It was hot that day in 1975 when Richard L. Biederman found himself in a war he had no stake in. As an American, from Minnesota, he traveled halfway around the world to fight in the bush of Africa. He had come here because, while the fight was not his, he agreed with the underlying philosophy of one of the belligerents. The place was Rhodesia and Richard L. Biederman was a mercenary.
Today, a new type of mercenary is arising. Instead of being armed with a rifle, they come armed with important sounding titles and resumes. They are professionals, hired by anti-mountain bikers to prop up some sort of an argument against mountain biking access. They write letters and reports, all with doom and gloom descriptions of what happens if mountain biking is allowed at a location.
What happens when professionals are hired by those opposed to trails to write reports in opposition to a trail project? Is there anything you can do to prevent this? Can you counteract it when it happens? What do these types of situations mean for the larger concept of facts & truth?
Technical information isn’t supposed to have sides
Before we get to the example used to highlight this issue in some detail, we need to discuss the idea of consulting professional services for a moment, as that is important. By and large, consulting services, especially technical & scientific services (engineering, sciences and documentation) are a regulated set of industries through ethical and legal requirements. The legal burdens on a civil engineer tend to be much more involved than, say, an interior decorator. This makes sense as you don’t what the person who is designing a bridge to just do whatever they feel like, you want them to be able to show its going to be safe for the public to use. For many of these services, there is the requirement the professional license holder sign for (and be responsible for) the data that these services produce. There is often a need to “show your work” to a regulatory body or third-party.
Also, there is an ethical tension in many types of these technical & scientific services. A consulting civil engineer would have both an obligation to do his best work for the client, but also not to break design standards, laws or the regulations of governmental bodies. These standards and laws supersede an engineer’s responsibility to a client. Therefore, if a client wants the civil engineer to fill a wetland that can’t be filled or create an unsafe road, the engineer has a responsibility to refuse to do so.
Compare that to a lawyer. Lawyers do have a series of ethical and legal requirements, also. However, if they or their client wishes them to put forward a legal theory or suggest something is different than reality, so long as they don’t suborn perjury or falsify testimony or evidence, they can (and will) do this. It is easy to think of ‘if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ moments, but this sort of “fudging” happens with a lot of regularity with lawyers. The stereotype of lying lawyers did not develop in a vacuum.
Therefore, when a technical professional of some type writes a letter or report regarding a project, even one they have been hired to argue against, they have an ethical (and legal) responsibility to discuss the facts as they are. They should not leave out information that is counter to their clients wishes, nor can they include items that are untruthful or misrepresented. There are still areas of debate, of course, sometimes in surprising ways. (Storm runoff, storage and drainage calculations can have some differences based on curve numbers, basin bounce and pipe coefficients used, as an example.) But at the end of the day, a technical professional shouldn’t be misusing or misrepresenting regulatory documents, they should understand the nuances of the matter being discuss and they should factor in examples (positive or negative) into their conclusions regarding a matter they are being hired to give an opinion on. Keep this last sentence in mind.
La Crosse, WI has had trails that allowed mountain biking on them for years. The first group to spearhead this was Human Powered Trails (HPT). HPT had a fine reputation of not only building trails for mountain bikes but also for hikers and cross-country skiers. They soon morphed into a new entity, the Outdoor Recreation Alliance. This new entity did the same as the old one, creating and maintaining trails in La Crosse, WI.
One of their proposed projects was one they called “Grandma’s Gateway”, a relatively modest plan to bring the same type of trails currently seen in a location known as the Upper & Lower Hixon Forest, located to the Northeast and across Bliss Road from the area known as Grandad’s Bluff , a promontory overlooking the town. First envisioned in 2016, it won an International Mountain Biking Association Accelerator Grant in 2018 for $15,000. The plan chugged along smoothly with plenty of support, city buy-in and public meetings. Well, until late 2019.
In December 2019, a group of neighbors, spearhead by Ms. Christine Clair and Dr. Tracie Blumentritt, began to oppose the trails at Grandad Bluff. There might be a myriad of reasons they would lead the charge. Ms. Clair is a lawyer and Dr. Blumentritt is a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. However, looking at a map of the proposed trails and the location of both their homes would seem to give what had to be the most pressing reason: proximity to certain trails. “Not in my backyard” became literal in their case.
