Blue Ribbon Bedfellows
Under the guise of the voice of the American off-road rider, the Blue Ribbon Coalition intends on opening up protected public lands to timber, mining, oil, and gas interests.
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.