NOHVCC Newsletter - December 2016 edition

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In this Issue:




Happy 25th Anniversary to the RTP! With Vigilance, Many More!

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) celebrates its 25th anniversary this month. Written into law by Congress in December 1991, it is worthy of a cake decorated with 25 candles and miniature dirt bikes, ATVs, 4WD trucks, and snowmobiles. It is also worthy of continued involvement and a watchful eye. Especially considering that, on more than one occasion, the candles were nearly blown out on this vital federal program that funds motorized and nonmotorized trail programs across the United States.


RTP 25th Anniversary Image“The first 25 years have proven that the RTP is an unqualified success; however, another 25 years isn't guaranteed,” said Duane Taylor, Director of Federal Affairs with the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). “So, while it is important to take a moment to reflect on the wonderful opportunities the RTP has provided trail users, it is even more important that we stay ever-vigilant to protect and grow the program.”


The main source of RTP funds is motorized recreation.


The RTP is a Federal-aid assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Its purpose is to help the States provide and maintain recreational trails for both motorized and nonmotorized trail use. Since 1993, States have received over $1 billion in Federal funding for local projects.


RTP funds originate in the wallets of owners and enthusiasts of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and over-snow vehicles (OSVs). A portion of the federal excise tax they pay at the gas pump for the fuel they use in their recreational vehicles, goes towards supporting the RTP. Hikers, bicyclists, equestrians; everyone benefits, thanks to the motorized recreational community that pays the tariff.


A portion of the gas tax collected by the Federal government is returned to State governments. Thirty percent of the funds received by the States are to be spent for uses related to motorized recreation; 30% are to be spent for uses relating to nonmotorized recreation; 40% are to be used for multi-use projects within a recreational trail corridor, trailside, or trailhead.


The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) closely monitors RTP, and on more than one occasion has partnered with motorized and nonmotorized trails organizations to ensure its survival and success as a federal trail funding program.


To gain some perspective on RTP’s past and future, we visited with Christopher Douwes, Community Planner with the Office of Human Environment, Federal Highway Administration. Here are some comments:


From your perspective, what is the significance of the 25th anniversary of RTP?

“We can all work together for good. The RTP happened because people stepped out of their comfort zones and agreed to talk with others who had different viewpoints. They worked through their differences and came up with a consensus. As they were reaching consensus, they moved into trust and friendship. The Coalition for Recreational Trails brought together groups as diverse as the Motorcycle Industry Council and the American Hiking Society. We are all better off because of their cooperation. We have become a trail family, and we have better trails for all users.”


What would be your message to the OHV industry and those reading the NOHVCC newsletter about RTP, looking forward?

“NOHVCC’s motto is ‘Creating a Positive Future for Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation’. Because of NOHVCC and its cooperating partners, we have a better present than we would have had. Looking forward: Keep up the good work! Keep working together as OHV users and together with other trail organizations. Keep moving forward with OHV user ethics training with Tread Lightly!, Inc., and keep developing, updating, and providing good trail stewardship practices and safety education. Keep building bridges of cooperation with other communities. Keep reaching out to potential new users and allies.”


Is it fair to say that RTP is a good reason for motorizedTrail collage for RTP 2016 report and nonmotorized groups to work together on trails and trail issues?

“Absolutely yes. If we had all gone our separate ways, the program would have died. If the motorized users had said: “we want 100 percent of the OHV funds, or nothing”, then the motorized users would have gotten nothing. We would have more illegal riding in places where riders don’t belong, creating more animosity from nonusers, causing a backlash that would have closed more trails, resulting in lower sales for the industry. The local communities that depend on OHV tourism would not have seen the benefits. But we worked together; we learned to cooperate with other users. There are trails open now that would have been closed. In some areas, we have new, well-designed, and fun trails. Communities retained jobs because of OHV-related tourism. The OHV industry saw growth. The RTP was the incentive to initiate this cooperation, and the RTP continues to be the incentive to continue growing cooperation.”


