NOHVCC Newsletter - May 2014 edition

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In this Issue:




Minnesota Dealership Serves Up OHV Advocacy With Open-House Burgers & Brats

By Dave Halsy, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Third in a series. Motorcycle and ATV dealers are often the first point of contact for new riders, helping them decide which vehicle to buy. Some also provide customers with information on where to ride, clubs to join and safety materials from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). What is your local dealership doing to help create a positive future for OHV recreation? Let us know by sending an email to NOHVCC at:


advocacy |ˈadvəkəsē| noun - public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy


Jessia Larson grew up in her father’s motorcycle and ATV dealership. Mike Larson, her father, grew up there too. Running one of the largest, most successful stores in Minnesota, they know the value of not only providing good customer service, but supporting off-highway vehicle (OHV) issues large and small. 


Larsons Cycle is a fourth-generation dealership in Cambridge, Minnesota. In 2008, Mike and Jessia started holding a Spring Open House to jump start the season and move summer product. Like many dealerships, they dish out free food, and discount coupons for parts and service. They also serve up large helpings of OHV advocacy.


Two men talking in front of CRTU trailerEach year, at the invitation of the Larsons, the Coalition of Recreational Trail Users (CRTU) brings its OHV safety education trailer to the open house. CRTU is a Minnesota non-profit made up of four state motorized groups: the Amateur Riders Motorcycle Association (ARMCA), All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association (MN4WDA) and Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MNUSA). CRTU directors (3 from each organization) tow the trailer about 3,000 miles each year, attending 15 or more events, with a reach of over 300,000 people annually.


“I like having them here,” said Jessia Larson. “They’re very knowledgeable and educated, and they help inform a lot of people who don’t know where to go ride, especially with the small ATVs, talking about safety and regulations. I think it’s a huge addition to our open house.”


At this event, “they” are Karen and Tom Umphress, two of the CRTU directors, and very involved with ARMCA (AMA District 23), and NOHVCC. They set up the trailer in the dealership parking lot, and display dozens of trail maps, regulation books, and handouts on safe, responsible OHV recreation from state and national organizations. 


“Larsons Cycle understands the importance of dealerships being involved in advocacy in the state,” said Karen Umphress. “We attend their open house each year. It’s amazing the number of people who still don’t know how many trails there are and where to ride. We give out a lot of maps, and the Minnesota DNR safety training CDs for ATVs and dirt bikes. We explain all the rules. We answer a lot of questions.


“There are always new people coming into the sportLarsons Cycle Open House sign or people whose only contact for this information is through a dealership. They have no clue of where else to go for the information, even though much of it is on the Minnesota DNR web site.”


At this year’s open house, the food truck served 980 meals. That’s not cheap, says dealership owner Mike Larson, but it translates to repeat business, and new customers coming through the door. “A lot of times it’s about door swings,” he said. “It’s about getting people to come back. Whether they spend a nickel or not, that’s not important. It’s about having a good experience at our dealership. That includes informing people, especially new riders, on the different opportunities there are in the state for off-road riding.”


In addition to the spring open house, Larsons Cycle supports local and state-wide OHV issues year-round. “There was a hearing in Isanti County about tracks on private land. They were involved and got people to the meeting,” said Umphress. “They know the importance of the bigger picture of riding. The dealership can’t financially support everything or be at every meeting, but they are there when you need them the most, and that is what is important.


“Dealers need to know that their role is critical in helping create a positive future for OHV recreation.”.



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Spotlighting Marc Hildesheim, New Mexico OHV Staff Manager

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Marc giving talk standing in front of truck and dirt bike at trailheadMarc Hildesheim is the OHV Staff Manager with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. A 2006 graduate of Washington State University, he is passionate about OHV recreation and building new opportunities for OHV riders of all ages. Hildesheim, 31, last fall was awarded a scholarship for the Marshall University On-Line OHV Recreation Management Course. The scholarship was funded by the Right Rider Access Fund (RRAF) and administered by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). We checked back with Marc to find out more about his work and what he took away from the on-line course. 


