NOHVCC Newsletter - January 2018 edition

Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues



In this Issue:

2018 NOHVCC And INOHVAA Annual Conferences

Communications is Key to Building Positive Relationships With Land Managers

Adding "The Human Element" To Trail Design Raises The WOW! Factor

Metro Detroit Scores A New OHV Park

Stock Up On NOHVCC Materials



2018 NOHVCC and INOHVAA Annual Conferences in Grand Rapids, MI August 14-18

by Duane Taylor, NOHVCC Executive Director


It’s 2018.  Already.  That means it is time to get the 2018 National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and International Off-Highway Vehicle Administrators Association joint annual conferences on your schedule. 

This year NOHVCC and INOHVAA will visit Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 14-18.  The conferences will follow the typical schedule that will be familiar to many of you. After preliminary activities on the 14th,  the INOHVAA conference will begin sessions on the 15th, a mobile field workshop for attendees of both conferences on Thursday, August 16, joint INOHVAA/NOHVCC sessions on Friday, August 17 and, finally, the NOHVCC conference will conclude with sessions on Saturday and a banquet on Saturday evening. 

As usual, you can expect some great presentations, networking time and a lot of fun.  These joint conferences bring together the best and brightest in the OHV community – including enthusiasts and land managers - and provide the perfect opportunity to gain and share insights on issues, hurdles and successes that have occurred since we last met in New Hampshire.  For any who may attend for the first time, expect to learn a lot, meet a ton of great people, and to share your insights as well.

The NOHVCC Board of Directors and staff is excited about putting together a great conference that will seem familiar and new at the same time.  We have already been working with local partners and are seeking presenters for both conferences.  We will use this newsletter and other communications tools to keep the conferences on your mind – but please put the dates on your calendar now.  You will not want to miss this opportunity.

See you in Grand Rapids!




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Communication Is Key To Building Positive Relationships With Land Managers

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Question 1: Which attributes of land managers with State and Federal agencies make it easier for leaders of off-highway vehicle (OHV) organizations to work with them?

A)  Knowledgeable

B)  Honest and fair

C)  Understand our needs and want to get the job done right

D)  All of the above


The answer, of course, is D.


Question 2: Which of those attributes of leaders with OHV organizations make it easier for land managers to work with them?


Again, the obvious answer is D.


Building a positive and productive relationship between land managers and the leaders of OHV clubs and State associations takes patience, positive attitudes, good communication skills, and mutual respect. That’s the message of a presentation made at the 2017 annual conference of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). It was titled “Working with Land Managers - A Guide To Building Positive Relationships & Facilitating Effective Communications.”


Around the country, OHV club leaders and public land managers have varying degrees of success working together on motorized recreation. Some have positive relationships going back decades. Others rarely if ever shake hands, let alone sit in the same room to work on projects important to both, and the riding public at large.


“Land managers are people too,” said Tom Crimmins, a retired OHV recreation program manager with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), in his presentation. “Decisions are effected by the kind of working relationships that we build with land managers. Your ability is often established the very first time you speak with them.” His presentation gives a step-by-step process to building positive relationships.


Making It Work:

-Identify a club member to take the lead as the contact person. This should be someone who is willing to commit the time needed, able to work with people and understand the agency and its policies.

-Make an appointment. Introduce yourself and the organization, let them know of your interests, ask about their concerns about OHV use, and offer assistance.

-Offer to take land managers and program managers for a trail ride. Plan a trip that leaves a lot of time at frequent stops to talk about issues in general. Choose trails that are sustainable and fun, and that match the managers’ skill levels and experiences.


Dealing With Issues:

-Understand both sides of issues and understand the rules. Don’t just present problems, find win-win solutions. Be persistent but professional.


Dealing With Disagreements:

-Keep in mind that decisions are professional, not personal. If a decision doesn’t go your way, look forward to making the next one better. Be willing to move up the chain of command, but only if necessary.


How To Make Your Input Effective:

“Providing regular input to agencies is the best way to influence decisions that are being made or projects that are being planned,” said Crimmins. “There are specific techniques to help make your input more effective.” They are:


Be Specific:

-Clearly identify the plan, decision or action being addressed. Address specific issues and describe your specific desires. Indicate what you support as well as oppose. Avoid moral or emotional appeals.


Be Clear:

-Use bullet points to isolate separate discussion points. Identify the offending issue or action. Describe specific problems with issues or actions. Keep it simple.


Provide Information:

-Do this as early in the process as possible, providing as much information as possible. Develop your own maps, or alternatives. Avoid the trap of: “If they don’t know about it they can’t close it.”


Request Information:

-Let planners know what changes you want to see, and give them choices if possible. If you present new information, make sure you ask them to include it in the analysis.


Stay Involved:

-Don’t wait to be asked for input. Get to know people involved in the process. Provide data and information whenever you get it. Maintain a regular dialogue with planners.