RTP has delivered 25 years of success stories


The RTP applies the "user-pay/user-benefit" philosophy of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Trail users pay the Federal motor fuel excise tax for fuel used for non-highway recreational trail use, and receive the benefit of the RTP through funds provided to the States for trail projects. Each State administers its own program, usually through a State resource agency.


States may use RTP funds for a variety of project types and expenditures which fall under eight categories of permissible uses. The RTP legislation identifies these general permissible use categories:

  • Trail maintenance and restoration
  • Trailside and trailhead facilities
  • Equipment for construction and maintenance
  • Construction of new recreational trails
  • Acquisition of trail corridors
  • Assessment of trail conditions
  • Safety and environmental education
  • Administration


Leading the celebration of the RTP 25th anniversary is the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). It was formed in 1992 to ensure that RTP receives adequate funding. CRT is a federation of national and regional trail-related member organizations that work together to build awareness and understanding of RTP. 


Continued vigilance of the RTP is crucial, especially considering the ever-changing character and mood of Congress. For example, while the number of OHVs, and fuel purchased for their use, has risen dramatically in recent years, RTP funding has not. As reported by American Trails, a national nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail  interests: “After 25 years, RTP funding has grown to represent a larger portion of the total fuel taxes paid by non-highway recreationists, although it is conservatively estimated that the RTP receives less than one-third of the total taxes paid annually by non-highway recreationists." Since Fiscal Year 2009, states receive $84.1 million annually in RTP funds, while OHV users pay about $270 million annually in Federal fuel taxes.


Each year, the CRT sponsors an awards program to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the RTP. The awards are presented in Washington, DC as part of the Coalition’s ongoing effort to build awareness and appreciation of this highly successful program.


Here are some links for more information:


Visit the database of over 21,000 RTP-funded projects:


See details of the RTP, including funding for each State:


Review a state-by-state list of annual awards presented by the CRT at:



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Motorized Recreation Good For Body, Soul...And Canadian Economy

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


A few years ago, the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), released a comprehensive study, showing a wide range of benefits riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs) have on personal health and wellness.


Diabled ATV rider transferring from ATV to wheel chairA new study from COHV, conducted by an independent company and released in November, shows that OHVs also positively impact the national economy; to the tune of $6.9 billion. That’s how much Canadians spent in 2015 on direct activities related to ATVs and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs, also called side-by-sides).


“The health benefit study showed that motorized recreational activities are good for the body and soul,” said Jo-Anne Farquhar, Director of Communications & Public Affairs. “We will use this new information to show how it contributes to the economy nationally and at the provincial level.”


The economic impact study comes at a time when Canadian governments at all levels are making important decisions on the future of OHV recreation. “The purpose of the study was to comprehensively determine the economic impact of not only the purchase of ATVs and ROVs but also related economic activities for Canada and each of its provinces and territories,” stated Bob Ramsay, President of the COHV. “The study encompassed ATV and ROV activities that included riding gear, clothing, insurance and travel related to ATV and ROV use. Together these purchases and activities constitute the direct and indirect expenditures involving ATV and ROV participation.


“Managing the responsible use of ATVs and ROVs is a subject of current interest for many governments. It is also of great interest to the COHV and the not-for-profit rider federations that have developed across the country. This report confirms the scope and scale of the contribution that ATV and ROV use makes to provincial economies.  Especially in rural and northern areas, which the industry points out, is an important aspect that needs to be recognized and considered when discussion is focused on the responsible management of off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity across Canada.”


Facts and figures you can use in OHV advocacy


The independent economic impact study, completed by Man riding ATV near Stay On Trail signSmith Gunther Associates Ltd., gives non-profit OHV clubs and federations helpful information they can use in their advocacy work with government agencies, promoting responsible use of OHVs. Here are key points from a fact sheet released by COHV: 


