NOHVCC Newsletter - November 2016 edition

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In this Issue:




New Forest Service Citizens’ Guide Invites The Public To Engage In Forest Planning

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service updated its land management planning requirements for the first time in 30 years, with a new “Forest Planning Rule.” It is a significant advance in citizen-based land management planning.  A Federal Advisory Committee made up of citizens representing diverse interests was established to assist the Forest Service in implementing the new Forest Planning Rule. As it worked with the Forest Service, the Committee recognized that a citizens’ guide was needed to help the public effectively understand and get involved in the planning process.


Published recently by the Forest Service, the 86-page document is titled “A Citizens’ Guide to National Forest Planning.” Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Director, is on the Advisory Committee. We asked him to tell us about the process to create the new Citizens' Guide, and how advocates of motorized recreation can best use it when working with National Forests.


What is your role on the Federal Advisory Committee?

“I represent dispersed recreation and commercial interests, which include motorized recreation and outfitting. I’m one of 21 Committee members representing a broad range of interests, including timber, grazing, mineral rights, and the environmental community.”


How did the Committee decide there was a need for a Citizens' Guide?Cover of USFS Citizens' Guide

“The Committee has been together for 4 years. The first couple years were spent on recommendations to the Forest Service for the directives of the Forest Plan; the instruction book on how they would implement the Rule. It’s a complicated Rule. 


“It became clear that if we who are immersed in the rule have difficulty wrapping our heads around it, then it will be really difficult for the public to understand it as well. That’s when we decided we needed an overview, so that the public understands the intent of the Rule, how it’s supposed to work, the different components of a plan, and how to get involved.”


The Citizens' Guide states its objective is engaging the public. Is that a new direction for the Forest Service?

“That’s really a sea change; a significant change in direction. The new Planning Rule is meant to give the public the opportunity to be engaged all through the process on a variety of topics, so that the Forest Service can develop better Plans. It’s also meant to be adaptive. Once the Plan is completed, it’s not meant to be static. It’s meant to be monitored and revised on an ongoing basis. Wrapping your head around those concepts is how this Citizens' Guide is helpful.”


The Citizens' Guide is 86 pages, with just 3 pages devoted to sustainable Recreation. What’s the main takeaway for the off-highway vehicle (OHV) industry?

“The main message is that, even though only a small portion on the book is devoted to recreation, people need to know how the Forest Plan Rule functions. And that all the components in the Guidebook, whether it’s wilderness or endangered species of conservation concern, will have an effect on where and when recreation occurs. Paying attention to just the recreation topic in this discussion would be a grave mistake. For other topics, where they may use species to monitor how things are going, for example, it’s critical to be engaged on those as well, which results in a Forest Plan that we can live with as recreationists.” 


Are some OHV advocates already engaged at that level?

“The answer is mixed. There are a lot of people in the OHV community who are used to being engaged in the Travel Management Plans, but when they hear about Forest Plans, they’re not as concerned or engaged, because they don’t understand the impact that it will have on them when it comes to Travel Planning.”


So Forest Planning goes hand-in-hand with Travel Planning?

“Absolutely. Travel Plans are site-specific plans that tell you where and when you can ride and where you can’t. The Forest Plan needs to be looked at like a community’s zoning plan. It tells you where you can build a Walmart and where you can’t. So if your riding area is in a Walmart parking lot, you better be sure that where you’re riding area is zoned for that experience.”


Where does the NOHVCC Public Land Advocacy DVD come into play?

“The Land Advocacy DVD that NOHVCC developed and has been used for years, is geared toward Travel Planning. It’s very useful information for understanding the Forest Service structure, Travel Management processes, and building relationships with Forest supervisors and district managers. So the DVD is actually a great tool to look at before going into Forest Planning meetings, so you’re well informed and prepared to make the right comments.” 


So they’re both important tools when advocating for motorized recreation? 

“Yes. The Citizens' Guide is the primer. The one that will help you with the basic concept of what you’re stepping into. It’s important to know that, if Forest Planning isn’t going on in your area right now, it will be in the future. And that’s nationwide. So the Citizens' Guide is a great tool for everyone, and complements what we have developed for Travel Planning.  Remember, Travel Planning and Forest Planning don’t happen in a vacuum. One often precedes the other, and the decisions made in one Plan will greatly impact the other.”


