NOHVCC Newsletter - April 2017 edition

Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues



In this Issue:




At 10-Year Mark, OEM Grant Programs Considered Helpful Resource by USFS and BLM

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Over the past decade, Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, and Polaris Industries Inc., have mailed out a combined total of over $5 million in grant checks. Their grant programs are well known amoATV Trail Map with Sponsor Logosng off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs, which have used the funds to build and maintain sustainable trails, staging areas, bridges, and to create trail maps.


The grant programs have also become an established and welcomed source of funding for public land managers and OHV program managers at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).


“The reality is that the resources available to public land managers have been dwindling for a long time,” said Lisa Spicer, grant administrator for Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative. “There’s always been a pinch. It’s very much a part of why we do what we do. The grant program exists to help ensure that there’s opportunity and access.”


Yamaha’s grant program was started in 2008. To date it has provided $3 million for about 300 qualified projects. The Polaris T.R.A.I.L.S. grant program was created in 2006, and recently surpassed the $2 million mark in grant checks. Both grant programs focus their funding toward access initiatives: trail development, restoration, and maintenance; signing and maps; staging areas and facilities; and OHV safety and education.


Examples of federal-agency projects recentlyBridge entrance sign funded by Polaris include:

  • In South Dakota: a new, wider bridge in the Black Hills National Forest, allowing owners of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs, also called Side-by-Sides), to enjoy the scenic beauty along a major trail, just like riders on narrower ATVs have done for years.
  • In Washington State, a dilapidated puncheon in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is being replaced, allowing trail managers and volunteers to bring a trail section back to a more user-friendly and safe condition, while protecting the natural surroundings.
  • In Kentucky, the Daniel Boone National Forest used a grant as matching funds to provide much needed maintenance and rehabilitation to trails, a trailhead, loading ramp, restrooms, kiosks and signage.


Grants build strong agency and club partnerships


Signs with Sponsor logosA few years ago, the Forest Service stopped taking grants directly from manufacturers of OHV vehicles, but still allowed them to be provided through a non-profit organization or foundation. That didn’t stop Yamaha or Polaris from approving applications from Ranger Districts. In fact, it created new partnership opportunities. “We are happy to support projects on Forest Service land,” said Spicer. “But we must do it through a riding group or association, ‘Friends Of’ group, or other non-profit organization in some sort of official capacity with the public land manager. We are still able to fund the BLM directly.


“As part of the application process, we ask the Forest Service to demonstrate a relationship with the riding community. We see that as part of the collaborative effort of stewardship. In fact, we’ve managed to help create some great partnerships that may not have otherwise existed.


“In South Carolina, the Francis Marion National Forest reached out to and created an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with CORRA (Coastal Off-Road Riders Association.” This OHV group maintains the 40-mile Wambaw Cycle Trail. The National Forest has sandy, erosion-prone soil. Maintenance is key, so the grant request was for specific equipment needed to keep the trails sustainable and open. “This kind of partnership is a wonderful expression of the grant program,” said Spicer. “The grants happen much faster this way, and at the end of the day that’s good for the riders.”


Another positive outcome of the grants to federal agencies is that when land managers move to another Forest Service Ranger District or BLM Field Office, they take their grant knowledge with them. Said Spicer, “We’re very focused on getting resources out to the field to help protect, improve and create access. It’s been very rewarding to have agency folks recognize us as a resource.”


For information on the Polaris T.R.A.I.L.S. grant go to: Learn more about the Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative at:



Back to the Top




New NOHVCC Guide: How To Partner With Private Landowners On OHV Trails

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


I want to build an off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail on private property in my local area, but:
How do I approach landowners and answer their questions about liability?
What are the recreational liability rules in my state?
Can state and federal grants be used to purchase or lease property?


The answers to those and other questions can be found in a new guide, published by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). It’s titled: “Working With Landowners: A Guide to Developing OHV Trail Systems in Partnership with Private Landowners.”


ATV rider near sign - respect landowner, stay on marked trailsThe 16-page guide, presented at the 2016 NOHVCC Annual Conference, is intended to provide OHV clubs, associations, state agencies, and landowners with the information they need to work together and create new OHV riding opportunities.


Long gone are the days when a person could take their OHV wherever they please without education or permission. Today’s riders are more responsible, and want to do the right thing, at the right place, and the right time. However, finding that “right place” can often by difficult, especially in states where large tracts of public land are not available. Often, the only way an OHV club or association can find a suitable piece of land that will accommodate sustainable OHV recreation is to partner with private landowners.


The guide was researched and written by Marc Hildesheim, NOHVCC Project Manager, and the organization’s Private Lands Team, a group of NOHVCC State Partners with a lot of experience building and maintaining sustainable OHV trails in states with little public land. One of them is Danny Hale, Executive Director of the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association (VASA). “A lot of people are looking to Vermont, where we run a public/private partnership to create trails on private lands,” Hale said. “We have 800 miles of trail in 13 different areas, and a couple hundred landowner agreements.