When did you start working for the New Mexico OHV program?

“I started in New Mexico in August of 2012. I worked for Idaho’s OHV program from 2008 to 2012, where I was a regional trails specialist. I came down to New Mexico to be the education coordinator and help build their hands-on safety training program. I took my current job in March of 2013.”


How did you hear about the scholarship program?

“From the NOHVCC newsletter and an email update. I like to take classes and get training when it’s available. The Marshall Class was a unique opportunity to get credit for what I do for work...and play.”


You’re a rider?

“I started riding dirt bikes when I was 4. I grew up in eastern Washington, recreated there and in northern Idaho. I rode with the Brush Bunch Motorcycle Club, which my grandfather started in 1970. I’ve been riding on the club rides since I was about 12. I’ve been going to travel planning meetings since I was in elementary school.”


How did you get started in OHV program management?

“I was a seasonal trail ranger for Idaho for 3 years. That’s how I got introduced to the field. I worked seasonally before going full time.”


What on-line class did you take with the scholarship? Marc sitting on dirt bike pulling on glove

“It was ELS 450 - Introduction To OHV Recreation. The scholarship was for fall semester of 2013. I finished the class in December.”


What did you get out of the class?

“There’s a lot of good resources and articles that you read and report on. I saved most of those because I can use them in the future on different projects. Probably the most important one was from the Federal Highway Administration. The report is called “Conflicts On Multiple Use Trails.” That report is the main resource I took from the class and still use on a regular basis.  As I’m going through travel plans and looking at decisions, I refer back to it because it has good information that can be contrary to arguments that are made in favor of closures.”


Did you get college credit for the class?

“I do have 4 credits for the class. I’m thinking about taking the next class, if I can come up with the time. They’re helpful, something I want to continue to pursue. I don’t need the credits but I enjoy the classes. And my department offers tuition assistance.”


Will these classes help in your overall career? 

“Absolutely, any learning opportunity that you can take is good. I have a teaching certificate. I’m big on continuing training and learning, even just referring back to articles is beneficial.”


Would you recommend the course to others?

“I would. When we stop learning we stop being productive. No matter how long you’re in the field, there’s always a chance to learn new things, new approaches that benefit the program and the users that you work for.”


What do you like most about your job?

“I love direct interaction with the OHV users. Coming up through Idaho’s program, we were taught that we work for the users and we need to make sure that things we’re doing are benefitting them. I’ve tried to carry that attitude to New Mexico. We need to make sure we’re communicating with riders and being fair with them. I just try and do a good job. It’s pretty cool to get to work in the field that you’re passionate about.”


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


To learn more about the New Mexico OHV Program, visit their website at


To find out more about the Right Rider Access Fund, go to their webpage at



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ROVs Are Different Than ATVs. ROHVA Provides The Safety Training.

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Third in a series.  In the March newsletter, Part I of this series dealt with how an increase in the number of recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) -- also called side-by-sides -- is forcing states to grapple with ROV definitions and policies. Part II in April presented the recommendations for safe ROV use, and corresponding “warned-against” factors involved in ROV incidents. This article provides information on ROV-specific courses available to the riding public.


“It’s just like an ATV, but with a steering wheel.”


ROV versus ATVThat statement, sometimes made to new ROV riders, is not even close to accurate. ROVs, called side-by-sides by most riders, are very different from ATVs. You “ride” an ATV, shifting your body weight to maintain balance and ride safely. You “drive” an ROV. They are designed for operators 16 and older with a driver’s license. They have seat belts. Yet, “No Seat Belt” is a warned-against factor involved in 85% of ROV incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  


As the popularity of ROVs continues to grow, more and more state OHV programs are encouraging riders to take an ROV safety course. Online and “behind the wheel” courses are available through the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA).


ROHVA E-Course

This is a free, interactive online safety course. It’s not a “learn to drive” course, but is intended to help improve awareness about ROVs and instill safe driving habits. It covers key risk factors associated with ROV operation, safe driving practices that will reduce risk of injury, and best resources for learning about your particular vehicle.