Which comes first? Travel Planning or Forest Planning?Chapter 14 first page of USFS Citizens' Guide

“There’s no right way or wrong way for the Forest Service to do it. In some places, they’re doing Forest Plans first, which basically say, for example, this area will be set aside for semi-primitive, non-motorized recreation. So then, when you get to the Travel Plan, if you weren’t involved in drawing the lines, they may have already excluded an area that was very important for you for motorized recreation.. In other areas, they’ve done the Travel Plan first, and come up with a system that functions, and then they plan around that system. There’s no guidance that says one way is better than the other.


“One of the key messages for advocates of OHV recreation to understand, is that Forest Planning affects you far more than you think it does. So you have to get engaged and stay engaged. Don’t sit around waiting for the Travel Plan. If you do, you could be excluded by virtue of your absence. Someone could draw a line around that favorite OHV riding area and say that’s a non-motorized area. After that, there’s not much you can do when it comes to the Travel Plan to keep that area open.”


Was being on the Advisory Committee a good experience?

“It’s been a great experience. In particular, being able to work on the Citizens' Guide. Because we all have the right to be engaged in the process, and we want everybody to be engaged in the process to help the Forest Service make the best decisions possible. Even though there were some areas of opposing views among those of us on the Committee it was important to all of us that the public be engaged and all our voices to be heard. That idea was unanimous among the Committee members. It wasn’t contentious at all.


“We all want the same thing: a level playing field.”


For more information on the U.S. Forest Service Planning Rule Revision, visit this website:


The printable version of  “A Citizens’ Guide to National Forest Planning,” Washington Office, 2016 is available for download or viewing on your screen.


A second publication, also recently released, is designed to increase intergovernmental participation in land management plans. It is titled, “Understanding Your Opportunities for Participating in the Forest Service Planning Process: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Governments,” Washington Office 2016.



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New Skills Course In Colorado Is NOHVCC “Success Story Of The Year”

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Second in a series. Adding challenge features or a skill development area to an off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system can greatly boost rider interest and the overall rider experience. They may include technical terrain courses, learner loops, kiddie tracks, tot lots and youth training areas. We’ll report on some of them in this article series, how they were built and how they met rider needs. If there is one of these unique riding areas in your area, tell us about it by sending an email to: Include a few details, along with your name and contact information.

View of Peach Valley Skills Course 

BLM Helps Riders Advance Their Skills At Peach Valley Recreation Area

It’s 3 acres of logs, rocks and boulders. Not scattered about, but carefully placed and secured into a series of challenging obstacles that will put a smile on the face of any off-highway motorcycle (OHM) or ATV rider. 


The best part is, everyone is invited.


“Each obstacle has an easy, intermediate and advanced lane,” said Julie Jackson, recreation planner for the Uncompahgre Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “As people go through it, they can choose a lane. There are directional signs to help people navigate the obstacles.


“The number one goal was to improve riding skills for all riders, beginners to experts; and introduce riders to obstacles they are going to see out on the trails in our area. The objectives were to teach them how to ride through and over obstacles instead of around them, so they learn those skills, and to minimize impact on the trails by improving the rider’s skill level.”


Log obstacels at Peach Valley skills courseCompleted in June of 2016, the new OHV Skills Area is located at the trailhead of the Peach Valley Recreation Area, north of Montrose, Colorado, part of the 64,000-acre Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA). The BLM manages the NCA in ways that provide quality motorized and non-motorized recreation experiences, while protecting and improving natural resources.


The Skills Area was designed and constructed by Al Griffin and Chad Greiner. Both are certified instructors with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and ATV Safety Institute (ASI), and teachers at a local school. “They are the stars of this project,” said Jackson, during a presentation at the annual conference of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), held in mid-October. “They are part of our OHV crew, and have been with us for 14 years.”


Each obstacle is designed with a specific purpose to advance rider skills. The log pile helps riders practice weight transfer when going up and over obstacles. Long log runs are good for practicing balance on a dirt bike. A log matrix develops skills to overcome continuous obstacles. Cobble turns help riders practice turning on uneven ground. Boulders on a hill teach maneuvering around obstacles while side-hilling. The course accommodates motorcycles, as well as ATVs and ROVs (side-by-sides) of 50 inches or less in width.  Some of the obstacles can only be done by motorcycles, but there is room between those obstacles for quads to go around them and continue on to the obstacles that accommodate ATVs and ROVs.


