NOHVCC Newsletter - March 2016 edition
Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues
In this Issue:
Wisconsin’s OHM Riders Jump Into Sticker Program, Thanks To ‘Leap Year Day’ Legislation
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
First in a series.
‘Leap Year Day’ only happens every four years. This year, it was a major milestone for Wisconsin’s motorcycle riders.
On February 29, 2016, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed 46 bills into law.. One of them, Assembly Bill 470, creates a sticker program that allows motorcyclists to generate funds in order to build and sustain off-highway motorcycle (OHM) trails. It also provides for required regulations to have a program on the public lands and frozen waters of Wisconsin, and includes safety education.
The new OHM Law, 2015 Wisconsin Act 170, goes into effect on October 1, 2016. It is a huge accomplishment, especially considering the fact that the vote was unanimous in both the State Assembly (98 to 0) and the State Senate (32 to 0). It’s also a success story that involves more than OHM enthusiasts. Getting the bill discussed, promoted, written and passed was driven by the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (WOHMA), with support and assistance from the Wisconsin ATV Association (WATVA). It took patience and perseverance by many advocates of off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation, who saw two Leap Year Days come and go, as they worked on this effort for nearly 10 years.
“Our main goal in starting WOHMA, back in 2008, was to get off-road motorcyclists organized with a united voice, and get a registration program,” said Alex Bub. Like many OHV State Associations, WOMHA was organized with the help of NOHVCC, which held a State Association Workshop in Wisconsin for the state’s motorcycle riders. Bub, the NOHVCC State Partner for Wisconsin, served as president of WOHMA for 8 years. Each year, at the annual NOHVCC Conference, he would give an update on WOHMA‘s efforts to create a registration program. At the 2015 Conference, Bub received the ‘Perseverance Award’ for helping create WOHMA and sticking with this challenging project. Bub recently passed the torch to Bryan Much, who took over the role of WOHMA president, and who has spearheaded the effort to get the OHM bill written and passed into law.
A retired Army Colonel, Much hadn’t planned on including more meetings as part of his retirement. “When I got into this, that idea really backfired,” he said. “But you know how it is, when something needs to happen, you just have to get involved. And once I was involved, I wasn’t quitting.”
Much, a NOHVCC Associate State Partner, wrote a comprehensive white paper on the need for a motorcycle sticker program in Wisconsin, and has been writing a blog since 2009, keeping all user groups informed about the project’s progress. He credits WATVA for a lot of the work that went into getting the OHM bill written and passed into law. Said Much, “They really do a good job with the ATV program here in Wisconsin, and played a big role in this project. They did a lot as far as sharing their wisdom, introducing contacts, and signing on as a supporter of the bill.”
The new, self-funded OHM registration program is designed to build more single-track motorcycle trails throughout the state, with the help of existing clubs and new ones being formed. Funds may also be directed toward gaining access to some of the ATV trails around the state. However, Much points out, the program does not automatically throw open the door to those trails. “Local land managers determine what conveyances are allowed on their trails. Some counties already welcome motorcycles, while others don’t. Some counties are waiting for us to generate some funds, in order to contribute to maintaining any ATV trails that we are allowed to ride, before they include us on their trails.
“Under the new OHM Law, it will also be possible to create routes for unlicensed OHMs, similar to the routes that currently exist for ATVs. This can be useful when trail segments can only be connected by a road that crosses a stream or wetland.”
The OHM Law has 85 Sections, and is 25 pages long, including definitions, requirements and exceptions. Much reports that the Wisconsin DNR will produce a handy summary of OHM laws for people to reference, so they don’t have to sift through the statute itself.
“I also want to make sure credit is given to Representative Jeff Mursau of Crivitz, and Senator Jerry Petrowski of Marathon, who offered the Assembly and Senate versions of the bill, and to Governor Walker for signing it. The overwhelming support in the Legislature tells me that people saw the important economic benefits that come with the bill, beyond just addressing a recreation program.”
There is a lot to be accomplished before the OHM Law goes into effect on October 1. That includes preparing administrative code, a safety education program, signage standards, a handbook of OHM laws, and more. Much encourages all OHM riders to get involved by helping create new clubs and work toward building new single-track trails across Wisconsin. “We have 6 months to get this in place. Now is when the work really starts.”
