30
1:59:20 – Support where you recreate
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:06.410] - Big Rich
Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners and employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.
[00:00:53.790] - Michael McGarity
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[00:01:20.300] - Big Rich
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[00:01:47.800] - Big Rich
On today's episode of conversations with big rich, we have michael McGarity. He is what I'd call a land use warrior. He's one of our staunch supporters of public lands. He's right now the president of the California Offroad Vehicle Association, known as Corva. He's a former board member of the Oceana Dunes, which is Pismo, former vice president, Cal four wheel drive Central District. And you work with the school district. You're a program supervisor, so we'll get all into that. Personally. I met Michael the first time in Sacramento at the state capitol where Michael was doing. Wouldn't call it a sit in or protest, but we were there all to support Oceana Dunes and the Pismo area. And then we sat together two years ago at ORMHOF induction gala at the same table and had a chance to talk then.
[00:02:52.130] - Big Rich
So it's good to have you on here, Michael. Thank you for spending the time with us.
[00:02:56.330] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, I appreciate the opportunity.
[00:02:58.620] - Big Rich
So let's jump right in this. And where were you born and raised?
[00:03:03.920] - Michael McGarity
I was born in the Bay Area. In East Bay. I was born in Castro Valley, born and raised in San Lorenzo, which is an unincorporated area of the East Bay in between San Leandro and Hayward. Graduated from San Lorenzo High and spent my time there. Attended Chabot Junior College. Got a degree there in child development. My mom was always working with children, so I took a liking to working in the after school programs and working with the kiddos and worked my way up to a program, a program manager of a site and then that led on to other things that I did in the life. But my start I started in the Bay Area. I left for a couple of years. My, my dad owned an electrical business and when the bottom fell out of everything in 1979, my dad lost his business and he actually lost the house. So we had to move and we moved up to Calaveras County. And not a lot of people know of the area but it's up above Valley Springs, up above Macomie Hill, way up in this little town called Glencoe. My grandfather had a cabin up there and I went and I lived up there for two years and I guess that's probably where my interest in Offroading and the Forest Service and out in the wilderness in the woods, that's where everything started happening for me was up there during that time.
[00:04:54.820] - Big Rich
I know that area pretty well. Valley Springs and Hogan's Reservoir spent a lot of time there. Dodge Ridge, Mccollumy Hill, all that area and beautiful. It's gorgeous. Anybody doesn't understand where that area is at the western side of the Sierras is what we call the foothills. And the foothills come from the valley up to the mountainous region of the Sierras and the foothills? Along the foothills there's a highway called highway 49 and it's called the Golden Highway or the Gold chain? And it's where? All the mining during the in the 1800's. All those big camps that for gold mining were found along the foothills and just into the mountains. So that's a really nice area and I would imagine that was much better. You enjoyed that better than being down in the big city?
[00:05:54.520] - Michael McGarity
Well, it was a big change for sure. Little city slicker boy. And all of a sudden thrown into a very rural, totally different lifestyle, I suppose. But I quickly adapted and ran all over the woods with my, with my friends at the age of twelve. I was twelve and 13 before I moved back down into San Lorenzo. During those two years I became part of the Explorer post and I went on 100 miles backpacking trips from Sonora Paths to EPIT Summit. I did that for two years. It was a week long backpacking trip. I was one of the youngest who had ever gone on that trip and that taught me a great deal about just sleeping and living and hiking out in the woods and out in the wilderness. We traveled to Pacific Crest Trail so then that gave me my love for backpacking. And I backpacked several years up until probably about ten years ago when life just got busy and my bones and legs and knees started hurting. So I spent a lot of time out in the woods and then we had friends with dirt bikes that lived up there. We were able to ride dirt bikes on the main roads up there, the sheriff would just wave to us and just tell us to be careful.
[00:07:39.080] - Michael McGarity
We had an amazing life and time living up there and swimming in the rivers and picking wild blackberries and just exploring and hiking, and it's quite an amazing experience.
[00:08:00.380] - Big Rich
Scouting and living in that kind of area was something that I got to experience as well. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, san Bruno across the bay from where you are at. And my parents bought a property in placerville real early, but we had, like, in 1971. But I had been in scouting for a while since Cub Scout. My dad was at the Explorer post and troop leader and all that kind of stuff, and backpacking and getting out into the mountains was something that we did all the time, and I grew. That's how my appreciation for the outdoors grew as well. So when you got back to San Leandro, was that a shock? I mean, it was a shock when you moved up into the mountains, and then it was a shock coming back, or were you glad to be back?
[00:08:59.040] - Michael McGarity
I think part of me actually was glad to be back because it was rough living in that cabin. The kitchen was a converted lean to patio, and it had no insulation. The only heating source in the cabin was a wood burning stove. My mom and two sisters and I, we basically shared and slept in the master bedroom, which was just a big open room. The cabin had two open rooms, the living room in this bedroom, and it was my grandfather's cabin that he used during the summer. He never, ever expected anybody living up there, let alone his daughter and three grandchildren, but we did. That gave my dad two years to get back on his feet and get back into the electrical union and start making a living to where he was able to move us back to the Bay Area. And the stories that I had for my friends, I just couldn't believe what I had gone off and done for two years. And then I was just so physically fit from living up there for two years, and that I immediately was caught the attention of the football coach and got heavily involved in football and weightlifting and played all four years of football for selling Was, Ohio, and then was actually scouted.
[00:10:43.700] - Michael McGarity
I wouldn't say recruited, but I was scouted to the Chico State football program back when they had football and played up there for one season of football at Chico State right out of high school until I was in a pretty severe car accident. That's another story.
[00:11:07.420] - Big Rich
So do you want to touch on that?
[00:11:10.540] - Michael McGarity
Sure. Okay, because that's definitely part of who I am. So I was going to Chico State. We just finished our first season, freshman season of football up there. I was up there with my best friend from high school that I'd gone all through actually high school was 8th grade through 12th grade there in Sallenzo. So five years with with my one of my best friends, miles he and I played football, worked out, was an incredible amount of shape, and we both went to Chico State together, finished the season. We were coming back home for Thanksgiving weekend, and we were driving down the back roads coming out of Chico through woodland, making our way over to I Five to come back into the bay area. And one of the roads had been being worked on by Caltrans. They were out there doing some improvements. Well, they had forgot to install a warning sign for a curve, and the speed limit out there was 55. And this turn was a it dipped down low and it hooked left 90 degrees and it was a 25 miles per hour curve. And we hit it at 55 and didn't even know it was there.
[00:12:42.620] - Michael McGarity
And we hit this concrete water shut off valve that you see out in the farmland and the crop fields. It shuts water off from one canal and goes to another canal. So we hit that and it wiped out the passenger side. I was driving a 73 Chevy pickup with the saddle tanks and the saddle tanks on those trucks. They're on the outside of the frames and there's nothing protecting those gas tanks except 16 gauge sheet metal on the outside of the truck bed and it ripped off. And we had just filled up coming out of Chico and we were only maybe 45 minutes, 40 minutes into our drive home. So 20 something gallons of fuel was squished out and the entire truck exploded. And we spun out, came to rest, and then the empty gas tank blew and threw the truck truck spun the truck around. When it finally came to rest, I was inside the cab completely. The whole entire truck was on fire. And so I suffered burns to my hands, my arms, shoulders, bottom part of my face. Somebody was driving out there, came on scene and couldn't believe it that I was in that truck.
[00:14:18.280] - Michael McGarity
My best friend was on the ground on fire, so I jumped on him and put the fire out on him. This gentleman that stopped, he worked for Chevron, and this was 1986, he just so happened to have a satellite cell phone because of his job and things. Thank God he was able to call for EMS. Emergency services was there within just minutes. And we spent Thanksgiving in UC Davis Medical Center. My buddy fought for his life for 30 days and then he had over 70% burns and he didn't make get shoot. And so pretty devastating moment in my life. Everything leading up to that was such a full and an amazing life full of so many adventures and everything. And that was a definite reset button. And so that changed the course of my life for probably about three or four years as I was going through physical therapy. I was in and out of the hospital for three years. I had to go to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and what they call hydrotherapy, where I had to go into a bathtub in outpatient therapy in Castro Valley. When I got transferred back to the Bay Area, I was in the Castro Valley burn unit at Eden Hospital, and I had to go to the hospital and go through that every single day for two years.
[00:15:59.830] - Michael McGarity
Couldn't go anywhere, couldn't camp, couldn't hike. My entire life as I knew it was pretty much put on hold. We knew that the accident should not have ever happened. We knew that Caltrans had been out there working, so we hired an attorney and we sued the state of California for not putting the sign back. They said that it was vandals, that Vandals had cut the sign down, but we couldn't prove that they didn't. They couldn't prove that they did. But we sued GM and General Motors, admitted that they knew that they had a truck with a faulty design. So we won a lawsuit against them and was able to help reset my life, and eventually got back into camping again and offroading and started a family as my scars and everything started to heal. So I still today have scars on my hands and my arms on part of my face. But the whole experience really taught me that life is precious, life is short, and that we need to take care of each other and always be looking at the positive in every situation, because trust me, there was not a whole lot of positive in that whole situation.
