NOHVCC Newsletter - December 2015 edition
Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues
This year is our 25th Anniversary at NOHVCC and we are celebrating all year!
In this Issue:
Kicking Off NOHVCC’s Next 25 Years, Two State Partners Share Their OHV Success Stories
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Last in a 12-part series. This year, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Throughout 2015, we included articles in this newsletter about the history of NOHVCC, its challenges and accomplishments, leading up to the annual conference in late October, and beyond.
NOHVCC’s 25-year history demonstrates that success breeds success
Off-highway vehicle (OHV) success stories are everywhere. We report on them monthly in this newsletter. We heard some outstanding ones at this year’s joint NOHVCC/INOHVAA Conference.
Many of these narratives are rooted in the mission set forth 25 years ago by the original NOHVCC “Design Team,” and the NOHVCC Workshops held across the U.S. and Canada that followed. They became true success stories thanks to the patience and perseverance of dedicated NOHVCC staff members, State Partners and industry leaders, who know what it takes to “Create a positive future for OHV recreation.”
An industry that 25 years ago was on the defensive, is now proactive and on the throttle. It is powered by hundreds of positive success stories, solid partnerships with State and Federal agencies, and a “toolbox” filled with tools being used to build OHV trails that are fun, sustainable and protective of natural resources. The value of responsible OHV recreation -- and its ability to help us improve our health, connect with nature, and boost local economies -- is undeniable.
As NOHVCC gears up for its next 25 years, we invite you to let us know about OHV success stories in your local riding area, so we can let others know about them through this newsletter. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To conclude this article series on NOHVCC’s 25th Anniversary, here are letters we received recently from two of our State Partners, demonstrating the power of the NOHVCC mission.
From Connecticut: Becoming a NOHVCC State Partner made all the difference
As of April of 2014, I had begun a true test of my own endurance and patience. This was the beginning of my journey into making change in my State of Connecticut. I had a plan but I did not know how to implement it, and that is where the NOHVCC came in. I started asking questions, lots of them, and the staff had answers and typically more than one.
Soon after my inquiry to the NOHVCC, I was asked to be the Connecticut State Partner. I was shocked, but now I understand the reasons why. Soon after, I launched a long-term plan to create a designated OHV space in Connecticut and I realized I was in over my head because there is only one of me.
At the advice of the NOHVCC staff, I started attending club meetings throughout the State and I started to get a following. It has blossomed to nearly 2,000 followers, many from out of State, and is still growing daily. In fact, at one of these meetings I was approached by a UTV owner that belonged to the club I was visiting that evening, and he showed interest in becoming an Associate State Partner with NOHVCC, which he now is.
Since having an Associate Partner, we have scheduled meetings in January with Connecticut representatives and the legislature to build a relationship with government and help reform our State laws into something that will support the creation of an OHV-friendly area and possible public access areas. During this time, we have also gained allies from the Connecticut Motorcycle Riders Association and have been asked to be their leaders for the off-road segment of riders.
In short, there is not one particular instance, course or workshop that has helped us progress to our current standing. But just being affiliated with the NOHVCC and living by the guidelines they pose has helped create this huge leap forward. This structure is essential to creating and maintaining a powerful voice in the world of OHV use. Myself and my associate are truly thankful to the NOHVCC for their time, patience and knowledge. Without the people at the NOHVCC, our ideas would not be where they are now.
Matthew House, CT State Partner
Dan Brown, CT Associate State Partner
From Utah: NOHVCC Is “A Beacon To Guide Us”
Thanks to NOHVCC, Ride with Respect (a non-profit organization promoting diverse recreation on public lands) learned how to construct and maintain the Sovereign Trail for OHVs and mountain bikes. Ten miles northwest of Moab, Utah, on sovereign State land, the system includes 20 miles of single-track and 50 miles of double-track, including the Fallen Peace Officer Trail.