“Signage is important”, said Jackson, to let everyone know this is not a race course. “We want to emphasize that it’s a skills course. We also signed it so people know they are riding at their own risk.” Also located at the staging area are covered picnic tables, a restroom, a beginner’s loop, and a training area where instructors hold MSF and ASI classes.


The Skills Course adds a new OHV riding opportunity in what is already a popular destination. Open, off-route riding is permitted in the Peach Valley and Flat Top Open Areas, to vehicles 50 inches or less in width. The Open Areas feature varied terrain that will challenge ATV and motorcycle riders of every skill level. And there are more than 75 miles of designated trails and primitive roads in the remaining areas of the NCA. 


The Skills Area was funded by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife OHV Rock obstacels at Peach Valley skills courseTrails Grant, with matching funds from the BLM for an informational kiosk, and gravel for the parking area that surrounds the course. The Delta (Colorado) Correctional Crew assisted with the construction of a fence.


The Peach Valley Recreation Site was named NOHVCC “Success Story Of The Year” at the awards banquet of its annual conference. Scott Jones, NOHVCC State Partner from Colorado, accepted the award on behalf of the Peach Valley Recreation Site, saying, “This has been a spectacular project, that so many people poured their heart and soul into. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out.”


Want to learn more? Download the powerpoint presentation Jackson made at this year’s NOHVCC Conference. It’s posted on the NOHVCC web site at this link: Click on the one titled “Uncompahgre Field Office Skill Development Course.” 


Heading there with your OHVs? You’ll find the BLM’s brochure and trail system map for the area at this link:


Thinking of building a skills course at your local OHV riding area? See a short YouTube video of the construction of the Peach Valley Skills Area, with close-up views of obstacles, at:

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Shopping On Amazon? One Click Donates To NOHVCC.

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


AmazonSmile Donates When You Shop, And It Costs You Nothing.


Amazon Smile logoAre you and your family shopping on Amazon this holiday season? With one click, Amazon will donate a small part of your purchase price directly to the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), at no cost to you.


The program is called AmazonSmile, a simple and automatic way for you to support the NOHVCC mission. NOHVCC is a registered non-profit organization with AmazonSmile. Each time you shop, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of your purchase to NOHVCC. Simply click on AmazonSmile, register, and when it asks for the organization you’d like to donate to, type in National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council. And start shopping!

 I Support Right Rider Access Fund Flyer

Pass this information on to your OHV club members, to friends and family, to everyone you know who rides. The funds received will help NOHVCC meet its mission of creating a positive future for OHV recreation. For the record: NOHVCC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational foundation composed of a national body of OHV recreation enthusiasts. It develops and provides a wide spectrum of programs, materials, and information or “tools” to individuals, clubs, associations, and government agencies.


Please Note: Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.


Or Donate Without Buying Anything, Through The Right Rider Access Fund. 

Not an Amazon shopper? You can still donate to NOHVCC, and get a tax deduction for it (as applicable through the IRS). The Right Rider Access Fund’s charitable mission is to promote the safe and responsible use of OHVs and to preserve their access to appropriate lands.


You can direct your donation to NOHVCC, or one of three other programs that support OHV recreation. For more information and to donate, visit this website:


Tax-deductible donations can also be made by riders, clubs and associations directly to NOHVCC, at 427 Central Ave. W., Great Falls, MT, 59404. Whether through Amazon, the Right Rider Access Fund or direct, thank you for supporting the NOHVCC mission of “Creating a Positive Future for OHV Recreation”.




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Connecticut Workshop Helps New Association Unify Voices Of OHV Clubs

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


A NOHVCC Workshop Can Help You Build, Or Revitalize, Your State OHV Association


Over the years, workshops conducted by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) have helped off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs in many states come together and form a state-wide OHV association, or strengthen an existing association.


From Alabama to Washington State, New Mexico to Vermont, many of those OHV State Associations have grown to the point that, today, they speak on behalf of thousands of off-highway motorcycle, ATV and 4WD truck enthusiasts, advancing OHV-friendly legislation, and creating new riding opportunities.


Thanks to a hard-working group of OHV enthusiasts, Connecticut can be added to that list.


COREC logoThe Connecticut OHV Association Development Workshop was held in Hartford on Saturday, September 24, 2016. It was organized by NOHVCC, in conjunction with the Connecticut Off-Road Enthusiasts Coalition (COREC), the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), the Stateline Riders, and the New England Trail Riders Association (NETRA).