Be part of the discussion about the new OHM Law on the WOHMA Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/WISOHM/. To learn more about WOHMA, become a member and get involved in the work ahead to create new OHM clubs, new single-track trails, and the sticker program itself, go to: www.wohma.com/index.htm.
The Wisconsin OHM Law can be read in its entirety online, at: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/acts/170.
Next month: What it took for the Wisconsin OHM Bill to unanimously pass both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature.
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National Travel Management Program Manager Deals With OHVs, OSVs...And Segways?
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Just over 10 years ago, on December 9, 2005, the U.S. Forest Service “Travel Management Rule” went into effect. It required designations of the roads, trails and areas that would be open to motor vehicle use on the National Forest System. Chris Sporl is the Travel Management Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). It’s a Washington, D.C. position, with his office located in Golden, Colorado. Recently, we visited with Chris to learn more about his role with the Forest Service and goals for Travel Management.
How long have you been involved in Travel Management with the Forest Service?
“I started in this position at the beginning of our new fiscal year, which was October 1st in 2015. Prior to that, I was in a similar position in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service, which is Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.”
What was your career path with the Forest Service?
“I started with the Forest Service in Louisiana in 1992. I’m a landscape architect. For many years, I had the luxury of working on many recreation design projects as a project manager at levels from Ranger District to Forest.
“I started on the Kisatchie National Forest. It’s a small, but recreation-intense Forest. Because of the weather, recreation occurred year-round. It was a very receptive Forest for motorized recreation. I absorbed motorized recreation management while I was there, including how to operate an ATV with a drip torch mounted on the back of the saddle. You learn pretty quickly how to maneuver an ATV when you are on fire.
“I came to Colorado in 1998. I worked for the City of Aurora, a suburb of Denver, as a recreation designer and project manager. I got back with the Forest Service in 2001. I was dealing with recreation design here in the Regional Office for quite a few years. In 2007, I had the opportunity to get a promotion to regional landscape architect and recreation planner. At that time, it was about 2 years after the Travel Management Rule came out. And on my first day on the job, my supervisor said ‘oh, by the way you’re going to be the regional leader for Travel Management.’ I basically said, ‘So what is that?’
“I was in that role for 8 years. Granted, there were other program areas that I managed in that position, but I would say that 75% of my time was dedicated to Travel Management. We had a Travel Management team set up here in the Region, myself and representatives from engineering, public affairs, and law enforcement. They really took me under their wing, and taught me quite a few things. And they were more than happy to have me be the lead on the Region when it came to Travel Management. I became the regional face for Travel Management.”
Did it take some work adjusting to your new Washington job?
“I haven’t felt, in the first 4 months, like I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time learning about the position. I had a work detail in Washington back in 2010, so I had some familiarity with the position, how it functions and the people I work with. And I grew up in the D.C. area, so I always enjoy going back to the Washington Office.”
So going from a regional to national role was not a huge leap for you.
“We had a good communication stream between the Regional Office and the Washington Office. It looked to the Rocky Mountain Region for guidance on how to handle OHV management within other regions. This Region tended to be on the leading edge when it came to OHV management. It has strong OHV organizations: COHVCO (Colorado OHV Coalition), TPA (Trails Preservation Alliance), and the Responsible Recreation Foundation. We also had excellent relationships, and still do, with the Colorado and Wyoming OHV state programs.”
What is your primary role as the national Travel Management Program Manager?
“A lot of people outside of the Forest Service aren’t familiar with the term ‘Travel Management’. Basically, what I tell them is, I manage the motorized recreation program. It includes roads and trails. I work with the engineering staff in the Washington Office on issues related to the roads system. I’m considered the recreation contact or advisor to our engineering staff when it comes to roads. And I deal with motorized trails and a lot of issues and policy that stem from motorized trail activities.”
What is a key goal you have on the national level?
“That’s an easy question to answer. When the Travel Management Rule came out in 2005, we were focusing on summer OHV use and recreation. The Rule was written so that we were exempt from having to spend a lot of time with winter Travel Management planning and management. We are now in the early stages of addressing over-snow vehicles (OSVs). Travel Management planning and over-snow management is my main priority right now. Working on providing good over-snow management guidance from the Washington Office. One of the challenges we had with summer OHV management was that we waited roughly 5 years before coming out with good guidance on managing OHVs. We can’t let over-snow vehicle management sit for years before we come out with good guidance documentation. We need to provide good guidance and education, and give field managers a much more comfortable feeling about managing over-snow vehicles. Granted, this isn’t going to apply across the country like summer OHV management did.”
