ARE MINNESOTANS READY FOR THE RECREATION-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX?

The above image is taken from Google. The photo was taken by Dan Crane for Adirondack Almanack in NY. This is an example of the horrific damage ATVs do to natural landscapes


The following is written by Barry Babcock from Bemidji Minnesota.

In President Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech “Military-Industrial Complex” he warned the nation of an out-of-control military build-up of armaments with corporate industry behind this for profits and the dangers it poses for us all. Eisenhower made the point that “… we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence…The industrial complex is a socioeconomic concept wherein businesses become entwined in social or political systems or institutions, creating or bolstering a profit economy from these systems.”
He also warned us, “As we peer into society's future, we must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
I would now warn Americans of a new threat, a “recreation-industrial complex” with Big Oil, mining and motorized recreation taking “unwarranted influence” of our public lands with the support of the very agencies assigned to protect these lands. We witness the Minnesota DNR willing to do the bidding of those who seek to profit from what is special to Minnesotans. Yes, much of this is mandated from our elected officials in state government but our state DNR is only too willing to do their bidding.
As a Minnesotan that lives a semi-subsistence life in Northern Minnesota, I see the MN DNR serving more as an agent for corporations than the well-being of our treasured public lands.
What makes our state great? It is our state forest system (over 4½ million acres – 2nd largest in the nation), our WMAs (over 1½ million acres) and formerly cited as the “crown jewel” of the DNR, countless thousands of acres of County Administered Lands (900,000 acres in St. louis County alone!), our fabulous State Parks, State Trails and Scientific/Aquatic and Natural Areas! Besides two National Forests (Chippewa and Superior) including the BWCA.
Today these treasures lands are under siege. Pipelines, sulfide mining, increased logging, and more but what isn’t getting attention is the explosion of off highway vehicles that are making huge inroads into our public lands. Many if not all of our state forests are now over run by ATVs and dirt bike motorcycles which are displacing traditional users. Tax payer dollars in the form of gas taxes or out right spending are funding these. The 2021 budget bill provides over twenty million dollars for the further extension of ATV trails! Tax money is going to provide a 764-mile Border-to-Border highway licensed ORV (off road vehicles) Route with hundreds if not more spurs emanating off the main corridor where these off-roaders can cause more damage. This B2B trail will cross the northern part of the state, skirt the BWCA and both our national forests and many of our state forests.
These public lands are our “commons” and are there for us to use but a right to use is not a right to abuse. Sustainable logging fits into land use if done with best management practices. Timber harvesting is the trade-off Minnesotans made for securing these lands for multiple uses but our public lands are not corporate lands, they belong to the each one of us citizens.
Nearly a hundred years ago, Gifford Pinchot the “Father” of our United States Forest Service stated “In dealing with our natural resources we have come to a place at last where every consideration of patriotism, every consideration of love of country, of gratitude for things that the land and the institutions of this Nation have given us, call upon us for a return....Conservation is a moral issue because it involves the rights and duties of our people....A nation deprived of liberty may win it, a nation divided may reunite, but a nation whose natural resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation, and decay....So the noblest task that confronts us today is to leave this country unspotted in honor, and unexhausted in resources, to our descendants. I conceive this task to partake of the highest spirit of patriotism.”