  • In 2015, there were an estimated 705,264 ATVs and 432,219 ROVs in operation.  This estimate is based on an 8.6% attrition rate of the current stock of ATVs from 1994 onward when annual sales data were available or could be estimated. Similar adjustments were calculated on ROV purchased after 2006 when they started being used for recreational purposes.  From those provinces where licensing data were available this rate is supported by that data.
  • This comprehensive study updates an earlier 2006 study, also conducted by Smith Gunther, which examined the economic impact of ATVs specifically.  Both of these reports are a snapshot in time of the economic impacts of ATV and Side-by-Side or Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (ROVs) recreational activities.  Since the 2006 study, ROVs have become a significant factor and both data sources and geographic information systems have improved facilitating increased direct expenditures and availability of data to analyze the impacts.
  • Other expenditures include upkeep and operations of the entire stock of all ATVs and ROVs that is the surviving stock of ATVs and ROVs sold in all years dating back to 1994 for ATVs and 2006 for ROV, enhancements of any on-highway vehicles to facilitate ATV or ROV recreational activities, paid repair and maintenance, gasoline for ATVs and ROVs, membership fees, licensing costs, attendance at events and off-highway vehicle shows and related travel, e.g. mileage charges, food and beverages and accommodation as well as related entertainment.
  • Foreign spending is not considered in the report, but would increase economic impact further. Volunteer time is not considered since it is outside of Stats Canada’s Input/Output range (because no funds are exchanged). Smith Gunther, nevertheless value volunteer time at $554 million to $858 million annually. Licensing fees are also not considered because they are usually recycled back into the general government revenues where their subsequent use will no longer impact ATVs or ROVs. Smith Gunther estimates their impact at $99 million to $123 million.


The Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), originally founded in 1984, is a national, non-profit, trade association that represents the responsible interests of the major ATV and ROV distributors, as well as the manufacturers, distributors and retail outlets of OHV related products and services. Its mission is the ongoing education and training of the general public on the safe and responsible use of ATVs, ROVs, and off-road motorcycles, as well as to promote the responsible interests of riders and the industry.


The member companies of the COHV account for over 90 percent of all the new ATVs and ROVs sold in Canada. More information related to the COHV is available at:


The news release and fact sheet for the Canadian Economic Impact Study of ATV and Side by Side Recreation is on the COHV website under the following hyperlink:


To get the entire report, plus other economic impact studies and information, see the NOHVCC website at:



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ATV “Learner Loops” Help New Riders Of All Ages Develop Trail-Riding Skills

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Third in a series. Adding challenge features or a skill development area to an off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system can greatly boost rider interest and the overall rider experience. They may include technical terrain courses, learner loops, kiddie tracks, tot lots and youth training areas. We’ll report on some of them in this article series, how they were built and how they met rider needs. If there is one of these unique riding areas in your area, tell us about it by sending an email to: Include a few details, along with your name and contact information.


This Minnesota County Included A 2-Mile Training Trail At Its New ATV Park


Grant County ATV Park brochure with mapIn Minnesota, to legally ride on public ATV trails, youths ages 12 to 15 must complete the State’s ATV Safety online class, then show their rider knowledge and skills during a hands-on rider class. Now, families new to trail riding, kids as well as adults, have a new place they can go to hone their skills, prior to riding on public trails that are often busy with ATVs, ROVs (recreational off-highway vehicles or side-by-sides) and dirt bikes. 


It’s called the Grant County ATV Park and it is located 160 miles northwest of Minneapolis in west central Minnesota near Elbow Lake. The county built the facility, partnering with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). “It’s a 40 acre parcel of county land, that was a gravel pit,” said Tracey Von Bargen, county engineer.


The ATV Park had its grand opening in August of 2016. It includes a youth training area, fenced in, with a shed that houses orange cones and trail signs for rider courses. The 2 acre area is flat, except for a dirt hill, built so students can show safety instructors that they know the proper techniques for climbing, descending and side-hilling.


Outside the fenced area is a 2-mile trail built with features typically found on public trails in Minnesota. Picnic tables provide a viewing area for parents to observe their young riders as they practice their skills. Trail features include elevated, off-camber, and technical turns; boardwalks and low-water crossings; boulder, log, and culvert crawls; and a series of small whoops. “All the obstacles at the park are similar to what you might find on public trails, with a bypass for each of them, so young riders can opt out where they want to,” said Ron Potter, Program Manager for NOHVCC Management Solutions (NMS). NMS, a consulting arm of NOHVCC, designed the ATV Park for the county. It works in cooperation and partnership with land management agencies, land owners, and OHV enthusiasts to improve management of OHV recreation on federal, state, county, city and private lands.

