NOHVCC Newsletter - February 2016 edition
Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues
In this Issue:
14-Club Partnership Working To Create 750-Mile Arizona Peace Trail
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
The Arizona Peace Trail, when completed, will be one of the longest signed and mapped trail systems in the country for off-highway vehicles (OHVs). It’s a work in progress. But considering its scope, and the fact that 14 OHV clubs have been working on it for just 2 years, the key word is “progress.”
“The clubs are going to be the glue that keeps this project together and makes it work,” said John Strong, a member of the Arizona Peace Trail Committee, and past president of the Lake Havasu 4 Wheelers. “It’s going to take time. We formed a 501(c)(3) group last year. Our next grant will go toward a Master Plan for the whole trail system, so that we can work with the city, county, State and Federal agencies.”
The proposed route is a 750-mile loop, traveling on city, county, state and federal lands as it crosses Mojave, La Paz and Yuma Counties. It includes roads and trails between Bullhead City on the north end and Yuma on the south, currently open to all OHVs, but unsigned. In January, a group of riders gathered near Bouse, AZ, to witness the installation of the first of what will be hundreds of Arizona Peace Trail signs. “This loop trail will connect to almost endless side trails,” said J.C. Sanders, 2016 Trail Committee chairman. “Once completed, the trail system will provide the ultimate adventure recreation system in western Arizona.”
The trail name was chosen by the three counties involved, reports Sanders. “La Paz” is Spanish for “peace.” To date, La Paz County has applied for and received two grants for the project. One is a Yamaha OHV Access Initiative Grant, just under $5,000, for signage. A second grant for $74,414 was provided by the Arizona State Parks OHV Advisory Group (OHVAG), to develop a staging area in Cibola.
The Arizona Peace Trail website shows the impressive progress the Committee has made since it was officially organized in 2014. It features a map of the proposed route, which members have ridden. It lists the 14 “Support Partners” -- 4-wheel drive truck, ATV and side-by-side clubs. And it has a clear Mission Statement:
- To develop a loop trail system utilizing existing trails and roads in Western Arizona connecting Bullhead City to Yuma, and assist the land managers in maintaining the trail system.
- Work with City, County, State and Federal Agencies.
- Keep the desert roads and trails open for public use.
- Work on projects for our community, our highways and our public lands.
- Promote the sport of OHV riding safety, with awareness and respect for the environment.
As they work with government agencies at all levels to turn the proposed route into a designated trail, club members are using GPS to track the way, as well as Points of Interest (POI) along the way. The Arizona Peace Trail website lists 10 POIs found on the trail -- including petroglyphs, ghost towns, historic mines and scenic stops -- complete with their GPS coordinates. The trail varies in elevation from 170 ft. to 7070 ft. above sea level, with a wide variety of terrain and picturesque landscapes.
The Arizona Peace Trail Committee is working with the BLM Field Offices as they develop their Travel Management Plans and designate which roads and trails are open to OHVs. “There’s a Travel Management Plan that has been completed by Lake Havasu BLM, but the rest of them still have to be completed between Yuma and Bullhead City,” said Strong. “Our guesstimate is the year 2020, to get all the Travel Management Plans completed by the BLM. Hopefully, the entire trail will be approved after that. But we don’t like to put a timeline on it.”
As the clubs continue to work on the trail designation process, they are also partnering with the BLM and State agencies on cleanup projects. “Havasu 4 Wheelers have been around for about 25 years,” said John Geyer, president of the Havasu Side-by-Side Trail Association. “They’ve been gracious enough to invite us to one of their desert cleanups that they put on every year. Our club brought in another 50 members and helped clean up the desert. We collected 11,000 lb. of trash in one day.”
It only makes sense for all OHV clubs to work together on the Arizona Peace Trail, adds Strong. The plan is for it to be open to all OHVs. And some side-by-side rock crawlers are larger than his truck. “I have a 2002 (Jeep) TJ with 35-inch tires. You look at the Red Dot Engineering Polaris (RZR XP 1000 Rock Crawler), and it’s actually wider and longer than my vehicle. The industry is changing and they’re blending together.”