Tom Crimmins, now retired, spent many of his 32 years with the USFS as an OHV recreation program manager. He is also the author of two popular NOHVCC “tools” for OHV groups and land managers: a 50-page book titled “Management Guidelines for OHV Recreation” and scripts for the “Public Land Advocacy Workshop Series DVD.” It covers a wide range of topics, including: understanding the process required for land planning -- whether you are working with land managers at the county, state or federal level -- how to get involved and save trails, as well as how to plan, design, manage and maintain new trail systems.


The Working With Land Managers powerpoint presentation is available to show the members of your OHV organization. To download it and others from the NOHVCC annual conference, go to:


To order other tools for yourself and your club, organization or agency, send an email to or call 800-348-6487



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Adding “The Human Element” To Trail Design Raises The WOW! Factor

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


The Spider Lake OHV Trail System in central Minnesota is one of the oldest and most popular in the State. Its 30 miles of trails vary from smooth and sandy to rough and rocky. The more challenging, technical sections traverse hills through the Foot Hills State Forest.


The problem is, at scenic spots overlooking remote lakes with bald eagles, swans and other wildlife, there is nowhere to stop and park without blocking the trail. Managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Spider Lake Trail provides a fun riding experience with various levels of difficulty, and durable, sustainable design features. But it lacks a key element found in other OHV trails in Minnesota: desirable destinations, or as Dick Dufourd calls it, “the human element.”


Dufourd is the author of “Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences,” a 350-page resource guide for the design, planning, construction, maintenance, and management of quality OHV trail systems, that are both sustainable and fun to ride.


Throughout the 18 chapters of his book, Dufourd describes what he calls the “Wow Factor.”  Wow can be found in the ride itself. It can also be found in the human elements: destinations, places riders want to ride to. “Everybody loves a trail system where they get to see a lot of different things,” said Dufourd. “Providing variety is an effective OHV planning and design tool that will help ensure management success. It could be a spectacular view, neat interpretive signs, unusual physical features, or stops for wildlife viewing. It can be a big WOW riding experience, or a small WOW social experience, like creating a place to stop for lunch at a scenic overlook.


“As planners, we try to get OHV riders to those places and experiences. If you can do that, you’re going to be one step closer to providing WOW. Then you continue to provide it through design, maintenance and construction.”


Dufourd gives examples of “the human element” in Chapter 3 of his book:

-The highest point. It is human nature to get to the highest point of land, not only for the view, but also for the sense of achievement.

-Water: Lakes, ponds, creeks, springs, waterfalls are a natural attraction.

-Viewpoints: Whether it’s the highest point of land or just a break in the trees, people love scenic views of the landscape.

-Historic and Interpretive Sites: Riders enjoy seeing old mines, cabins, ghost towns, abandoned equipment, mills, etc. Those, along with any interpretation of the natural environment, enhance the rider’s experience.

-Wildlife Viewing: Riders of all ages enjoy seeing wildlife, including deer, elk, turkeys, bears, beavers, raptors, wild horses and even snakes.

-Food. There is something about getting a burger on the trail that is very appealing to most riders. Food is a natural human attraction.


Human elements extend the ride time.

All of those examples provide a destination, a goal for the ride. They also provide photo opportunities, a chance for riders to stop and socialize, and memorable experiences to be shared at the end of the day.


Why should planners design OHV trails to include the human element? Writes Dufourd: “From a quality recreation and an effective OHV management standpoint, planners should always try to work with human nature rather than against it. The trail should take people where they want to go. It’s the WOW factor. That is what riders should say at the end of the trail ride. Planners should strive to find the WOW points and put them on the inventory and into the trail concept plan.”


Dick Dufourd was inducted into the NOHVCC Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual conference in 2015. As Dufourd writes in the book’s dedication: “Great trails don’t just happen. They are created, managed, and maintained through vision, passion, and sound engineering.”


You can purchase a copy of the 350-page, fully illustrated “Great Trails” guidebook for $30, or download the book in separate pdf files, free of charge. To get started, go to .



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Metro Detroit Scores A New OHV Park, With Assist From NOHVCC Workshop

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

This is an off-highway vehicle (OHV) success story in progress. And a prime example of how local governments can use the many NOHVCC “tools” and resources to build an OHV Park in a large metropolitan area.


Oakland County, in southeast Michigan, is part of Metro Detroit, which has six counties and a population of over 4 million. As in many states, a large number of owners of OHVs live in Michigan’s major metropolitan area, and must drive 3 to 4 hours to get to the nearest, designated trail system on public lands. But that will change in the near future.


Oakland County is moving forward to create an OHV park that will provide a new riding opportunity for enthusiasts of ATVs, Side-by-Sides, motorcycles and full-sized vehicles, including rail-built rigs and dune buggies. And judging by a recent county meeting, where over 300 people showed up to support the project, they are very enthused enthusiasts. 


“This area represents the core of OHV registrations statewide,” said Dan Stencil of the County Parks and Recreation Commission. “The population is largely in southeast Michigan. So this park will give enthusiasts the opportunity to spend a weekend or a week in the area. It’s located next to three major campgrounds, and it gives families an alternative to the long drive to northern Michigan.”


