NOHVCC Newsletter -  June 2011 edition

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Spotlighting Drew Johnson, Ocala National Forest

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

Drew Johnson Spring 2011 Marshall OHV Scholarship RecipientDrew Johnson is a Forestry Technician at Ocala National Forest near Silver Springs, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Natural Resources Recreation Management. Earlier this year, he was named the winner of the OHV Recreational Management course scholarship for the 2010/2011 spring semester. This scholarship was funded by the Nick J Rahall II Appalachian Institute (RTI); it is administered by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). We checked back with Drew to find out more about his career and the class he took.

 

In your scholarship application you said you have “a passion for the advancement of the OHV riding sport on our public lands.” How long have you been riding OHVs?

I first rode an ATV when I was 5 and fell in love with it. When I was 15, I got a Suzuki QuadRunner 160 and rode it in the backyard. It was a Christmas present.

 

How did you hear about the scholarship?
My boss forwarded me the email about it. I saw it and thought I’d give it a try, for OHV planning. I faxed in my application and resume and got a call a couple months later, saying I won.

 

Did you get college credit for the class?
It was a 3-credit course for OHV planning and design. I had already graduated from college, so I wasn’t concerned about the credits. It was an extra course for me that gave me extra knowledge for my profession.

 

How did the class go?
I liked it. There was a lot about park planning and design. I definitely learned a lot, it was very applicable to my career field.

 

Was there any part of the class that stood out for you?
Yes, trail maintenance. They listed different types of equipment and strategies to use for non-motorized and motorized trails. If I ever have to map out new OHV trails, they taught me that process, starting from nothing.

 

How has it helped you on the job?
Before I took the course, I started interning here at Ocala, building a 5-mile OHV trail. I did okay, but if I would have taken the course before taking on that project I would have done better, I would have been a lot more efficient.

 

What kind of an OHV trail system do you have at Ocala?
We have 135 miles on the north end. We’re responsible for the maintenance. It slows down during the summer because of the heat and the trails get so dry and dusty. I’m focusing on recreation for 6 months, mainly OHV trails, and supervise volunteers and interns on trail maintenance. We build corrals that people can ride to and park their ATVs near flea markets and other destinations. I am also looking after some campgrounds on the forest.

 

Will the class help advance your career?
I think it will help me advance my career. I definitely learned a lot of good stuff on planning and design of trails and parking lots, and about coordination with other agencies and assessing community needs.

 

Would you recommend the class to others?
Definitely, if they’re interested in getting into outdoor recreation, there are always job openings for recreation technicians. It’s useful to post it on your resume when you apply for an OHV position.

 

Thanks Drew! NOHVCC and RTI offer our congratulations and wish you the best in your career in OHV recreation management.

 

 

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Bill Introduced To Limit Inappropriate Lawsuits

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

Here’s a bill that’s definitely worth a few minutes to support with an email to your Representative and Senators.

 

The Government Litigation Savings Act (H.R. 1996 and S. 1061) would prevent abuse of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) by large environmental groups and others who frequently challenge the federal government in court. Some organizations often sue to limit or eliminate even the most responsible access to public lands, and recoup legislation costs through EAJA.

 

Introduced jointly by U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), the new legislation would return EAJA to its original intent by instituting targeted reforms on who is eligible to receive EAJA reimbursements, limiting repeated lawsuits, and reinstating tracking and reporting requirements to make EAJA more transparent.

 

For more information on this legislation and tools to contact your Congressional delegates and encourage them to sign on as cosponsors to this important legislation, go to the website of the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access regarding the EAJA.

 

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Celebrate The Defeat of The “Wild Lands” Policy

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

You gotta love a riding season that starts out with OHV riders celebrating a legislative victory with high-fives and fist-bumps.

 

On June 1st, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would not be designating any federal lands as “Wild Lands,” reversing his position on the controversial policy. If successful, it would have allowed BLM lands to be managed as if they had received the restrictive “Wilderness” land-use designation from Congress.

 

“This is a major victory for motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders and others concerned about appropriate access to public land,” said Rob Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).

 

Just 23 weeks earlier, on December 22, 2010, the Interior Secretary unveiled his ill-conceived policy. The timing alone was concerning. Congress had adjourned for the year and the new 112th Congress had not been sworn in.

