NOHVCC Newsletter - January 2016 edition

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Revitalizing Its Trail Systems And Motocross Track Turned Gallup Into “Adventure Capitol of New Mexico”

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

Adventure Gallup and Beyond logoIf your town is in need of revitalization, and you need a good example to prove to your city council or county commissioners that off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation can play a role, check out the town of Gallup, New Mexico.

 

Gallup, population 20,000, went from being labeled “drunktown USA” to being named “Adventure Capitol of New Mexico” by the New Mexico Legislature.

 

Gallup is located in the northwest corner of the state. Established in 1881, it once was a hub for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, had a thriving lumber industry, uranium mining, and an oil refinery. It was a popular tourist stopover on Route 66. Its motocross track hosted many qualifying races for events sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). 

 

Then, all that changed.

 

“From the mid-1980s to 2000, I call those the ‘Dark Ages’ for Gallup’s economic and recreational opportunities,” said Greg Kirk. “It was the demise of my hometown. We had a loss of industry and tourism. Mines closed, the lumber industry died, the railroad hub moved out. The Gallup motocross track ceased activity. Two of the three cycle shops closed their doors. Our OHV trails became a site of illegal dumping, shooting and partying. The Interstate Highway bypassed Route 66. We became the poorest county in the state of New Mexico. We were labeled ‘drunktown USA’.”

 

Kirk, a physical therapist and father of three, is a former racer of events including World Off-Road Championship series (WORCS), Best in the Desert (BITD), and SCORE International. He is president of the Red Rock Motorsports Club, Inc. He is also secretary of Adventure Gallup and Beyond, a not-for-profit organization that was created to market the area’s natural assets as an adventure tourist destination, and today promotes wellness and the expansion of outdoor recreation in the region. Kirk presented the story of the revitalization of Gallup at the annual conference of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), in October of 2015. “We’re looking at the quality of life, tourism, the economic base, and reinventing our self-image,” he said.

 

Here is a summary of events that took place that got Gallup out of the “Dark Ages” and serves as an example for others:

 

1999 - The “Adventure Gallup” (AG) concept emerged during economic develoATV trailer loaded with junk during work weekendpment planning.

 

2000 - A steering committee was formed, including the City of Gallup, McKinley County, Tribal Representatives, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. McKinley County obtained a block grant from the State to study the feasibility of developing adventure tourism.

 

2001 - The feasibility study demonstrated that adventure tourism, once implemented, could initially increase tourism. “Adventure Gallup and Beyond” (AGB) was created as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that oversees all kinds of outdoor adventure for Gallup and the surrounding area.

 

2002 - The University of New Mexico completed a marketing plan. The Legislature appropriated $35,000 to purchase a local rock climbing area. Youth Conservation Corp builds the flagship Pyramid Rock hiking trail.  

 

2005 - The Legislature appropriated $80,000 for AG improvements. The City of Gallup sponsored a trails and open-space master plan. Gallup held its first mountain bike races.

 

2006 - Creation of the Zuni Mountain Trail Partnership, an agreement between the U.S. Forest Service, McKinley County, Gallup Trails, AGB, and YCC. 

 

2010 - The revitalization of the track, now called Gallup OHV and MX Park, thanks to the efforts of Red Rock Motorsports.

 

2007 to 2012 - Development of a comprehensGallup, NM OHV MX park welcome signive mountain bike trail for the Zuni Mountains and connecting towns. Start of new mountain bike races. Gallup is named “Adventure Capital of New Mexico” by the State Legislature. 

 

The economic impact of Gallup’s adventure tourism is impressive, attracting 32,000 adventure tourists annually, with mountain biking and off-road events taking in over $1 million for the past 8 years. There have been new businesses created. Spring cleanup projects involving Jeeps West, Boy Scouts, YCC, and county detainees have disposed of 100,000 lb. of trash from the recreation area.