Why is it called “over-snow” instead of “snowmobile” management?
“Who would have thought 5 or 10 years ago that we would have to make a paradigm shift in our language? It’s no longer just snowmobiles. It’s ATVs with tracks, motorcycles with a ski and track. It’s people in 4-wheel-drive trucks that take the wheels off and throw tracks on them. Technology constantly changes.”
Is the summer use equally challenging?
“We’re constantly challenged with new technologies. We’ve set ourselves up to be fairly adaptable. The UTVs (also called ROVs or side by sides) have recently pushed the envelope as far as the widths are concerned. We have single-track trails for off-highway motorcycles only. And we have trails that are designated for vehicles 50 inches or less in width, which accommodate motorcycles, ATVs and narrow UTVs.
“But new vehicles are showing up that, technically, the trails would accommodate. One could be an off-road Segway. People have the ability to put off-road tires on their Segway and take them on those trails. Do we see a lot of that? Not really. But if somebody showed up on a Segway on a 50” or less trail, they would have the ability to use it.
“That’s the role we play. The Forest Service is a large agency that manages OHV recreation. Various states, counties and municipalities, when the new technologies come out, they look at us and ask ‘how is the Forest Service handling this?’ ”
Is there another key objective you have?
“One of the recent requirements that we are in the process of working on, and we’re on the tail end of it, is all the Forests across the country have been required to go through a preplanning exercise to come up with a recommendation for a minimum road system. This has gotten a lot of people’s attention on the motorized side of things and on the conservation side of things, too. We’re asking: What would a minimum road system look like for any given Forest? That’s basically what the requirement was, as identified in the Travel Rule as Subpart A. We’re looking at and working with a few colleagues in the Washington Office, to take a look at these recommendations for the different Forests, just to make sure they follow the guidance.
“The biggest message that we want to continue to provide, especially to external groups, is that this is purely a recommendation. There are no Decisions being made on this. They’re called Travel Analysis Reports. They will be considered in future Travel Management planning efforts. They’ll look at what the recommendation is, and if there is a way through Travel Management efforts to move the needle a little closer to coming up with a minimum road system that balances the social, environmental, and economic risks and benefits. We have a tremendous amount of roads across the country. It is a challenge to manage the road system. But we also want to maintain citizen access. It’s critical that we maintain access to National Forest lands, but in an appropriate manner.”
What do you see as the role of the Forest Service in providing new opportunities for motorized recreation?
“Across the country, especially in the West, we play a huge part in OHV and OSV recreation, because of the land base that we manage. We’re the stewards of the land. The Forest Service doesn’t own the land. It’s the land of the citizens. We’ve had the honor of being designated the steward of those lands, so we do have a major role in OHV management.”
Does Washington get involved in local Travel Management Decisions?
“The way it works is, the Forests work on their Travel Management plans. They come up with those Decisions. I consider this one of the advantages of the Travel Management Rule from 2005, and it applies to summer and winter planning. Those Decisions are made at the local levels, whether it’s at a Ranger District level, where the District Ranger signs the Final Decision, or at the Forest Supervisor level. It’s not the role of the Washington Office to put a rubber stamp or finalized review and approve those Travel Management Decisions. Our role is to provide policy, rules and regulations regarding Travel Management. Our job is to work with the Regions to make sure the Forests follow those policies and rules and regulations.”
Is it accurate to say that some groups opposed to motorized recreation point to declining Forest Service budgets as a reason to close road systems?
“There are people saying ‘you just can’t afford the road system.’ Our response is, it’s not about just the economics. It’s about the social aspects of that road, that is, the access to National Forests. It’s about the environmental aspects of that road. And it’s about the economics. So it’s all about measuring that sustainable, 3-legged stool.
“One of the things that Forests went through was a Risk Benefit Analysis of the roads. If it’s Road 123, and we’ve identified through social contacts and through the environmental lens and the economic lens, and we determine that that road is a high-benefit low-risk road, that’s one of the roads that will stay on the system. There’s no need to get rid of that road. On the flip side, if we look at that road and we say, this is a high-risk low-benefit road, chances are pretty good there’s not a need to have that road on the system.”
When did you first learn about NOHVCC?