[00:17:48.060] - Michael McGarity
But I was given an opportunity to continue to live. And when I had actually, when you looked at when I show pictures of the truck, there's no way that I should have survived that crash. So every day has been a gift, Rich, and so everything that I do is because I was given the opportunity to live.
[00:18:15.440] - Big Rich
Wow, that's an incredible story. I'm glad things turned out for you the way that they have, and that you were able to endure that and get back on track. I don't know what to say. That is definitely life changing and gives you a perspective that many don't have, that's for sure. The during that time frame, I guess, like you said, your your life pretty much came to a halt, and that's a real social time for, for most of us. That 19, 1819 years old, 20 years old, to, to 24 or so. How was it when you finally got done with the physical therapy and were able to get, you know, did you go back to you just went to JC then at Chabot?
[00:19:18.760] - Michael McGarity
Yeah. Went back to JC at Chabot. It was looking back on it, it was so humbling experience because I was £190, I was solid muscle. I was in the most great peak performance shape of my life, playing football for Chico State and going to Shabu College. I went as a well, insurance was going to cancel. They called my mom and said, hey, your health insurance for your son is going to cancel because he's not a full time student. She says he can't even write what the pen is. His hands are wrapped up in gauze and he's going to physical therapy every day. And they said, well, he has to be a full time student. So she was able to contact the county, Alameda County. And I was accepted into the department, through the Department of Rehabilitation as a survivor of a tragic accident with these burns. So at Shabu College, they have a disability center. So I went in as a disabled student and quickly realized that my burns and what I was going through was nothing compared to some of these other students who were born with these disabilities or were in worse accidents than me that were there as paraplegics quadriplegics.
[00:21:02.660] - Michael McGarity
So, long story short, they ended up hiring me part time to work in their rehabilitation or their disabled student center. And so I actually worked as not really a physical therapist, but as a helper. And I helped the students stretch and use the machines and work out. And while I was doing that, I was taking child development courses because my other job was working in an after school program with kids. And they would ask me questions about my burns and my scars. And whenever I would talk about it, it seemed like it was always just so therapeutic that the kids, children actually saved me and helped me go through that whole process. And between working with the children and working with these students with disabilities, their love and their appreciation for me, helping them was just another opportunity just to really reflect back on who I was prior to that accident and then who I was seeing myself become. And then at the same time, having a lawsuit against GM and then finding out that the county filed manslaughter charges against me because my best friend died in the crash. What? So I had to drive during all of this drive back up to Woodland, get booked, and now get a public well, they were talking about a public defendant, but my attorney out of San Francisco who was suing as us being the plaintiffs against Jan, said no.
[00:23:07.920] - Michael McGarity
I have a defense attorney in Woodland who's going to take on your case. And he's going to take it on with the understanding he'll be paid after we win against General Motors. And so it was a twelve jury trial. I had to take a break from college and from work and everything else. And we went through the whole entire accident and everything in this jury trial, and I was acquitted as being not guilty.
[00:23:42.780] - Big Rich
Wow. And how did your friend's parents, were they supportive.
[00:23:50.720] - Michael McGarity
They were because I imagine.
[00:23:52.520] - Big Rich
The tragedy on their side was I mean, they had lost their son.
[00:23:59.040] - Michael McGarity
Absolutely. So they were part of the lawsuit. They were one of the plaintiffs. And so at the end back up a minute. So the manslaughter charges, they were just as shocked as we were. All of us were. They were not obviously in favor of that. They knew that the accident was not my fault. They knew that it was because of that sign being cut down. So they were very supportive during that process. And then a year after that, we finally made it, got to court, and did another jury trial against GM. And they were there during that process. Were they in favor of the lawsuit against GM? They really weren't in terms of just reliving it because it had already been like three years after the passing of their son. They really didn't want to be there, but they knew that they wanted justice for the death of their son due to this faulty design that GM knew. We had GM videos that they didn't want the public to ever see, but we got a hold of them when they were testing the trucks and doing impact tests at 35 mph into a side impact that trucks that they were blowing up.
[00:25:44.610] - Michael McGarity
And they knew that the gas tanks were in a dangerous location for any type of a T bone or a side impact crash. So anybody listening that has a 73 through an 85 Chevy pickup, look underneath there. And if you've got gas tanks on the outside of the frames, you need to remove them. And put a gas tank in the back like a Suburban has up in between the frame rail and put your spare tires somewhere else, especially if you've got kids driving these trucks. It's a bad design. It's a bad, unsafe deal.
[00:26:23.760] - Big Rich
They sold millions of those trucks.
[00:26:26.100] - Michael McGarity
And you know what their answer was? That it's cheaper to pay off the lawsuits than it was to go back and do it, do a total recall. And they refused. And they never did do a recall. What they did was in like around 19 80, 89, they announced that due to all the crashes, the deaths, and the unsafe condition of the trucks, that anybody that owned one of those trucks could come and turn their truck in as a down payment on a newer vehicle. And it was in the news, I was on CBS News in the Bay Area talking about it, and people didn't want to turn their trucks. And they loved their trucks. They just wanted GM to take their truck and make it safe. And they refused to do it.
[00:27:16.980] - Big Rich
[00:27:17.810] - Michael McGarity
But back to Miles'parents. They received a settlement, just as I did from GM, and they weren't planning on having more children, but they ended up going on and ended up having more children. Twins, as a matter of fact. And Miles's girlfriend at the time. She went on and met someone else, started a family of her own. But whenever we talk, we always reflect back to the great memories of how special our dear friend, their loved one was and how much we missed Miles. Man, it was just crazy.
[00:28:04.580] - Big Rich
Wow. Thank you for sharing that. That's a real insight into a lot of different aspects of your life and life in general.
[00:28:16.040] - Michael McGarity
Well, I think that's what really developed my advocacy, because I was advocating strongly that GM recalled these vehicles, and it just really made me the advocate. When things aren't right, when the public is either not being properly represented or the public is in some type of danger that they shouldn't be in, and when we have ways to make it better and we don't as a society or whatever, I speak up against that.
[00:29:02.500] - Big Rich
That's awesome. And I'm glad that there's people like yourself that have taken on these challenges. I know we're going to talk about the Rubicon here because of the recent closure and some of the other things that you've been involved with, like oceana dunes and stuff, but being a land use warrior is not easy. I did it for a little while. Of course, I had a totally different take on everything than most people do, and especially the land use community, how they typically it's about negotiation. My thing was up on the Rubicon when Spider and Little Sluice was all closed down and when it was taken away from us, the natural and then everything that's been done to it since. My thing was we just need to sue, just use exactly what the environmentalist had done. But we'll get into that here in a little bit because I can rant and rave for hours on that. Ask Dell. So anyway, you got through all that. You got into working with kids, especially those that were some kind of a handicap, whether it was physical or mentally, I guess, is the way to put it. Is that still kind of the things that you're doing now, being the program to supervision?
[00:30:47.780] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, to some degree. I mean, I work closely with our special education program. The majority of the children that we see, they don't necessarily have the physical disabilities, but they've been diagnosed with either ADHD or opposition. They call it defiance issues and OCD and autism. We're finding out that they're coming up with more and more acronyms to describe these children when they just don't want to listen and behave. And so we have that going on in our schools and our after school programs, and we have great staff and we work with the parents to provide the best programs that we can for them. But it's been a step by step process to get to the point where I am, and it didn't happen overnight. One of the things I was going to mention is when I left, I left the Bay Area in 2019 98 and my wife and I, we were able to start our own after school program in a small town of Patterson, which is east of Modesto. They didn't have an after school program and I had, you know, about ten years of experience running an after school program at that time.
[00:32:23.140] - Michael McGarity
So we went and we did that for seven years and then in 2004 had an opportunity to come to Clovis, which is near Fresno, and come and work for one of the largest, most successful school districts in California. And that's the Clovis Unified School District. And they had an after, they have an after school program at the time that was spread out over 30 elementary school sites. So I was able to come and become one of their program supervisors. We had ran that business for seven years and it was really tolling and it consumed our life to the point where I was ready to work for somebody else. Being a business owner definitely has its pros, but it's got a lot of cons. For example, I was able to take the last week and a half off of work with pay and not worry about what's going on at my business and not be stressed about what I'm going to see when I go back to work. I'm actually going to go back to work tomorrow. But being a business owner and everyone that owns a business that's listening right now is going to be like, yeah, we didn't get all this time off.
[00:33:39.100] - Michael McGarity
And if we did, it came with sacrifice of the business and whatnot and all the worries and running a business in California and all that other stuff, which I really don't want to talk about because that's really irritating.
[00:33:54.800] - Big Rich
I know I moved out of California in 2000.