NOHVCC’s 4 E’s of management gave RwR a structure to identify aspects that we had been lacking, and to validate what we were doing well. After the Sovereign Singletrack hosted 1,000 motorcycle visits and 10,000 mountain bike visits each year, RwR was given the Trail Sharing Award from American Trails in 2010. Since then, Sovereign Trail has become a model for the development of motorized and non-motorized trails on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands in the surrounding area. When it started in 2002, RwR faced a steep learning curve. NOHVCC became a beacon to guide us toward long-term success in shared-use trails.
Clif Koontz, UT State Partner
Program Director, Ride With Respect
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Used Right & Often, Social Media Can Boost Your OHV Organization’s Image And Membership
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Fifth in a series. Why are some off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs and State Associations vibrant, active and growing, while others are struggling or folding altogether? What is the state of your State Association? Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your name, address, and phone number so we can contact you and include your insights in future articles.
Hatfield-McCoy Trails Boosts Followers On Facebook To 70,000
On a Wednesday this month, NOHVCC posted on its Facebook page a picture of the famous Honda, bandage-shaped sticker with the words “Stupid Hurts” on it.
By Thursday, over 1,700 people had seen it.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking services are here to stay. They are a key tool OHV clubs and State Associations can use to build awareness of their fun trail rides and social events, safety classes and trail projects and, in the process, build membership.
For example, by boosting its use of social media, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in West Virginia increased its Facebook fan base from 700 to 70,000. “It’s becoming more and more popular to use social media, especially when you have a small budget to work with,” said Mike Pinkerton, Marketing Director for the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. “We try to mix it up. We post a variety of things, from contests and videos, to funny photos, links and messages about our sponsors. The shorter ones are getting the most attention. It doesn’t have to be big things and major topics, and shouldn’t be lengthy dissertations.”
About 7 years ago, Pinkerton recruited a local newspaper reporter to help create the trail system’s Facebook posts. Today, he sees social media as a powerful tool to reach younger riders, who represent the future of the sport of OHV riding, and that translates to future success at Hatfield-McCoy. “It can be fun and really easy,” he said. “At Hatfield-McCoy Trails, we have grown our Facebook audience to over 70,000 by following a few simple rules.”
Here are Pinkerton’s top 4 rules:
- Keep your posts simple, generally under 7-10 seconds to read or view.
- Use media-photos or videos, plus a short message. Videos can be longer than 9 seconds but should still get to the point very quickly.
- Use links, websites and existing material. You don’t have to “invent” every post, but rather simply communicate information that already exists that is relevant.
- Mix it up - Use contests, history, events, funny, educational, etc.
Here’s one more suggestion, from Karen Umphress, NOHVCC IT and Project Manager: When submitting posts to your organization’s Facebook page and other social media networks, make sure you aren’t including photos, videos or messages that promote irresponsible or unsafe riding practices. Said Umphress, “In all NOHVCC photos posted on social media, the riders are always wearing all the proper safety gear and are always engaged in responsible riding activities.”
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Being A Rider Is Helpful, Being A Good Planner Is Critical, Say Two MN DNR Workers
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Ninth in a series. Is it important for land managers, recreation planners and off-highway vehicle (OHV) program managers to know how to ride a dirt bike, ATV or ROV? How does being a rider help them in their work managing trail systems, promoting rider safety, and partnering with OHV user groups? In this article series, we’ll talk to decision makers in state and federal agencies to find out. Over two dozen people replied to our request to participate in this series and offer their views. Some are lifelong riders, some learned to ride as part of their job. We’ll hear from as many as we can in coming months.
When they were hired by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mary Straka and Nancy Spooner-Mueller had little or no experience riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs). What they did have was extensive experience and skill in planning programs and working with local communities.
Nancy Spooner-Mueller has worked at the city, county and state level
Nancy Spooner-Mueller is an Acquisition and Development (A&D) Specialist with the Division of Parks and Trails at the Minnesota DNR. She works on program development, and the negotiation of leases and land purchases. She’s had that position for 15 months, following 3 years in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources.
Spooner-Mueller says she came into her Parks and Trails job with a little bias about OHVs, and was more than a little nervous about riding one. “I had never sat on an ATV in my life,” she said. “I was nervous about it. I knew it was something I could do, but I didn’t have any exposure to it. I also had a certain bias about ATVs. All I heard was anything negative on the news.”
