Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List

Clark Collins: Founder, Blueribbon Coalition

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Collins, 63, is the force behind an increasingly savvy no-new-wilderness movement fueled by grassroots enthusiasm for off-road vehicles (ORVs). His Pocatello, Idaho-based group represents an assertive constituency composed mostly of dirt bikers, ATVers, and snowmobilers who use lawsuits and lobbying to fight for the same access to wilderness-study areas and other protected public lands that hikers and backpackers have.

Though the BRC claims only 11,100 members and an annual budget of roughly $1 million, it's become a loud and credible voice. Collins has achieved this, in part, by borrowing a litigation-heavy strategy from the environmental groups he opposes. Boise-based attorney Paul Turcke has represented the BRC in some three dozen lawsuits, many of which challenge ORV restrictions in wilderness study areas across the West. The BRC has enjoyed notable successes, including a January 2003 decision in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court order that threatened ORV access on trails in Montana's national forests.

SOUND BITE: "If wilderness-advocacy groups would stop trying to kick us off backcountry areas and work with us to address the 1 percent of irresponsible ORV users," Collins says, "they would find a very willing partner in the BRC."

NEXT UP: Court cases will keep the BRC busy in 2005, opposing more restrictions on snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park and fighting to keep the central coast of California's Clear Creek Management Area open to ORVs. The group is also lobbying the Forest Service as it reforms the process to designate access rights in national forests.

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