“I was fortunate to attend a NOHVCC conference in Great Falls, in 2010. It was right at the end of my work detail in Washington. That’s when I was really exposed to NOHVCC initially. Right after that, COHVCO determined it was a good idea to have NOHVCC organize and facilitate their annual workshop. Then I started working with Russ Ehnes, Jack Terrell and Karen Umphress.
“They did a fabulous job of taking the great programs, presentations and educational materials that NOHVCC had developed over the years, and integrating it into the COHVCO workshop. That worked out really well. My intention is to attend the NOHVCC conference every year in my new position.”
How would you describe the NOHVCC/Forest Service partnership?
“It’s almost a symbiotic partnership. We need them and they need us. It’s all about relationships. When there is a successfully managed area, it’s because there’s a good, solid foundational relationship among all the users. I think our partnership with NOHVCC, a lot of times, helps us build relationships. Russ has been very active in coming to the defense of the Forest Service when there’s a motorized group that’s suddenly in an area that’s going under Travel Management planning and something flares up, on the negative side. If NOHVCC has the ability to go into those local groups and say ‘wait a second, the Forest Service is doing some real good work here, there’s a reason why they’re having to do this’, I think that’s where that symbiotic relationship comes in. We need NOHVCC to help us with relationships around the country. And it isn’t necessarily directly related to NOHVCC, as much as your local groups that are tied in with NOHVCC, and the great messaging that NOHVCC gives to the local groups.”
What’s your message to OHV and snowmobile clubs relative to motorized recreation on National Forests?
“It’s that Decisions and OHV management occur at the local levels. It’s imperative that local clubs develop a healthy and open relationship with their local Forest Service land managers. They need to connect with the Ranger District recreation staff officers. They need to get a good relationship with their local District Rangers, who usually are the supervisor of the recreation staff officer. They need to work on great relationships at that local level. That’s where it starts.
“There’s nothing worse than a local club bypassing those local land managers and going to the Forest Supervisor’s office. I’ve seen it where groups will come to the Regional Office and say ‘I can’t believe you guys are doing this down there.’ And the Regional Office can only say, ‘well, have you spoken with those local land managers yet?’ ‘Well, no, we thought we’d come to you first.’ That’s not the way to do it.”
Do the NOHVCC Workshops and new “Great Trails” book play a role in your work at the national level?
“To me, along with the relationship piece of it, that is the valued service that NOHVCC provides the Forest Service. Line officers have to prioritize where they want to put their funding. They get their budget and they figure out where to put their money for the next year. Motorized recreation education is typically not on the top of their priority list, so it’s organizations like NOHVCC, COHVCO and Responsible Recreation that have said, ‘you know what, this is really important to us, we want to make sure we get the right information out there and we want to help you do it.’ So that’s a valued service that is priceless for us, to be honest.”
What do you do when you’re not working on Travel Management policies?
“I’m happily married for 34 years this May, to my college sweetheart from Louisiana. We have two daughters. One is proudly serving our country in the Air Force at Hanscom Air Force Base outside of Boston. Our younger daughter is in her second year at the University of Northern Colorado, studying biology. My wife and I both love to travel, especially on cruises, and spend a lot of time running, road bicycling and golfing. We both raced bicycles in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi before the kids came along. I even had the pleasure of competing once with a young 16 year-old Texan named Lance. Now that we are empty nesters, one of the outdoor activities we are seriously considering is purchasing two dual-sport motorcycles to explore many of the backcountry roads in Colorado. My retirement plan in the distant future is to become a certified golf instructor.”
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Before You Twist The Throttle, Turn The Pages On “The Total Dirt Rider Manual”
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
-How to choose the right dirt bike for yourself or your kids.
-How to negotiate ruts, jumps, and deep sand.
-How to replace a two-stroke piston.
The answers to those and 355 more “Essential Dirt Bike Skills” can be found in “The Total Dirt Rider Manual,” by Pete Peterson and the editors of Dirt Rider magazine. Peterson, the book’s main author, learned to ride when he was 8 years old, and has been writing for Dirt Rider for the past 10 years.
“We wanted this to be the ultimate how-to-ride book for beginners and advanced riders,” said Peterson. “Reading it is like sitting on the tailgate next to a guy who really knows his stuff. We’re going to answer every question you have, so you don’t have to search the internet or a stack of magazines to find what you need to know. That’s what I’m most happy about.”
