NOHVCC Newsletter - May 2016 edition
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In this Issue:
The essence of a Great Trail is: WOW!
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
If you’ve paged through “Great Trails,” the new 350-page resource guide published by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), or attended a NOHVCC Workshop recently, you know that the “WOW Factor” is critical to providing quality OHV trail-riding experiences.
To learn more about the WOW Factor, we visited with Dick Dufourd, the author of “Great Trails.” He is an avid rider of all kinds of motorized vehicles. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 35 years. In 2005, he and his wife Joani formed RecConnect LLC, an OHV consulting business that provides turn-key trail project management, and has implemented more than 1,800 miles of OHV trails in the U.S. and Canada.
Dufourd’s workshop presentations are energizing and insightful. In short, he is the “King of WOW.”
The “WOW Factor” is mentioned throughout the 18 chapters of “Great Trails.” What is WOW?
“WOW is something that transcends the whole process. WOW is in trail location, design and planning. It’s in trail construction and maintenance. It’s in the physical and human elements of an OHV trail. It’s in everything.
“To me, it’s all about paying attention to trail location details, and attention to providing for the riders’ needs. If you’re really conscientious about those two things, you’re going to provide WOW.”
How do you create WOW for the wide range of riders and their expectations?
“WOW is all about variety. What may be a WOW to me may not be a WOW to you. But everybody loves a trail system where they get to see a lot of different things. 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.”
In your presentation, you talk about trail design being like an artist’s palette.
“There’s a lot of artistry in trail location and design. It’s about lines, colors, textures, contrast and depth. In my presentation, there’s a photo of a single-track trail where a rider is looking at a characteristic snag; a tall, dead tree located on a rim with a dramatic view. The trail was located to direct the riders’ eyes right at that snag. It was framed by an incredible view in the background. It’s very artistic.
“Another photo shows a rock we found during a field day at last year’s NOHVCC Workshop in Flagstaff. It blew me away, because it was on an outstanding trail location. They didn’t realize what they had because they see it every day.”
So look at your trail like you’re riding it for the very first time?
“Exactly. You’re the tour guide, and you’re showing off what there is to see in that particular area. They can be big things or little things. Take a step back and think about what there is to showcase and how well you can showcase it.
“We looked at a proposed trail system in southern Minnesota. We were walking down this ridge. We stopped at a spot where, with a little select clearing of trees, riders would have a vista of a river valley below that would be really cool.
“At the Gypsum City OHV Park (in Fort Dodge, Iowa), we saw wild turkeys spring from the tall grass. That was a WOW moment for that particular place.
“Rock canyons, streams and waterfalls, challenge features are Wow, as are things that evoke feelings and emotions. Find the elements that make riders say ‘WOW’. I think there are three levels of WOW that add up to trigger an emotional response in the riders. Certainly, there is the big WOW: the dramatic vista. Then there is the little wow: a unique rock formation, the stud pile, the snag framed against the skyline, or a trail with great flow. Finally, there is the subconscious wow, which I call subliminal absorption: the burnt stump, the character tree, the unique little patch of vegetation, and so forth. These are seen by the riders, and not consciously registered as wow, but they add up and at the end of the day, the riders say ‘WOW’. I’ll ask riders what it was that triggered that response, and often they’ll say: ‘I don’t know.’ In some landscapes, the only features for the designer to capitalize on may be little wow or subliminal wow.”
What’s an example of a WOW moment during trail construction?
“Again, pay attention to little details. Do you leave the log or take it out? You turn a rock over. Do you leave it turned over or do you leave it so the mossy side is up? Do you leave the flagging there, or do you pick it up? Do you leave the brush and slash in piles or clumps, or do you scatter it out?
“The opportunities are there, they’re just different everywhere you go. Sometimes you’re so focused on the big things that you might overlook the little things. That’s why I tell my story about the ‘stud pile.’ In Nevada, a stud pile is a very common thing, but if you’ve never seen one before, it’s really something neat.”