 Two men hang ROAR ATV club banner

Students who take an ATV Safety Class that’s held at the ATV Park, may not head for the trail immediately afterwards. They must wait to receive their ATV Safety Certificate in the mail from the DNR. But for young riders with DNR certificates, as well as those over 15 who are new to trail riding, the ATV Park provides a great practice area. A new ATV club located in nearby Alexandria is planning to use the new trail with students it trains, once they are officially certified. “We plan on going over there after our course,” said Ray Bruggman, president of the Runestone Off-road ATV Riders (ROAR). “We’ll make it a family day. The kids can ride the trails, and parents can watch them from the picnic area.” 


In Minnesota, residents older than 15 and born after July 1, 1987, are encouraged to take the hands-on course, but are only required to only take the on-line safety training to legally ride ATVs on state trails. That makes the park a great destination for new riders of all ages to practice. “It’s a great site to hone rider skills after a Minnesota winter, and kids can try out the stations once they get their safety certificate,” said Mary Straka, OHV Program Consultant with the DNR.


The Grant County ATV Park also gives certified safety trainers a new facility to hold their classes, including ATV club members, Minnesota DNR conservation officers, county sheriff deputies, and certified instructors with the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) and dirt bike coaches with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Mini-dozer and mini-excavator building log crossing at Grant County ATV Park 

The ATV Park’s construction was provided by DNR’s Roving Crew of trail builders. Funding was provided by a grant from the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Minnesota Grant-In-Aid (GIA) program. The trail is now part of the State’s GIA trail system, which includes 54 State and GIA Trails. The DNR hopes to get a club partnering with the county on the ATV Park, for maintenance and to add signs with rider operating tips for each obstacle.


For more information on the Grant County ATV Park, visit:  To learn more about NMS and its services, contact NOHVCC by email at, or call 800-348-6487.


For more information on planning and designing challenge areas, see the “Great Trails” resource guide, published by NOHVCC. Pages 289-294 provide helpful information and photographs of a variety of challenge features. You can order copies of the 350+ page, fully illustrated book, or download the PDF version at this link:



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Texas Coalitions And Agencies Tackle OHV Challenges At Great Trails Workshop

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Attending the Great Trails Workshop held in Texas in November, were members of the Sam Houston Trails Coalition, the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition, and Old Dudes on Dirt Bikes. That’s not a descriptor; it’s the name of a club out of Spring, Texas.


Man hangs flag on tree during trail flagging exerciseThat’s the beauty of Great Trails Workshops, created by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). They help off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders, clubs and coalitions focus on trail issues with their State and Federal OHV program managers and land managers. Over the course of 3 days, they learn how to work together to plan, design, create, manage and maintain Great Trails (i.e. sustainable trails that provide fun rider experiences and resource protection). 


The Texas Great Trails Workshop was held by NOHVCC in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Texas Parks and Wildlife, on November 1-3, 2016. Classroom sessions were at the Gulf Coast Trades Center, New Waverly, Texas. Field sessions were held on the Sam Houston National Forest. “We had 40 people attend this Workshop,” said Marc Hildesheim, NOHVCC Project Manager. “About 60 percent were with the State and Federal agencies in Texas, but we also had good attendance by user groups.”


Creating OHV trails in Texas is a challenge. Only 3 percent of the State is public land. The Forest Service has minimal resources in funding and staffing for trail development and maintenance. And user trails built decades ago are not sustainable. “The unique part of this workshop is that it’s so rare to have a public land riding opportunity in Texas,” said Hildesheim. “That in itself can be kind of alien to residents. And they have really sandy soils with very little grade, which makes properly laying out a trail challenging.”


