Clark Collins is an inductee in the Pioneer: Advocate Category
Clark Collins off-highway vehicle (OHV) activism began as a leader in the Idaho Trail Machine Association (ITMA), a statewide group representing motorcyclists and ATVers. While testifying at a Wilderness hearing in 1984, he heard the testimony of the local Sierra Club representative and approached him after the hearing to see if they could work together. He got local snowmobilers and 4X4 enthusiasts involved into a little “working group”, and it seemed to work fine. Then suddenly the local politicians and then Governor, John Evans, were expressing their support for Wilderness designation of one of the local riding spots, the Mink Creek area of the Caribou National Forest. He asked the Sierra Club representative what was up and he said, “We have political support for Wilderness designation of this area, so we’re going for it.” That taught Clark two things:
1. You can’t trust Wilderness advocates
because they want all the Wilderness they
2. Recreationists had better get more
politically involved or we’re going to be
overrun by the Wilderness juggernaught.
Working with other recreationists, Clark was able to reverse virtually all the political support but the Governor. When he met with the Governor personally, he was told that “motorized recreationists are politically insignificant.”
He also said that local Wilderness advocates had worked hard on a proposal to have Wilderness designated near Pocatello and this was where they wanted it. It didn’t matter to him that there were several trails in the area that were open to trail bikes and a regularly groomed snowmobile route.
The Governor’s comment about our political ineffectiveness really motivated Clark to correctthat situation. Clark got motorized recreationists more involved in state politics and interested in Evans’ political future. His next political race happened to be against U.S. Senator Steve Symms. Senator Symms took an interest in recreational access issues and asked for ORV support. Motorize recreationists played a significant role in that election and Senator Symms was re-elected. Evans hasn’t been considered a serious candidate for office since. Clark proved that a coalition of recreation groups can be politically significant if they set their mind to it.
In the winter of 1987, he worked on a volunteer basis with other recreationists in Idaho seeking passage of legislation to update Idaho’s OHV recreation program. To assist with this legislative effort, he received a grant from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Clark formally incorporated the Idaho Public Land Users Association in 1987 to help with the state legislative effort. He also got involved in broader land use issues and worked closely with Idaho resource industry groups. Then Darryl Harris, publisher of SnoWest magazine, contacted him about going national with the organization and calling it the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC).
The Blue Ribbon Coalition was incorporated in April 1987. The motto, “preserving our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public”, was selected to illustrate their mission. Clark Collins has served as Executive Director of the BRC from it’s inception to his retirement at the end of 2005. During that time the BRC has grown into the largest coalition of off-road access proponents in the country. BlueRibbon counts more than 600 organizations on it’s membership list, including such names as the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and American Council of Snowmobile Associations. Collins figures that the BRC currently represents more than 600,000 recreational riders.
Biography by Jim Colln
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