The Blue Ribbon Coalition bills itself as the voice of the American off-road rider, its mission "to preserve our precious natural heritage," according to its website. It claims to represent some 600,000 off-road-vehicle enthusiasts, though it admits that just 2 percent of that number are dues-paying members. But it's not necessarily Joe Snowmobiler that underwrites the group's $1 million annual budget. Though the coalition does not disclose a breakdown of its funding sources, the supporters listed in its magazine, BlueRibbon, include many companies that have evinced little concern for the orv community, but care a great deal about keeping public lands open for business: timber, mining, oil, and gas interests. Some top backers:
- At least 18 large timber companies that log in national forests, including Boise Cascade, the third largest buyer of logs from national forest land; and the $2.2 billion-a-year Pacific Corp., the world's leading waferboard manufacturer.
- At least 15 mining companies and associations, including Battle Mountain Gold Co., one of the biggest companies mining on public lands; Echo Bay Minerals Co.; and Crown Butte Mines Inc. (now part of Canada's Noranda Inc.), which once sought to mine for gold in a spot next to Yellowstone National Park that it had bought from the federal government for a mere $135, and eventually sold back to the feds for $65 million.
- At least eight oil or gas companies and four oil and gas trade associations, among them ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, and the American Petroleum Institute.
- The American Recreation Coalition, which represents interests ranging from the Walt Disney Corp. to the recreational vehicle industry, and which has helped the coalition lobby for a program that directs hundreds of millions in public funding to off-road-vehicle trails.