 

The announcement unleashed a firestorm of criticism from lawmakers and OHV riders, who argued it was an effort to circumvent Congress’s authority and could be used to make lands off-limits to everything from OHV recreation to drilling for oil and gas. Ironically, the new policy would have allowed for restrictions of access to public land by a federal agency mandated by Congress to manage for multiple-use. “For those of us concerned about keeping access to public lands, Secretary Salazar's announcement was a troubling sign that the Administration might just be preparing to plant more "keep out" signs on many of the public lands managed by the BLM,” wrote Larry Smith, Executive Director of Americans For Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), in a January newsletter.

 

Fortunately, Congress voted in favor of a rider blocking funding for the proposal in its government-spending package. That forced the Secretary to back away from the “Wild Lands” policy. “To everyone who took the time to reach out to their legislators and oppose this seriously damaging policy, thank you, you made a difference,” said Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Director.

 

For now, “Wild Lands” is history and Congress still holds the exclusive responsibility of wilderness designation. But AMA’s Rob Dingman cautions OHV riders to remain vigilant. “Anti-access groups will continue pushing for legislation to inappropriately close off millions of acres of public land to OHVs. Not only are BLM lands under attack by these groups, but U.S. Forest Service land as well,” said Dingman.

 

Don’t celebrate too hard, though. Secretary Salazar is asking Congress to identify areas in their states where they should seek ‘Wilderness Status’. No doubt, we will see the introduction of more Wilderness Designation Bills in the near future.

 

Stay informed. In his memorandum announcing the cessation of the “Wild Lands” policy, the Interior Secretary commits BLM to inventorying and managing public lands “with wilderness characteristics.” You can read his complete June 1st memorandum at: http://www.arra-access.com/site/DocServer/Salazar_Wilderness_Memo_Final.pdf?docID=461

 

 

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Planning For The 2011 NOHVCC Conference Shifts To High Gear

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

Single Motorcycle Rider-HuntersvilleThe agenda is taking shape. The pre-conference riding, educational and training opportunities are in the works. And registration will soon be open for the annual NOHVCC Conference, September 22-25 in the Minneapolis area.

 

The NOHVCC Conference will be held in conjunction with the conference of the newly re-named International OHV Administrators Association (INOHVAA). The group has been working to formalize the organization, previously called the National OHV Association of Program Managers (NOAPM). Their meetings during the conference will include the election of officers. Federal partner agencies and other government agencies are welcome to attend the annual meeting and encouraged to attend the sessions.

 

Some of the topics for the NOHVCC conference include:
  • New Riding Areas
  • Trail Ambassadors for Monitoring
  • The “How Tos” of Testifying Before the Legislature
  • What Influences Elected Officials 
  • New BLM Pilot Projects
  • Information on a New Forest Service Book
  • An Update on Federal Highways and the RTP
  • Information about 4-H Youth Development Programs

 

If you have any conference topics or presenter suggestions, please send us an e-mail to trailhead@nohvcc.org

 

Consider bringing your entire family to the NOHVCC Conference. There are plenty of family-friendly activities and destinations in the Minneapolis area and throughout Minnesota.

 

Watch this space in the weeks ahead for additional updates and registration information: http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/Conference.aspx

 

 

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New Book Adds To The “Trail Renaissance” Of OHV Information

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

OHV Trail Management Book-USFS Page 1Not that many years ago, information on planning, building and maintaining OHV trails was virtually nonexistent. Today, there are enough books and spiral-bound reports to fill a small bookshelf.

 

“That’s what’s so exciting about what’s happening right now,” said Kevin Meyer, a Regional Trails Specialist with the National Park Service and author of a new book on OHV trail planning and design. “I like to call it a trail renaissance. Ten years ago there wasn’t much technical information out there at all, and now there is excellent information.”

 

Meyer’s book, in the final editing stage and expected to be published by the U.S. Forest Service later this year, is titled “A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Management.” In it, Meyer shares over 25 years of experience as a soil scientist and trail planner, addressing surface protection, resource management, and OHV issues on federal, state and private lands. “It’s meant to be a thorough introduction to the broad range of OHV trail management. If anyone is interested in it professionally, it can broaden where they’re coming from. Or if you’re new to trail planning, it gives you the width and breadth of it,” said Meyer.

 

The book is 320 pages long, with 17 chapters describing sustainability concepts, trail fundamentals and 10 management elements for a systematic, scientific approach to OHV trail management. There are also 12 appendixes covering a range of information from best management practices to examples of trail work. 