Okay, that’s a new one for me. What’s a stud pile?
“Joani and I were asked to evaluate a large parcel of land in Nevada. We came across these huge piles of horse dung, from a foot high to 4 feet high. We hadn’t seen those before. We went WOW what is this? We actually stopped on our motorcycles and took pictures of each other posing in front of the piles of horse dung. We found out later that wild horses use stud piles to mark their territory.
“That’s a perfect example. You might have things on the trail that you look at every day, and you don’t think anything of them. But to someone from outside the area, that’s a WOW. There is seat time and there is activity time. Here we spent a half hour taking pictures of each other by this stud pile. It extended our activity time and gave us a WOW factor...and a great story.”
So it’s as much about getting off the vehicle as it is about riding it.
“Certainly. A couple years ago we went to the Paiute trail (in central Utah). It was in the fall. It wasn’t technical riding, but the fall colors were absolutely spectacular. And we came around a bend and there was this huge view with all the colors and the first word out of your mouth was WOW. It registers as a unique and beautiful experience. Having those vistas to view from a trail, that’s where it all started.
“It goes back to providing variety, and providing something with that attention to detail, especially in trail location and design, where you are directing the riders’ eyes. That is really important. In doing so, you are managing the use, protecting resources, and controlling the rider experience.
“WOW appears everywhere in the book, because that is what it’s all about. It is everywhere, and there are just so many elements to it. A WOW today can be a different WOW tomorrow. I hope everyone takes that away when they read the Great Trails book or attend a Great Trails Workshop.”
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.”
This article just scratches the surface of how to work WOW into trail planning, design, construction and maintenance. To understand WOW in all its context, order copies of “Great Trails” for your club, state association, or state or federal agency’s OHV program, at this link: http://gt.nohvcc.org/About.aspx
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This ATV Training Course Simulates New Mexico’s Terrain, Complete With Noisy Bridge
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Just south of Albuquerque, young off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders are having a blast.
They are maneuvering their ATVs through tight turns, over rocks and logs, into some deep sand, then under a bridge, up a hill and back over the bridge, which rattles like it was built a century ago.
But this isn’t a trail out in the desert. It’s a training course, right off Main Street in the Village of Los Lunas, New Mexico. This unique trail is part of the Los Lunas River Park OHV Training Facility. Almost a half mile in length, it’s the only one of its kind in the state, and one of only a few in the country built to simulate real trails.
The training facility has been in operation since 2012, and features a large, flat area with a dirt hill, where the basic ATV safety training class is taught. A covered gazebo nearby is used for classroom instruction. The trail, which had its grand opening in October of 2015, is designed to simulate actual trail conditions the young riders will encounter when they venture out and ride on designated, public ATV trails or open, legal riding areas.
“After the students go through the basic ATV training class, they have the opportunity to take a couple laps on the trail,” said Chris Johnson, OHV Education Coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “We stop at each station along the trail and focus back on what particular skill they learned during the class that is applicable to that section of the trail. Then they ride on it.”
A few challenge sections on the trail include multiple paths with varying difficulty levels. For example, a long, flat straightaway with built-in bumps has three paths. The far right path features small timbers, the middle option has larger timbers and the far left route has even larger logs buried in the ground. A bypass allows riders to avoid the challenge if they feel it is too difficult or unsuitable for a youth-sized ATV. The bypass also lets riders circle back and repeat the obstacle course at a higher difficulty level.
As they approach the bridge, riders first go under it, maneuvering over rocks much like they would when riding down a dry creek bed. Then they go up a small hill, and circle back to ride over the bridge. “The bridge is everybody’s favorite, because of the way we designed it,” said Andrew Gutierrez, Park Ranger with the Los Lunas Open Space Division, part of the village’s park and recreation department. “The planks make some noise and move a little, so it’s kind of a rickety feeling, but underneath it is 4 inch tubular steel. It’s very safe, but that noise and the feel, all the kids love it. It’s one of those things we put in there, hoped it would take, and it did.”