Despite the challenges, those attending the workshop wereMan standing in washed out trail in Texas during a workshop to help redesign trails focused and intent on making improvements, adds Hildesheim. “There was a lot of impetus on getting users there,” he said. “In the Sam Houston, there’s open, flat terrain. And the mindset in the past has been, ‘if there’s a blowout on the trail, move the trail 10 ft. to the right and keep riding’. The Forest Service and motorized groups wanted to learn better approaches, to plan a sustainable reroute instead of just moving the trail.


“There’s only one or two recreation people on the Forest, so for them to try and maintain that trail system was a daunting challenge. The volunteer groups are trying to step up to implement change and create a better trail system, fulfill the needs of the public and the Forest, and help fill in shortcomings in staffing and funding.”


The agenda in Texas was similar to that of other Great Trails Workshops, held over the past 2 years in Alberta, Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon. The full-day classroom session included:

  • How trail systems function and provide desired experiences
  • Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) – how they apply to trail maintenance
  • Creative trail design and innovative engineering practices
  • Trail maintenance techniques specific to various trail uses and conditions
  • Trail reroutes
  • Maximizing partnerships to leverage limited resources
  • Trail construction/maintenance equipment overview – capabilities and limitations


Two days of field sessions were held to give everyone a chance to put what they learned to work on OHV trails, and included: 

  • Trail maintenance equipment demonstrations
  • Trail maintenance techniques exercises
  • Trail construction demonstrations
  • Creative trail design and layout exercises
  • Trail relocation exercises
  • Trail design considerations for different types of OHVs


Past Workshops have also included observing professional crews using dozers and excavators to build new trails or reroute existing trails. “In Texas, a lot of our time during the field days was focused on getting water off the trail,” said Hildesheim. “With that sandy soil, they can have major blowouts, where the trail becomes heavily damaged during heavy rain events. And a lot of the old trails are on fall lines, right up the drainage. They had a major rain event last year that destroyed some existing multi-use trails, and they were still closed when we got there.


Trail dumper being demonstrated“We want to thank the agencies and coalitions that attended, and Trails Unlimited (an Enterprise Unit of the USFS). Trails Unlimited was doing some maintenance in the Sam Houston, and allowed us to use their machinery for the equipment demonstration. They’ve done quite a bit of work on that Forest, put in some bridges, construction and reroutes, and a lot of maintenance. “


As for the user groups, they went to work right after the workshop. “They’ve already started utilizing some of the information they learned in class, and are applying it to the trail system,” said Hildesheim. “And the Sam Houston Forest is working on getting plans in place to bring their trail system up to standard and provide a fun, sustainable experience.”


“Just a note to say thank you,” said Ed Ponikvar, president of the Sam Houston Trails Coalition, in an email to Hildesheim. “We are acting on the vision.”


The Sam Houston National Forest offers 85 miles of multiple-use trails that are open to registered OHVs. Details are available at its website:


To learn more about the Sam Houston Trails Coalition and its motorized and non-motorized members, visit:


For information on the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition, check out:


Old Dudes On Dirt Bikes was started in 2012 to help get "older" dirt riders (Dudes) together and ride the Sam Houston National Forest in groups rather than riding alone. To find out what the ODODB is all about, go to:



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Mixed Gear Bag

You know we have to be creative in our titles.  Miscellaneous is too normal and potpourri doesn't sound very rider like.  Below are up-coming events and other assorted items of interest. 


The 2016 annual NOHVCC conference is in the books.  The conference wrap-up is completed and the 2016 presentations have been posted.


Looking forward to 2017, the annual conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire August 22 - 27.  The Save the Date information is up.  Details will be added to the conference page as they are available.


The American Motorcyclist Magazine wrote a story about Trail Ambassador Programs for their June 2014 magazine.  The cover shot is Dave Halsey, a NOHVCC Associate State Partner for Minnesota.  The AMA was kind enough to send us a copy of the article for distribution.


The Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) recently sent out their Winter edition of their National Advocate newsletter.  There are some NOHVCC stories re-printed and a lot of other information to look over.  Check it out at:  


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