 

This is Meyer’s second book. The first, published in 2002, was titled “Managing Degraded Off-Highway Vehicle Trails in Wet, Unstable and Sensitive Environments.” Based in Anchorage, he started working on that report for the National Park Service in the late ‘90s. “We were wrestling with motorized use in some of the parks up here, principally, Wrangle-Saint Elias National Park. It was an early look at trail hardening techniques and alternatives to trail location. The new book is an expansion of that. It looks more at layout and design, bringing forward the concept of sustainability and fleshing it out quite a bit.”

 

Meyer divides his time with the Park Service, working half as a regional trails specialist, and half with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, the agency’s community assistance arm that supports natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects. “I’ve had the opportunity to test and look at OHV issues everywhere from Barrow to Prince of Wales Island and from the Pribilofs to the Klondike,” said Meyer.

 

The book is based primarily on Meyer’s experience in Alaska, but also on his work with the California State Parks. “It has application well outside Alaska and it also has application outside of OHVs,” he said.

 

One key thing he’s learned over the years, said Meyer, is that sustainable OHV trails often turn into a great attraction for other users. “We’ve had social trails that evolved into motorized trails and very often they weren’t very useable for others. Those that we’ve done reconstructs or reroutes on, or constructed as new trails, it’s opened up and broadened their utility for hikers and bikers,” said Meyer.

 

The U.S. Forest Service is providing editing, layout and publication services for the new book. Theron Miller, Project Leader at the Missoula Technology and Development Center, worked closely with Meyer on the editing process. “The book doesn’t replace anything the Forest Service has,” said Miller. “It’s an example of one approach to OHV management by a recognized expert, and in it there are designated things the Park Service does, and other things the Forest Service does, and are labeled as such.”

 
Miller said the book will be available in the future as a CD, and that the Park Service will print some hard copies as well; the price has not been determined. It will also be available for downloading from both the Forest Service and Park Service web sites. 

 

In the meantime, the complete final draft is available now on the Forest Service’s Technology & Development Program web site, at Meyer’s request. “We’re directing anyone who asks to check it out. It’s meant to provide assistance for professionals building trails and, to those who want to improve their dialogue, to show that it can be done sustainably.”

 

You’ll find the new book’s “Library Card” description and links to each of the book’s chapters at this web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/php/library_card.php?p_num=1123%202804

 

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OHV Manufacturers Reaching Out To Riders With Tweets & Blogs

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

 

People are “tweeting,” “blogging” and “adding friends” on Facebook billions of times each month. Worldwide, social networks are now more popular than e-mail, according to a recent Nielsen Company report.

 

Companies large and small have embraced social networks to varying degrees. Some have created Facebook pages with basic information on their products and services. Others have totally embraced all the major social media, going as far as “twittering” the highlights of their annual meetings so those not able to attend know what’s going on as it happens.

 

Honda, Suzuki and other major OHV manufacturers have Facebook and Twitter accounts, with links posted on the home pages of their corporate web sites. Yamaha, Kawasaki, Husqvarna and others include links to their YouTube sights where they post product videos.

 

Polaris Industries recently took their use of social media one step farther, creating the Polaris “Off-Road Vehicles” Blog. “For us, the blog is an opportunity to provide interesting and relevant content to Polaris fans,” said Jordan Niquette of Polaris ORV Marketing. “There’s a lot of really good things that go on in the Polaris world that we want to bring visibility to, whether it’s cool trails projects or new products that consumer will want to see.”

 

Updated three times a week, the blog includes news flashes, photos and hot links to special events, sneak peeks, videos, race results, letters from customers, and Project X machines -- custom-built, one-off ATVs and side-by-sides built by High Lifter Products, Marshall Motoarts and other marketing partners. Blog updates are also posted on the “Polaris Off-Road Vehicles” Facebook page, with news feeds sent to all “friends.”

 

Polaris is also reaching out to its customer base with blogs on news and updates from national organizations, including NOHVCC, that advocate for issues related to public land access and responsible riding. “We don’t just want to show the extreme stuff that goes on, we also show people enjoying their OHVs in all kinds of ways, and doing it safely,” said Niquette.

 

Polaris is encouraging its customers to email their stories and pictures showing interesting and unique ways they use their Polaris OHVs, to blog@polarisind.com. “We want to get consumer stories on there,” said Niquette. “It’s all about celebrating the sport of off-road vehicles.”

 

Here’s the link to the new Polaris ORV Blog: http://www.polarisindustries.com/en-us/ATV-RANGER/experience/Blog/default.aspx

 

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