[00:33:59.920] - Michael McGarity
That could be a whole podcast in itself and I want to talk about land use, right? But I want to also just let the people listening know that I went back to school and got a degree in organizational leadership from Fresno Pacific University in Fresno. And that really taught me about what a lot of people may not know, the term of servant leadership. And I would encourage people to do a Google search and read a little bit about what it means to be a servant leader. And then it also ties into another term that a lot of people may not know is called follow ship. And a lot of people think that in order to be dynamic and to be powerful in life is to be a leader. But I would argue that you first need to be a good follower before you can step up and be a good leader. And a lot of people jump into being leaders without understanding what it means to be a good follower. And so then they don't understand why they don't have people following or why they don't have people basically wanting to be part of what they're doing because they've never really experienced what it means to be an effective follower.
[00:35:27.840] - Michael McGarity
And so studying that and getting my degree in organizational leadership really prepared me for a lot of what I'm doing. I was a Rotarian for seven years, was on the Chamber of Commerce for a couple of years, was a recreational commissioner for about four years. So I served on a lot of different boards in a lot of different capacities, but I served more as a follower and not the person in charge. And I think that that's really brought me to the point where I am now, to where I am in a position of being the president of Corva, to where I really understand and I do my very best to appreciate all the hard work that all the volunteers do to make Corva where it is. And I did the same when I was with Calfra Wheels. We are all volunteers and everyone that volunteers for us. One of the most amazing volunteers that I had ever had the opportunity to work with was Steve Gardner, who unfortunately passed way too soon. I miss him all the time, literally, because he taught me so much. And I remember board meetings where he was not spoken to kindly by past presidents of California or board members that were currently on the board at Cal for Will.
[00:37:14.880] - Michael McGarity
And Steve Eggbert was the president of the time. And Steve Egbert is another person I have to give my gratitude to, is that he taught me so much about appreciating our volunteers and how precious and fragile volunteers are, because it's all about relationships, and as soon as you fragment this fragile relationship, it's forever. Probably going to be fragmented and to the point where you could actually lose some really good volunteers. Right before Steve's untimely death. We literally at that point of losing Steve just because of the lack of just appreciation and recognition for being so thankful for what he meant to the association of the organization. And so we have those people with Corva. We have the volunteers that just are so important. And if I don't do it enough, I probably don't do it enough. And I need to do it more because Lord knows that I'm not perfect, but I appreciate so much of all the people that volunteer to help fight and advocate for land use. That's one of the big things. I know I got off on a tangent there. I apologize.
[00:38:58.960] - Big Rich
There is no getting off on a tangent with these interviews. It's just the way it goes. The treatment of volunteers is extremely important. I've seen it on both going both directions, in fact, probably in all directions of the compass on how volunteers have been treated, including volunteers that work for us when we do our events, we can't do it just with event management. Just like any organization, we need judges out there, somebody to work the courses while the. Teams are on the course, and if we don't appreciate them, the drivers, they're out there competing. And if the call doesn't go the way they want it to go, they can be pretty argumentative. And I keep trying to remind everybody, hey, these people out here that are helping are volunteers. They're trying to help run the event and make it good for not only you as a driver, but for us as an organization and for the spectator as well. Sometimes people lose sight of that, but we try to keep everybody on track and do it. But I see it the same way. Working with some of the groups that across the country that rely on volunteers, there are some groups that do a really good job.
[00:40:29.110] - Big Rich
And even within some groups, there's some great leaders out there that understand it a lot more than others and taking care and making sure that that volunteer is appreciated.
[00:40:42.640] - Michael McGarity
Yes, it's super important. Super important. If our volunteers decided, and there has been some great volunteers. I won't mention their names because I don't want to put them on the spot, but there are some volunteers that I've spoken to who were some amazing volunteers just 510 years ago that just say, you know what, Mike? I really appreciate what you're doing, but I'm done. I'm not going to do it again. It's like, man, we could really use you right now. And it's like, no, I did my time. I fought hard with maybe it was a big fight back, like you were saying a minute ago with the Rubicon, when all that when they shut down Spider Lake or whatnot, or maybe it was with Johnson Valley, when we had to come to the table with some negotiations there, there's going to be more big fights. And one of the things I just would encourage everyone is that when we're doing this, we have to look at a much bigger picture and be patient. And I know it's hard and it's hard to be patient, but we have to be patient. And I think working with and I'm going to transition over to a different little conversation here.
[00:42:02.450] - Michael McGarity
Sure. I developed patients through working through the adopted trail program with the Sierra National Forest. So I moved to Clovis in four. I got my 53 Willys CJ three A in around 2007, and I needed to find a local four wheel drive club. So I found the clovis independent four wheelers. And that's where I met Steve Egbert. He was a member of the club. And we have the adopted trail program for the Bald Mountain OHB trail system up above Shaver Lake. And I was only a member of the club for a year when they voted me in as the president of the club. So I immediately started going to all the Sierra National Forests, adopted trail meetings, and started really getting involved with trail maintenance and what it meant. And I had to seek out other volunteers who had been doing it longer than me. And I had to learn quickly about the rod, which is the record of decision. I had to learn quickly about what was coming up at that time was travel management, and that was coming down the pike in 910 and started going into effect in 2012. And so I was right in the middle of all of that when that was happening.
[00:43:37.080] - Michael McGarity
And there was a lot of times when a lot of the people were really up in arms because everything that we knew in the Sierra National Forest in terms of trail opening and closures and seasonal use dates, everything changed because of this travel management. At the time, it seemed like all the locals, we all thought that it was all targeted towards just our trails in the Sierra National Forest. And I later found out and started explaining to people was that, no, this is federal. This is across all federal land. Travel management is affecting Colorado and trolls and anywhere that the United States Forest service has jurisdiction over, whatever land they're managing, they are implementing this whole travel management. And it was a big pill to swallow for a lot of old timers who had been wheeling up there for so many years and trying to get projects done and trying to get trails to reopen after they were temporarily closed through travel management. On and on it went, and it just taught me so much about patience and working with the Forest Service and working with the land managers and then just trying to do all that we could with hardly nothing.
[00:45:13.320] - Michael McGarity
We were broke, we were poor. We did a little fundraiser once a year that brought in enough money to basically do the fundraiser again the following year, which is our Moonlight Madness poker run. And another mentor of mine, Steve Calories, with the stewards of the Sierra, pulled me aside and said, mike, have you guys ever decided to apply for these OHB grants through the state of California? And we said, no, what is it going to take? And he goes, well, it's a lot of work, but I think you can do it. So in 2013, it was actually 2012, I applied for the G 13 grant with Steve's help. And our club was awarded $30,000 for tools and equipment and things that just we weren't getting from the Sierra National Forest, which is by Mind Boggling, because they get $800 on average, $800,000 a year in grants and a grant from the state parks. Oh, trust fund. And not just Sierra National Forest. And this is something that I've been preaching and talking about for many years now, is all the local clubs that have trails that they go to up in any national forest in California, every national forest in California, they're receiving money from this OHB trust fund through green sticker and gas tax money.
[00:46:51.720] - Michael McGarity
And all the clubs have the right as united States citizens who live here in California, who access this land for the Forest Service to share this money. And I say share, meaning share the money to the clubs who are up there doing the work. Why are clubs having to go out and buy their own hard hats or gloves? None of the PPE, it should all be coming out of this money. And every Forest Service, if you go and you spend a little bit of time and look, they're all receiving anywhere from $700 to sometimes over a million dollars a year in their Ground Ops. And that's what you got to look for. You got to look for the ground offs. Don't look at the planning or the Restoration Grants. The Restoration Grants are grants that they're using to close reroutes or to try to decommission trails. I'm not a fan of Restoration Grants, but the Ground Ops grants are super important. So close, independent, four wheelers. I wrote grants. I attended all the workshops, wrote grants in collaboration and in cooperation with the Forest Service. And that's the other thing, is you have to have a working partnership with the Forest Service for these grants.
[00:48:14.250] - Michael McGarity
And you have to have a letter from the land manager stating that, yes, you are given permission as a club to do this work in collaboration with them on the land that they manage. They don't own it. They manage it.
[00:48:30.200] - Big Rich
They sure act like they own it.
[00:48:32.630] - Michael McGarity
They don't own it. And State Parks does not own the SVRAs. They don't own it. And that's the thing that we have to remember. And they don't own the land. They've been hired by us to manage the land. And so they're managers, they were born out of the womb, just like you and I were, and they put their pants on just like we do. They might have went and got a different degree than we did, and they applied for a job that we didn't apply for. And they now have a position that we don't have, the position that they do. That's the only thing that makes them different than you and I. When we go out to lunch with these people, they eat just like we do, and they breathe just like we do. They're no different than we are, but they've been given the job to manage the land or the SVRA Park. And sometimes when you go to a meeting with them, they talk in their gibberish and they talk in all their scientific wording that they learned in college. But they don't own the land. And sometimes they have the attitude as if we're begging them in order to go up there and be on a trail that they own, and we're asking their permission.
[00:49:54.880] - Michael McGarity
They don't own the land. They manage the land. Right?