There isn’t much reason to discuss their points of opposition, those are sort of secondary to the part that is important. However, just to summarize, it’s the normal grab bag: there were suggestions that shared trails were unsafe, that the entry/exit points were dangerous, and the trails would cause instability of the soil. (There may have been some discussion about unleashing Chuthulu in there too...) You can see video of one of the public meetings here (Judiciary & Administration Committee, February 4th, 2020).
The City of La Crosse did the correct thing and rejected arguments based on values differences, as well as a lack of data. Remember the City has had trails in blufflands for years now, over a decade or more in some cases, without issue. It is pretty hard to argue that trails are going to cause a bluff to fall apart when, across the street, are trails in the same soil that have stood there for multiple years without erosion. Also, though it doesn’t seem to be said out loud by the city, working on a project for nearly 4 years only to have a small group whining about how they didn’t know about some aspect of the project did not go over well.
On May 15th, 2020, Ms. Clair, representing a group of citizens near the proposed trails, sued the city for an injunction to stop construction. You can read the petition here. (Please note the addresses have not been redacted; please do not use this oversight to dox these individuals or bother them in any way.) Attached to that petition was a letter report by a Dr. James N. Tinjum, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This report is important because it will become the basis of the rest of the article.
Dr. James N. Tinjum
(linked from University of Wisconsin - Madison)
The brown M&M report
Musical bands, like Van Halen, have long included strange requests in their performance riders, such as a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. When asked about these odd requests, the explanation is simple: those requests were placed next to important items dealing with electrical safety measures. If the band got to a location and the candy bowl had brown M&Ms, that meant the venue hadn’t read the rider and the road crew would need to do an inspection to verify those safety measures were in place.
Mr. Tinjum’s report, to turn a phrase, has brown M&Ms in it.
Let’s start with this gem:
I am also an avid biker who routinely bikes upwards of 5,000 miles per year on roads and paths across the Upper Midwest… I have a somewhat unique sensitivity to biking options and trail availability in this context.
Which is true, though it should be noted Dr. Tinjum doesn’t mountain bike nor work on trail maintenance. However, if you are writing a report about some aspect of biking and especially in opposition to multi-use trails that include biking access, preferencing your report with that kind of note is the equivalent of starting a diatribe regarding a certain ethnic group with, “I’m not against those people because [reason], but...” These types of statements always raise eyebrows as they come across as insincere (which they are). This isn’t a salient point to the rest of the report, but it does show that Dr. Tinjum seemed to be self-aware enough to believe some pre-emptive statement was needed, lest others find the rest of the report to be an anti-mountain biking diatribe.
Immediately following this statement is where we start to see issues with the report. Dr. Tinjum lists the documents he reviewed in relation to this project. While the list is long, you might notice some missing documents that would seem to be elementary to understanding sustainable trails. Documents like:
To illustrate why this is an issue, imagine for a moment that a city wished to build a street. Let’s assume this proposed road traverses some area of marginal conditions. What would any reasonable person think of a civil engineer that claimed the road was impossible to build in this location knowing that they did not do research on the underlying engineering concepts used to build roads in said marginal conditions?
Yet, it gets weirder: Dr. Tinjum was on site, reviewing the conditions of the land these trails were built in. Nowhere in the report does he mention visiting the existing trails right across the street in the same types of soil. The big premise of his report is that creating these trails would cause irreparable harm (Hellmouth! Chuthulu!) to the bluff because the trails would fall apart, taking the hillside with them. If he is correct, then why not go and scout the existing trails for the damages he claimed would be inevitable? Surely, if that opinion had any validity, looking at the existing trails would have shown ample evidence of those issues. This, of course, would strengthen his case, to show that the predicted impacts had already occurred on existing trails. Right? Unless, of course, these trails in this type of soil don’t cause issues (and he knows that) in which case visiting those other trails and finding no issues sinks his entire report…
In his first section (Summary Opinions – Item #1), Mr. Tinjum takes his time explaining the geology of the bluff, but also includes this statement:
Because of the channelization and routing of water along or across trails on steep slopes, construction of trails on these steep slopes generally enhance the potential for freeze-thaw cycles and thus the potential for increased rockfall occurrences.