“The new guide is a great starting point to learn how to partner with landowners, provide liability protection, secure that riding area, and combat illegal use on their property.”


The first question posed in the guide is: “Where is the newMan riding dirt bike around corner on trail riding area going to be?” It goes on to identify and define four possible areas: 1) large corporate landholdings; 2) properties adjoining existing trail systems; 3) brownfields, defined by the federal government as “abandoned, idled, or underused industrial or commercial properties, where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination;” and, 4) undeveloped properties.


The next topics discussed are how to identify landowners, how to approach them, and how to explain the positive effects of building a trail on their property, including increased security and resource protection.


Answering the big question: “What is my liability?”
It is important to research your state’s landowner liability and recreation protection laws. They provide protection for landowners who allow recreation to take place on their property. The laws usually include all types of recreation, including hunting, fishing, horseback riding, trail riding...even kayaking.


American Whitewater, along with the International Mountain Biking Association and the American Association for Horsemanship Safety, created a comprehensive chart with links to each state’s landowner liability law, where applicable. The NOHVCC guide includes that state-by-state chart, with information on stipulations, such as “duty to keep safe,” “duty to warn,” and whether or not protection is lost if there is a fee charged. “We borrowed their chart, then went through the links as a team to make sure their statutes were the most up-to-date and correct,” said Hildesheim. “Most were. There were a few we had to modify, so we had the most current language.”


ATVs riding on a trailThe NOHVCC guide also includes discussions on the need for a trail management plan, an insurance policy to protect your OHV organization and the landowner, and a primer on how to find local, state and federal grant funding. A state-by-state table lists whether or not federal grants allow the purchase or leasing of private land, and if state OHV grant funding is available.


Final topics include 1) how to find out if your state agencies allow you to enter into leases or purchase property with private landowners; and 2) how to formalize a plan with the landowner with some sort of an agreement, outlining the responsibilities of the landowner and of the managing club or agency. Finally, the guide provides links to sample agreements.


To download and print copies of the NOHVCC guide “Working With Landowners,” to give to your club, government agencies and landowners, go to the Private Lands Team Topic Library.


Please forward this article to OHV clubs, state associations and other organizations in your area that are working with landowners to build fun, sustainable OHV trail systems.



Back to the Top




How Military Training Is Helping Some OHV Leaders Build Great Trails

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


First in a series. We publish a lot of off-highway vehicle (OHV) success stories. They often feature one or two people leading the charge on challenging OHV projects, with patience and perseverance. They are engaged and energized. This series of articles features some of those OHV leaders who have military backgrounds, and how they use their military training and experience in their efforts to create a positive future for OHV recreation.


Bryan Much, a retired Army officer, helped spearhead an effort that led to Wisconsin’s new “OHM Law”; a sticker program designed to generate funds to build off-highway motorcycle (OHM) trails, and provide for required regulations and safety education. Assembly Bill 470 was signed into law on February 29, 2016 in a unanimous vote in the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate. We gave Bryan a call, and asked him to connect his military training to this success story.


Warrior Ethos Sign: I Will Never QuitWhat is your military background and what were your responsibilities?
“I joined the Army in 1973 as a Private. I had to overcome a fear of heights to become a paratrooper. Seems the military culture enables you to take on things some might otherwise avoid, which keeps building on itself throughout a career. I had a break between my enlisted and commissioned service, when I went to college. I went to officer candidate school and went on to achieve the rank of Colonel. Like many others in the military, I had a variety of assignments that included logistics, personnel, IT, operations & training, and I commanded field artillery units at battery, battalion, and brigade level.”


How did military training impact you and does it help you today on OHV projects?
“Training is constant and evolves as you progress in rank. The systems we learned work very well. Learning how to coordinate as a staff officer translates quite well. The mission analysis process trains you to analyze what you want to achieve and make sure that all the components are addressed. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield translates to taking your opposition into account as well as identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your allies. Being able to systematically analyze multiple courses of action can help a group find the best approach to gaining success. Coordinating between other elements is a key consideration that translates to what we do now as well.


“You also learn to pick your battles to make them count. Sometimes it is better to by-pass some opposition instead of engaging them with no deciBryan Much 2016 Partner of the Yearsive victory. Save your effort for arguments that make a difference. You don’t need to fight everyone, everywhere. Take the key terrain and go after the center of gravity to overcome those that oppose you.


“We also learn to be agile. Instead of making a plan and absolutely sticking to it, we learn to make changes along the way that will contribute to getting the ball across the goal line.”


Is being focused a key asset of your training?
“Yes, we are taught to keep our eye on the ball and not get distracted and spend too much effort on things that don’t make much of a difference with regard to our mission and goals.”