 

“Dreams do come true,” said Kirk. “AGB and its partners have built to provide access to more than 150 miles of single-track trail for biking, running, horse-back riding, and cross-country skiing.  The OHV park itself has 25 miles of trail, but with adjacent trails from the landowners, we have approximately 50 miles of trail.

 

“As of 2015, the Gallup OHV and MX Track has been awarded funds totaling $360,000 from the Recreational Trails Program; $60,000 from the New Mexico Game and Fish OHV program; $1,000 from Tread Lightly!, and over $30,000 in sponsorships, including in-kind donations from the city, county and private sector.

 

“The city council sees the changes. They see people coming to town. They see this land being utilized correctly. The land was ‘buffoon central’ back in the day because every weekend vandals were out there and they were pulling (injured) riders off the motocross track because it was so unstructured and unsafe. Since we took over and implemented rules, regulations, and enforcement, there’s been a huge change. The ambulance has been out there twice in 5 years.

 

“To me this was the ultimate reward. Our club brought racing back to Gallup. So, to see the gates drop or the green flag wave, that brings me a smile from ear to ear every time I see it.”

 

To see the powerpoint presentation on the revitalization of Gallup, visit: http://nohvcc.org/Education/Conference/2015-presentations/docs/default-source/2015conferencepresentations/adventuregallup_gregkirk.

 

To get the complete story about Adventure Gallup & Beyond, go to: http://www.adventuregallup.org/. To learn more about Red Rock Motorsports, visit: http://www.redrockmotorsports.com/#.

 

 

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Be More Proactive In Your OHV Advocacy, Grab Some New NOHVCC “Tools”

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

“The best defense is a good offense.”

 

It’s an age-old saying and a solid strategy, whether you’re playing chess, coaching your team to the Super Bowl, or building sustainable off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail systems.

 

Students on a hillside listening to field trip instructionTwenty-five years ago, OHV recreation and the OHV industry were on the defense, and with good reason. Then a couple guys from American Honda Motor Company brought together a “Dream Team” of OHV advocates and created the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). Since 1990, its original Mission Statement has not wavered: “Creating a positive future for OHV recreation.”

 

Those words set the tone that allowed NOHVCC to be proactive, partner with State and Federal Agencies, build a network of State Partners, help establish OHV Clubs and State Associations across the U.S. and Canada, and create the tools they needed to be successful.

 

“We’ve come a long ways,” said Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Director. “Educating the riding public has been the cornerstone of the NOHVCC mission and its success. There is still a lot of work to do, and attacks on OHV recreation will continue, so we have to be vigilant. But we’ve learned that, to make real headway, we also have to be working on the proactive side.”

 

If it’s been a while since you looked into the NOHVCC “toolbox,” read on. Using the newest NOHVCC tools, everyone interested in designing, building and maintaining sustainable OHV trails -- providing a fun riding experience while protecting natural resources -- can get on the throttle, be proactive and find success.

 

New! 364-Page OHV Resource Guide: $30 Hard Copy and Free On-Line

“Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences” Great Trail Guidebook Cover 25th Anniversary Editionis the ultimate resource guide for the design, planning, construction, maintenance, and management of quality OHV trail systems that are sustainable and fun to ride. “Its main audience is OHV trail managers,” said Ehnes. “It’s also an invaluable resource for NOHVCC State Partners and Provincial Partners, local communities, non-profits, OHV clubs and everyone working to build fun trails that meet OHV riders’ needs, while ensuring resource protection.” The second printing, totaling 3,000 copies, is now available. The hard-copy, 364-page book is $30, which includes shipping within the contiguous U.S. The book is also available free-of-charge by downloading it on-line. To do either, visit this website:  www.greatohvtrails.com. To learn more about “Great Trails,” its goals and content, read the November NOHVCC newsletter at: http://nohvcc.org/Materials/Newsletter/News11-2015.