Discussions by Oakland County with local townships and State agencies to create an OHV Park, and where to build it, have been ongoing for decades. The chosen location, 215 acres purchased by the Michigan DNR, consists of two sand and gravel operations along Interstate 75. “It’s been a challenge finding the location,” said Melissa Prowse, Supervisor of Planning and Resource Development. “People don’t want an OHV Park in their backyard. So when this property came up, bordered by a highway, it was perfect.”


County credits NOHVCC Workshop for valuable insights.

In May of 2014, four Oakland County Park officials got in a car and drove 700 miles to attend a NOHVCC OHV Park Development Workshop, held in Fort Dodge, Iowa. They joined a large group of land managers, recreation planners, State Recreational Trail Program (RTP) committee members, trail builders and OHV enthusiasts from six states. Over the course of 2 days, they discussed the proper way to plan, design, construct, operate and maintain an OHV Park that would provide a fun experience for riders and be sustainable economically and environmentally.


“Up until the Workshop, I thought of trails as mini roads,” said Jon Noyes, Principal Planner with Oakland County Parks. “For the most part, that’s the way we’ve built trails in our area. But they aren’t meeting the needs of OHV riders.”


During the OHV Park Workshop, special emphasis was placed on the history and steps it took to build the nearby, 800-acre Gypsum City OHV Park, which today features 60 miles of trails, 3 motorcycle tracks and a campground, and is the largest and most popular of Iowa’s eight OHV Parks. As luck would have it, the Park, a former gypsum mine, was undergoing an expansion. Everyone attending the Workshop was able to ride ATVs and ROVs (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles, also called Side-by-Sides) on the new trail section prior to it opening, and observe on-the-ground application of the principles and practices discussed during the classroom sessions.


They watched first-hand as members of Trails Unlimited, an Enterprise Unit of the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrated how OHV trails are built, using a trail dozer and mini-excavator, following a route flagged by a professional trail designer. Many hadn’t witnessed trail construction prior to the Workshop. They listened closely as professional trail builders explained the techniques and equipment they use to build trails, and the science behind trail construction they incorporate to create a fun riding experience, and at the same time shed water and minimize maintenance.


“The idea of working with the landscape, and with the folks who are building the trail, to make sure that what is being built is done with maintenance in mind, and the geology of the site, that blew me away,” said Noyes. “I was introduced to all of that for the first time at the Workshop, and I can’t say enough about how important that was for our team’s evolution of thought on our OHV Park project.”


A recurring theme throughout the Workshop was the importance of developing partnerships to improve and expand OHV Park recreation opportunities. The Gypsum City OHV Park in particular has many partners, at the city, county and state level, as well as local OHV clubs and the Iowa OHV Association. “They talked to us about how they sign the trails, the numbering system they use, even things like how to save money on the sign decals they ordered. All of that was very helpful to us,” said Noyes. “We were also able to speak with the recreation agencies about incorporating a campground into the site, with OHVs as a recreational amenity.”

Also helpful, adds Noyes, was the fact that they were able to ride the trails to experience the fun right along with the science of trail building. NOHVCC and ATV manufacturers provided vehicles and safety gear. “NOHVCC works with public recreation planners who might not be familiar with off-highway vehicles, or are as skilled in using them. So by providing that equipment and guides on the trail, that really introduced us to the experience that we’re hoping to provide to our guests.”


Oakland County is still in the planning stage for its OHV Project. It is working on a partnership agreement with the Michigan DNR, planning stakeholder meetings, and brainstorming what to name the new OHV Park. In the meantime, it is using knowledge gleaned from the OHV Park Development Workshop, the “Great Trails” guidebook and other NOHVCC “tools” to build a OHV Park, and eventually add more family activities to create a major, outdoor adventure park that’s a true destination in the Detroit area.


Oakland County Parks held a demonstration at a nearby gravel pit, inviting OHV owners  to show the public what a Park could include. It hopes to have a soft opening of its OHV Park later this year to introduce preliminary features to politicians and government agencies, and have the park open to the public sometime in 2019. Said Noyes: “We’re putting our best foot forward, and we’re going to grow over time. I’m confident we can make something pretty special out of this.”

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Stock up on Adventure Trail Coloring Books, Great Trails Guides and Other Materials!

As many of you may know, NOHVCC is downsizing its facility in Great Falls, so now is a great time for Partners, agency officials, club leaders and anyone else to request some of the awesome tools that NOHVCC provides.  It also just happens to be the start of a new year and a natural time to restock your inventories. 

Click here to request copies of Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences Updated collage poster with 12 images

Order Adventure Trail materials by contacting NOHVCC at 800-348-6487 or by e-mailing

To view other materials NOHVCC provides click here.

NOHVCC will still stock and ship most of these items after downsizing – but, if you need them, now is a good time to place an order as it will reduce the amount of materials NOHVCC will need to move.

Thanks and Happy New Year!



Upcoming Events:

March 6-8, 2018- Arizona Great Trails Workshop
          - More Information Very Soon
          - Please note the date change

August 14-18, 2018- NOHVCC and INOHVAA Annual Meeting
           - Grand Rapids, Michigan
           - Website page soon