Instrumental in getting the workshop in Connecticut are Matthew House, COREC president, and Dan Brown. Recently, as part of their OHV advocacy, they became the NOHVCC State Partner and an Associate State Partner, respectively. They created COREC, have attended club meetings throughout the state, and have built relationships with state legislators. (See an article they wrote for the NOHVCC Newsletter at


Fifteen people attended the one-day workshop, including riders and OHV advocates representing ATV, 4WD truck and dual-sport enthusiasts. “It was a smaller group than past workshops, but those who were there were very focused,” said Marc Hildesheim, NOHVCC Project Manager. “They are responsible riders, people who want to do the right thing, to get more riding opportunities in their state. They were there to move the organization forward.”


Also on hand as presenters at the workshop, offering their knowledge and experience with established organizations, were Jack Terrell, NOHVCC Senior Project Manager; Danny Hale, Executive Director of the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association, Inc. (VASA); and Steve Salisbury, Government Affairs Manager for Off-Road with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).


The workshop featured an agenda specific to the situation in Connecticut, but that could serve as a template for other states looking to create a state-wide OHV association. Topics included:

  • The Connecticut ATV Plan
  • How do we move the CT ATV Plan forward?
  • Why are OHV clubs important?
  • A panel discussion of successful OHV clubs
  • Single-track riders (as part of COREC)
  • The COREC Vision & Mission Statement
  • How to set goals, with a goal-setting exercise


By the end of the workshop, the group had set a number of goals to move COREC forward, with deadlines and people appointed to each task. “They really felt like it was what they needed to organize,” said Hildesheim. “Before you can build trails, you have to have the organization, and show the value of the organization to clubs and riders.”


“Being affiliated with the NOHVCC and living by the guidelines they poseDan Brown and Matthew House has helped create this huge leap forward,” said House. “This structure is essential to creating and maintaining a powerful voice in the world of OHV use.


“The workshop gave us more focus, narrowed our vision, and set us up with a plan to tackle the issues that we need to work on. It also brought some people to the table who were the right people to be there.”


How to hold an Association Development Workshop in your State


The NOHVCC Association Development Workshop can be tailored to existing conditions in your state. If a statewide OHV association does not exist, the workshop can assist you to establish one. If your association needs a shot in the arm to increase its effectiveness in dealing with land managers, regulators and legislators, the workshop can provide new tools and techniques to help you achieve your goals.


“The first step is to contact NOHVCC,” said Terrell. “Let us know what the situation is and ask what we can do to help, because every situation is different. There is no magic bullet that works for everything. In some cases, the situation may not require a formal workshop, just step-by-step assistance to help get an organization going.”


At the annual NOHVCC Conference, held in Great Falls in October, a “Special Recognition Award” was presented to COREC, “for their collaboration with the State of Connecticut to provide legal, designated riding areas in the State, and for their efforts in educating the public about the dangers of illegal use of OHVs on public land.”


Hildesheim accepted the award on the group’s behalf, saying: “Connecticut is a State with no riding opportunities, and had the opinion that, if it’s a problem, shut it down. These guys have a lot of enthusiasm. They’re learning some hard lessons, but haven’t given up. They’re grinding away and making real progress.”



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NOHVCC “Association Of The Year” Bringing OHV Trails Back To Maryland

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


“Off-Road Vehicle Trail Approved For County”


In many states, that newspaper headline wouldn’t be unusual. But in Maryland, it represents a milestone in motorized recreation, announcing the construction of the State’s first professionally built off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system.


Next spring, the St. John’s Rock Road trail is expected to open at the Savage River State Forest, in western Maryland. It will include single-track motorcycle trails, ATV trails, and a rock crawl for 4WD trucks. It’s been a long time coming, thanks to the efforts of Ken Kyler; long-time motorcycle rider, OHV advocate and a NOHVCC Associate State Partner.


Screen shot of Maryland OHV Alliance web site“Five years ago, the State essentially closed all the OHV trails in western Maryland, which were basically old logging roads, unsustainable, and without clubs to advocate for their management,” said Kyler. “Now, the first real OHV trail system is being built. A lot of lessons were learned. But by staying persistent and professional, we moved the DNR from the stance of ‘there’s no way we are going to do it,’ to one of ‘we can do it and it can be done successfully.’ ”


The steps Kyler took over the past few years, with assistance from NOHVCC and its experienced project managers, is a recipe for success to advocates in other states, who may be struggling to advance motorized recreation.