Strong, a retired school teacher from Wisconsin, puts the same philosophy to work building the Arizona Peace Trail that he did teaching, and coaching wrestling, football and track. “When I was a teacher and coach, my message was ‘listen, learn, and serve’. I’m still trying to give that message today. The goals of the Arizona Peace Trail are education, giving back to the community, keeping the riders safe, and keeping the trails open.”
To learn more about the Arizona Peace Trail, the proposed route and the 14 OHV clubs working on it, visit www.arizonapeacetrail.com.
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New OHV Association Is Major Resource For Central Oregon Clubs & Riders
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
ATVAM, ARMCA, CORVA, COHVCO, MTVRA, NMOHVA, NYSORVA, WATVA, WOHVA...
Off-highway vehicle (OHV) State Associations are rich with acronyms and initialisms. Here’s one that you may not have heard of: COOHVA.
Pronounced koo’-va, it stands for Central Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle Association. Dedicated to the preservation and expansion of riding opportunities for all OHVs, it’s less than a year old, and this month goes public with press releases about its mission and goals, website, and Facebook page.
COOHVA is a great new resource for anyone who needs information about riding OHVs in Central Oregon. “Our primary focus is to unite all the different riding groups and subsets of riding styles within those groups,” said Wade Bryant, COOHVA president. “It’s a resource for riders. If you have any question, no matter what you ride or drive, we can help you find an answer to it.”
The key to its launch and future success, says Bryant, is the COOHVA website. It’s easy to navigate, with a clean design and clear messages. On the home page are big, bold icons representing Oregon’s four OHV classes with the addition of riding styles:
- Class 1 ATV
- Class II Jeep/Rock
- Class III Dirt Bike/Dual Sport
- Class IV Side-by-Side
The accompanying headline spells out the COOHVA goal: “Four Classes, One Goal, One Voice = More Riding Opportunities.”
Click on the vehicle type you ride, and a page opens that lists the state definition for that class, and asks you what kind of riding you enjoy. For example, click on Class III and the next page asks, “What type of motorcycle do you ride? Dirt Bikes or Dual Sport.” If you click “Dirt Bike” the next page lists the contact information to a COOHVA board member representing that user group, and a link to the website of the Central Oregon Motorcycle and ATV Club (COMAC).
The riding-style options for Class II are “Jeep” or “Rock Crawler.” For Class I, you can get information for “Trails” or “Outback Adventure Riders.” That’s Bryant’s area of expertise. He leads long-distance ATV rides, with up to 10 riders traveling anywhere from 200 to 700 miles. “We did 700 miles on the last one,” he said. “We rode clear from Bend (Oregon) to California and back. I work on mapping routes that are connected, where we can camp out, and all the small towns that have fuel.”
In just a few months, the COOHVA website has brought together the larger OHV user groups in the area. The links take riders to websites or Facebook pages for the area’s organized clubs as well as informal riding groups. The riders can see the clubs that exist, what they do, and how active they are. “Some clubs are hurting in membership. We’re trying to drive members to them too. That’s part of the reason for the site,” said Bryant.
The site is also meant to improve communication between user groups. “I see different riding groups, and sometimes contention there. It wasn’t intended, but was caused by lack of communication between rider groups. Let’s talk about the positive things and let’s work together. The main intent is to provide a service to people and give ourselves some credibility with land agencies so we can work with them.”
To say Bryant is passionate about OHV recreation is an understatement. He has ridden 40,000 miles on ATVs over the past 10 years, all over Oregon and Utah. He is on the Oregon State Parks ATV Advisory Committee, and the Grants Subcommittee for the State OHV program. He’s also a 4-H youth safety training field representative, and master instructor for Central and Eastern Oregon.
Bryant credits Brent Jenkins, OHV Specialist in the Deschutes National Forest, for sparking the idea for the web site. “He was instrumental in getting this started. He and I had bounced the idea around when the local side-by-side group was growing. I’ve got my hand in so many other things that I didn’t need another thing to do, but it needed to get done. Brent gave me a nudge and here we go.”
Like Bryant, Jenkins believes the need for COOHVA is great, and hopes it encourages riders not only to get informed, but get involved in local OHV issues. “When I send out a request for letters of support for our grants, it goes to over 1,000 people. We’re lucky if we get six letters of support back. This has to change,” said Jenkins. “That’s what this Association has to do, to show people that they need to get involved. When a Class II issue arises, all the other Classes need to be involved. We’re all in it for the same reason: to maintain the access we have, add to it and not lose what we’ve got.”
