Wisconsin has a lot of Public Off-Pavement 4X4 Trails and Routes
Happy New Year! You heard that right, despite people always complaining that Wisconsin doesn't have any 4X4 trails, over the last 3 years of scouting and mapping, I can say, without question, Wisconsin has some very exciting overlanding and slow speed trails that are open to the public. So why don't you know about these trails? Because the Wisconsin 4X4 community isn't organized enough to map, promote, monitor, and aid in keeping these places open. That's right, we have thousands of miles of off-pavement fun just waiting to serve the 4x4 community and a LOAD of opportunity to work with land managers to get even more challenging slow speed trail legs that branch off the main trails.
So what gives? That's a good question. In my opinion, the 4x4 community has been so busy yelling at one another and stabbing itself in the back that there wasn't good leadership willing to refocus efforts to create the synergy needed to take all of this to the next step. Well, we did, and we're making a difference. You're going to see the online map and trail directory exploding with new routes in 2021, as long as we keep getting paid members and sponsors to keep it all running, that trend will continue.
WI Clubs that have private trails are very cautious about letting people into their properties. And with good reason, we have some bad apples in the 4X4 community and you don't have to look very far on social media to find them. Heck, some clubs in Wisconsin require you to turn off your cell phones when out on their trails and no pictures or videos can be taken... that's how protective they are to keep their private trails from closing down. Without a way to enforce or patrol or fund the trails, that's all they can do to keep them open. Pretty crazy right?
What keeps trails open is people willing to watch and help maintain the trails. Be it Chapters, clubs, social groups, Trail Ambassadors or Trail Guides, it takes volunteers to open and maintain a 4X4 program. RL4WD is doing that, and again... we're getting results because of it. This isn't rocket science folks, if we don't protect what we love and keep the bad apples from wrecking everything, trails and roads will close. Land managers need help to keep things open and a responsible user group to connect the dots. That's us, and I hope it'll be others too. Sure, it takes a certain personality to run things like this and I'm hoping I can serve as a leader to help make this all happen for many years to come. It takes the entire community involvement to make this work though, so my job is to train more leaders, more trainers in order to keep things sustainable and growing.
We'd like to offer rides, mapping classes, guide classes like last year, overlanding excursions, big trips and continue to help chapters unite and work together for a common goal. If we have the membership and industry support, it'll work. If not, it won't. So far, we've been able to keep the doors open and trail networks growing. While we may be in some tough times with everything going on, it'll come down to who wants this thing to keep growing. Running this thing is a full-time job and we're growing this site and system to maintain the right people to keep it all together.
How do we keep the trails and roads open to the 4x4 community? By design, we haven't added many 4x4 public trails to the directory. If we have no Trail Guides or Ambassadors patrolling an area, we're not likely going to list an area of trails to avoid getting them shut down before we can even showcase how awesome a trail or area is. The support network must be in place in order to list local public trails. Once the chapter in Mountain, WI goes live as an example, we'll post a bunch of fun routes in that area, but not before. Same thing with Tomahawk, Clearwater, etc. etc. Those clubs are going to host their own rides and social events, we'll help make it happen, but at the end of the day it comes down to the dedicated few willing to bring people on the adventures. If you want to be part of the solution, join a club, join RL4WD, and get involved by becoming a Trail Ambassador or Trail Guide.
How do we fund these trails? That depends on who's using them. If they are private, the clubs and such raise the funds through rides to keep building trails. For public trails, it comes down to federal, state, and local government to allocate funds from various user group accounts. These are usually in the form of a sticker program or federal RTP (Recreational Trail Program) fund. Federal money is usually exhausted fairly early on, state recreational programs usually work out as the recreation gets their stickers. In Wisconsin, we're working on getting a RL4WD program up and running. We work with law makers and host rides for them to help write these programs. 2021 may see the first step of that, but it takes a lot of time with legislatures and many meetings. This stuff isn't free, again.. I'm willing to do this as long as people join and sponsor support it. Funding trails, that's part of the full-time job and RL4WD can do lobby work.
We're making great progress and I thank all of the members and volunteers for making it all happen!
This explains where and why we have expenses and I think it gives people a little bit more clarity as to why we have to charge for memberships because without supporting the group there is no way we can continue on
This VLOG is on point! I agree with everything you said. This is also a great opportunity to say thank you to everyone that goes out of their way to make the clubs and organizations work. So many great people spend a good amount of life's very precious time making our recreation a priority and I for one truly appreciate all of those folks. I wholeheartedly agree in supporting local clubs, associations, legislatures and small businesses that help the overall cause which is why I am proudly a paid member in multiple clubs and organizations. I know some do, but I personally do not mind paying membership dues and understands it creates funds for the expenses which have such a positive effect on the overall recreation. I am however one of those guilty of not stepping up a little more and will change that this year. There are many miles of trails in our great state where many new to the recreation just don't know the trails or have others to travel the trails with regularly which can make the recreation a little more challenging. This is where our clubs shine and do have those like minded family fun folks who love exploring trails responsibly and most have very experienced folks or Trail Ambassadors....anyway, great VLOG!
Thanks for the feedback Dave! It's great having ya as a member here. The 4x4 recreation is lucky to have ya!
Great video. This was a great run down of the status of off roading in Wisconsin. I recently moved to Denmark, WI and am looking to find some local trails and would be interested in helping maintain and map places to ride.