The book, released in September of 2015, features a durable, “flexibound” cover, with an embossed action photo of Ryan Dungey, Motocross and Supercross Champion, taken by photographer Shan Moore. Chrome corner guards add to the book’s rugged, off-road style, and are unique to the publisher, Weldon Owen. Dirt Rider magazine and Weldon Owen are divisions of Bonnier Corp., a large, special interest publishing group.
The book’s forward is written by Roger DeCoster, winner of five motocross World Championships in the ‘70s and the current Team Manager for the KTM RedBull Racing Team. He tells his story about fulfilling a childhood dream to be a motocross racer, and how helpful a book like this would have been back in the day.
The book has four chapters, filled with photographs and illustrations. “Basics” covers the first 70 skills, focusing on how to get started in the sport, from choosing the right motorcycle and gear, to assembling tools. “Riding” takes you through the next 127 skills, gleaned over the years by Peterson from his own riding experience, interviewing top racers, and writing the “Pro Riding Secrets” section in Dirt Rider. “To me, the riding tips are always the most interesting,” he said. “I love it when you go and ride with something to work on. Like, today I’m going to keep my elbows up, or I’m going to look further forward when I get to the ruts. I wanted to get a lot of that into the book.”
The “Wrenching” chapter covers another 150 topics, many based on the past issues of the magazine’s “Wrenching Secrets” and “Doctor Dirt” columns. “In this chapter, a lot of tips say consult your owner’s manual or shop manual. But sometimes it’s nice to have an overview of what you need to do before you get into the step-by-step nitty gritty of it,” Peterson said. The last chapter, “Suspension,” is written for riders at all skill levels, as the back cover says, “to solve the mysteries of bike set up to ride faster, longer and safer...but mostly faster.”
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to Peterson for including Skill 104: “Join The Club.” Peterson encourages all dirt bike riders to join a local club and get involved with national off-highway vehicle organizations, including the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). Writes Peterson: “Riding areas (both trails and tracks) are always in jeopardy of shrinking or disappearing, and the sport needs the collective efforts of riders everywhere to show that motocross and off-road riding is a healthy, fun and family-oriented sport that gets people outdoors to enjoy our land.”
Peterson encourages dirt riders of all ages to buy the book, read it, and then give it to someone they want to bring into the sport. “Many adults look at a new sport and don’t know where to start,” he said. “This book takes the intimidation factor out of that. It’s a tool for adults who want to do it right. Read it cover to cover, then keep it handy in your truck or right in your toolbox. It can take it. Apply what you learn and pass your knowledge forward.”
How to buy the book and donate to NOHVCC at the same time.
“The Total Dirt Rider Manual” is available at major book stores and online stores. The list price is $29.00. Amazon.com sells it new for $21.97 plus shipping. NOHVCC is an Amazon “Spotlight Charity.” Go to smile.amazon.com, select NOHVCC as your desired non-profit organization, then go shopping. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to NOHVCC.
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Experience, Expertise and Enthusiasm. That’s What These Program Managers Have In Common
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Eleventh 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 New Mexico, Chris Johnson is a life-long rider, advocate and educator.
Chris Johnson has been the OHV Education Coordinator for the state of New Mexico for just 4 years. But his enthusiasm for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation, as a rider, advocate, state association president, and safety educator, covers over 45 years.
“We moved to New Mexico in 1970, when I was in junior high,” said Johnson. “My neighbors up the street had a Yamaha DT175 Enduro. I would ‘borrow’ it and bring it back when the gas tank was empty. They loved me for that. And that’s how I got the bug for riding dirt bikes.”
After serving in the Navy, Johnson bought a dirt bike of his own. He tried motocross and flat track racing, but discovered his passion and skills were in desert racing. He was a Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified instructor for 14 years. He has served as president of the New Mexico Trials Association and the New Mexico OHV Alliance (NMOHVA). He also knows just about everything there is to know about the state’s OHV Safety Act, enacted in 2005 and later amended to move it from the Department of Tourism to the Department of Game and Fish. “I was participating as a safety advocate and enthusiast, trying to influence the way the OHV Safety Act was put together,” said Johnson. “Then, 8 years later, I got this job and became part of the team making it work.”
Johnson has a degree in professional writing from the University of New Mexico. He got it in 2009, and chuckles at the fact that it took him 22 years to graduate from college. But, he adds, it’s his advocacy work, and life-long enthusiasm for riding and rider safety that got him the job as the state’s leading OHV educator.