Bryant believes there is a misconception that everything is closed and they can’t ride in Central and Southeast Oregon. “We’re trying to resolve that. In Central Oregon, Deschutes and Crook are the two largest counties with designated riding areas. In the southeastern portion of our state, there are thousands and thousands of miles of OHV accessible routes, but no signage out there, and no way to really navigate. I just got grant funding approved last week for a project that I’ve been working on for 3 years, to mark way points and get them on pdf maps.”
Also on each page of the website are riding photos and links to join COOHVA. “They can join COOHVA if they want to help support our cause and keep the website going, and have our public opinions heard. We have a $20 yearly membership, but we welcome everyone to use our site. We’re hoping that some folks that have that ability to spend that $20 a year, which is a small amount, will help us continue to move ahead with what we’re doing.”
COOHVA is planning special events this year to bring together all the user groups, including a barbeque and riding event, and a service project in the community that’s not OHV related. “That’s our main purpose, to have one voice when there’s a need to speak out on issues and things that are happening in our environment.”
Riding in Central Oregon this year? Join COOHVA and the local OHV club of your choice. Start by heading to www.coohva.org.
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These State And Federal Workers Use All Their Outdoor Skills To Advance OHV Recreation
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Tenth 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 this article series.
In Maine, Brian Bronson rides, hikes, skis and bikes
In the late ‘80s, when Brian Bronson took the job with the ATV Program in Maine’s Division of Parks and Public Lands, there were 22 miles of ATV trails in the state. Today, there over 6,600 miles, with 25% of them designated for multi-use. In a state where 95% of the land is privately owned, that is no easy task. Being a rider since the age of 10 helped, said Bronson. Being proficient in mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking, in addition to ATVing and snowmobiling, was also a plus.
“I’ve been out there,” said Bronson, whose official title is Recreational Safety & Vehicle Coordinator. “That’s helped me develop things, and educate users in ways to avoid conflict. A lot of the bad opinions that develop are, in large part, not because people don’t care, but because they don’t know. We do a lot of work educating users on what to do when they meet one another.
“For example, I ride a snowmobile. I know that 25 mph on a snowmobile is pretty slow. But I also have been on cross-country skis when a snowmobiler went by me, and wasn’t going any faster than that, but it was about a foot away. That kind of experience can make people very unnerved, and I’ve experienced that myself. I have been able to pass that experience along and say, look, the skiers we need to get off to the side more and the snowmobilers we need to understand to slow down. The same kind of information applies to ATV operators when they meet others, especially equestrians, on the trails. Knowing how to respond and what is expected makes a significant difference in how the users react.”
Maine’s OHV success story is impressive. There are over 140 ATV clubs and 1,500 active volunteers, maintaining ATV trails that cross the private property of thousands of landowners. The success of motorized and non-motorized recreation depends entirely on protecting the rights of private landowners.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t please the landowner first, everything else goes away,” said Bronson. “My primary job is to help coordinate the landowner permits and the Grant-In-Aid programs, the application process and the reimbursements. Right now, we have about 1,800 private landowners with ATV trails on their land. Most of them have an agreement with a club. But the larger landowners, like utilities and paper companies, have a license with the state. They don’t want to have to deal with 30 different clubs, so we have a license with them, and we arrange meetings at least once a year where we bring everybody together. It’s my responsibility to make sure that the clubs are meeting the landowners’ expectations, which includes doing follow-up field inspections.”
Cooperation between user groups is also critical, and has improved over the years, Bronson says. Years ago, a snowmobile club would construct a bridge that was good for sleds, but because of the gaps it would be bad for mountain bikes and terrible for horses. That can create conflicts among user groups and confusion among landowners. “They may not want any of them on their land if it doesn’t look like they are doing things correctly,” Bronson said. “It’s a multi-layered education path. There’s a benefit financially to everybody when we all work together. Let’s put a little more money in up front and get everybody on board, so we spend less and have a finished product that works for everybody. Now, we see ATV and snowmobile clubs working together with other use groups, so the structures are built in a way that works for all of them, and we have very few conflicts.”