Despite those feelings, Spooner-Mueller says she has always been open to trying new things. And learning to ride was important, especially on a job that involved advocating for OHV riders. This year, she completed both the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Dirt Bike School and the ATV RiderCourse offered by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). “After the first hour, I started to relax and it was really fun,” she said.
Spooner-Mueller grew up in Iowa. She attended Texas A&M University, where she studied architecture as an undergrad, and did her graduate work in urban and regional planning with an environmental emphasis. She worked for the City of Austin as a planner, then moved back to the Midwest. “I worked for the Minnesota DOT (Department of Transportation) as a transportation planner, then for the City of Lake City, and later for the counties of Winona and Goodhue, in southeast Minnesota. I worked with a lot of different entities, to make sure projects got done and were understood in lay terms.”
Spooner-Mueller brought all that experience to DNR Parks and Trails, where the position of A&D requires a lot of planning and consensus building. And now that she has done some riding, she is better able to connect the dots between trail design and trail enjoyment. “I know about building trails, but I also have to know how to make a ride fun, interesting and safe. Unless you’re on that ATV, you don’t know what it is that makes it worth going out there and riding.
“For me, the fun lies in the constraints of trying to be creative within those drainage areas of trails, and with those site-specific and safety issues. Then you add the fun of riding on top of it, that’s where I get excited. You’re going, wow, I I could do this or that with this trail. It’s science, but there’s an art to it that’s fun.”
Just as exciting to Spooner-Mueller is meeting with OHV riders and clubs in the planning process. “They’re my clients,” she said. “I need to understand what it is that they do. The work, the expense and the time it takes to go out there, and go for a ride. And I like the sincerity of the people that I’ve met. They understand the environmental concerns and want to do the right thing.”
Mary Straka’s focus is getting great trails on the ground
Mary Straka grew up on a farm in central Minnesota. Her earliest memories of off-road riding are on tractors, horses and a 3-wheel ATV. “I went with my dad to feed the cows. I rode in the tool box of a John Deer tractor,” she said. “We used horses to move the cattle. We didn’t have any ATVs, but my grandpa had a 3-wheeler. That was one of the highlights of our visits to grandpa and grandma’s. He would let us ride the 3-wheeler, a Honda Big Red. I was probably 9.”
Straka attended St. Cloud State University, where she graduated with a double major in earth science/biology and a minor in education. She started working for the Minnesota DNR while in college and has worked for it her entire career. She worked as a park manager at a number of state parks, and later as an Area Supervisor in the Trails and Waterways Division, which today is called Parks and Trails. Said Straka, “I’ve been with the DNR my whole career, 26 plus years, isn’t that amazing?
“In September of 2007, I moved to the OHV program. To get the job, what helped me more than riding experience was the experience I could show in working with local communities and outreach that I had done while working at a number of state parks and getting new trails built as an Area Supervisor.
Straka’s title is OHV Program Consultant, giving her a broader job description than a State Program Coordinator. “Within our job titles, a Program Consultant has more freedom to act than a Program Coordinator. I am working with the state and local organizations, with area supervisors and their staff around the State, and with the A&Ds (Acquisition and Development Specialists) to assist them to keep and get great trails on the ground.”
Straka travels around the State of Minnesota, assisting clubs in navigating the DNR’s 7-step process to building OHV trails. She regularly rides with OHV clubs and meets with the state’s OHV associations. “Being a rider on my job helps me to see and observe what a fun trail can be, and that it’s maintained and designed to be sustainable. That’s a preachy answer, but it’s also an answer that means, when I go out and ride the trails now, I look at the birds and trees, but I’m also looking at what the tread condition is, what the vegetation is along the trails. If there’s a problem area, what if we rerouted it over there. There are so many things going through my mind. Even when I’m driving down the highway now I’m looking for another place for a new trail.
“Trail building is kind of an art. It’s not a cut-and-paste engineering exercise. For any kind of trail on a natural surface, it’s an art in picking out how to lay it out and shape the earth. We’re still learning as an organization and as an industry of trail builders.”
