Just felt I could chime in and either piss more people off or possibly shed some light on things.
I have been involved in organized wheeling for well over 20 years. I have been a member of at least 4 clubs for more than 15 of those years.
Being a club member has not LIMITED me in the least but in fact, has opened up more wheeling than I could even hope to experience in a month.
By being the member of even just one club and paying an earth shattering $50 a year, I can attend any other clubs rides, attend rides on private property, legally. I know whats legal and whats not.. Helpful in that wheeling illegally inhibits all of our rights to use public places (Like OFR or public used, privately owed like RSG) and if you're caught, costs a $h!tload more than any club dues.
I can be out wheeling at someplace different (throughout New England) every weekend of the year by being the member of a club and using the club networks that exist throughout New England. IE Northeast Offroad Vehicle Alliance or NEA4WDC.
These larger organizations have done their best to keep public places open but unfortunately, our actions have been outnumbered by those who don't care about where they go, how often they go to one place, over and over, how they treat the places they go to, etc.
A simple fact is that there is one legal public place to wheel in CT.. Its actually probably been shut down by now as it was state property and once we started dealing with the land manager directly and his superiors got wind of it, their panties got in a bunch and started grumbling about how we shouldn't be using those old roads.
In MA there are only a few (maybe 6-8) places that are public legal places and offer enough challenge to actually need 4WD.
RI has NO public legal places to go. This is fairly important as this thread IS about Wheeling in RI.
The number of legal open public roads increases as one moves further north in ME, NH or VT. However, those of course are further away from RI and make for a long day of driving. 3 hours up to NH, wheeling for many hours and then driving back.
The reason I can be wheeling somewhere different every weekend obviously means that I am not using only the 7-9 public places between CT and MA but using thousands of acres of private lands made available by the clubs working with landowners and having insurance and a vast knowledge of land use laws that protect the landowners from litigation.
You can hopefully see that with your current mode, you are LIMITING YOUR choices of how often and where to wheel... Unless you don't give a crap about variety, wheeling legally, etc. Simply put, if you like to get out and wheel 2-3 times a month, you are going to exhaust the legal public places in a short 2-3 months. I suppose you could then go back to each of those places several times a year, but in all honesty, that seems a little boring.. Where's the adventure and excitement of trying new challenging places?
Via the clubs, you could wheel at probably 30-40 different places within the same geographical range... doesn't seem like a waste of time or money... but, I'm not you so...
I know all of the above as I used to be the "land use chair" for several national 4WD and automotive organizations. East Coast 4WD Association, SEMA, Blue Ribbon Coalition, etc... for most of those 20 years.
I stepped away due to the fact that the actions of people who don't care, although technically not outnumbering those who do, simply overpower the actions of those who do. Its a battle I finally figured we can't win.
20 years ago there were at least 30-40 different public places to go wheeling just between CT, MA and RI.. We're down to 7-9... In another 10 years how many do think we'll have available?
Maybe joining a club isn't as bad you think it might be and in turn you could end up helping the rest of your "wheeling brethren", whether "jeepers" or Toyota or Dodge or Ford, etc guys.
Just food for thought...