At the end of the course, you have the option of taking an ROV safety quiz. The course takes about 2 hours, but you can stop at any point, save your progress and return later. There are English, Canadian French and Canadian English versions. To get started, click on this link:


ROHVA Basic DriverCourse

The ROV Basic DriverCourse (RBDC) is designed for Instructor talking to studentscurrent and prospective ROV users and is conducted by ROV DriverCoaches who are specially trained and authorized to conduct the course. The RBDC is a partial-day program that has approximately three hours of riding time that includes between-exercise discussions. The RBDC includes six Closed Range Exercises (CRE) and up to seven optional Open Trail Experiences, depending on the terrain that is available. Participants use the ROV Tips & Practice Guide booklet that provides opportunities for discussion.


Drivers practice ROV operation in:

  • Vehicle familiarity
  • Control operation
  • Straight line operation
  • Braking, both normal and quick stops
  • Turning
  • Swerving
  • Driving on various terrains


All students must provide (or pre-arrange with their DriverCoach for loaned equipment) and wear the following personal items during ROV operation:

  • DOT compliant helmet
  • Protective eye wear
  • Long sleeve shirt / jacket
  • Long pants
  • Gloves
  • Over the ankle footwear


The cost of the ROV DriverCourse will vary depending on training provider and the content offered. Drivers use their own ROV or one that is assigned to them, with permission from an owner. Only well-maintained and properly operating ROVs may be used. DriverCoaches make the final determination as to the appropriateness of an ROV. ROVs that have been modified or that have aftermarket equipment added may be permitted as long as there are no detrimental effects regarding safety and learning.


For more information and to find a Basic DriverCourse Training Site in your area, go to this link:


The ROHVA Library includes a number of helpful documents, including a position paper opposing on-highway use, another supporting land access, comments to the U.S. Forest Service requesting increased trail access, and a model for state ROV legislation.


There is also a “Tips Guide for the ROV Driver,” 30 pages of helpful information, covering: knowing the basics; driving on different terrain; vehicle recovery methods and building a recovery kit; and safe, responsible driving practices. This is good information to pass along to your club members. You’ll find it at this link:


Finally, there is a library of photos you can download that show safe, responsible ROV use, for use by your OHV club and on its web site. 



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Happy 10th Anniversary To The New Mexico OHV Alliance

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


“10 years ago, NOHVCC helped NMOHVA get started. Check out some highlights of the types of pro-OHV things going on around the country.”


The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) recently made that comment when it shared with its members a post on the Facebook page of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) about this newsletter.


NMOHVA boothNMOHVA has been working hard for OHV riders for 10 years. That sounds like a solid success story. So we asked Joanne Spivack, NOHVCC State Partner in New Mexico and one of the founders of NMOHVA, to give us some insight to how NMOHVA got started and what its key accomplishments have been over the past decade.


Why was there the need for an OHV association in New Mexico 10 years ago?

We knew the Travel Management Rule was coming from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). We weren’t sure how that would work out, but we knew we couldn’t ignore it. In New Mexico, OHV use is ALL about the federally managed public lands. Federal agencies control about one-third of the state: 9.4 million acres are USFS and 13 million acres are Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are no private or state OHV parks. There is no OHV use allowed on the 9 million acres of state land. This is very different from Utah, Arizona, Colorado and California, where there are important state managed OHV areas.


Who were the key people that organized NMOHVA?

Hurley Wilvert, Team Kawasaki international road racer; Mark Werkmeister, former head of Southwest Four Wheel Drive Association; Jay Rose, NMOHVA’s first president; Gordon Spingler; and about a half dozen others, including myself. About 30 people from around the state participated in the organizational meetings.


How did NOHVCC contribute to the creation of NMOHVA? 

NOHVCC was critical to the creation of NMOHVA.  At that time, Dana Bell worked for NOHVCC. Dana came to New Mexico several times for the initial meetings to form the organization. She made sure we stayed on track, had a mission statement, and helped us set up the first Board of Directors and the necessary Bylaws. Then she kept in touch to guide and encourage us. She was doing this same “incubating” of new State organizations in some five or six States at once, as I recall. We got a start-up grant from Kawasaki of America, to help cover initial costs.