[00:49:59.540] - Big Rich
And they're being paid absolutely to manage that land by us as taxpayers and private citizens trying to use those public lands. And that's my beef with BLM, Bureau of Land Management. Yet every time I go into an office, there's one office that down in Farmington that I just love their BLM officers, because they get it. The one guy was working for the police department in Farmington, and then he went to Fish and Game, and then he came over to BLM, and he understands it. He gets it. He understands the recreational use of the land, yet Carson City office in Nevada, man, I threatened to sue them back in the early 2000s because they were trying to take away everything that we were doing, and they were doing that up at Sand Mountain. They were doing that with our off road racing that had been around for 27 years at that point. And it was that whole push to not manage and not patrol, but to shut down. And that was the beginning of it, I think, that started with BLM first and then got a real good push with Forest Service was my experience. And they thought managing was actually closing it off.
[00:51:41.460] - Big Rich
And instead of allowing people to work the property and use the property, that was by right for us to be able to use, it was more like, okay, well, we're just going to shut it down here, do this inventory, show us where your trails are at and what you're doing so that we can better understand it. And then they go in and close it. And that's the fight that I got tired of. And like you said, people that have been around it, they go, hey, I'm done. I'm over it. I'm one of those I felt like I beat my head against the wall as a business owner working with those government or departments, and then also as an enthusiast, trying to keep places open that they were trying to close down. And I give the you guys that have stuck with it and continued to fight big Kudos because I couldn't do it. I got too frustrated and too upset. And at that time, especially in my life, I was combative, you might say, and I would just as soon threaten than I would to negotiate.
[00:53:01.300] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, no, it's understandable. It's absolutely understandable. But that level of intensity rich causes burnout quick.
[00:53:12.260] - Big Rich
Yes, I was not patient.
[00:53:18.820] - Michael McGarity
Again, I'm not going to mention some of my friends names, but I've got friends that just have just kind of thrown the towel in and walked away and said, good job. Might keep it up. And I said no. I need your help. It's like, no, I'm done many hands, make light work. And I keep saying, if I had more help, if I had some of these dynamic people to help, we could get a lot done. We still are, for sure. But we just have to be patient and we have to know what we're up against and why. A lot of times we want to know why. Here recently, this morning, I was on the phone with Amy Granad, our managing director, and we were talking about the El Dorado County's decision to close the Rubicon Trail right now. And I don't know if we want to talk about it. I guess it's kind of a good segue.
[00:54:29.200] - Big Rich
No, I think it's a great one because we're going to be right be writing about it in our magazine on this next issue because I think it's.
[00:54:36.470] - Michael McGarity
Important for everyone to know that especially we're talking about the land managers. And the Rubicon is interesting because it goes through two counties, el Dorado County and Placer County. And many of the people listening, I'm probably not telling them anything they don't already know. There's probably a lot of listeners, including even you, Rich, that know more about the history than even I do. But Placer County and Eldorado County, they have not always seen eye to eye. In fact, there's been times when there's events going on at Rubicon Springs when one county has been kind of allowed to be there and the other county has been not allowed to be there. We call it a Rubicon Trail, but it's really the Rubicon. It's a county road. And so I've been asked what's Corva doing to get the Rubicon Trail open because Corva is an advocate to keep our offroading alive and well. Absolutely. As well as other advocates. I'm sure California is getting ready to send a letter as well soon, but I'll be sending a letter to El Dorado County objecting the closure to the Rubicon. I understand, from what I've been able to find and read on why they're closing it, it was a determination made with the Department of Transportation and the Sheriff's office and the Parks Division to temporarily close it due to public safety.
[00:56:34.080] - Michael McGarity
And it does stem from those people that got basically trapped. Right. They got trapped a few weeks ago right. And had to be rescued. And they brought in a lot of heavy equipment and I believe a helicopter in order to be rescued from there. And that took a lot of resources. And so I know that that was definitely part of the decision to do a temporary closure. People need to be smart, though, right? And I know that there's been comments on social media about, well, if people are that unprepared to go out there in these type of conditions and they get stuck, it serves them right. And that's true, it does. But from the standpoint of the county who has basically jurisdiction over the county road, they see it as that they need to be prudent in order to make sure that they want the public to be fully aware and understand that it's dangerous on that road at the moment. And a lot of people do not go prepared. No, we see it all the time. We were up a month ago after the first couple of snowstorms, and we were going into Sierra National Forest to weather, wrap all the signs.
[00:58:10.820] - Michael McGarity
That's one of the things that we do as the adopted trail club. And we came across a group and there was a guy in there with an all wheel drive Honda, whatever it was, car. He goes, Well, I got all wheel drive on four wheel drive. I go, but you're now stuck in the trail. He goes, yeah, I know, I can't go any further. So we went around him, we knew we were coming back and said, well, you guys need to get turned around. You got four rigs that you need to get out. You don't need to go any further. So we went and we wrapped up all of our signs and on the way out, they were still sitting there waiting for us and we'd rug them out of there. And then I posted on social media, please do not go up and go in there if you're running anything smaller than 33 inch tires and make sure you have a locker. And I covered all the bases and I got people saying, well, I've been up there in my Toyota Corolla. You got all these people that comment saying all the things that they've been able to go up there and do in their stock vehicles and it's not safe.
[00:59:21.600] - Michael McGarity
It's not safe to do so right. The other thing that's happening up there on the Rubicon Trail right now is the weather conditions. And the weather is really bad. They're reporting 70 miles per hour wind and they've been getting dumped with a lot of snow and a lot of rain. And so the other thing that they're able to justify closing is if there's going to be resource damage to the trail, to the road, you would think that there's so much snow up there, there's no way that there's going to be resource damage to the road because you've got all this feet of snow. I don't think it's, I don't think it's much I don't think it's so much that I think it's more just the personal safety of people going up there. Can people still go up there and go on the Rubicon? Believe they can. It's advised that they shouldn't. I think we read something on social media that said, I was up at Loon Lake, I drove there. There's no gates, there's no gates closing the trail. And so there's not. And you can call it a soft closure. It's a recommendation that if you're from the Bay Area, a lot of folks, no disrespect to the people from the Bay Area, a lot of them think that they can just go up there and take the rigs that they've built and just go up there and just conquer the Rubicon in the snow.
[01:01:12.300] - Michael McGarity
It just, it takes a great deal of experience and just knowledge of what you're really getting yourself into when you go and you do that.
[01:01:20.190] - Big Rich
I agree there needs to be some personal accountability and that's something that we as a society, over the last, I'm going to say 15 to 20 years, have reduced the need for. And when I say that, I mean we've added warning labels to everything. Don't eat the tide pods, hot coffee is hot.
[01:01:49.420] - Michael McGarity
[01:01:50.680] - Big Rich
All of these things that are just common sense, we now have to have warning labels because people are not taking personal responsibility for their own actions. I'm not talking about a sign being removed in a car accident happening because of a dangerous corner like what happened to you. But I'm talking about tipods, talking about people going up into their stock vehicle, honda, all wheel drive, and trying to snow wheel. I've been snow wheeling for 35 plus years. And when I go up to snow to wheel in the snow, it doesn't matter what vehicle I have. I've got a winch. I've got Winch line extensions, I have traction boards, I have air, compressed air. I have the ability to get in and out of those situations that I get myself into.
[01:03:00.480] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, you've got proper snow boots or weatherproof boots on. I see people up there in their tennis shoes and they're getting out of their heated vehicle with shorts on and tennis shoes because their vehicle is nice and warm. Right.
[01:03:21.000] - Big Rich
And then they get stuck up there.
[01:03:22.200] - Michael McGarity
For five days and they get stuck up there.
[01:03:24.770] - Big Rich
I'm not sure the guys that five or eight rigs, whatever it was that was stuck up here during the last storm or the first storm, I don't know their situation. I know that whales went in. I know that some of the rigs that went in there were very capable. But I know that some of the rigs that went in there, from what I could tell in the pictures, were not for that kind of condition. And then what their driving abilities were, what their decision making capabilities were along the way. And I really have a hard time because of a small few that it has to impact the majority. And that's what we've done with society is we've just said, okay, we got a few people over here that are impacting the majority, so we have to protect these few. And to do that, the rest of you are just going to have to eat dog do do. That's the way it's got to be. And I am just so tired of that. Like I said, it comes down to that. Being responsible, having some common sense. Maybe the signs, the warning sign label should be there at the beginning of the roads leading in where the pavement or the snow plows quit saying beyond this point.
[01:04:58.970] - Big Rich
You are on your own. Your life can be in danger during certain conditions. If you can't figure that out, time to go home and go down the street to your local park and play with your kids. Don't bring them up here if you're unprepared. If you don't have these items. Again, it's adding more warning labels, but damn, I'm so tired of everybody being impacted by a small few well, you.
