Joined: Nov 2006
Finally, someone else!
This is a huge problem in Ar. The more remote the place, the worse the problem. I know of about 20 acres right in the middle of the Ozark Nat Forest that a group, family, something, has just pulled old camper trailers and built homeade shelters and Army tents, and are just squatting on the land. I have heard from a Forest Service official that some of the family actually used to own a small acreage there, but then in the 1950s the FS forced them to sell when they built 3 watershed lakes in the area, and the land is in the drainage/floodplain. The people had no house there, but some time in the past their deceased relatives had lived there. They were paid for the land, but still claim it as their own. They have roads and fire trails blocked off and painted with that weird color purple paint you have to use to post land, but you can't legally post land that's not yours. These jackasses are probably making Meth, growing weed, making shine, and living off the land. There is a good fishing creek nearby, and the lakes. I woudn't care what they did as long as they left me alone, but they have roads and trails blocked off that I need to ride on. When they see me, they just stare me down like the inbred idiots they are. So far they haven't actually done anything, just dirty looks. A few years ago, the USFS told our local off road club we could make new singletrack trails and ride in this area, and I reported back to them that there were people living out there. They didn't seem too surprised. I think they already knew. I also think the USFS is scared to do anything about it, and is hoping we will. WE, always seems to be ME when it comes to exploring and making new trails. I love doing it, but I hope I don't get shot. I'd simply disappear and my body would never be found.
A few years ago I was riding with several other guys in another area, on land and on a road marked on GPS and USFS maps as Nat Forest land. We came upon a huge brushhogged area in the middle of nowhere, posted and marked with signs as private. There were gates, but those were open so we kept on going. Finally we got chased by 2 guys on ATVs with shotguns! I was the only rider with a weapon, and there were 5 of us, 2 of them. I wanted to fight it out, or at least spread out and confront these idiots to learn if they actually had deed to the property, but my brave buddies ran like wild Turkeys! I've never seen a bunch of over 50 guys on loaded down DS bikes ride so fast! It became like the story of the 2 guys who had to outrun the bear: Neither had to really outrun the bear, but each had to outrun the other one! Once the panic flight insued, all I could do was make sure I wasn't last. Luckily we all got away, when we told the USFS they said they heard it all the time. Why don't they stop it? They are the only ones who can really prove that the land is government owned.
The funny thing is, if these people merely used whatever patch of land they wanted, and never closed off roads caused any trouble, maybe even smiled and waved at others, they could probably do their own thing forever and no one would be the wiser. They are bringing attention to themselves, and eventually they will get kicked out when someone complains loud enough, or they shoot someone and get caught.
The only legal way I can think of to bring attention to this is to make phone calls and write letters to everyone involved, and get every involved party to think they need to either do something, or make the other guy do something. Officials of all types, all over the world, are necessarily a little lazy, and a little paranoid. There is no way they can address every issue, but also no way they can ignore every issue. Especially when EVERYONE else involved knows what's up, and is asked to address it.
If you contact the local law enforcement officials, whether local, county, state, federal, whatever, but ALSO contact their bosses, i.e. court officials, mayors, aldermen, state/federal/local wildlife management, local media, any and everyone you can think of who has a stake in the game and raise heck, and don't quit, you may start a shit storm and fling it on enough people until someone gets tired of having on their face and does something. I would probably do it anonymously,at least at first. Just keep writing letters, making phone calls, contacting each and everyone and don't stop. Might take months or years. Leave anonymous letters in the persons mail boxes or tacked to their fences/gates telling them what you have done. If you can do it safely, take down their fences/gates/ Let out livestock if they have it. Get sneaky. Get mean. Get determined.
20 years ago I had permission from a gas company to ride on a section of pipeline. My stepfather knew someone who knew someone... One day I hit a nice natural terrain type jump made by an erosion runoff ditch. I'd been riding this section of pipeline for 10 years. It was a nice little 40ft jump. When I got airborne, I saw a brand new barbed wire fence strung all the way across the pipeline. Anyone would have hit it, it blended in with the tall grass, with a hill as a backdrop, and there was 75 feet of wire across this pipeline with NO fence posts. That is against Federal law. You have to mark any fence, even on private property so someone on a bike, horse, walking at night, Jeep, can see it. If you don't use posts you have to hang ribbon or signs every 35 feet or less plainly marking it so someone doesn't hit it. I hit it. Luckily, the wire didn't touch me, I just launched over and only broke my arm. Being from this local rural area, I started asking some questions and learned that some locals were illegally running cattle on a big section of the pipeline without permission. When I went back there, they had even posted it illegally with signs and purple paint. I called the pipeline company, they said they had NOT leased any land anywhere in that area for cattle or any other reason. I left a nice note on the fence telling them to please remove the fence. The pipeline company sent out an employee to try and find who was doing it, but they failed. I kept at it until I was positive who did it, and asked a friend who knew them to ask them to remove the wire and the cattle. They just put up more purple paint, added more cows, and started patrolling it on ATVS! I waited 3 months until it all died down. The pipeline company did nothing. I cut their wire in several places and shot bottle rockets at the cattle until they all ran off. The assholes fixed the fence and rounded up the cows. 2 months later I cut the fence and used a loud bike to run the cows off the pipeline, and I shot several of them with a pellet gun so they would run fast and far. I laid roofing tacks all around the edges of the area where someone would have to patrol on an ATV or 4x4. I put rocksalt in their watering pond. Cows won't drink heavily salted water, and if they do it will make them sick. I drilled holes in several of their fence posts and poured stump rot in them, and sprinkled the stump rot in the dirt around the bases of the posts. They took down the fences and removed the cows. I waited about 10 years and started riding there again. There is now no fences, and lots of people ride there now. Sometimes you just gotta be meaner. My damn arm still has a 10" plate and screws and still hurts when it gets cold. But there ain't no cows or fence on the pipeline.
jgas. " Most of the singletrack is gone. Forever"?
-Graduate of the "Rock on the side of the Trail as a Hammer" school of motorcycle repair.
"No matter where you go, there I was".
-DRZ 400, GasGas 275, Klein, zero cc.