What were the original goals of the Association?Group in riding gear gathered

Education, in every sense of the word. We needed to reach the OHV public.  At that time, there was no state OHV program, no safety training, no functional OHV state law. The primary task was to convince the public that there was a real threat to OHV use on our doorstep.  The National Forests in New Mexico were essentially open to OHV use, and only one of five had even closed cross-country travel. Riding here in 2005 was like the 1960’s, compared to what has been going on in California. People here mostly refused to believe that anything would change and that they’d be locked off roads and trails they had used for 30 years and more. New Mexicans had never experienced any widespread land closures against OHV use. It’s tough to get people to organize if they do not believe there is a direct threat to them.


Even now, most people still have no idea that anything has changed. They don’t know that the BLM and the USFS are closing OHV routes off the public lands. Almost no one has even heard of the USFS’s Travel Management Rule, or know that the BLM is doing essentially the same thing. A lot of people just go out riding on “open” land and have no idea who manages or owns it.


What are the key achievements NMOHVA has made in the last 10 years?

Our biggest achievement is that NMOHVA still exists, and it is healthy and growing. That’s no small thing when you know how hard it is to keep an all-volunteer organization going. We just had our annual meeting, and all the board members decided to stay on for another term. That’s fantastic, we’ve got a hard-working, experienced board. Here’s a brief list of some of our specific accomplishments:


1. We are closely aligned with other OHV groups, particularly the New Mexico 4Wheelers (4WD club) and the Blackfeather Trails Preservation Alliance. We also align with non-recreation entities including counties and the water and soil conservation districts and non-motorized entities such as the American Lands Access Association (also known as rockhounds) that are concerned with access and use of public lands. These are strong and motivated allies in our work to keep public lands open for the public.


2. We brought a $322,000 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to the Cibola National Forest, to implement the Travel Management Decision in the Sandia Ranger District. We had worked for 3 years through the NEPA process, and got a decision that kept the existing motorized trails open to motorized use. The grant was used for signs, trail improvements and re-routes, a parking lot, and information kiosks.


3. NMOHVA persevered through very difficult early days of the state OHV advisory board. We now have a functional board with a great staff manager for the program.  The OHV program is in the Dept. of Game and Fish. Here’s the OHV part of its website:


4. NMOHVA has written comments and filed appeals on all the Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments (EIS’s and EA’s) in all the National Forests in the State. We’ve protested a BLM decision and got some parts revised.


5. NMOHVA has done public outreach events, at Sportsman’s Warehouse and Casa Jeep in Albuquerque.


6. NMOHVA has worked VERY hard to be all inclusive of motorcycles, ATVs and 4WD. Our board currently has six motorcyclists, three ATV-UTV riders, and three  4WD users. There are 10 board members; we’ve got some multi-modal guys. Two guys are riders and Jeepers. We work hard to get board members from around the state. 


What is the biggest challenge NMOHVA faces today?

NMOHVA is engaged in something of national significance. We are in an active lawsuit against the Santa Fe National Forest, for its Travel Management Decision. That Decision closed some 77% of the roads and trails that had been legal to use. The first Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) allows only 26 miles of single-track trails to be used. Those 26 miles are divided between three Ranger Districts. The largest amount of trail in one place is 16 miles. There are only 80 miles of ATV-width trail. This is on a Forest area of over 1.2 million acres of non-wilderness land where OHV use had been allowed almost everywhere. Before this decision, you could use a vehicle to camp on land next to over 7,000 miles of road. That is now restricted to 381 miles and the most popular places were closed.