Like many of today’s OHV program managers, Bronson got his start in OHV recreation at an early age, riding minibikes and snowmobiles. “The first snowmobile I ever owned was a John Deere. Back in the day, John Deere, Massey Ferguson and others all made snowmobiles. My first ATV was a Honda 3-wheeler. I had a Big Red up through ‘77 or ‘78.” Today, Bronson owns a number of adult and youth OHVs, including a Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs, also called side-by-sides), and enjoys riding with his grandsons. In Maine, he says, being a rider is part of the job description. “In my mind, that does play a role, because if you’re out there dealing with this stuff, and you don’t have a clue what it’s about, I’m not sure you could do as good a job. The user group is much more responsive when they know you actually participate in the sport and are not just another bureaucrat.”
ROVs present a new challenge to tranquility on the trails. The ever-increasing popularity of ROVs, some the size of small trucks, has created a new set of challenges to Bronson. “Our licensed agreement includes a 60-inch (vehicle width) rule,” he said. “Our gates have a 64-inch wide opening. What I tell people is, if you buy a bigger machine, you have to understand that there may be trails on gravel roads where there’s no issue. But when you start to get on the more narrow, windy trails, you may find there are places you won’t fit very well. And you may come to bridges that are too narrow. The owners tell me they’re only 60 or 64 inches, but when we measure them in the real world with their suspensions compressed, they may be more like 66 or 67 inches wide.”
In addition, some landowners don’t want the larger OHVs on their land, says Bronson. “You take a 6-place (Polaris) RZR, for example. It’s too big to go down the trail. We have farmers who, prior to those being developed, wouldn’t allow ATVs on their land. Now they own them and want to take their grandkids for a ride. They want to know how to get a trail across their land to get connected to the trail. So now we have landowners complaining the trails aren’t wide enough, but other landowners complaining that machines are too wide and they don’t want them on their land. We’re trying to solve problems like that.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to identify issues, but you just might have to be a rocket scientist to figure out a solution that works for everyone.”
In Colorado, Chris Pipkin enjoys working with all user groups
Chris Pipkin is an Outdoor Recreation Planner at the Grand Junction, Colorado, Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He grew up in Longmont, Colorado, camping, hiking and mountain biking with his family on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. His love of the outdoors was instrumental in getting a job with the BLM on the western slope, where he was introduced to riding OHVs, and has been at the same Field Office for 23 years.
“I’m one of those that got involved in riding OHVs on the job,” Pipkin said. “As a teenager, I discovered mountain biking. That’s a big passion for me. When I started riding motorcycles on the job, my mountain bike experience helped ease me into it. I took ATV Safety Institute (ASI) training, because riding ATVs was a big part of the job, and continues to be. I’m also an ASI instructor. I’ve done that for about 11 years.”
Pipkin attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology. Halfway through his studies, he discovered that what intrigued him more than working with wildlife was working with people. “I got more interested in the people side of natural resources,” he said. “I shifted focus to recreation management, where there were more opportunities to engage with people. I tried to take as many recreation classes I could, and got involved in the recreation resources club.”
Pipkin graduated in 1992 and moved to Grand Junction in 1993. Volunteer work for the BLM Field Office there led to a job as a Park Ranger. He took the position of Outdoor Recreation Planner 5 years ago. “This job entails a lot of things,” he said. “From planning trails and recreation facilities to evaluating the impacts of other projects on recreation, through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process, and overseeing the day-to-day work of the recreation program.
“The biggest project I’ve worked on was the revision of our Resource Management Plan for the Field Office. That’s our 20-year Master Plan. As part of that, we did our Travel Management Plan concurrently. That’s taken up a big chunk of my time over the last 5 years. We’re through that process now and into the implementation phase, which is pretty exciting.”
Pipkin doesn’t get to ride as much now as when he was a Park Ranger, but enjoys riding with user groups and other BLM workers whenever possible. “The best conversations tend to happen out in the field,” he said. “Last fall, we conducted a trails training for one of our local motorcycle clubs, the Motorcycle Trail Riders Association (MTRA). They have been interested in getting more involved in BLM planning, and looking for opportunities to go through our planning process and develop new trails.
“We spent an evening in the classroom here at the office, going over Planning 101 and Trails 101, with a dozen members of the club. The next day, we were all on motorcycles and rode some trails. We stopped and did walk-and-talk sessions, where we talked about places where trails were working and trails were not working. We talked about problems and potential solutions.
