The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO), in conjunction with National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Colorado State Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the US Forest Service (USFS), and the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), hosted a training and workshop in Montrose, Colorado September 23-25. Participants included representatives from COHVCO, enthusiasts, CPW, BLM, USFS, and Colorado OHV Trail Crew personnel. This series of events was made possible by a grant from the CPW OHV Trails Program, which also provided funding for a Great Trails Workshop, attended by 30 people and Chainsaw Training for more than a dozen in June and a motorcycle training the day for more than a dozen before the Workshop.
The annual Workhop kicked off with an evening reception on Friday that allowed participants to get to know one another before tackling issues the next morning. On Saturday everyone was greeted by an impressive slate of presenters and panelists who covered a wide range of issues impacting the OHV community.
First, participants got an overview of state and local updates from USFS and BLM officials, including Chad Stewart, Forest Supervisor for the GMUG NF that was hosting the event. NOHVCC has long promoted that building good relationships with managers is key to creating a positive future for OHV recreation and the Workshop provided a venue that promoted honesty and dialogue. It can be rare for those who manage our opportunities, those responsible for maintenance, and enthusiasts who recreate on shared public lands can gather in one room but that is exactly the opportunity that COHVCO and its partners provided. Hearing directly from the USFS and BLM with an opportunity for questions and open discussion helped create a sense of collaboration and built on existing trust.
Next, Tom Metsa, OHV/Snowmobile Program Manager, CPW, provided an overview of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Trails Program, particularly its statewide grants which combine OHV registration and permit fees with federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Funds to fund the annual OHV trail grant process. The OHV Grants are available for projects related to recreational use of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) on lands open to the public. Following the overview, there was robust discussion about how the funds could be used and a brainstorming session ensued as participants began to fully realize the scope of opportunity the grants could conceivably provide.
The second half of the day focused on key issues that are or could impact OHV opportunities. Sam Logan, Program Coordinator, Stay the Trails highlighted key educational initiatives to make sure enthusiasts keep our sport safe and sustainable and participated in a timely panel discussion on noise, particularly loud stereo systems. Scott Jones with COHVCO introduced participants to concerning developments in wildlife management and crowd sourced data. Finally, Jerry Abboud, also with COHVCO, provided a legislative update that included a discussion on potential upcoming threats to even responsible OHV recreation.
The event was capped off with a Sunday ride followed by lunch at the Shavano Gateway Recreation Area.
While NOHVCC knows many of you are hosting similar events, the COHVCO example can serve as a reminder of just how important it can be to bring everyone together and engage in earnest dialogue. Particularly as we are getting further from pandemic restrictions, face-to-face interactions are vital to the future of our sport. If you would like more information from NOHVCC or COHVCO on how to organize a similar event, please reach out to us at email@example.com.