With sustainable trail guidelines, channelization is avoided, and the rerouting of water is minimized. Water does travel across the trail, but not at a rate greater than the water moved across the hillside preconstruction. In fact, when the routing of water pre- and post-construction comes up in a discussion in permitting documents, like a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), some verbiage is included to inform regulatory bodies that any alterations to existing drainage patterns are extremely minor and are confined to single slope segment(s), typically something like this:
Drainage areas and volumes will not be substantially altered as this trail will conform to sustainable trail guidelines as defined by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) trail guidelines, the United States Forest Service (USFS) 2007 Edition of Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines and [relevant state or city guideline; or relevant American Trails guidelines].
The second issue is that all the available research on soil movement in freeze-thaw cycles show that compacted soils (like the trail tread) move less in a freeze-thaw cycle. True, those studies look at pathways used by equipment and therefore is not a 1:1 comparison, but it’s the best we have. Again, there is an easy way to test whether these types of trails do move more rocks in this type of soil: survey the existing trails built to these standards in the same soil and see if they suggested long term impacts have, in fact, occurred. And again, Mr. Tinjum did not do this.
In his second section (Summary Opinions – Item #2) is where the flaws really appear. So much so that we enter the realm of some real ethical concerns. The area where we are going to focus is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil report.
A little explanation is in order before we proceed. Wikipedia’s description of the NRCS is honestly the most succinct:
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers… Its mission is to improve, protect, and conserve natural resources on private lands through a cooperative partnership with state and local agencies. While its primary focus has been agricultural lands, it has made many technical contributions to soil surveying, classification and water quality improvement.
The precursor to the NRCS was Soil Erosion Service, formed in 1933, to prevent the massive soil erosion that had created the Dustbowl. In 1935 the agency was renamed the Soil Conservation Service before it was renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service. One of the functions of this agency was making maps of soil types and their respective properties. Different soils would need to be treated differently by farmers to prevent soil loss. These maps were primarily created in the 1930s through the 1960s. Since then, check surveys have been done at some regular basis to verify previous ratings.
The maps that the Soil Conservation Service produced were geared to farming uses originally. But the data included information about roadway suitability, percolation and other common supporting uses for agriculture. Over time they became useful for other uses, including civil engineering.
During the lead up to the final public meetings for this project, Ms. Clair and Dr. Blumentritt got a copy of a web page generated report for the area via the Web Soil Survey, the web-based output for the NRCS. They immediately began to use what they thought the report said as “proof” the trails should not be built at their location. When persons who knew more about what these reports contain and its correct application attempted to explain the report’s information to them, they were rebuffed, with accusations of “mansplaining”. (Side note: if you are a lawyer or psychology professor and the person(s) explaining the report are civil engineers, soil scientists, in the environmental sciences realm or work for the agency whose report you are quoting, the chances they might know what might know more about the subject than you. Regardless of their perceived gender.)
Soil surveys can be used for general farm, local, and wider area planning. Onsite investigation is needed in some cases, such as soil quality assessments and certain conservation and engineering applications. [emphasis added]
Soil quality assessments, if you are wondering, are precisely what Mr. Tinjum’s report is.
But it’s just not some bit of disclaimer text, as NRCS’s own soil scientist for Wisconsin, Mr. Jason Nemecek, explains:
The soils information is a guide only to help people make an informed decision and is mapped at a certain scale which has a degree of accuracy and precision. Soil survey data seldom contain detailed, site-specific information. They are not intended for use as primary regulatory tools in site-specific permitting decisions. They are, however, useful for broad regulatory planning and application. [emphasis added]
So why would a well-respected civil engineering professor with a resume as long as your couch not understand this? Honestly, that is a bit of a mystery. When civil engineers use these reports for road or development work, they use them for preliminary assessment only. They are used to answer broad questions like, “Should we investigate the need for road stabilization for this project”, or “Will standard or mound septic systems likely be needed for these homes?”. But those questions are always answered by on-site soil borings and percolation tests very early in the project. Because, and this is an important point, the layer of data on NRCS are too broad to draw specific conclusions about a site (or part of a site). Additionally, not only is that information broad, but it often is also presented without any data on the potential for remediation. Whatever the reasons for his use of these documents, even in the application of his report, Dr. Tinjum either doesn’t understand the report’s findings or is misusing them.
