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John Stewart

Message from Sharetrails/BRC New Executive Director

I’m excited to introduce myself to each of you! In early July I was welcomed by the Board of the BlueRibbon Coalition as the new Executive Director of the Sharetrails.Org/BlueRibbon Coalition (ST/BRC) (PRESS RELEASE HERE). It’s easy to talk about yourself but I want my first introduction to you to be about YOU!! I want to talk about how WE as an organization can fight for what matters most to you and why. This movement, our initiatives are about fighting VIGOROUSLY for your access rights!

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Tom Severin

Be Seen And Be Cool

Fish Canyon opening into Panamint Dry Lake

Dune flags are quite popular nowadays. You’ll see all colors and styles, including the American flag, pirate flags, checkerboard flags, rebel flags, “Don’t Tread on Me”, and many others. While the driver may be making a statement with his flag, there is a distinct purpose for the flags, as well.


Be seen in your Jeep with a new Jeep Wrangler top from ExtremeTerrain


Those flags add an element of safety to the sport of four wheeling. Strange as it may seem, collisions do occur in wide open expanses we four-wheelers drive on. Those flags help you see and be seen.

This is especially true in hilly or dusty environments. Hills naturally block views. Climbing a hill or dune, you can’t see what’s on the other side. Is another vehicle coming toward you?

Dust and sand are another problem. While a flag is quite small, if it’s bright orange or red, it often can be seen through the haze of dust. Plus, its height—perhaps six to eight feet above the ground—may place it above most or all of the dust. I’ve witnessed instances when the only thing you could see through the dusty cloud was a couple of flags. You’d be surprised just how low visibility gets on many trails at higher speeds. (BTW remember Tom’s rule: over 10 mph is “fast” off-road! That doesn’t mean we can’t go fast. Just that the dynamics change.)

An added benefit is that by watching the flags of the vehicles ahead, you can get an idea of the terrain. If you see the flags bobbing up and down, that tells you may be headed for some whoop-dee-doo.

Related to that, it’s easier to keep track of the vehicles behind you if they have flags. While in the lead vehicle, I typically can see back at most up to three vehicles. But I can see upwards of a half dozen flags waving behind me. Although the vehicles in my trips are always in radio contact, I also glance in my mirror or over my shoulder frequently to check on the other vehicles progress. Not all drivers travel at the same speed on unfamiliar or difficult terrain. It’s a comforting feeling to look back and see all those flags trailing along knowing the group is together.

At the same time, it’s easier for those in the pack to see the lead vehicle. I recommend that the lead vehicle use a distinctive banner so everyone can spot the vehicle. Vehicles can disappear for a short period while going through brush or down a hill. And, as mentioned before, the dune flag might be seen through or above the dust when its vehicle is not.

Rules, specifications for dune flags

Generally speaking, you aren’t required to use a dune flag while driving off road. The one exception is on public lands containing sand dunes. The Bureau of Land Management requires banners be solid red or orange in color, at least six inches by 12 inches, and placed such that at least part of the banner is within 10 inches of the top of the whip.

BLM a considers a whip to be any pole, rod or antenna mounted on the vehicle that extends at least eight feet from the surface of the ground. It must stand upright when the vehicle is stationary.

Higher quality dune flags and banners (with a pole) usually run about $12 to $15. They can be purchased at any ATV shop, and in most stores and gas stations near off-road areas. As mentioned above, you can use an antenna or most any other whip-like object. You don’t need to buy the unit. Just adhere to BLM’s rules if you’re driving in dunes.

One thing you’ll notice is that the flag or banner doesn’t last long if you use it frequently. Wind, rain, dust and the sun take their toll. My flags tend to fray and fade after about one year. The rod or whip might snap on you, especially if you drive a lot in brushy or wooded areas.<br /><br />How to attach a flag

Because there are so many different styles of vehicles, it would be difficult for the manufacturers of dune flags to design a universal mounting bracket. Instead, the rod or pole comes embedded in a ½-inch bolt. You need to drill a hole for the bolt; a bumper or other sturdy surface might work. If you use your flag frequently a quick disconnect is handy. You can purchase flags with a quick disconnect or you can build one from an air fitting.

Some Jeep owners tuck the pole against the inside hinge of the tailgate. Closing the tailgate keeps the pole upright and secure. You may need to tinker with your dune flag pole, but you should be able to come up with some way to secure it.

Flags serve a very important safety function in four wheeling. They also allow drivers to express themselves a bit. I encourage you to attach a flag to your vehicle and to use it frequently off-road.

Be Seen And Be Cool

Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures

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John Stewart

Interior Secretary Reaffirms Commitment to Recreation

Zinke Signs Secretarial Orders to Increase Recreational Opportunities on Public Lands and Waters

Establishes Position of Senior National Advisor for Recreation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today signed two secretarial orders continuing his efforts to prioritize the Department of Interior’s recreation mission and increase access to public lands.

Secretarial Order 3366 directs certain Interior bureaus to create and deliver plans to the Department within 90 days that focus on developing or expanding recreational opportunities on public lands and waterways. This order also directs bureau heads to designate one full-time employee charged to oversee recreational opportunities.

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John Stewart

BoatUS Warns Against President’s Proposal to Sell E15 Year-Round

Boater’s group asks boat owners to speak up now

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 17, 2018 – A proposal by President Trump to allow the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol) gasoline year-round has set off alarm bells at the nation’s largest boating advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines, voids many marine engine warranties, and is currently banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency during summer months over concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Under the President’s April 12 proposal, however, a waiver to the Clean Air Act would permit the sale of E15 in the summertime at the same roadside gas stations where most recreational boaters refuel their trailered vessels.

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John Stewart

How to Keep Recreational Pilots Droning On and On

You’d probably never guess that something you can pick up for your kid from Toys ‘R’ Us on your way home could be the center of a swarm of complex legal issues and a growing regulatory scheme. Welcome to the new world of drones, a world where everyone from the FAA to the local police is struggling to adapt to the challenges posed by the ability of anyone and everyone to purchase what is essentially a flying robot capable of doing everything from spying on the neighbor’s kids to interfering with commercial air traffic. Those challenges are being met with cold, hard law and regulation, so drone operators must understand the growing and serious set of legal rules that come with buying that new drone.

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