The course also features a limiter gate at the starting point, similar to what riders will find at trailheads in National Forests, used to control the width of vehicles allowed on OHV trails. The course was built with features to provide training for off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and Side-by-Sides (called ROVs or Recreational Vehicles by manufacturers). Except for some SxS training for law enforcement officers, training so far has been on ATVs.
Planning, building and funding the training facility, and providing trained safety instructors, involved partners at all levels of government, as well as local companies and non-profit organizations, including: the Village of Los Lunas; the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish; the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District; Reineke Construction, a member of the Professional Trail Builders Association; and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC).
What was the common ground that brought all these groups together? “The undeniable need,” said Gutierrez. “Because of the things that were happening around us, the accidents, the misuse and lack of education. And the fact that that nothing like this is in New Mexico.
“It is an amazing success story. I have to commend New Mexico Game and Fish. They came up with a very good curriculum. I am excited every time I teach it. We put kids through various scenarios to teach them how to relax on the machine and properly ride it, and how your body movement influences where the vehicle goes.
“Parents of the children we’ve taught tell us that the difference in their child’s riding habits before and after the class is amazing. They are filled with happiness toward everybody that worked to create the facility.
“It’s tough to quantify results, but off the top of my head I’d say we’ve seen a 90% reduction of misuse of the vehicles in our community. It used to be a daily thing for us to deal with someone on an OHV, and now it practically doesn’t exist.
“It’s only because of the partnership between all the groups and the hard work they put into the facility.”
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This Side-by-Side Group Has No Officers, No Bylaws...And 470 Members
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Second in a series. ATV clubs are looking more and more like Side-by-Side (SxS) clubs. Photos of ATV club rides aren’t just sprinkled with SxSs anymore. Often, they are the dominant vehicle. In some parts of the country, new “SxS Clubs” are being formed. If you belong to one of them, or have thoughts on how SxSs (called recreational off-highway vehicles or ROVs by manufacturers) have changed your ATV club and its activities, we’d like to hear from you for this article series. Send your club name, contact info and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central Oregon SxS Is A Virtual Club Riding High On Social Media
“Well, we certainly didn't have to worry about any dust today!! Cold and wet but still had some fun! Great turn out and it was nice to finally put some faces to names!”
That was a message posted in mid-May on the Facebook page of the Central Oregon Side-by-Side club, complete with photos of a chilly group ride following a late-spring snowstorm. The 470-member off-highway vehicle (OHV) group has a logo and gear for sale. But it has no officers, bylaws or elections. That’s because Central Oregon SxS is primarily a social club. A virtual SxS club, using social media to organize and communicate.
“There is no actual Side-by-Side club. They consider themselves an established group, but basically it’s a Facebook page and that’s it,” said Brent Jenkins, who created the “closed group” page about 2 years ago.
Jenkins, an OHV Specialist in the Deschutes National Forest, needed a way to make it easy to deliver information to riders who live in the area or visit it regularly with their SxSs. Facebook was the solution. “Working for the Forest Service, I’m out there all the time. I meet a lot of people on Side-by-Sides, and I get a lot of calls. Their number one question is ‘Where can I go ride?’
“Because I have access to maps and rider information, I thought, let’s get this on a Facebook page and get people on it. Then we’d have one location to list maps and group rides and places to go. And it’s worked out pretty well. People from all over Oregon are on the Facebook page, and there are a lot of people from Washington too, who come down here to ride.
“With close to 10,000 miles of Forest Service roads, Deschutes has more available places for Side-by-Sides than any Forest I know of. There are caves, lava flows, you can go up on top of mountains, and you can ride to lakes that a lot of people don’t know they can reach on a Side-by-Side...until they get on the Facebook page.”