So it’s about setting objectives and not giving up till you met them?
“Yes. We have been taught responsibility and accountability throughout our careers. If a unit or an individual is supposed to do something at a certain time and place, it must be done. There is no being late, or coming up with excuses. We all rely on each other to do our part the way we are supposed to do it. Don’t quit; just get it done. I should add that as leaders we are tasked to assess and develop our subordinates. We learn a lot about it during a career and because it is constant it becomes second nature. We have to have people that can perform since we must rely on them. Sometimes in OHV organizations there can be some “talkers” but not a lot of “doers”. It is important to encourage the “doers” while keeping the “talkers” from getting in the way. The idea is to accomplish the mission.”


Bryan uch with dual sport bikeDid military training help you in understanding how government agencies work and how to work with them?
“Yes, this is part of the program for more senior officers. However, just operating in a very large and complex organization like the military translates well to dealing with what sometimes can be large and complex government. Since we spent much of our careers reading, interpreting, and abiding by regulations, it is easy to deal with laws and regulations in civilian agencies.”


And were there moral codes on dealing with people?
The military has a strong system of very appropriate and desirable ethics. You’ll find them expressed in law, Army values, creeds, oaths, ethos, and other shared beliefs embedded in our culture. It leads us to make the right decisions and take the right actions as trusted professionals.”


Bryan Much is president of the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (WOHMA), and is a NOHVCC Associate State Partner. NOHVCC presented him with the Partner of the Year Award at its 2016 annual conference, for his strong OHV advocacy in Wisconsin. To read the complete article on his 7-year effort that lead to the “OHM Law,” see the March, 2016, NOHVCC newsletter, at:  Be part of the discussion about the new OHM Law on the WOHMA Facebook page, at

To learn more about WOHMA, become a member and get involved in the work ahead to create new OHM clubs, new single-track trails, and the sticker program itself, go to:



Back to the Top




Minnesota’s OHV Safety Training Programs Are Statewide Success

For the past 17 years, Minnesota has required younger riders of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) to take a safety training course, and obtain their Safety Certification, before riding on public trails.


ATV riding trainee working on hill body positionDuring that time, the number of registered ATVs and OHMs in the state has more than doubled, to over 300,000. But the number of accidents has remained the same or decreased year-to-year. “Safety education is paying off,” said Bruce Lawrence, Recreational Vehicle Coordinator, in the Division of Enforcement at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “With the growth of ATVs and the number of students attending, our program is working as it’s designed to work. And it’s certainly well attended.”


Since the year 2000, about 48,000 OHV riders have received their DNR Safety Certification through the Minnesota DNR. In addition, a large number of riders have taken safety training through the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) or Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Dirtbike School, recognized by the state starting a few years ago. Each riding season, there are more than 70 ATV Safety Training Classes organized and taught by DNR-certified safety trainers who belong to ATV clubs across the state. The Minnesota DNR points to these and other trends to measure success of its training programs.


Riders of all ages are encouraged to take online and rider safety training


The vast majority of OHV accidents or injuries result fromInstructor teaching looking at terrain during class behaviors which the vehicle manufacturers and others warn against performing. Safety training, not only increases the proficiency of riding the OHV, but allows the instructor to verbally communicate which behaviors should not be performed on OHVs.


In Minnesota, ATVs are designated as Class 1, those with a total width of 50 inches or less, measured from the outside of tire rims, typically ATVs with handlebars; and Class 2, those with a total width greater than 50 inches but not more than 65 inches, typically Side-by-Side vehicles with a steering wheel.


Minnesota’s ATV Safety Certification program is age specific. Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who is 12 or older, must have a valid ATV Safety Certificate to operate on public lands, trails, and frozen waters and when crossing road rights-of-way. Riders 12 to 15 must take an online course and a hands-on rider course. The “born after July 1, 1987” requirement means that even those who turn 30 this year, need to take the online safety training course. “That is a challenge, because each year there are more and more older operators who don’t know they need ATV safety training to ride on public trails,” said Lawrence.


In Minnesota, OHM operators under 16 years old are required to have an OHM Safety Certificate to operate on public lands, frozen waters, and state Grant-In-Aid trails. Riders age 11 to 15 obtain their Certification by taking the DNR’s online course. Proof of completion of the MSF Dirtbike School also meets the Minnesota requirement and is available to riders over 6 years of age. There is no minimum age requirement for riding on public trails. All ATV and dirt bike riders under 18 are required to wear a helmet when operating on public lands.


For more information on Minnesota’s OHV Safety Training Programs, visit or


For the ATV Safety Institute’s Golden Rules of ATV Safety, go to:



Back to the Top




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. 


Registration is now open for the 2017 annual conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire August 22 - 27.  Go to the conference page for links and the initial registration packet..

Scholarship applications and award nominations for the 2017 conference are due May 7, 2017.  Don't forget to send in your nomination or application.

Presentation session topic information is due on May 28, 2017.  Don't wait until the last minute or your suggested topic may not be included!


Back to the Top