[01:05:28.400] - Michael McGarity
Know what this comes down to. I believe that Eldorado County is looking at them being personally held responsible in a lawsuit. If somebody does go back there and somebody ends up getting killed and the family of that person, Eldorado County, they're going to sue Eldorado County. And Eldorado County is like, you know what, we would rather close it than be subject to a future lawsuit. Now, would they be able to put a big sign, spend a couple of $100 on a big sign at the Loon Lake before you hit the man made dam or whatever? That right there, that says right here, is your opportunity to turn around because the conditions are severe. Right. And then I believe they still have the road going up. Do they still have the one going into Winwood Springs? If they do put one there and then put one on the other side, on the tahoe side, would that be enough to protect them in case somebody doesn't heed the warning and then go in there and something bad happens? I don't know.
[01:06:43.220] - Big Rich
[01:06:43.940] - Michael McGarity
I don't know. But as of right now, people who are accustomed to those conditions, who go in and prepare exactly like what you said, with everything that you should have in your rig and with the 35 years of experience. So they can still go in there and they can go up there and go snow wheel and if they want to. But I think the letter or the closure should have probably been it's pretty vague, actually. It's just close for public safety in accordance with the county procedures. It doesn't say what those county procedures are, and the determination was made with the Department of Transportation, sheriff's Office and the Parks Division, but it really doesn't explain what made that determination. And I think they keep it vague on purpose, right.
[01:07:46.540] - Big Rich
So it's all encompassing. So if somebody does get up there, it wasn't about resource damage this time, because the way that the agreement was written on closures that had to meet all three of the mitigation levels, I guess, is the way to put it. I'm probably using the wrong vernaculars, but anyway, it has to do with run off and water levels and how deep and all this kind of stuff. And that's where we all jumped to the conclusion to begin with, because it was so vague, is that it was because of resource damage and the rains. We had good snowfall and then we had heavy rains because it warmed up and high winds. So everybody figured, oh, that must be what it's about. But they were trying only one of those was met out of the three. And the wording says it has to have all three to be shut down, not just one. It's and, and not or, and or. My recommendation when that thing first came out was, especially with RTF, was, well, it sounds like it's time to file a lawsuit and force the county. But to do that, somebody had to have be written a ticket so that there was an injury.
[01:09:09.460] - Big Rich
They were personally injured, meaning that they were cited so that we could take it to court. Because if you file a lawsuit on something like that and nobody is injured because of the closure, then they can just reopen it and say, okay, and then soon as the lawsuit is dropped, then right away they can do it again and keep doing this until somebody actually goes to get a ticket. And so I was one of those that made some phone calls in the background to say, okay, let's go up there and get ticketed so that we have that precedent so that we can file and keep going because unfortunately, that's what the green industry, the environmentalists use against us all the time. We're being injured because these people are using motorized recreation and we don't like the sound and it bothers our it gives us PSTD because we see the squirrels run away from them, whatever. So those government agencies don't want to be sued, so they just shut it down and then that lawsuit gets dropped or they write another directive and then there's more warning labels and closures.
[01:10:32.800] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, we can talk about the panda effect here in a second. That's an analogy. That us offroaders. We need a panda bear to protect because nobody wants to see a panda bear be hurt. So you're going to send a monthly money in every year to this Save the Panda Bear organization because panda bears are cute. But back to the Rubicon Trail, the person to call and talk to is Vicki Sanders and she's the one that oversees. So anybody that really wants to understand and hear firsthand from the right person that is overseeing that Rubicon Trail the road, vicky Sanders is a great person, resource to call in and hear directly from her. I've been waiting for the holidays to kind of clear out. I've sent some emails. I got some emails immediately, automatically sent back saying that I'll be back in the office on such and such a date in January. So expected. A lot of people are off on their holiday, christmas break and vacation and New Year. So as we get back into the swing of things here in January, I would expect that we're going to get something a little more official, especially with the pressure that the Rubicon Trail Foundation President Ken Howard is putting on.
[01:12:15.220] - Michael McGarity
El Dorado County. Letters are going to be coming in from both Corva and other organizations, I would expect, and I don't think I know that perception is stronger than reality, or perception is reality, however you want to say it. The perception is that they're just arbitrarily closing it because they don't want to manage it. And basically deal with people going in there and getting stuck. We get people stuck up in the Sierra National Forest all the time, and we have a local Facebook page called Five Five Nine Recovery and these other recovery groups and volunteers pull together, resources, go up there and we get the stuck people out.
[01:13:13.220] - Big Rich
And that's available here as well.
[01:13:16.020] - Michael McGarity
Exactly. Eldorado county could actually put together a video, educational video that talks about the conditions up there. What does it mean when you're driving on the Rubicon? It's a county maintained road, but not during the winter, and we're going to reopen it on such and such a date. But understand this and have an explanation of what to prepare for and use it as an education opportunity rather than a closure opportunity. And that's what I'm going to be encouraging when I talk to Vicky and send a letter into Eldorado County. But again, it's kind of that patience thing and taking one step at a time. I always try not to knee jerk and back in my twenty s and thirty s, I suppose I was young and dumb and just knee jerked and said things I probably never should have. So you can always ramp up a conversation to say things that, man, I can't believe I just said that. But you've already said all this other stuff leading up to it, so it's kind of warranted at some point.
[01:14:41.520] - Big Rich
[01:14:45.440] - Michael McGarity
You can always jump to a stronger tone, but once you jump to that tone, it's hard to go back and dial it back down again.
[01:14:56.500] - Big Rich
And I'm always the one that I have no intention of dialing it back. I know Vicky and I've been in meetings during that whole time, even before RTF became a thing, and even Friends of the Rubicon was not even a thing, and out of necessity those things did become things. And I know that there's a lot of people out there that don't agree with the way RTF has done things. That's fine. Everybody's got their own opinions. I'm one of them. I'm not sure everything that they've ever done is done with the best interest in mind. Same with California, same with Corva and everything else. Everybody's got their own personal opinion on how things to be done. But it's those like yourself that are and Ken Howard and RTF and the people at Cal Four Wheel, Steve Eggbert and stuff that are pushing and continuing the fight, that if you're not out there fighting and all you're doing is standing behind the scenes and complaining, you are part of the problems. Now, that's going to piss off a lot of my friends up here because a lot of them are total antisocial when it comes to land use and they'd rather get in there with a baseball bat than with a piece of paper or an email.
[01:16:38.340] - Big Rich
But if you've got a problem with the way things are being done, you need to jump in. There and do it yourself or create another organization or work within the organizations that are there and try to help change the mind of those that want to negotiate everything away to save one aspect. And I'm guilty of that. I'm guilty of walking away from land use because I just got burned out on it and seemed to be fighting with everybody that was friends instead of coming together and figuring out a way to make it work for everybody.
[01:17:21.380] - Michael McGarity
Well, yeah. And for those out there who get upset that, well, Corbin hasn't made a public statement on the closure. They haven't said anything yet. What I can say about that is that we have to take everything into consideration. We have to be patient. We can't knee jerk and say something on behalf of Korva that could be done out of ignorance or just out of just emotions. And we do have relationships and collaborations with the county agencies, with state parks, with the Forest Service, and we've been accused of basically being suck ups or having somebody use the term of derogatory terms, of being more friends with them rather than adversaries. And I have found that we have gotten much better results, especially here locally with the Sierra NASA Forest, in working in collaboration with them rather than opposition. And if Corva is being blamed or ever spoken poorly about because of not being having a stronger hand, like with state parks, for example, we still have an open line of communication with them. And I think that is really important. What happens once you pull that trigger, so to speak, and say something that is you could be 100% correct, but say something so damaging that you cut off that relationship, that open line of communication with a deputy director, for example, to where they don't even want to talk to you anymore, and they don't necessarily have to.
[01:19:43.520] - Michael McGarity
They should have to because they represent the public, they're a public representative. But if they want to cut you off and not have an open line of communication with you, it's hard to hold them accountable for doing that, right? It's hard to reestablish that type of relationship with them to where you can send them a text message and they will pick up the phone and talk to you and have that conversation with you. I think that is more beneficial in the long run than having five minutes of glory where on social media, you put them on blast and everybody's like, yeah, you really gave it to them. Okay, that felt good for a minute, but that's like spanking your kid for taking the last cookie out of the cookie jar. That's only going to be temporary. You're only going to get your point across for as long as they can fill that spank, you know what I mean?
[01:20:58.250] - Big Rich
[01:20:59.720] - Michael McGarity
A long term solution is sitting down and having a conversation about how that last cookie was the last cookie for the rest of the house or whatever, you know what I mean, that there's other people to take into consideration and that's just being selfish and you're not thinking of the rest of the people in your house. So it's like, I think that when we or me, if all of a sudden I sent this scathing public rant on behalf of Corva and really put an agency on this serious blast and it feels good and I would probably get a lot of accolades going, yeah, you gave it to them. Thank you so much for speaking on our behalf. Well, what did that do to that relationship that we have been building with that agency when it would have been better for me to have a conversation with that agency and really encourage them to take what is a perception and change it into a reality with some type of a public notice, a public video, a statement that acknowledges everyone being upset. So let's just go back to this closure. We can use this model with a lot of other things, like even with Clear Creek, a lot of people don't understand why it's still closed.
