Thank you, BLM

 

Our dog Bodie, a collie-shepherd rez-mutt mix, may make it to his fifth birthday in October. Or maybe not. He's a car-chasing idiot and nothing we've tried, including a shock collar with five settings that range from tickle to Ted Bundy, has prevented him from racing off after anything on wheels.

We all need some exercise, though, so Martha and I take him for daily walks where he can run around. We try to find places nearby where cars and motorcycles are rare, and something wonderful just happened at one of those places.

This spot is about two miles from town. It's a quarter-mile of rocky rutted road in a narrow stretch between the railroad tracks (out of service for the past decade, so we don't have to worry about Bodie chasing trains) and the Arkansas River (the traffic of U.S. Highway 50 flows on the other side of the water, and Bodie is no swimmer).

The axle-busting road is scenic with great mountain views, and as a riparian corridor, it offers abundant wildlife, from birds to bighorns. Quite often there are anglers along the bank; this is part of one of Colorado's "gold medal" fisheries.

But the road also had the occasional pickup or motorcycle for us to worry about. If we spotted it before Bodie did, we could leash him. But if he saw it first -- and he has sharp eyes and ears on constant alert for wheels to chase -- we had to content ourselves with yelling at him while hoping he didn't get hit.

Now the wonderful event. We went down there to walk yesterday, and the road was freshly blocked by boulders. Plus there was a post erected by the federal Bureau of Land Management, and it bore a narrow vertical sign announcing that the road was henceforth open to pedestrians, equestrians, and bicyclists, but closed to motorized stuff like SUVs, ATVs, and motorcycles.

Thank you, BLM.

Of course, it's too early to celebrate. The way things generally work around here, the sign post will be knocked over or pulled out within a week or two. The blocking rocks will be pushed away so that motorcycles and smaller ATVs can get through.

The BLM will likely return with better blockage, but meanwhile the motorheads will be writing letters to the local paper, complaining about how they've been "locked out of our public lands," and that it's elitist to restrict access to people with $40 shoes rather than $6,000 ATVs. Plus some old-timer learned to drive there with a 1937 Studebaker pickup, and closing the road would deprive him of his custom, culture and heritage.

Some may even get around to writing our congressman, a Colorado Springs Republican named Doug Lamborn who generally sides with the motorheads. I can easily imagine him pressuring the BLM to re-open this quarter-mile of wretched road to motorized vehicles.

But for the time being, the road closure is a wonderful development for us, and thanks again, BLM.