Members of the virtual club use Facebook to publicize group rides and poker runs, and post photos of the fun they have and the places they explore. They also exchange details about their vehicles, the equipment they carry on rides, and the tablets and GPS units they use to navigate and track their rides on the vast network of Forest Roads.
After work hours and on weekends, Jenkins enjoys leading group rides, and holds classes at his home on mapping and using tablets. “I use a Samsung Galaxy tablet,” he said. “That works really well for mapping. I can’t tell you how many of those I’ve sold for Samsung. Riders download the Avenza PDF Maps Mobile App on their tablets. That lets them download all the Deschutes National Forest MVUMs (Motorized Vehicle Use Maps). They show all the Forest Roads open to Side-by-Sides. If they have a GPS, they can go and explore all they want. A lot of us track the day’s ride. Then we post it on the Facebook page, so others can do it and talk about their experiences. Right now, we have over 600 miles of tracks available.”
Lots of fun, but lacking a voice on OHV issues.
While Central Oregon SxS continues to raise awareness and participation of group rides, because it’s unorganized it has no voice on OHV issues. Jenkins encourages everyone to join the Central Oregon OHV Association (COOHVA). “I tell people that this Facebook page, while it’s great for organizing rides, when it comes to having a voice, it doesn’t mean anything. COOHVA is the voice on issues for all four OHV classes in this area. When the Side-by-Side members join COOHVA, it gives them a voice to keep routes open. And they can put a petition to the Forest Service to convert overgrown roads to trails, which the Facebook page can’t do.”
Because the Facebook page is a “closed group,” only those who are approved by Jenkins or one of five other “administrators” may join the page. Those who do join are allowed to post information and photos, which is also screened. No sales pitches, no politics. “Yes, you have to be invited or approved,” Jenkins said. “The only reason for that is to keep people off that we don’t want on there. I’ve had people in China asking to join our Facebook page. Not going to happen.”
Central Oregon SxS is now working on creating a website, which will help provide even more information and services to its SxS riders. As for the Facebook page, Jenkins is pleased that people are on it, chatting away and getting questions answered, even if it means revealing some of his favorite spots in the Forest. “I hate to advertise some of my camping places, lakes and things. Every time I go there now, I probably won’t be able to get a campsite ... oh well.”
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Mentoring is a Key For New WI OHM Law and All Organizations
by Bryan Much
Part Three. Passed in a unanimous vote in February, Wisconsin’s new “OHM Law” creates a sticker program, allowing motorcyclists to generate funds in order to build and sustain off-highway motorcycle trails. Last month, Bryan Much, who spearheaded the legislative effort for the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (WOHMA), gave the backstory on getting the bill written and passed into law. Many people were involved in the nearly 10-year process to create the sticker program. So this month, we asked Much, a NOHVCC Associate State Partner and now president of WOHMA, to write about the importance of mentoring in order to develop skilled leaders, who can work together to move important legislation forward, work on the resulting program, and sustain an organization over time.
Mentoring shapes our future.
Mentoring involves the exchange of wisdom and knowledge from a more experienced and knowledgeable person to one less so. It’s a conscious and deliberate effort involving a social and professional partnership. Mentoring can involve a broad array of program related topics, or focus on a more narrow set of skills required for a specific project. We all give and receive “advice” on a daily basis, but mentoring involves a more structured effort to develop others.
In my career as an Army officer, developing subordinates was a principal responsibility in any assignment. A combination of formal education, self-directed learning, and personal coaching was part of a program that sustained the progression of people with knowledge, skills, and abilities required to achieve success.
Why is mentoring important to our recreation-related organizations? The more informed our leaders are, the more effective we can be advocating for our interests, and the more respected our user groups will be. Our key leaders need to know who the people are that we work with in government and organizations, plus what and how much each of those people know about our industry.