“Experience and enthusiasm show,” he said. “You want to convey to people what a positive experience off-road riding is, but also how important it is to do it safely and responsibly. That gives you credibility as an instructor. My duties are to make sure there are classes available primarily to the youth of New Mexico, but also to anyone, to meet the requirements of our state’s OHV Safety Act.
“Last year we offered 50 classes, and provided hands-on training for 159 students. That includes kids, adults and agency folks from the Forest Service and various State agencies in law enforcement and resource management.”
Johnson hopes that, over time, more OHV riders will get involved in New Mexico. “Unfortunately, our club scene is not very well organized,” he said. “We have so much public land; most people don’t feel the need to organize. They just go out and ride, and don’t understand that there’s work required to keep that opportunity available.”
Meanwhile, Johnson is doing his part to pass on the fun of safe, responsible OHV riding to the next generation, on the job and at home. “Between me and my family, we have 13 motorcycles in the garage right now,” he said. “My kids started riding electric OSET motorcycles with our trials club at about 4 years of age.” Now in their teens, they have graduated to gas-powered Sherco and Beta models. His wife, Lisa, also has a barely street-legal Scorpa Long Ride. He adds, “I’m hoping they also start learning the joys of wrenching on them too, but for now I’m the primary mechanic.”
In Colorado, Mike Jones creates rider experiences, not just opportunities.
Across the border in Colorado, Mike Jones is a Park Ranger at the Grand Junction Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He started his career in outdoor recreation fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service in his home state of Virginia. “My degree is in Outdoor Recreation Management, from Radford University,” Jones said. “I took a class in college that qualified me to fight fire. After I graduated, I was an assistant foreman on a fire engine.”
Jones and his wife moved to Colorado in 2003, where he continued fighting fires, and signed on as a Park Ranger in 2007. His initial responsibility was dealing with permits for motorcycle and running races; and for big game outfitters. That gradually shifted to working with user groups in the community, and led to him becoming the lead Park Ranger. “I really like being out in the field talking to people, helping them figure out how things work,” said Jones. “It’s my dream job. I go out and work with the community, and ride motorcycles and bicycles.
“Working with club volunteers is what excites and motivates me. They’re coming out there, not getting paid anything. It’s important for me to be as excited as they are, but also to explain to them, the process is not just government bureaucracy. There are reasons some of the things we do take time, so we do it right the first time, and don’t continue to fix and change.”
Being an experienced rider is a big plus in partnering with user groups, Jones adds. “I personally think it’s huge to be a rider on this job. Whenever I show up at an event on a motorcycle or a mountain bike, I’m not just a guy from the government that’s coming out and telling them what to do. I’m another guy that rides. They know I understand what they’re doing. When we’re on the same page, the conversations become a lot more real.”
Currently, the big push in the Grand Junction Field Office, reports Jones, is transforming user trails to sustainable, managed trail systems. “We’re trying to create experiences, not just ride opportunities,” he said. “Traditionally, the routes that are on BLM lands, especially in Grand Junction, they’re user-created routes. They were the easiest place to ride, and probably very interesting as well. But they went right to the top of the ridge and don’t have switchbacks. Now we’re shifting to design them to last longer and have less maintenance. The riding community is starting to understand that, and seeing that we’re building some cool stuff.
“Maintaining single-track and ATV trails is one big emphasis we’re working on currently. We’re partnering with the clubs throughout the process. And it’s important to have them involved, doing things such as putting in signs that say the project was completed by the Grand Mesa Jeep Club or the Western Slope ATV Association. That can make a big difference, so all the users know who is doing the work.”
When meeting with motorized and non-motorized groups, Jones speaks from experience. He grew up riding mountain bikes and dirt bikes, and his first vehicle was a Jeep CJ-7. He had a street bike when he moved to Colorado. “A friend of mine said ‘how can you live in Grand Junction and not have a motorcycle?’ So I bought a KTM450 in 2003. That was the first dirt bike I owned.
“Now my kids both have dirt bikes. My 10-year-old has a 70 and my 6-year-old has a 50. We go riding out in the desert ... they love it.”
In Washington State, Barry Collins has laid out all kinds of trails.
Barry Collins has laid out trails for dirt bikes, mountain bikes and 4-wheel-drive trucks. He knows what each user group is looking for, on the trails and at the campgrounds where they stay, because he is an avid enthusiast of both horsepower and pedal power.