This lawsuit is the culmination of 7 years of work. We diligently followed all the required steps in the NEPA process, to protect our right to file a lawsuit when the decision was eventually made. The NEPA process makes it extremely challenging to sue these decisions. It takes years to develop and protect your right to sue. Miss one deadline and you’re toast. Second, you have to understand the NEPA process to know what issues can be the subject of a lawsuit.  I believe we are only the third or fourth lawsuit against the Travel Management Rule in the entire country, done by a pro-access group.  NMOHVA is paying for the lawsuit ourselves. We have a few very generous donors, but most of the money has been raised $20, $50 and $100 at time. We started NMOHVA’s Access Defense Fund 5 years ago, knowing it would cost about $100,000 to pursue a lawsuit.


We are waiting for the Travel Management Decision from the Gila National Forest. The Gila is 3.3 million acres in the southwest corner of New Mexico. 2.5 million have been open to motorized use (there’s over 800,000 acres of Wilderness). We have also positioned ourselves to be able to sue the Gila National Forest.


What would you like to see for the future of NMOHVA?

Growth, more members, more action, more events (got to have some fun!), and increased political effectiveness.  Two issues come to mind.


1. New Mexico is perfectly situated to have a healthy OHV tourism economy. We’ve got the small towns surrounded by BLM and USFS. We’ve got the roads and trails. We’ve got the need. Small town economies have been crippled by federal reduction of the timber industry. But if the USFS and BLM close motorized access, we will never have the chance to develop something like the Paiute Trail System in Utah, or the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in West Virginia.


2. Better use of the State OHV fund. The State Legislature dictates how much of the fund can be spent on overhead and how much on grants. Right now, the allowed annual total for grants is too low and the grants are limited to $10,000 each. This isn’t enough to do any significant work. The fund is annually taking in several times more money in sticker fees than the Legislature lets it spend. The result is an increasing balance in the fund, which makes it a target for legislative raids. About 5 years ago, the State Legislature took half the balance in the fund to cover state deficits. We lost $500,000. That is money paid by OHV riders into a supposedly protected, dedicated fund. The OHV riders are paying into the fund, but they have no idea what is going on with it.

"I guess we’ve done a lot of things over ten years, we’ve come a long ways.  The road ahead looks so long, it’s easy to forget where we started."


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Bullhead Feed Hooks New Members, Reels In Community Support

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Bullhead Feed signThe bullhead is an ugly fish. A cousin of the catfish, it thrives in lakes and ponds with low oxygen and muddy bottoms. As it turns out, it’s also great tasting and a big draw at a community fish fry, as our ATV/OHM club discovered when we held the Inaugural Woodtick Wheelers “Bullhead Feed.”


Food is always a big draw at OHV club meetings. Especially when the members know the meeting agenda may be long, and some of the topics (like reports on other meetings) can be pretty dull. When the club announcement reads “Spring Meeting & Pancake Breakfast” we know to prepare for a large crowd.


Food gets everybody visiting before the meeting. Even on a cold spring morning in northern Minnesota, with a foot of ice still on the lakes, our hearty club members gather around the outdoor griddle and watch the ceremonial dropping of the first pancake batter of the year. Hot pancakes, sausage and coffee. Now that’s a recipe for meeting success.


Back to the bullhead feed. Our club is lucky enough toMen gathered around a large pancake griddle have members who like to cook. They have big grills, manly spatulas, and they know how to use them. These are the same guys who hold a barbecue for all their neighbors the night before deer hunting season opens. And when the lake association has its annual picnic, they’ll stay up all night roasting a pig for the big event. 


This year, our chefs took the club’s adventures in food service to a new level. They partnered with American Legion Post 202 -- one of 35 club business members -- and organized the Bullhead Feed as a club fundraiser. We publicized the event all over town and in the local newspapers. The Legion let our club take over their kitchen on a Saturday in May from 4 to 8 p.m. We fired up the deep fryers and went to work. We served an all-you-can-eat meal of deep-fried bullhead, homemade baked beans, coleslaw, a dinner roll, chips and a piece of cake. We charged $7 a plate.


It was a big hit. We served up 80 meals. The bullhead feed also gave us a chance to visit with local members who had supported the club for years but hadn’t been to a meeting or club ride because they work on Saturdays. We passed out maps, regulation books and rider-safety information. We sold a few caps and T-shirts. And we signed up some new members. After expenses, the club made just $250. But the community support we built during the bullhead feed was priceless.