Even before the OHV trails closed in 2011, Kyler was using his skills and experience as a dirt bike rider and retired military officer, working quietly and effectively to create partnerships between riders and agencies. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asked him to be part of its OHV Stakeholders Working Group. He is also a member of the agency’s Land Preservation and Recreation Plan Review Committee, working with the State to open new areas to motorized recreation. 


In 2013, Kyler organized the Maryland OHV Alliance (MDOHVA), giving riders from all user groups a unified voice.

In 2014, at Kyler’s request, NOHVCC held an OHV Recreation Management Workshop in Maryland. It focused on educating the Maryland DNR on what it takes to build and manage an OHV Trail area, and assisting them with their Master Plan.


“In 2015, the State progressed to the point where they were drawing up construction plans,” said Jack Terrell, NOHVCC Senior Project Manager. “In 2016, it went out to bid, and the contract for construction was awarded the week before we held our Great Trails Workshop there.”


The 2016 NOHVCC Great Trails Workshop, one of many across the country during 2016, was held at New Germany State Park in Grantsville, MD, on October 24-25. It continued the momentum sparked by Kyler and MDOHVA, and was critical to ensure that the trail being planned and bid out by the DNR would be professionally built, providing both a good experience for riders, and resource protection to the State Forest.


Forty people attended the workshop, including members Group listening to speaker on field dayof MDOHVA and the neighboring Pennsylvania OHV Association (PaOHVA). Also present were the decision-makers within State agencies, including the assistant secretary of the DNR, and the administrator for the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP), administrated under the Department of Transportation. “We had a good cross-section of people,” said Terrell. “A little over half were from the DNR, including middle managers. The contractor and trail consultants were there. A half dozen enthusiasts came. The people who attended were there to learn, and were really engaged.”


Terrell credits Kyler and the MDOHVA, and their persistence and professionalism, for the progress made on the trail project, going from losing all trails to opening a new trail system. “Through this whole process, they actively went out and generated support from the local community, and they also were successful in obtaining grants to assist in the opening of the trails,” he said.


Kyler, a retired lieutenant colonel and civilian employee of the U.S. Army, said he approaches building recreational trails with military-like strategy. “As in war, if you control one item, you control the entire battle. You have to find out what that one item is. I came to the conclusion that the one item that we have to control is money. Recreational tourism, that’s the battle. The trail is the final product.


“The goal now is to get the new OHV trails firmly entrenched, correctly run, and producing revenue for local communities so they’ll be extremely difficult to shut down.”


Kyler’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last year, he received the NOHVCC “Partner of the Year” Award for organizing MDOHVA and partnering with the DNR. Last month, at the 2016 NOHVCC Conference, MDOHVA was named “Association of the Year,” for their continued growth and development, and their efforts to preserve access for all OHV enthusiasts in Maryland.


For more details on the new trail system, read the press release of the MD DNR, at:


To learn more about the MDOHVA, visit:


For information regarding holding a Great Trails Workshop in your State, send us an e-mail to



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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. 

The 2016 annual NOHVCC conference is in the books.  The conference wrap-up is completed and the 2016 presentations have been posted.


Looking forward to 2017, the annual conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire August 22 - 27.  The Save the Date information is up.  Details will be added to the conference page as they are available.


American Trails and Symposium Deadlines in December

Award Nominations deadline December 1
American Trails presents the National & International Trails Awards Program to recognize the tremendous contributions of volunteers, professionals, and other leaders who are working for the betterment of trails both nationally and internationally in both rural and urban settings.

Call for Presentations deadline December 9
Keeping in line with the Symposium theme, "Trails Take Flight: Connecting People, Places, and Possibilities,"American Trails welcomes proposals that address at least one of eight unique topic areas as they relate to the theme. Proposals can be for national or international presentations and are due by December 9, 2016. Learn more and download the CFP...

Photo contest for National Recreation Trails December 15
American Trails sponsors the annual contest for photographs of designated National Recreation Trails across the country. Their annual contest provides awards in several categories. The goal is to highlight the diversity of the NRTs and to make more Americans familiar with these great trails. They're looking for good photos of trail users as well as special facilities, art on the trails, management issues, construction, and volunteers. Deadline for submissions is December 15, 2016. Learn more...


Check out Michigan's riding article: Showcasing the DNR: Fall is fantastic for ORV riding
This article explains the tourism possibilities and benefits of OHV riding during the fall color season in Michigan.



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