“We went out after lunch for a regular ride. For the users to be able to see a couple BLM guys out there riding and having fun, that really makes a difference. They see that we are riders who understand the experience that they’re seeking, and it builds our credibility. And we get a sense of what that group of riders wants in their experience, the types of trails they like to ride, their perspective on how we are managing the trails. That was a real valuable time.
“Also, just getting out and looking at areas for potential new trail development. We took a UTV ride last fall with one of our managers and wildlife biologist to scout out some potential new trail development areas, where there was also some potential impacts to wildlife resources. That was a good opportunity for the recreation staff to be on a machine that our recreating pubic likes to be on, and provide that experience to our manager and wildlife biologist.”
Pipkin puts a big emphasis on forming partnerships with all those who come to the Grand Junction Field Office, which encompasses 1.1 million acres and has just under 4,000 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails. “We have a nice balance of recreation opportunities,” Pipkin said. “It’s important to get out on the ground, whether it’s with our mountain bikers, horseback riders, or OHV riders; and experience what they experience and have the opportunity to hear their concerns and wishes and desires. That makes a big difference in the product we come out with in our new Resource Management Plan.”
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The Trouble with Photos (and Videos)
by Karen Umphress, NOHVCC IT and Project Manager
Seventh 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address, and phone number so we can contact you and include your insights in future articles.
Imagine you have been working on improving Off-Highway Vehicle recreation for several years when a local newspaper does an exposé on the destruction caused by motorized vehicles. The exposé is several days of front page articles all starting with images of OHVs, with our without a rider, going through mud, wetlands, rivers, or streams. The images have machines covered in mud, buried in mud, or roosting mud behind them.
Now that trail you have been trying to get put on the ground is tied up in a political debate at the capital to determine if OHVs should even be allowed on any public lands.
Imagine you walk into a legislative hearing for an environmental committee to testify about what OHV recreation is really about: families recreating together, people getting together socially, getting outside and being in natures. You have taken your time off of work and navigated the maze of traffic and capital hallway. As you enter the room, you find a dozen of 2’ by 3’ poster boards on easels depicting OHV in any activity that could be considered ‘destructive’.
That bill that you are there for is not going to be passed in favor of OHV recreation.
Unlikely scenarios? Not a chance. These types of occurrences happen all of the time. And the OHV community is where the anti-access folks are getting the fuel to use against us.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Unfortunately, that old cliché is true. Groups that don’t like us are combing the internet for the images OHV recreationists post and using them to shape public opinion against us. And if you have a picture of an OHV going through mud on your website or Facebook page, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to convince people you really care for the environment and ride OHVs to get outdoors; no one is going to believe a word you say.
It doesn’t matter that the event was on a flooded farm field that dried and was planted the next spring. It doesn’t matter that the creek only has running water in it for 2 weeks out of the year so no fish were killed. It doesn’t matter that it was a manufactured area on private property. And it doesn’t matter that the photo (or video) caption explained all of that.
Is it fair? No. But when have you ever been told that life was fair?
To make things simple, here are NOHVCC’s guidelines for posting photos and video:
- Promote safe and responsible recreation
- If riders could even remotely look like they are riding a machine, all of the gear, all of the time
- If a person is sitting on or near a machine, but it is obvious the machine is not moving (very, very obvious, like hands are not on the handle bars), then the helmet, goggles, or gloves can be off the rider; being still in the photo is preferred
- Show the machines on a trail or in a designated area
- Keep the wheels on the ground
- No roosting, no going through mud, no splashing water
- Keep the count of the people on the machine to the limit for that machine
Follow ASI’s Golden Rules for ATV Safety, MSF’s Dirt Bike Riding Tips, and ROHVA’s Safety Rules for ROV Safety for photos as well as riding.
Together, we can move forward in creating a positive image and future for OHV recreation.
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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 email@example.com if you are interested 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 guidelines.
Congratulations to NOHVCC Associate Partner Barrett Brown for receiving the AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award. Barrett is a longtime member of the Oregon Motorcycle Riders Association, and designer and builder of the ST240, a purpose-built single-track trail dozer.
CPSC study shows trend on declining ATV deaths and injuries:
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