As an example of this, Dr. Tinjum states that:
…majority of Grandad Bluff is classified as ‘very severe’ in terms of erosion hazard specific to off-road and off-trail situations…
Which is true. However, as the NRCS description for that rating classification makes clear, it’s not about trails but about:
…sheet or rill erosion in off-road or off-trail areas where 50 to 75 percent of the surface has been exposed by logging, grazing, mining, or other kinds of disturbance. [emphasis added]
In other words, massive disruptions of vegetation that exposes large amounts of soil, not relatively narrow paths snaking through an existing forest, with disturbances only a few feet wide. Using a subsection of the report that is quantifying something vastly different than the item being discussed, is a mistake at best, intentionally misleading at worst.
But even in using the information for paths and trails contained in the report, Dr. Tinjum doesn’t seem to understand the difference between what the report is quantifying and what is being proposed to be built. The report’s conclusions regarding trails are based on the assumption that:
Paths and trails for hiking and horseback riding should require little or no slope modification through cutting and filling.
Yet, modern sustainable trail building techniques are a master class in modifying the slope of a hill. In fact, when this point needs to be covered in environmental review documents, like Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAW), for a proposed trail system, some sort of disclaimer is often placed in the text of those documents, alerting the environmental review staff that the NRCS’s methods for determining impact are out of step with modern trail building techniques, typically something like this:
Per the NRCS, this rating is based on the premise that “[p]aths and trails for hiking and horseback riding should require little or no slope modification through cutting and filling.” However, modern sustainable trails employ slope modification through cutting the soil away to create a stable tread (bench) that sheds water.
Dr. Tinjum can’t have it both ways: either the manipulation of the soil is happening and the findings of the NRCS report are invalid or the NRCS report is valid and his own discussion of the manipulation of the soils throughout the report are invalid. This section of the report is the Schrödinger's cat of soil, it must exist in two states simultaneously. But soil isn’t some quantum state thought experiment, it’s a real thing with real properties and claiming trails are both a thing and not a thing is impossible.
By the time you get the third section (Summary Opinions – Item #3), one starts to get the feeling that it’s time to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
High-intensity mountain biking on Grandad Bluff would indelibly and irreparably impact the tranquility, setting, and nature of these areas… on the geological and cultural significance of Grandad Bluff, I believe that construction, operation, and maintenance of an extensive set of off-road biking paths would cause irreparable harm.
Besides the subjective statement about “high-intensity mountain biking”, Mr. Tinjum lays out a series of harms that are going to happen to the bluff. Yet he never explains how these damages are going to come about. What is obvious about this list is that it mirrors almost perfectly what his clients hired him to investigate:
Specifically, regarding the proposed new mountain bike paths, I have been asked to provide my expert opinion on the following subjects and if any of these assessments would potentially cause irreparable harm:
It’s almost as if he felt he needed to cover points to satisfy a client, but never knew what supposed harms could or would occur. It makes this last section a word salad with a dressing of subjective statements. In the first two sentences he lays out 5 things that, in his opinion, will be harmed by these trails: tranquility, setting, nature, geology and cultural significance. Yet in the next 179 words, he never quantifies what those impacts are. If these supposed impacts are so large that they require calling out in his report, surely it would be easy to enumerate or describe them, even briefly. When we try to guess what those impacts would be (always a dangerous idea), the only resulting answers we come up with are subjective and therefore undefinable by their very nature.
The ethical dilemma
Remember that sentence that would become important later? This one:
A technical professional shouldn’t be misusing or misrepresenting regulatory documents, they should understand the nuances of the matter being discuss and they should factor in examples (positive or negative) into their conclusions regarding a matter they are being hired to give an opinion on.
The buzz saw any technical professional that writes a report contrary to a trail proposal runs into is that for them not to find themselves in an ethical dilemma, they would have to explore and understand trail design, trail construction and trail maintenance in relation to their area of expertise. Additionally, they would have to integrate previous and similar trail projects into that narrative as proof of or lack of proof of a particular outcome. The writers of these technical reports rarely do, creating an ethical quandary for themselves.
Look back at this report by Dr. Tinjum. It places him in an ethical Catch-22 – either he failed his clients and their expectation of well-done work (a relatively minor ethical breach) or he is providing an incomplete, misleading or false report (a major ethical breach). How?
Well, as we mentioned above, Dr. Tinjum own report mentions he did not do research on trail standards and existing trails built to said standards in the same soil type as the proposed trails. Therefore, he never tested his own opinions against a long-term test case with the same conditions.
It gets worse for him when the discussion of the NRCS data comes up. Either he didn’t understand what the two data points are quantifying in relationship to trails or he (intentionally or not) created misleading/false statements to be used in a court case.