[01:22:28.900] - Michael McGarity
But El Dorado County, in conjunction, they can do a press release even in front of some cameras and just talk about the reality of the conditions that are up on the Rubicon Trail, explain that it's a county road. Explain what the conditions are like up there, explain the severity of what can happen, everything that we've been talking about for the past few minutes. And if I can encourage them to do that, that's going to be way more beneficial than me getting on social media and doing some rant scathe and just ripped them for closing it without having it because they haven't really given a good explanation on why.
[01:23:23.620] - Big Rich
Yeah, and it would be so easy for them to do that, to put together a press release and have.
[01:23:33.880] - Michael McGarity
[01:23:34.220] - Big Rich
Local news stations come up and record it and make a statement and then everybody could take that statement from the news. I mean, it's not costing them a damn thing. Exactly. Email to the news outlets going, hey, we're going to do this and you know, they're all going to show up.
[01:23:51.270] - Michael McGarity
They're going to jump all over it, right?
[01:23:52.960] - Big Rich
And where us as an individual, it takes us a lot more to do something like that. So if they were able to just come out and say, okay, this is what it's going to be. This is what we're going to do. And have the sheriff in the background, have the county and the different agencies. That are all behind it give the reason, then at least we could share it and hopefully keep some of those people that shouldn't be up there in those kind of conditions. Maybe it'll help keep them out of there. But it's such a fine line. I think that, like yourself and others like Ken and stuff that are part of the organizations that are trying to deal with the land managers on a grander scale, that you guys do need to be more careful. But I truly believe that there's got to be the guys out there, like myself and some others, that are ready to rip somebody's head off, at least on social media, to get everybody riled up so that there is some backing so that maybe others will join and participate and be those volunteers, whether it's on the ground or writing a letter, letter campaigns or donating to one of the organizations for covering lawyer fees and that kind of stuff.
[01:25:26.160] - Big Rich
Because the environmentalists sure have that whole angle figured out.
[01:25:30.640] - Michael McGarity
So Rich, that is absolutely correct. You hit the nail on the head. See, in order for me to be productive with the county, I need others to object and rip them on social media because I can refer to that. And I do it all the time with Dean Gould, the forest supervisor. I talked to him and I said, have you seen what's being said? Have you seen what the perception is? Because you haven't clarified the reality. So the perception has become in reality. And he goes, no, what's going on, Mike? So I tell him what's being done. Instead on social media. He's like, oh, okay, let me do something. He does something about it. We do need some really scathing, however you want to put it comments being made about closures. Just recently they bulldozed a trail down south in the San Bernardino National Forest. Man, it's on the tip of my tongue. And the local club goes up there to do a trail run. And they didn't even know that the Forest Service was going in there. They didn't know anything about it. And it got leveled. And that's like a big deal. And so we're working on that, on figuring out why and they should have front loaded the community.
[01:27:13.630] - Michael McGarity
They should have front loaded and said, hey, due to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, this is what we had to do for this reason. This is why we did what we did. And I don't think that State parks does that good enough and well enough and frequently enough. They sure the heck haven't done that when it comes to everything happening at the Ocean of Dunes, right? State parks has been horrible. On publicly talking about why they've been doing and explaining in layman's terms, not where you're talking to a graduate student who graduated in biology about why they're closing it, but talking to the average Californian who is the offroader, who's pissed with all the closures and happening at Oceania Dunes and why is it happening? And explain about the Coastal Commission and the Air Pollution Control District and all the different other things that are happening and these land managers that's what they really need to be held accountable to is fully just explaining to the public the why behind the what? We know what they're doing because we can see it. Why are they doing it? But explain it that people can understand.
[01:28:41.820] - Big Rich
Right? Because otherwise we're just going to assume that people are going to be like the whole NIMBY syndrome not in my backyard, I have mine now. I'm going to shut it off to everybody else because that's pretty much what the Coastal Commission is all about. US, as motorized recreation, have not done that. We have not been good at that, and it's telling well, and we don't.
[01:29:10.590] - Michael McGarity
Want to shut anything down and offroaders. We don't want to shut down hiking on the Pacific Crystal. We don't want to shut down bird watching on oceana dunes. We don't want to shut down people being able to go and enjoy the outdoors. We want to keep it all open, but we also want to keep our offroading areas open. The contrast to that is the environmentalists who go hiking and go bird watching and go, well, watching. They are anti offroading, period. So the difference between the two of us is that they want closures for offroading. Offroaders. We don't want any closures. We don't want people to be closed off to being able to go and enjoy the outdoors. So that's what makes it more of a challenge for us is because we're advocating to keep everything open for everyone. Access for all. Hello. Whereas they're not for access for all. They don't believe in keeping the public lands open to the public, for the public at large. They're interested in keeping the public lands open for everyone who isn't going to bring any type of form of motorized recreation to their area that they want to see protected.
[01:30:37.610] - Michael McGarity
And it goes to the mountain bike riders also, because you've got these tires, and I'm going to sound crazy here, but the tires go into the Earth, and they make a little tire path, and that little tire path allows water to hit the little tire path and causes erosion. And how big is this planet Earth? And that one little trail in that one little area and that one little spot in that one little teeny little area is going to affect their global climate warming and all this other change that they're talking about. When you really think logically about it, it's so illogical, antilogical, whatever that word is, that it's just so frustrating. Because the impact that we're having I'll go back to the Rubicon trail. The impact that we're having on the grand scheme of things now, if there was an environmentalist on here, they would completely argue against me. Because they're like, no, because the water goes down your guys'trails and it goes into the river beds. It's like, you know what, have you ever seen what Mother Nature does? Look at the news right now.
[01:32:00.560] - Big Rich
[01:32:01.980] - Michael McGarity
Mother Nature destroys this earth destroys it. When you talk about erosion, they claim Mother Nature is punishing. I mean, it dumps way too much rain at one time. It doesn't spread it out. It is relentless what it does. You talk about rock slides, landslides, and it has nothing to do with what man did. Or we can't tell Mother Nature to slow down on the rain. We got rain for what in the next four or five days hidden. It's going to be bad, you know, but if but if these environmentalists were in charge of an agency that's bringing the rain, oh, they would be filing lawsuits right now. You can't bring any more rain. We're going to sue you. We're suing you because we can't handle this much rain. But Mother Nature is not listening to you.
[01:33:00.160] - Big Rich
[01:33:00.670] - Michael McGarity
Mother Nature is in charge. And the impact that our little four wheel drives and our little side by side on the grand scheme of things and our motorcycles and dirt bikes snowmobiles up in the snow, it is so crazy. Okay, let me jump, absolutely jump to something here. Right now, there's this new unite the parks things that's happening right now. One of our one of our county supervisors has spoken up in opposition to this whole unite the parks, and it's all because of the Northern Pacific fishers who lives and has their habitat between Yosemite Sear National Forests. They've spotted them in the Stanislaus National Forest. So mainly because of the fisher, they want to shut down all motorized recreation, camping, everything from Yosemite to literally Mount Whitney. They want to make it all a national monument. Unite the parks. I cannot even think that they have even a glimmer of a chance of even doing this, but they're pushing to make it happen. In my 20 years of four wheel driving and camping and backpacking in the Sea of National Forest, you know, what I see up there is like chipmunks, and once in a while, a deer, maybe a little cub barrel you might see run up into the bushes.
[01:34:50.680] - Michael McGarity
These animals are so far from the trail, you can't even believe how far they are away from our trails. They don't want anything to do with any of the OHB trails that are traveling through the woods. The specific fisher survey, all of the offroaders that have ever been in any of the OHB trails between Yosemite and Sequoia National Forest, and ask how many times they've seen the Pacific fisher on the trail in jeopardy of being affected by an off road vehicle, and that they barely escaped with their life. You'll find none. There is none, because they will not be anywhere on the trail, anywhere near the vehicles.
[01:35:38.000] - Big Rich
[01:35:41.540] - Michael McGarity
We almost have to fight against just pure stupidity because they find any little.
[01:35:52.180] - Big Rich
Or what they consider big, but I consider little thing that could be affected or they think might be affected. When I was putting on races up in northern Nevada and was dealing with the different BLM offices, I was told that, well, you're off road racing you're going to go down this road and you're going to fragment the herds. And I'm like, okay, the herds of what? And they said, well, the antelope and the deer and the wild horses and all this, they won't come anywhere near where you've had a race. I went and set up a race outside of lovelock, Nevada, and it was a vora race valley off road racing association. And my dad was with me, and I counted a herd of 174s where I lost count because there was so many of them moving that I lost count. They were moving so fast and crossed. I'd never seen that many antelope together in my life. And on the 60 miles loop that we had, we found herds of wild horses, everything you can think about, deer, burrows, everything. Well, after the race, we go out and we pick up our markers and we drag the race courses at different points and make sure that anything and everything left behind is picked up.