We don’t necessarily have to understand every detail, but we do need to know enough to effectively engage on a topic. Sometimes people act on inaccurate or an incomplete understanding of a topic. This is one of the reasons we must have people who know how and where to find out the facts and how to overcome faulty situations. Just as mentoring is key to sustaining leadership in the military, it’s also key in sustaining effective organizations related to our recreational interests.
How do we go about it? First, we need to find people who are willing to be mentored. They may be senior or junior in age or “status” or somewhere in-between, but they must recognize that sometimes “they don’t know what they don’t know” and that there is often more to understand. If someone isn’t ready to accept mentoring, sometimes a would-be mentor can sow some seeds to create an awareness as an investment for a change of heart in the future.
One easy way to get started is to have someone accompany you as you do your work related to the organization and issues. A combination of observation and follow-up discussion goes a long way to developing understanding.
Another way to mentor is to get someone involved in a project. Sometimes this seems like you are taking the long way to getting a project done that you could quickly complete yourself, but it is a training scenario that allows the “mentee” to undergo some quick development. Give some initial guidance on a project to frame what you need, and to provide some leads or contacts to follow-up. Then turn them loose to learn, explore, develop contacts, and build confidence. Make yourself available to connect along the way to make alterations, add more information, or introduce additional contacts. Make it a formal project so that the mentee learns the value of systematically following a process to examine the issues and arrive at outcomes based on facts and sound reasoning.
Following the project approach teaches people to reach out and develop contacts, research to find the facts about issues, and make decisions based on a more deliberate process than what otherwise might take place. You’ll likely find that the outcome and recommendations of the project will highlight opportunities to mentor on a wide variety of other issues not yet fully understood by those you are mentoring.
I recently took this approach by tasking an enthusiastic member (not an officer) of our group with a project involving revamping the membership program for our organization. The project required that person to examine and evaluate approaches taken by other organizations and to make contact with some key people to gain their insight. Beyond gathering information, he had to sort out the many factors involved with making recommendations that might be best for our organization. In the course of all this, he developed not only a much deeper knowledge of organizations, but also a sense of ownership with regard to the future of our own association.
What can we focus on when mentoring? It can include a single, narrow topic for a short-term project. It can include a more general understanding of how various agencies are organized, what the rules are, and what the processes are for an action. It can also include the various factions related to our interests that may support or oppose us. Let’s not forget to mentor about keeping our organizations vibrant and effective. We also need to mentor about mentoring.
Mentoring goes in both directions. Sometimes a mentor will find he or she is being “reverse-mentored” by benefitting from the knowledge that the mentee has that is of value to the organization. For example, a mentee might offer valuable insight about how technology and social media play an important role with young people in operations related to our interests. Even the most advanced OHV advocates are being mentored regularly by the collective wisdom of the group or by those with specialized knowledge that only few possess. The point is that conscious development and mentoring never stop, and should involve all key leaders in an organization.
As we start new clubs, work issues with government agencies, and take on things like trail projects, we need to seek out people who want to get involved and deliberately develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Progress for our interests relies on a broad and significant level of knowledge and skill as a user group and the respect that brings.
Now is a good time to give some deliberate thought about whether there is more we should be doing to consciously mentor the advocates we need to sustain our organizations. Mentoring shapes our future.
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
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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.
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We made it past another tax deadline last month. Did you have to pay too much to the IRS? NOHVCC can help, we are a 501(c)(3) organization and donations to NOHVCC (or through the Right Rider Access Fund - https://www.riderfund.org/Donate.aspx) are tax deductible. Please remember us in your charitable giving and we can help you reduce your tax bill.
Need an easier way to donate? Shopping online? Now you can support the NOHVCC, and our mission of providing a positive future for OHV recreation, by using the AmazonSmile program when you are shopping at Amazon.Com. NOHVCC is registered to be one of the charities you can choose for a donation from Amazon.com and their AmazonSmile program. It costs you nothing – they donate 0.5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice and it is just one click away!