What to do about Dr. Tinjum’s ethical quandary? Honestly, if the City of LaCrosse and ORA wanted to, they could contact the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services regarding an ethical complaint. It is something they should seriously consider. There is a precedent being set here. Making Dr. Tinjum sweat it out in a hearing might make it clear to future professionals that there will be a price to be paid for not having the ethical fortitude to tell clients they are wrong.
The issue behind the issue
Science and engineering are not politics. There are ground truths available. Most of the answers confronting the public where science and engineering are concerned have solid, verifiable, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. You may not like those answers, but it doesn’t make them any less true.
On the political left and the right, there are those that seek to remove that certainty to chip away at certain beliefs or political concepts. For instance, it’s easy to point out climate deniers misuse of/misinformation on climate science, both corporate and individual. But it’s funny that the same people who point out the science about how destructive coal & gas fired power plants are often the same people who claim that nuclear power isn’t the statically safest & cleanest non-renewable power generation available. One can’t have it both ways, you can’t say the science should be followed in one circumstance, but not the next.
There is a growing number of professionals however, that are willing to facilitate those who want science to only say what they think it should say. These technical professional mercenaries follow the money, either to the political left or the political right, and try to make the science follow. Just like military mercenaries, they have no allegiance to anything greater. And just like real mercenaries, they often take shortcuts to the detriment of all.
Look at this situation. Ms. Clair and Dr. Blumentritt started misusing the NRCS soil report and rebuffed those attempting to explain the technical data. But lucky for them, there was a technical professional willing to write a report that said exactly what they wanted it to say. We are not suggesting Dr. Tinjum intentionally lied in the report. There is no evidence of that. But we have shown is that Dr. Tinjum didn’t do basic research on the subject he was discussing. And he sure as hell didn’t look to how assumptions of a NRCS soil report doesn’t fit a trail building project or modern trail building methods. If one strips away the parts of the report that need more research or got something wrong or don’t explain themselves, what are you left with? Well, some version of, “The bluff soils are fragile, and you need to be careful.” All the parties knew this, but most of all the persons who have been working in them for the last decade: trail designers, trail builders and the army of volunteers that have maintained the trails on them.
How to help prevent mercenaries
How can you prevent, or at least minimize, the attacks by these report mercenaries and their ethically dubious actions? Simply put, by giving them little room to maneuver. Doing the right amount of environmental work ahead of time saves headaches later. There are also ways to structure projects that make them nearly impossible for opponents to figure out who is responsible for what.
Do an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). We’ve talked about both before, so we won’t rehash what they are or what they do. However, as they are in line with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), they make hard for an outside party to argue that no due diligence was done. Additionally, they allow you to control the narrative by framing the debate on certain subjects. They can cost money, no doubt about that, but it’s likely the billable time by the city attorney and city engineers in preparation of this lawsuit would have easily paid for an EA. Had this suit gone to trial, these same bills would have likely paid for a full EAW. What is frustrating about the La Crosse situation is that in the nearly 4 years of working on this project, no one seemed to think that doing an EA or an EAW would be worth it. One note of caution: a lot of consulting groups don’t understand trail design, construction or maintenance. It’s important to bring in a person or persons that can help them integrate those fields in the expected text of an EA or EAW for submittal to regulatory agencies.
Use Collaborative Ecological Layout (CEL) or similar methods that dilute the process over a period of time. Much like the environmental reviews, we have discussed Collaborative Ecological Layout (CEL) before. However, due to the fact that it is both a collaborative process followed by an ecological review process, CEL replaces a lot of the parts of a typical public process. The CEL is a revisionary process, that is: it does a thing, revises the trail based on results and continues that process till no more revisions can/should be done. As we discussed in the article about CEL, its hard, if not impossible, to attack the CEL process. As an example, look at the situation in La Crosse. Had CEL been used and Ms. Clair and Dr. Blumentritt were made part of the citizen group, not only would they have been walked through the design process, had they still been opposed, their voices would have been in the minority and hidden under a blanket of official decisions. Additionally, they couldn’t make any of their arguments they later made. Because CEL involves review by scientific professionals, it would blunt any attempt to bring in an outside professional, like Dr. Tinjum. This entire process takes time, typically a year, stringing out what would be a single large decision to approve a final trail plan (and giving the opposition a chance to mount attacks) into a series of small choices that are impossible to mount any attack against.