[01:37:21.940] - Big Rich
And we did a really good job with that because we always wanted to be invited back. The day after the race, I'm out there driving the race course and in the area where the ground has been disturbed on these roads that we used, I mean, we didn't go across any open land. It was all roads that we tied together, that there was track marks on almost every single part of those roads. And when they said you fragmented, oh, they wouldn't cross or they won't use the roads anymore. It was a bunch of bull. I took pictures of all the hoof marks and everything else, and I was called a liar when I was arguing the point that we were not fragmenting the herds that we found. What it was is that the animals were along that road now, because now the vegetation, some of the vegetation has been disturbed. So the birds are over there getting what they can off of the stuff that's been disturbed. It's easier for the herds that we've fragmented to actually travel down the roads instead of across country. And the environmentalists don't want to hear that that's against their science.
[01:38:43.660] - Michael McGarity
Again. There are so many other things that fragment the herds. Mother nature fragments the herds. I mean, wildfires fragment the herds, and that's all man caused due to lack of proper forest management. I guess we can do a whole podcast just on forest management and wildfires. And the devastating creek fire that hit the sierra national forest back in 19 was absolutely horrible. I guess what we're really talking about today is how huge and big California is in terms of advocating to keep our public lands open to the public and how we have to do it in collaboration with all of these land managers and then up against these environmentalists who don't want the panda bear or the Pacific Fisher killed. And they're getting so much support from people who believe in them. And we estimate that there's close to like 15 million. I think I heard the last number of offroaders in California. I don't know, I think that that's a lot. I think that's what I heard.
[01:40:17.260] - Big Rich
I wouldn't doubt that.
[01:40:21.340] - Michael McGarity
And I think that number is being used when we're talking about the impact of the closures in the ocean of dunes. I think that number is being used right now about this 30 x 30. Have you heard? You've heard about that, right Rick?
[01:40:38.090] - Big Rich
[01:40:39.680] - Michael McGarity
So let me tell you about this 30 x 30. So from Washington DC. President Biden is working with the Department of Interior and by 2030 they want 30% of all our land to be basically protected. And we are under the belief that they already have 30%. But they want more. And they're looking at more areas in California that they want to, quote unquote, protect. And so Corva is at the meetings. I know California through their natural resource consultant Rose she, has been attending the meetings as well. We are arguing, and we need the public to be arguing that state parks, they already have 30% of the land in California and the initiative is to protect areas near already natural preserves and they want more land to conserve their land. And this comes at the same time that we now have money through losing the Tesla expansion area next to Carnegie. We now have millions of like $19 million that we have to actually open to create and open up another SBRA in California. At the same time, you've got the federal government coming down and of course our governor is 100% behind it with the natural resource Secretary of State Wade Crawford.
[01:42:45.740] - Michael McGarity
They're all 100%. And that whole conversation with the two of them and what they're doing in California when it comes to offroading is disturbing. But that's another conversation. But they're 100% behind this 30%, this 30 by 30 and then how interesting that ties in and connects with the whole deletion of combustible engines by 2030, I don't know. Californians definitely need to speak up and stand up and be stronger voice, especially anybody that enjoys the not offroading but outdoor recreation. I've already talked about this and I'll say it again, that Corva is the California Offroad Vehicle Association, but more importantly, it's the California Outdoor Recreation Association because everything that we're advocating is protecting outdoor recreation for campers, for hunters, for miners, for people who are out rock hounding. And if we're keeping the roads and trails open in order to go and go off roading, we're also protecting those same roads and trails that you're going to go fishing or you're going to go to your trailhead to. Go backpacking or where you're going to go and park to unload your mountain bikes to go mountain bike riding for.
[01:44:22.700] - Big Rich
Your horse trailers and unload your horses. Exactly.
[01:44:25.260] - Michael McGarity
100% exactly. So something big needs to happen in California to rally behind protecting outdoor recreation. And it's got to be so big that Governor Newsom retracts and back pedals. He wants to make it illegal to buy a generator in California. It's absurd.
[01:44:54.730] - Big Rich
[01:44:55.780] - Michael McGarity
I mean, everybody that is not even if you're not an offroader, if you outdoor camp and you have toy hauler and you take generators, you use the generators. What about all these vendors that you see everywhere in California whipping up tacos? And their trucks are all running generators. Why aren't they against this from happening? What about all the gardeners who are going to be forced to go to all electric weed whackers, electric lawn mowers to do all their landscaping? It's just all the weed blowers. Everything is going to be illegal to buy in California.
[01:45:43.540] - Big Rich
And then electricity has to be generated somewhere. You just don't plug into a current bush.
[01:45:51.060] - Michael McGarity
Our advocacy is, yeah, we're advocating to protect our trails and our roads for offroading, but it goes so much further than that. And everyone who offroads and enjoys camping needs to be telling all of their friends and family that what they're fighting for. And the reason why they support Corva and support Cal Four Wheel and support BRC and support the Friends of Oceana Dunes is for protecting not just offroading, but to protect outdoor recreation. And that has got to be the panda right there. That our panda is outdoor recreation. And the environmentalists, they don't want any of it. They want you to stay in your track home. They don't want you living out on property where you have to have a well, what we're fighting against is goes way beyond the 15 million offroaders. It goes into the millions who want to still go backpacking. Because they don't want backpackers. That's their backpacking. They don't want you sleeping out in the wilderness. It's been bad for years where you have to get permits. You have to get a permit. Just a hike to the top of Half Dome. It's all about protecting, I guess it is what it is.
[01:47:30.660] - Michael McGarity
Because of the 2%. We can talk a minute about the 2% because there are 2% of people out there that are idiots, that are stupid, that do the burnouts in the meadows, that crap out in the woods and they don't bury, or better yet, take a wag bag and bring their feces and stuff out with them the whole eradicate. The white flower is a real thing and people need to do a better job. And there's 2% out there that don't care. I'm sorry to say it that way, but they don't care. And a lot of those two percenters, they go to Oceana Dunes. I'll be honest with you. I don't count their Monday through Friday. I don't count their Saturdays and Sundays. I count their Monday through Friday, I should say, right? So I like to go there in the month of July. And my wife and I, we were married on the dunes. And so we go there for a week. We get there on either Sunday evening or Monday morning and we leave Saturday morning. If we can, we're out of there Friday afternoon because Saturday and Sundays there's 2% people out there that ruin it for everybody.
[01:48:57.280] - Big Rich
Well, and, and then the state in their infamous wisdom or the the federal government has closed restricted the areas, whether it's Glamis or Oceania or the Imperial Sand Dunes or any of that. They have created the mess themselves by throttling down the amount of land and dispersed camping and activity into a smaller area. And now there's more people recreating in a smaller area. So you see what they consider resource damage and then they say, well, see, you guys can't take care of this stuff so we're just going to take more of it. And then there's more people stuck in even a smaller area and they've created this problem themselves 100% and then they use it against us, right?
[01:49:54.450] - Michael McGarity
Because 2% of the people would drive in osoflaco and drive in the water and disturb the natural resources and be idiots because they're idiots. And law enforcement, I tell you what, if you're driving off the trail and you're damaging resources, the best way to educate is to cite I'm sorry, give them a citation. I don't want to use the analogy about drunk driving and DUIs, but it's $10,000 if you're drinking and driving. I don't want to say that if you get caught off of the trail that you're going to get fined $10,000. But education sometimes has to be a little painful. Especially repeat offenders. If they had, like, a database system where they catch somebody tearing up a meadow and they get put into, like instead of a Megan's law, they got something else that keeps track of these repeat offenders, and they've got regulations that say that you're not supposed to be doing over 15 mph around campsites. But then you turn your head and there's 2% of people doing brodies and ripping through campsites and being idiots in a camp and I don't know what happened over the past couple of years. The French Oceana Dunes is still trying to figure it out, but the law enforcement presence on the Oceana Dunes SVRA has really diminished.
[01:51:46.100] - Michael McGarity
And we have asked Sarah Miguel is the director, what's going on? We've asked Antonio Quintero, the deputy director, what's going on. We've talked with Kevin. They don't have a superintendent that oversees the Oceana Dunes SVRA because nobody wants the job. But Kevin has been the stand in acting supervisor of that park. All we hear is we're trying to do a better job, we're trying to do a better job. We're trying to have more of a ranger presence out there. But we see the same thing up in this here national forest. The Leos, the law enforcement officers, they're scarce. You'll find them on the main roads, but you won't find them back in there. So somehow we need to do a better job, I guess self policing. But then that comes with consequences, too, because I have been called names, I have been ridiculed on social media. Who does this Mike McGarry guy think he is, telling me what I can and can't do when I'm up on Bald Mountain? I've almost gotten to the point where I don't even say anything anymore because it sucks. Because I have I've pulled people over and said, what are you doing?