“On my previous job, I was a zone engineer, working with OHV trails extensively on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest,” Collins said. “It’s on the east side of the Cascades in Washington. I worked on the Natches Ranger District, with 300 miles of Jeep trails and 127 miles of dirt bike trails, and on the Cle Elum District, with 300 miles of dirt bike and 100 miles of jeep trails.”
Today, Collins is a Recreation Program Manager on the Skykomish Ranger District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “My official title is Ranger District Management Assistant,” he said. “My main responsibilities are to oversee the budget and planning for the recreation program. I also oversee the ski area permits for the Stevens Pass Mountain Resort.” Seventy percent of Skykomish is designated ‘Wilderness’, he added, making it predominantly a hiking District, with no motorized recreation opportunities. But when the other Ranger Districts with motorized trails need assistance, they know Collins has the expertise and enthusiasm to help them.
Collins grew up in Puyallup, Washington, riding dirt bikes and mountain bikes. He got a degree in Forest and Ecology Engineering from the University of Washington in 2000. “I wanted to pursue an interest of mine, and became a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley. After the tech bubble burst, I bailed out of that. I went to work for the Washington State DNR, as an engineer setting up timber sales. I was with them for 2 years on a temporary basis, before landing a permanent job with the Forest Service. I would like to see more people with motorized recreation experience join the Forest Service.”
Collins has owned a variety of mountain bikes and motorcycles, and twisted the throttle at a few races. Between his riding and engineering experience, he knows and can readily explain the differences in trail design required to give both riding groups the experience they are looking for.
“A lot of it has to do with speed,” said Collins. “When looking at mountain biking, you can’t have nearly as steep grades as on a dirt bike. It’s a lot easier for a dirt bike to go up a steep grade for a short ways, but with mountain bikes you have to be real conscious of slopes. Mountain bikers want a different flow than dirt bikers. A dirt bike wheel base is generally longer. They don’t turn quite as fast as mountain bikes, because you have a lot more mass and rotating weight. You can have a real tight turning radius on a mountain bike. Where they’re rolling around, they don’t have power. They’re not on the gas riding up a turn nearly as much as a dirt bike can. Braking into a corner is different on a mountain bike. You have to be conscious of that. How and where you harden the trail is also different.”
As an engineer, Collins also understands what riders want and need when they arrive at a National Forest campground. “Where being a rider really helps is in designing campgrounds,” he said. “Unless you understand the equipment that dirt bikers and Jeepers are bringing with them when they’re going up into the mountains, you’re not going to design the campground properly. A lot of times, people go out in a group, so they want to round up their RVs into a circle to be close to friends. Large, open parking works for people that want that experience. Developing a standard campground, you have to understand the equipment people are bringing, like travel trailers with awnings that fold out. And they have to have a place to park their Jeep and their tow rig. It’s not the old car camping like it used to be.”
Collins has developed a partnership with a local mountain bike club, working with them to build a new trail this summer. He is also the team lead to develop more mountain bike trails at the Stevens Pass Mountain Resort. “On our Forest, I’m also involved in an OHV area on the Ranger District south of here,” he said. “It’s called the Evans Creek ORV Park. I’ve both ‘Jeeped’ it and dirt biked it. I’m helping them understand what the Jeepers and dirt bikers want. We’re mostly focused on Jeeps the first year, but we want to build their connections with the dirt bike community as well.”
While he’s not laying out motorized trails as much as he used to, Collins is still riding them. And, like Johnson and Jones, is passing on the fun of riding dirt bikes to his 4- and 7-year old children, both who ride 50cc machines. They’ll be joining Collins on Jeep trips, too. And his personal, favorite ride experience? “I enjoy really tough technical trails, like ‘5 Miles Of Hell’. That’s a trail in Utah, about an hour from Moab.” Difficulty: 5 of 5.
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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.
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.
CPSC study shows trend on declining ATV deaths and injuries:
Here's a great gift idea for young dirt bike riders! Give them the new Wheaties cereal box featuring Ryan Dungey, AND the new "Total Dirt Rider Manual" by Pete Peterson, also featuring Ryan Dungey on the cover. Now that's a double-roost gift pack! Back to the Top
Dirt Rider has also started a two-wheel 'university' that has courses for all things motorcycle. Check it out at: https://www.twowheelsu.com/?cmpid=DRICIR030716.