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2,400 OHV Enthusiasts Cross The Mackinac Bridge ... Now That’s A Club Ride!
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge, 5 miles long, connecting the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan. Each year, in addition to millions of car and truck crossings, the bridge is the site of special events for walkers, runners and bicyclists, as well as enthusiasts of Jeeps, Corvettes and antique tractors. Now, added to that list are off-highway vehicles (OHVs), thanks to one man’s vision and the support of local clubs and communities.
The event was called Trek The Mighty Mac. On October 3rd, 2015, OHV riders from 14 States and Provinces lined up on their ATVs, ROVs (side-by-sides) and OHMs (off-highway motorcycles) and rode across the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. It was a cloudy, windy day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of those out for a unique day ride.
John Chad, an OHV activist from Grayling, Michigan, came up the idea for the inaugural bridge crossing, to promote OHV recreation in Michigan. After his unexpected illness and death last July, OHV clubs and communities banded together to make the ride happen. The Michigan ORV Association and St. Ignace Special Events Committee organized Trek the Mighty Mac, with assistance in planning and the actual crossing provided by the Mud Brothers of the North ATV Club, St. Helen Dirt Packers and the Cycle Conservation Club (CCC) of Michigan.
About 500 riders were expected. Over 2,400 showed up. Drivers paid a $35 fee to participate, passengers paid $25. Promoting safe, responsible riding was a key component of the ride itself. “It was a fun and safe event for everybody,” said Lewis Shuler, executive director of the CCC of Michigan. “We ran everyone through a tech inspection, for sound testing, ORV stickers, and going over the machine to make sure it could make the Trek safely. We didn’t allow extra seating in side-by-sides, or riding two-up on a single-seat ATV.”
One lane of the four-lane bridge was closed down for the Trek. Police escorts were provided front and back. It took just under 2 hours for the 1,340 vehicles to make the ride across the bridge. Some riders continued the ride on trails in the St. Ignace area. Many made a weekend of the event, riding or visiting local tourist attractions on Sunday and Monday.
The first 1,000 riders received a commemorative patch. Riders were also treated to a post-ride lunch and live music, and an auction that raised about $1,500 for a local toy drive.
Want to ride your quad or dirt bike across the bridge next year? Save the date! Next year’s Trek the Mighty Mac is scheduled for October 1st. For information, visit the St. Ignace web site at: http://www.stignace.com/event/trek-the-mighty-mac-mackinac-bridge-atv-crossing.
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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.
Last month's question:
Q: Name three NOHVCC past or current board members who have been involved with the organization for over 10 years.
A: There are too many to name. Thanks to all of the people who have stepped up to help this organization grow!
Need to make an end of the year charitable contribution? NOHVCC is a 501c3 organization so all donations a tax deductible. Also, check out your local and State clubs and associations for tax status for charitable contributions. Better yet, start 2016 out by joining or renewing your or someone special's memberships in local or state clubs or associations. You are the future of our sport.
Russ and Karen will be joined by Mark Himmel from the Montana Back Country Horsemen to give a trail conflict prevention webinar. The webinar is hosted by American Trails for a fee. Continuing Education credits are offered. Here is the link to the webinar for details:
Congratulations to the American Motorcyclist Association for winning first place in the 2015 Showalter Political Involvement Program Innovation Award competition, announced Dec. 11 in Naples, Fla., at the annual Innovate to Motivate conference.
During 2015, the AMA revamped its advocacy outreach to strengthen its position as the voice of the motorcycle community before national, state and local legislatures. That effort included the creation of a fully integrated advocacy resource center that serves as an information storehouse for all issues related to motorcycling and government.
Have you checked out Outdoor X4 yet? It is a bimonthly magazine for people who enjoy the outdoors. Check it out at:
The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, which isn't known for being a pro-motorized newspaper, actually printed an article about OHV recreation that wasn't bad. Check it out at:
http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-off-road-activity-gets-better-traction/335886011/. This must be an example of perseverance and always taking the high road.
We hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season.
Now, on to the next 25 years of NOHVCC!
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