The creeping loss of the 4x4 offroad experience

Discussion in 'The Coffee Shop ~ Chit Chat' started by Jamm3r, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. Jamm3r

    Jamm3r Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    I don't know how it is out there in the rest of the U.S., but here in Minnesota there's been enough governmental chipping away at the 4x4 community that there isn't as much interest in building up mud trucks as there used to was.

    Offroading on public roads is now confined to marked trails, and nearly all trails are open to ATVs, most to motorcycles, and only a handful to trucks. There have been some high-profile prosecutions for "malicious damage to wetlands" of people offroading on their own private land. You can't really play in the mud unless you are in a really remote area or can claim that what you're doing is farming-related, since that's one of the few safe harbors.

    The gov isn't entirely to blame since many people who used to drive Jeeps or built-up trucks have moved to ATVs.

    I don't know when the heyday of the 4x4 pickup was exactly but it now seems like it's in the past.
  2. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I have noticed that trend in Michigan. There are plenty of places to go offroad and not be concerned about negative ramifications. Obviously, the farther you get from Detroit the more opportunity there is to hit the mud. There are a few gravel pits that the owners will let you in near my home. We have the state owned silver lake sand dunes. I know of at least two privately owned "offroad parks". Both consist of heavily wooded areas, steep rocky hills, and large open fields with mud pits. While I do notice many more atvs out there than in the past. I chalk this up to cost. You can buy a pretty nice atv for what it cost to buy your lift, tires, and gears. That is assuming that you already have a truck to put them on. I have also seen a trend lately of younger guys building some pretty large and capable mud trucks using mid 90's model trucks. My cousins live right in between Detroit and Lansing. During the summer there is at least one farmer hosting a mud bog in his fields on the weekends. Some of the trucks you see out there are absolutely crazy. I have seen a few blown trucks running 54" Super swamper Boggers. The law enforcement does show up occasionally (To Watch!!). They basically leave the guys alone. Even when they run their trucks on the road to get them home. (They are way over the lift law height) I am sure that at some point the environmentalists will make their way here and start the same trend the you are seeing in your home state. As of now it is alive and well here.
  3. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Pardon my ignorance but this makes no sense to me. If it's my land and I pay the taxes on it, I should darn well be able to engage in or permit any legal activity upon it and, as far as I know, driving a truck is perfectly legal. In fact, driving a truck does not require any license or insurance as long as it is done exclusively on private land.

    If my properly is wetlands and I feel like driving my truck on my wetland property I should darn well be able to do so. Can you show me (complete with statute citation) a law that would prevent this? I can understand public land ... but private land is just that ... private.
  4. Kady

    Kady Epic Member 5+ Years GMTC Chick 100 Posts

    In MA its illegal to do anything on Wetlands whether its private property or not. Some kind of conservation act orsomething.
  5. FrigginNoodles

    FrigginNoodles Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    I can second that. We definitely have some of the toughest wetland regulations. I know of people who back in the early 2000s were almost stopped (2 year delay) from building their home because of a species of salamanders found on the property in 1988. Crazy right.

    Now to get to the OPs topic. We don't have much around here as far as off road parks. Actually I haven't even ever seen one myself. There are a couple mountains to drive. I do however hear PSAs on the radio pretty often about the topic. They say "Off Road?, On Trail"
  6. Conlan Rose

    Conlan Rose Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I live in CT right on the coast and we have really tough wetlands laws. My dad is an architect so he is well versed in the laws and just getting near wetlands with heavy equipment is a legal hassle. In CT it is illegal to build on any wetlands even if privately owned. You can get special permits to build if you want, but it takes years going between the state and the city.

    On topic, in CT there are a couple places to off road. You used to be able to ATV in state parks, but environmental concerns stopped that.
  7. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I'd like to read one of these laws. Can anyone cite one? I'm curious how it would limit a 4x4 owner on his/her property.

    I can understand restrictions on municipal lands, but I'm floored by the private property thing.
  8. Conlan Rose

    Conlan Rose Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I'm not sure if it says it explicitly, but with other laws they can get you. There is a lot of testing of water and such allowing them to know if you are off roading if your truck drips a little oil in the water and it wasn't there before. I will ask my dad about the laws tho.
  9. Jamm3r

    Jamm3r Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    SurrealOne, if you search for the MN DNR ORV rules book they explain it in there although there are no cites.

    I believe the underlying law isn't about off-road trucks specifically but any kind of "malicious destruction" of wetlands. It is most typically used to prosecute farmers, loggers, and developers who drain small areas without proper permits and hope to escape notice.

    We also have regulations from the DNR that you can't drive below the ordinary high-water level of any lake or stream. These aren't laws per se but have the same effect; the DNR has broad powers to regulate lakes and streams, including shoreline, no matter who owns it. The two main changes this has created are that it is now unlawful to ford a stream in a 4x4, and it is now unlawful to launch a boat from a boat trailer except at an improved launching site constructed under a DNR permit.

    There was a story about two years ago of someone hosting a "mud hole" type event who was prosecuted. Neighbors were upset about the noise and as is so often the case the environmental laws provided the biggest stick, and they complained to friends in the DNR.

    - - - Updated - - -

    In Minnesota:

    1) You can be charged with DUI for driving your own truck (or much of anything else) on your own land. Prosecutions of people operating lawn mowers, golf carts, and backhoes happen every year. A couple years ago there was a guy who was busted for driving a la-z-boy recliner while drunk (the running gear from a lawn mower had been added to it to make it mobile).

    2) You can be charged with reckless driving on your own land away from any roads (and prosecutions are common though charges are usually reduced to something trivial unless someone got hurt)

    3) You must have a drivers license to drive a car or truck even on your own private land (comes up occasionally when someone has had their driver's license suspended due to DUIs and the cops can't prove they were behind the wheel on a public road)

    4) You need five permits to put in or repair a culvert or bridge across a little stream even if you own the land on both sides. Township board, DNR fisheries division, soil and water conservation district, army corps of engineers, county planning and zoning. They require aerial photos and a hydraulic analysis. Ask me how I know.
  10. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    The term 'malicious destruction' requires malicious intent. It's very easy to argue a lack of malicious intent when 4x4'ing on your own turf, so if I lived in MN I wouldn't sweat that.

    As for the other items you mention, that's ridiculous.

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