Structure the trail construction (post-permission) to be nearly impossible to stop with post-approval legal processes. Sheerly by accident the City of La Crosse and ORA discovered something new: distributing the process of trail construction over several entities makes it hard for any outside party to stop the construction. Guerilla military strategy uses a similar cellular (distributed) structure to minimize the damage any potential successful attack against the organization would have. Regardless, in the case of La Crosse and ORA, the city gave the permission to ORA to build the trails, but ORA was then the funder and project manager thereof. Therefore, when Ms. Clair and company sued the city, the city was not an involved party any longer. In other words, they sued the wrong group. They would have been forced to then refile any lawsuit to attempt to gain an injunction. Because time is money and a plaintiff in a civil case has more work to do to file a suit, forcing a plaintiff to spin their wheels (and burn money) would benefit the defendant. A trail organization could use this to their advantage, setting up trail projects in manner where the project phase being completed in that moment is always in some nebulous state, where an outside party could never know who was doing what, at least not without a lot of expense and a lot of digging. One could imagine how a trail organization could create an (possibly anonymous) limited liability company (LLC) to further distribute this process. The trail organization does the advocacy, the City gives permission, then the trail organization passes off completed parts of the project to the LLC (which they control through back channels) for construction. If sued, when asked in court proceedings about the project, the City passes any questions off to the trail organization, who can pass the questions to a hard (impossible?) to find LLC. Anyone attempting to sue the city or the trail organization (or both) ends up with nothing and must keep researching who is the correct party to sue. During all this, time and money slip away from them.
Use Ethical & Legal Bodies to Your Advantage. As we discussed above, any report by a 3rd party regarding trails would have to be an extremely detailed report to avoid issues of ethical concern. They almost never have that level of detail, mostly because it kneecaps nearly every anti-mountain biking argument available. This inability to get the level of detail required is an opening. In most states there is an ethical or legal body, usually a subsection of a state agency, that takes complaints regarding professionals that do something illegal or unethical. Typically, its free for a person or group to bring a complaint against a professional or company. Whenever a report of these types is brought forward, they should be an immediate parsing of the report to find any and all potential ethical concerns. If warranted, a complaint should be filed. Have no allusions, these bodies typically require obvious untruths, forgery or a pile of dead bodies to act against professionals. But if complaint after complaint keeps coming forward about the same thing, regarding the same person or company, they start to get interested. A sort of ‘if there is smoke…’ reasoning. Also, it’s important to know that companies and individuals don’t like their name associated with ethical complaints. If suddenly providing reports or doing work for anti-mountain bikers will mean their name shows up in an ethical bodies’ hearing calendar, you can bet they won’t take on anti-mountain bikers as clients.
There is another reason for doing this: protecting other trails in the future. In this example, Dr. Tinjum lives in Madison, WI and through newspaper articles its likely anti-mountain bikers in Madison now have Dr. Tinjum on their radar. With the proposed massive expansion of trails slated for Madison, if ORA or the City of La Crosse brought ethical concerns up, it might save the City of Madison and the trail organizations there from having to deal with another report by Dr. Tinjum made on the behalf of anti-mountain bikers.
Soldiers of (Mis)Fortune
Richard L. Biederman was a white supremist. Ideologically he found common cause with the Rhodesian government, who was fighting to maintain its apartheid ethno-state. But other American mercenaries that fought for Rhodesians did so for the money or out of a sense of adventure. Many had read the glowing articles in a magazine called Soldier of Fortune describing the war as the “beleaguered” Rhodesian government wanting to restore “law and order”. Whether it was ideology or money or excitement, they gladly took up arms for another nation.
Report mercenaries are the same. Some do it out of an ideological connection, they might be anti-mountain bikers themselves. Some do it for the money. Some do it as a form of networking or advertisement, knowing they are going to be mentioned in the paper or on the news.
One of the endearing qualities of trail projects that find themselves in trouble is the promoter’s sense of optimism. They assume that because they can see all the benefits of a trail project everyone can. They think that with discussions, some charts and some reasoning, others will see what they see. Unfortunately, that isn’t very realistic. There will be opposition. You can do things to minimize it, of course, such as presentations like “Knobbies in the Neighborhood”. And even though there isn’t a place like Soldier of Fortune to advertise in, there are other Dr. Tinjums out there, just waiting for your local anti-mountain bikers to put out a call for report mercenaries. And off they will go, to fight against something you worked hard to create.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.