[01:53:13.120] - Michael McGarity
Where are you at? What do you mean, what am I doing where I'm at? You're way off the trail. The trail is over here. What are you doing over there? Well, I don't know what I'm doing. Yeah, you don't know what you're doing. So there's a thing called the Motor Vehicle Use Map. It's called the emblem. And that motor vehicle use map came out of travel Management. You can hate it or you can love it, but it tells you where the trail is. So ten years ago, everyone knew where the trail was, but now there are trails going everywhere. Rich, I wish you would say it before I do, but it's probably because a lot of those trails are from a lot of newer people out there recreating off roading. Absolutely.
[01:54:04.660] - Big Rich
I hate to say it, but a lot of it is the UTVs, or at least that's what I've seen. And it's because everybody can finance these things now, and all the advertising is done is showing people ripping around in nature, whether it's in the sand or on a hillside or whatever. And so when people buy these things, they're like, oh, I can go out there and rip around everywhere. And it boils down to there's no education process on what's acceptable and what's not acceptable. And it starts with the people that are selling these vehicles, whether it's Jeep, whether it's Polaris or Can Am or now the Ford Bronco. It comes down to, what are you showing in your advertisements and how are you selling your vehicles? And then just assuming that everybody is going to do what they want, because that's their whole plan. Show how exciting it is to have one of these vehicles and all it's doing is damaging. It's becoming more than 2%.
[01:55:31.980] - Michael McGarity
Yeah. For the listeners who are listening to this and are kind of new to the offroading, and maybe they have one of these new fancy, amazing, side by sides that just they go fast, they're awesome, they're fun to play with. They're a joy. It's like having Disneyland in your hands right. And under your butt, because you get the right of your life that they're super fun. Just understand that when you go riding in Glamis or go riding out on the dunes, that is so different from when you're riding on, like, for example, BLM land or Sierra National Forest land. When you're riding on the Glamis, you can pretty much go wherever you want to go. As long as you're not going in an area that's fenced off. Same with the oceana dunes. Same with when you go up to Oregon dunes. But even in Oregon, when you leave the dunes and you're going in between the trees, there's trails, and you're supposed to stay on those trails. Just like when you go to the Sierra National Forest or any national forest that has trails, you have to stay on the trails. And a lot of these new people, they come from riding out across open areas like Glamis.
[01:56:52.910] - Michael McGarity
Then they go, oh, we want to go ride the national forest. Okay, that's fine. But listen, you have to understand something, a couple of things. You're going to come across people that are in four wheel drive vehicles that go slow, and they're going to be in front of you. And so you're going to be patient because you can go on that trail a lot faster than they can. I've got both. I've got four wheel drive. I've got a CJ, three a willys and I've got RZR Polaris. So I've got both. When I get in either one of them, it's a different mindset. It's no different from when you get in your Corvette versus your pickup truck pulling your toy hauler. You're not going to drive your pickup truck throwing your toy hauler the same way you're going to be driving your Corvette. You're just not going to drive them the same way. So when you jump in your side by side, you have to have the mindset that, yes, you can go fast and have fun, but you have to understand that when you come up on people going slow, be patient. Now, if I'm in my jeep and I'm going slow and I see side by side and people coming up behind me, I'm going to find an appropriate location that isn't going into any vegetation, but I'm going to pull over and allow them to come around me because I know that they can go faster.
[01:58:23.040] - Big Rich
[01:58:23.510] - Michael McGarity
But I don't know why there's a reluctance, because when I'm in my side by side and I come upon I'll come up behind two or three four wheel drives, they know I'm back there, but they don't want to pull over. And I don't know what the big deal is.
[01:58:40.060] - Big Rich
It's that same mentality.
[01:58:42.070] - Michael McGarity
I don't know what you think about it. I don't know what you do when you're on the trail, but I find the right spot and I pull over and I wave them around just like I do when I'm driving my truck and my toy hauler. I'll use the pull outs. If I can let people go around me, I stay in the slow lane. If I'm going to pass the semi, I get back over. Is it common courtesy? Is that what we're missing here?
[01:59:07.250] - Big Rich
Yes, we've turned into just a me society, unfortunately. So how can people help? What are the organizations that so you know, how do we, how do we, how do people get involved?
[01:59:20.980] - Michael McGarity
So yeah, let's close on this. So our offroaders in action Orion magazine for Corvette just came out. I wrote an article in it. I would encourage everyone to read it. It. Says who do I support? In that article I talk about you support where you recreate just like you tithe, where you go to church. I mean, you give it back to who's given you. You give it back to who's feeding, right? Who's feeding you. You support where you recreate. If you go to Oceana Dunes and that's where you have always gone for many years and maybe you haven't gone there recently because you don't like what's going on there. You should be supporting the Friends of Oceana Dunes. If you go to the Rubicon and that's where you love to go and you may only go there one time a year, then you should support the Friends of the Rubicon. Right? The Rubicon Trail Foundation, right? If you go onto the Ducey Ursham, the Ducey Ursham is a really popular trail. We'll find out who maintains it. Well it's the four wheel drive Club of Fresno and you should be figuring out a way that you give it back and you support them.
[02:00:29.170] - Michael McGarity
A lot of times they put on events and so these events help support their club. If you like going to all these places where the California Wheel puts on events like Molina and down in Akatilla. Well, they put on events up in Sierra National Forest. The High Sierra event? So support California who go and they give back and they support these areas where they go and put on their events. Occupy Wells. If you're down in that area there's the San Diego Offroad Coalition. They do clean ups and everything. I would say support them. So support the organizations. When you're reading information from them and you're learning stuff from them, support them and support them. And I would ask, being the president of Corva that you become a member. It's $40 a year and it means a lot and it means more than just monetary. And when we go and we talk to Sacramento, we want to go and we want to be able to say that we're representing, whatever it is, 3000, 4000 members. I would love to be able to go to Sacramento. And when Amy Granat goes and talks to people in Sacramento, she can say that we represent, we should be representing 40,000 people.
[02:01:59.500] - Michael McGarity
Honestly, 50,000 calf or will they've got about 5000. They should have 50,000, right? Let's be honest about it. Anybody that off roads, why can't you, what is it's, $90 a year to throw $50 at Calf or Wheel and $40 at Corva. You could be given $10 a month to the frenzy. Oceana Dunes. Is it really going to hurt your checking account for automatic withdrawal? If $10 a month, that's $120 a year to the Friends of Oceania Dunes. It's not going to hurt you if you go to Glamorous all the time. Become a member of the American Sand Association, sign up for $10 a month to support ASA. If you're a dirt bike rider and you twist the handle, then you should be a member of one of your local AMAs. Why aren't you part of supporting AMA? Because Don Amador, he fights on everyone's behalf, right? The list goes on and on. BRC is here fighting. If we need anything here in California, ben Bursa phone call away. If you like what they're doing in Utah and fighting for Moab, then you like going to Moab. Maybe you only go once a year, but do you like going to San Hollow?
[02:03:25.480] - Michael McGarity
They're going to be targeted next. So what, you live in California and you're going to be sending money to BRC or to the Utah Offroad Association. If you go right in Nevada, you should be donating to the Nevada Offroad Association. So anybody and everybody that offroads should be contributing and sending money to one of the organizations because we need your help. And when we go and we talk to Polaris and we say we have 4000 members, okay.
[02:04:06.260] - Big Rich
They'Re selling 40,000 rigs.
[02:04:08.980] - Michael McGarity
Yeah, I want to go to Polaris and say that we're representing 40,000 people. I want to call up Josh Epstein and say, hey Josh, why don't you and I and Dave Custody and Jim Sudi go and talk to Polaris and we're going to tell them that we each have 40, 50,000 members and we need some help. So all of you that are listening, you really do need to really support where you recreate.
[02:04:40.240] - Big Rich
Agreed? 100%. I'm going to volunteer. You need somebody to be out there with the baseball bat, that's me.
[02:04:49.200] - Michael McGarity
Okay, I've got a couple of you that I can call and I will elicit your help absolutely when I need you.
[02:04:57.640] - Big Rich
Perfect. Michael, I want to say thank you so much for coming on board and spending over 2 hours talking about land use and your life and what you've done. It's been very enlightening and we need to do some more talking about it, not just on the podcast but in person. And I'd like to reach out to you again and maybe get something in our magazine about what you're doing and what you've done and that kind of stuff. So thank you for coming on board and being part of conversations with big, Rich and everybody out there. Please support, please support the areas that you wheel in or support those that are fighting the fight for you.
[02:05:46.180] - Michael McGarity
Thank you, Rich, I really appreciate the time. And go out there and twist the handle, rev up the engines, four wheel drive, have fun and do it responsibly, please. Oh, and another shout out to Matt Caldwell with Tread lightly. Another amazing organization doing a lot of good work. Thank you, Matt, for all you're doing too. So the list goes on. I'll probably forgot somebody, and I apologize, but support. Support. Thank you.
[02:06:12.480] - Big Rich
Thank you. Have a great day.
[02:06:14.370] - Michael McGarity
All right, you as well.
[02:06:15.260] - Big Rich
All right, bye bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or a text message or a Facebook message and let me know. Any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest, please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them all. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.