 

New! OHV Design, Construction, and Maintenance Workshops

NOHVCC held three “OHV Trail Design Construction and Maintenance Workshops” and two “OHV Mobile Workshops” in 2015, attended by hundreds of people with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), State Agencies and OHV user groups. “The Forest Service is likely our biggest partner for new Trail Design Workshops,” said Ehnes. “The agency see the workshops as being very valuable for their overall OHV program.

 

“The agencies are in a jam when it comes to having financial resources to manage trails and, perhaps more important, the human resources and knowledge to be good managers. Unfortunately, the many of the people who do have the trail management skills knowledge are retiring, so the agencies are losing some of those skill sets. That’s why we’ve really dedicated a lot of our effort to OHV Trail Design, Construction and Maintenance Workshops, and a 364-page book, and all the tools that will help current and future managers understand how to provide high-quality opportunities and protect the environment.” Keep an eye on the home page of the NOHVCC website for details on future workshops. If your agency is interested in organizing a workshop, contact NOHVCC at trailhead@nohvcc.org.

 

NOHVCC Management Solutions (NMS)

NMS is the consulting arm of NOHVCC. Created in 2011, it provides assistance to land management agencies, efficiently and at far less cost than they typically pay. Said Ehnes, “NOHVCC is not just teaching people how to fix their problems or issues. We’re actually working with them to provide on-the-ground assistance they need for a variety of things, like designing safety areas, doing trail inventory, and long-range facility planning. We are engaging with them, not just telling them what they need to do.”

 

NMS was developed in a partnership between NOHVCC, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA). Many projects are ongoing across the U.S. For a complete list of services NMS offers, visit: http://nohvcc.org/Resources/nms.

 

New! NMS Assisting BLM On OHV Strategy 

BLM volunteer badge on helmetRecently, a new partnership was formed between NOHVCC and the BLM, to create a National Motorized Recreation Action Plan. The Action Plan is not designed to be a top-down set of ideas that each BLM unit needs to accommodate. Instead, it will be a set of ideas and actions that each State can employ to develop the best strategy for high-quality OHV recreation in its units.

 

“This is the biggest NMS project to date,” said Ehnes. “NOHVCC is working with the BLM on a state-by-state basis. We’ll provide OHV information that will help them develop their OHV strategies, Travel Management Plans, and Resource Management Plans. This will result in high-quality, better-managed opportunities for OHV recreation.”

 

The BLM Action Plan will encourage partnerships and open communications between the BLM and the OHV enthusiasts, clubs, and associations. Meetings were held in Montana during the fall of 2015. Additional meetings are currently being held in New Mexico. Attendees meet to discuss the following questions:

  • What activities are taking place on BLM managed land?
  • What experiences are riders seeking on BLM managed land?
  • What experiences can't currently be found?
  • Which BLM units and what areas of the units could possibly fulfill the missing experiences?
  • What could the BLM do better to enhance OHV recreation experiences on the local level?

 

These and other NOHVCC “tools” are helping everyone move the needle and continue the NOHVCC Mission. “We’re at a point where we are seeing many OHV clubs and associations being proactive with their trail programs and trail patrols,” said Ehnes. “Now, with the “Great Trails” book, NOHVCC workshops, and BLM Action Plan meetings, they have the opportunity to be more active than ever. Best of all, they can be proactive in trail design, construction and maintenance.”

 

 

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Spotlighting Kevin Johnson, Assistant Area Supervisor, MN DNR Parks & Trails

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

Kevin Johnson selfie, while waiting for other ridersKevin Johnson is an Assistant Area Supervisor with the Parks & Trails Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). His office is in Two Harbors, MN, on the western shore of Lake Superior. Last year, he applied for and was awarded a scholarship for the Marshall University On-Line OHV Recreation Management Course. The scholarship was funded by the Right Rider Access Fund (RRAF) and administered by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). We checked back with Kevin to find out more about his work and what he took away from the on-line course.

 

What got you interested in working in OHV recreation?