Local residents and seasonal cabin owners up for the weekend, riders or not, got a chance to see what our club is made of:  their neighbors: good people who hold ATV safety classes for kids; distribute NOHVCC “Adventure Trail” coloring books and crayons by the thousands through the chamber of commerce, restaurants, and other businesses; and work hard to promote safe, responsible OHV riding opportunities for families in the area.


The only thing we did wrong was underestimate the draw of a bullhead feed. We ran out of meals halfway through the scheduled event. Next year: more bullhead!


Editor's note: This headline was sent to me for a laugh only.  I insisted it become a real story to show two things 1) Never stop having fun with your club and 2) Never stop trying new things outside the cargo box.  Once we do, our club will fold because no one will enjoy it anymore.



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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 2014 conference will be the week of August 17 - 23 and will be back in Great Falls, MT.  The schedule is:
Tuesday, August 19th - Program Manager's Round Table
Wednesday, August 20th - INOHVAA Annual Meeting and Sessions
Thursday, August 21st - Mobile Workshop
Friday, August 22nd - Joint INOHVAA/NOHVCC sessions and annual banquet
Saturday, August 23rd - NOHVCC sessions and team time
See the conference page for information about the 2014 conference.  More information is being added as it comes in and the agenda is being created. 


HELP the Sierra Access Coalition, in their lawsuit against the Plumas National Forest.  The Pacific Legal Foundation is engaged in suing the Plumas and the Tahoe National Forest travel management decisions. 

See for an update on the lawsuit against the Plumas National Forest Travel Management Plan. Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) will be filing the lawsuit in July. 

 PLF has also filed an appeal to the Tahoe National Forest Travel Management court decision.  Please go to and click "like" at the top of the article. The more "likes" that Pacific Legal Foundation sees on the article, the greater the chances that PLF will view similar issues as ones that are of particular interest to people, and the greater the likelihood that PLF will launch a substantial media campaign when they file the complaint in our Plumas National Forest lawsuit in July. Please open the link, "Like" it, and forward it to your contacts.


Is your State helping to fund the NOHVCC OHV trails guidebook?  You still have the opportunity to get your State's logo on the book and website pages.  This is eligible for RTP education funds.  Send us a message at for more details.

OHV riders are a generous people.  Many OHV riders, clubs, and businesses give back to charities and their communities.  A couple of examples are NOHVCC's Mona Ehnes' jailbird bond for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Team Polaris' MS Bike 150 fund raisers.  Let us know if you; your club, association, or organization; or your OHV business gives back and how.  Send us a note at with the information.

We Can be Even More Effective With Greater Numbers!  There are a seemingly unlimited number of legislative, regulatory, and other issues – both locally and at the state and federal levels - that come up in the course of a year that we will be in contact with you about.  But, perhaps the most important thing you can do to help is to encourage your like-minded friends to join ARRA and to actively participate!

The American Trails Advancing Trails Webinar Series continues.  See the list of up-coming webinars:

  • JUNE 26, 2014: Applying Foundations of Mountain Trail Sustainability to a trail network ~ Part 1 of 3 (presented by Hugh Duffy, National Park Service) See details and register today...
  • JULY 2014: Urban Trails in Difficult Places (presented by Bob Searns, The Greenway Team, and Bill Nuemann, DHM Design) Details coming soon
  • AUGUST 2014: Fundamentals of Mountain Trail Sustainability ~ Part 2 of 3 (presented by Hugh Duffy, National Park Service) Details coming soon
  • SEPTEMBER 11, 2014: How to Build Top Notch Equestrian Facilities (presented by Jan Hancock, Hancock Resources LLC) Details coming soon
  • DECEMBER 11, 2014: Towards a Mountain Trail Sustainability Ethic ~ Part 3 of 3 (presented by Hugh Duffy, National Park Service) Details coming soon


BlueRibbon Coalition's Don Amador has a great article regarding the vanishing of single-track.  The article first appeared in Cycle News.

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