May 20th, 2002

By James Castwell

It was and is a term used to promote and sometimes prohibit; it defies the laws of physics, it says two things can exist in the same place at the same time, sometimes. It is a term of compromise; and usually it stinks.

A classic scenario may go like this, at least this is a 'vision' of how it should work. Take a nice park with a stream drifting thru it. Allow and encourage the picture-takers to photograph the lovely canoeists dabbling along the water while small children tease tiny little sail boats at the streams edge. The more elite set whiles away their hours on the shaded tennis court, the 'book-worms' relax leaning against the trunks of ancient Oaks. Multi-use. Everybody gets to use the same area at the same time for different reasons and uses. Picnic areas and BarBQ grills abound. . .and all is well.

More often this is the result. Someone who feels left out wants basketball hoops on each end of the tennis court. Wonderful, but now they have to take turns as to who can do what and when. The plan starts to fall apart when the horseshoe guys can see that the only place for the pits requires they pitch from one side of the tennis court to the other. A fight breaks out, the tennis guys run, the basketball boys mix it up and a few get tossed into the drink, hitting an old couple in a canoe. The hippy reading against the nearest tree says he studied law once and starts to give advise and the whole thing is caught on film for the Sunday edition. Multi-use has problems.

And we, my friends, are living. . .'right here in River City.' We don't hear the term 'Multi-use' bantered about much, but the intent is still the same. It is not a 'buzz' word these days, it hasn't any 'juice.' It won't get votes, won't raise dollars and won't get attention . . . anymore. But this will.

'Rights!' By God, I have 'Rights!' This is America and 'I have my rights to do what ever I want, when ever I want and where ever I want to do it!' Such is the whining cry heard far too often. But, when your rights overlap mine, then what?

Well, if my dad is bigger than your dad, that's an easy one, I win. (Substitute company, party, organization, state, country etc. for 'dad' in the previous sentence.) 'Money talks, the rest walks,' is the term for that one. The 'Golden Rule today is, "Whoever has the most Gold wins."

There was a time when it was not so much like that, a few decades back. Ethics and basic common sense prevailed to some degree. Today, it's kind of like living in a bad neighborhood, the best defense is a good offense. Be tough, be strong, belligerent and be first.

Back in the early '70's I fly fished a stream in Michigan which had a few famous Au Sable River Boats that would softly slide along with their evening anglers casting for trout. A few had canoes. Then smart guys in two different cities started renting canoes by the hundreds. They clanked down the stream constantly, scaring the fish and toppling fishermen who were wading. Daytime fishing went the way of the Dodo bird. Multi-use again. I wrote a piece, satirically, that I wanted to run some hydro-plane races on the river, figuring that may wake some folks up. I got several applications from guys who actually wanted to enter the races!

We had a problem with some folks in the winter busting down the woods with snowmobiles and pestering the wildlife. They did so much damage the state built 600 miles of groomed trails for them, just to keep them under control. I wrote another one. I wanted to start a new outdoor recreation sport, 'Bulldozers of America.' I put in all the details, the suits we could wear, the insignia and how to take the mufflers off. I wanted my 600 miles of trails too, but they would have to be a bit wider for the D-9 blades. I wonder if I dust that story off, figure in a snorkel and rubber tracks. . .

Now I see the commercials on TV selling things that run up streams, across swamps, thru the woods and in and on the water. Multi-use. Here we come again. I can hear the trombones, the parade is just around the corner. . .

Oh yes, is there a cure for multi-use? How about some laws, that instead of protecting every minor cause, protect what the majority wants and is best for our Country, not each and every special interest group. Why not try some Common Sense for a Change? ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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