“I grew up in Windom, in southwest Minnesota, on a farm there. I rode a dirt bike before I rode a pedal bike. I was 5 years old. It was a little Yamaha 80, handed down from my two older sisters.”

 

Did you take that early interest through to college?

“Yes. After I graduated from high school, I served in the Army National Guard for 12 years. Then I went to college at Mankato State (in southern Minnesota), and got a degree in Parks and Recreation, with a Resource Management emphasis.” 

 

What was your career path to your current position with the MN DNR?

“My first job actually goes back to Windom in high school. I worked as a student intern for the Wildlife Division. I counted pheasants. After college, I worked for the Minnesota Conservation Corp from 1996 to 1999, on projects with the Forestry Division, and with Trails & Waterways (now Parks & Trails). That’s what got me up here in Two Harbors. I was an Acquisition & Development Specialist from 2000 to 2011. I’ve been the Assistant Area Supervisor since then.”

 

What are your responsibilities as an Assistant Area Supervisor?

“The area I work in includes parts of St. Louis and Lake Counties, and all of Cook County. We oversee the programs of Grant-In-Aid ATV trails, water accesses, safe harbor marinas along the North Shore (of Lake Superior), the Grant-In-Aid and State snowmobile trails, and the Gitchi-Gami State bicycle trail.”

 

How did you hear about the Marshall University scholarship program?

“I’m on the email list for the announcements from NOHVCC and that’s where I saw it. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some more education on one of the programs with this job, and I enjoy riding my ATV on the weekends. I’ve done some construction of trails for the Cook County ATV club, helping them build 8 miles of trails.”

 

What on-line class did you take with the scholarship?

“I took PLS 450, “Construction of OHV Trail Systems.”  There are four courses available throughout the year. You can get a minor in OHV construction from Marshall U.”

 

What did you get out of the class?

“It gave me more knowledge and skills for laying out a trail, how to do it correctly, and where to lay it out so the end user will enjoy the trail. That’s one of the things I really got out of the class. It also helps make you more knowledgeable, so when talking with other resource managers about the trail system, you can explain how you’re designing it to be sustainable. When having discussions with resource management folks, you have to talk about the perceived impacts and the real impacts. You have to know the difference between the two. Not everything is an environmental impact. For example, in a gravel pit, the ATVs go in and the drainage often goes nowhere. That’s sustainable in the long run. But a trail that’s eroding, with runoff going into a wetland, there is environmental impact. The class also had a whole section on signage. That’s critical. You have to look at signage like a person who is new to the the trail system.”

 

Did you get college credit for the class?

“I didn’t take the college credit. I already have my degree. But in the future, I might take another one of the classes.”

 

Will the classes help in your overall career? 

“Yes. I wanted to take the class so I’m more knowledgeable. That will help me with my career in the future.”

 

Would you recommend the course to others?

“Yes, I would definitely recommend it. The more knowledge you have on OHV topics, the better prepared you are to administer your OHV program.”

 

What do you like most about your job with the MN DNR?

“I like trail development. I like being able to get a project started, make it through all the reviews -- archeological, wetlands and cultural -- then working with the budgets and implementing it. I like working with all the clubs in the area. I have four Class 1 ATVs, one Class 2 ATV and 3 snowmobiles. So even on the weekends, when I’m out riding on the trails, I’m looking at what’s great...and what’s good...and what’s ugly.”

 

Thanks Kevin! NOHVCC and RRAF offer our congratulations and wish you the best in your career in OHV recreation.To learn more about the Marshall On-Line OHV Recreation Management Program, go to: http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/MarshallU.aspx.  

 

 

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Being On the Net Can Help Your Club or Association

by Karen Umphress, NOHVCC IT and Project Manager

 

Sixth 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 trailhead@nohvcc.org. Please include your name, address, and phone number so we can contact you and include your insights in future articles.

 

In today’s day and age, information about virtually everything is at our finger tips.  Google know everything, right? 

 

Except maybe about your OHV club or association if you don’t like or aren’t familiar with technology or social media. 

