Special to the Tribune
RENO — Sen.Dean Heller (R-Nev.) joined about a dozen groups of off-road vehicle users at the Peppermill Friday. The discussion centered around public lands closures and what can be done to prevent them.
Don Amador, founder of The Trail PAC, traveled from Maryland to host the meeting.
“I was actually part of the original Sagebrush Rebellion back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, so I’ve been fighting land wars and public lands access issues for 20 to 22 years,” he said. “I started The Trail PAC last year as a way to try and get off-roaders and other trail users engaged in the political process. Because as a group they’re not very engaged, in fact they’re one of the most disengaged user communities when it comes to elections and voting.”
This meeting was part of an effort to engage voters throughout the country. Amador said he feels more attention needs to be put on public land issues.
“Dean Heller, of all the Senate candidates or Congressman in Nevada, has been out in the forefront dealing with off-road issues, particularly working with some of the local OHV groups on cost recovery for special permitted use events.
He also introduced the Nellis Dunes Recreation Area legislation here recently and so he has really been a champion for responsible OHV access to public lands,” Amador said.
Heller said he felt public land access is important.
“For someone that has enjoyed a lifetime for getting back into the wilderness and understanding access, and the need for access, whether you’re hunting or fishing, agriculture or running cattle, it’s always been critically important for the economy of Nevada,” Heller said. “And that’s why I continue to push access to these areas.”
Heller said some challenges come down to regional differences he’s seen.
“The problem is people in the east don’t understand the west and maybe it’s vice-versa. But we’re tired of having the East Coast trying tell and dictate what we can do or can’t do on our public lands,” he said.
“They just don’t understand the vastness and what Nevadans are trying to do and how they enjoy the recreation of some of these public lands. That’s why we continue to have these battles.”
He also added the coming campaign won’t be easy and he does need help.
After Heller finished, Amador, and the heads of the other clubs in attendance presented Heller with a check for his campaign fund.