Areas like these in Michigan have long been treated as dumping grounds by the careless and ignorant. It's truly saddening to see how bad these areas have gotten over the years, and even more depressing that the 4x4 crowd got some of the blame. But during the 10 years that the Two-Trackers Four Wheel Drive Club (www.twotrackers.org) has been organizing cleanup events, they have found that if the garbage is gone, the dumping usually stops for good. Granted, trail cleanups aren't as fun as trail rides, but these days it seems like there has to be a balance between them. Otherwise there will be no trails to ride on.
The Two-Trackers events have grown to be some of the biggest trail system cleanups in the state and attract around 200 people a year, including local government representatives. Through the club's planning they have managed to get local companies to donate new vehicles, Dumpsters, dump trucks, Bobcats, food, and above all their time for a cause that has changed some skeptical higher-ups in the local DNR and Forest Service for the better. Over the entire decade that they have been organizing this event, the volunteers have removed a staggering 650 yards of garbage, not including 200 gallons of used oil, 112,000 pounds of shingles, thousands of tires, and three vehicles. This year was no different as people invaded a particularly bad area and ended up filling four 30-yard Dumpsters with trash and a 26-foot moving truck with tires that will be recycled into doormats and sold by the club.
Even as a small group, we too have the power to keep areas like this open by keeping them clean, addressing and solving problems that other people might have with us traveling on these trails, and in general showing that we as off-roaders genuinely care about more than ourselves. The majority of the time people who trash these off-road areas aren't 4x4 enthusiasts at all, but when other people that use the area see the dumping piles and blatant neglect for the land, they can only assume it's the people who bring their vehicles to the area. Get more involved with this aspect of off-roading and make a difference around your favorite spots before you suffer the consequences of other people's ignorant actions.