 

Keyboard  w missing keysWhether we like it or not, we are in the digital age.  People walk around with minicomputers called smart phones or tablets.  And everything is instant, from meals to communication.  There is so much information bombarded at us that if a person wants information about a club or association, they need to be able to access it immediately or they may never get around to getting the information.

 

An internet presence can be either a website or social media.  For many clubs, a Facebook page can be all of the presence that it needed.  Facebook is free to use and can be updated easily by several people in your club.  Your Facebook fan page can help define your organization’s mission, culture, values, recreation types, etc.  You can post photos or videos about club activities; even create events to invite people to take part in the club activities.  And it is a way to draw younger people into your club.

 

Twitter and Instagram are other very popular forms of social media.  Both involve creating short posts about what is happening.  Tweeting is usually in words and Instagram is using photos with captions.  Both can be linked to a Facebook site, so a post in Facebook will also get tweeted and posted in Instagram.

 

Having a website itself can give the club more flexibility CRTU/MNDNR website pageregarding the information which the club wishes to share, but it involves getting a domain name (URL), a hosting site, and web software.  It generally also requires a person with more technological savvy than many people have. But don’t get intimidated out of the chute.  Building a website can be a great way to pull in a couple of younger riders who might otherwise, not want to be involved.  There are also several inexpensive website hosting companies, often including local internet or cable carriers.

 

Getting a domain name for your club or association is recommended even if you don’t set up a website itself.  This allows you to have a custom e-mail address for your club, like trailhead@nohvcc.org.  A generic role based e-mail address gives your organization a more professional look, plus it stays the same regardless of who is currently part of the organization.  Some examples are: info@abc.com, president@abc.com and trailboss@abc.com.  A generic e-mail address can easily be forwarded to a person or group of people who can then respond from their personal e-mails, so the need to check several e-mail programs is eliminated.

 

One word of caution, everything that goes on the internet is public.  Ensure that all of the information you put on the net give a positive image of you, your club, and our sport.  Stay on the high road, always.

 

But have fun with it.  Needed to get started?  Find a teenager and head out on the road to the internet, then hit the real trails. 

 

 

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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. 

 

SAVE THE DATE!
The 2016 annual NOHVCC conference will be in Great Falls again this year, but at a new hotel and season.  The conference will be located at the Best Western Heritage Inn Oct 11 - 16.  Of course, we will still have the riding at the ranch. 


As a corollary, we are actively looking for host locations for both the 2017 and the 2018 conference.  The main criteria are 1) Conference facilities with several banquet rooms, 2) full-sized airport and transportation options between the hotel and the airport, 3) riding area nearby, and 4) partners to help host the event on-site especially with assistance getting vehicles for the mobile workshop.  Send us a note at trailhead@nohvcc.org if you are interesting in submitting your location for a conference.

 

Nominate Outstanding RTP Projects for a CRT Award!
It is important to have OHV projects that are part of this national award program.  A couple of reasons are that it legitimizes our sport and ensures Congress members know that OHV riders are doing great things.  Click to get the nomination form and the

Russ and Karen were joined by Mark Himmel from the Montana Back Country Horsemen and gave a trail conflict prevention webinar.  The webinar was hosted by American Trails for a fee.  A recording of the webinar is available for those people who could not attend the live session, but would like to see the session. http://www.americantrails.org/resources/safety/webinar-umphress-preventing-conflict.html

 

Take action to support collaboratively developed public lands legislation instead of top down national monument designations! Join our friends at ARRA to take action to encourage the administration to support the Utah Public Lands Initiative and other collaboratively developed land use bills and avoid massive and inappropriate monument designations!

The Transportation Research Board put out a study regarding high-speed rail and equine issues. The Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University has released a report that explores possible conflicts between high-speed rail construction and operations in areas used for equestrian ranching, recreation, and related activities, and identifies geographic areas where such conflicts could occur.

 You never know where studies like this can lead......

 

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