NOHVCC Newsletter - June 2015 edition
Read the other NOHVCC newsletter issues
This year is our 25th Anniversary at NOHVCC and we are celebrating all year!
In this Issue:
OHV Safety Contest Says: “Show Us Your Helmet Hair”
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
You ride. You take off your helmet. And there it is: helmet hair. A mass of hair going every which way for all to see that you are a rider and proud of it. This year, in Arizona, showing off your helmet hair can win you big prizes.
The Arizona Game & Fish Department, responsible for off-highway vehicle (OHV) safety education, created a contest to encourage ATV and ROV (side-by-side) riders to wear a helmet and other safety gear. Started last February, it’s called “Show Us Your Helmet Hair.”
The Department is partnering with OHV-related businesses in the Phoenix area for prizes, and promoting “Helmet Hair” on traditional and social media. “People submit their pictures to us, wearing their proper safety equipment while out riding,” said Matt Eberhart, OHV Safety Education Coordinator. “They use two hashtags with their posts. They type in #AZHelmetHair or #azgfdohv. That highlights their photo and shows up on our feed as being entered into the contest.”
Contestants can submit photos of themselves with their helmets on, or holding their helmet to show off their helmet hair. They must also be wearing proper riding equipment, including goggles or a face shield, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and over-the-ankle boots. “We’re really safety driven, and trying to think of inventive ways to get people to ride safely,” said Eberhart. “One of our main goals is to increase helmet compliance statewide. We’re rewarding the positive behavior. It may get more people interested in riding with the proper equipment.”
Prizes include backpacks and bandanas from the Game & Fish Department, plus a monthly prize provided by community partners. So far this year, they have included a helmet and goggles from The Helmet Center, and a full-day ROV rental. Eberhart is ramping up the project in July, the start of his fiscal year, with more advertising and bigger prizes. Including gift cards from Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse, RideNow Powersports and other business partners. “Iron City Polaris will be donating a $500 gift card to the winner for July,” he said.
“Helmet Hair” is aimed at riders of all ages. In Arizona, riders under 18 are required by law to wear a helmet. “But if you’re over 18, you don’t have to. So we see quite a few of the adults don’t wear helmets. This is a way to get people to do the right thing and always wear their helmet when they do ride,” said Eberhart.
With the rise in popularity of ROVs that seat from two to six people, the program’s message is just as important to side-by-side riders, adds Eberhart. ROVs have seat belts and roll bars, but without a helmet, drivers and passengers may still be injured in an accident. Said Eberhart, “We’re trying to teach parents about ROV safety. Even in a side-by-side, for kids and adults, helmets are important. If you roll, those roll bars have potential to do some damage to your neck and head.”
To be eligible for the contest, all photos or videos must have been taken in an Arizona setting and must include a DOT/SNELL approved helmet. For details on eligibility, submitting entries and monthly deadlines, visit http://www.gf.state.az.us/outdoor_recreation/documents/HelmetHairContestRulesFINAL.pdf.
Winning photographs and videos will be posted on the state web site at www.azgfd.gov/OHV, and shared on the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/azgafd and Instagram at www.instagram.com/AZGFDOutdoors.
Here is a link to a clip from a TV news segment with Eberhart explaining the program: http://www.fox10phoenix.com/Clip/11113862/az-game-fish-campaign-to-keep-people-safe-show-your-helmet-hair.
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Key To NOHVCC Success: Dedication, Integrity & Partnerships
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Sixth in a series. This year, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Throughout 2015, we’ll be including articles in this newsletter about the history of NOHVCC, its challenges and accomplishments, leading up to the annual conference in late October.
In the early 1990s, some State and Federal agencies didn’t have the knowledge and skills required to manage OHV use on public lands. Consequently, motorized recreation was being seriously threatened. While challenges remain, much progress has been made, thanks to the dedication of NOHVCC staff, board of directors and State Partners, to meet a key goal set forth by the original “Design Team” 25 years ago: “Develop partnerships with decision-makers to help them recognize that OHV use can be effectively managed.”
To find out more, we asked Russ Ehnes, who has been the NOHVCC Executive Director since 1998, about the milestones NOHVCC reached over the past 25 years in building partnerships.
What were some initial things NOHVCC did to partner with State and Federal agencies on OHV recreation?
“The very first thing we did was revive the OHV Management Workshop Series. That Series was started by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) in the ‘70s and continued all the way into the mid ‘90s, when it ended. With their cooperation, we took over the Workshop Series. We made it more flexible, working months in advance with a planning team on-site to identify the most critical issues at each location. We worked with the agencies at the Workshops, to show we were serious about helping them understand how to better manage OHV recreation.”
Who attended those workshops?
“The content was geared toward State and Federal agency personnel who attended. But the Workshops also included OHV activists and riders from local OHV clubs and State associations. We’ve always said that it’s just as important for riders to know the rules, to be informed about management, and to be at the Workshops to build relationships and partnerships, in order to create sustainable trail systems. Since then, we’ve conducted well over 100 Workshops.”
What was the first milestone NOHVCC achieved in that effort?
“Actually, the first milestone was the completion of the first Workshop in Dillon, Montana, in 1998. We had nearly 100 participants, most from Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service. We had a new format, and completing it really kicked things off. The word spread through the agencies that we were serious about it, and that the content of the Workshop was extremely high quality and helpful to them in their jobs. Then the demand really started to grow.”
Is there another milestone that comes to mind?
“Another milestone was when the annual NOHVCC Conference started to become the gathering place for OHV managers. Now it’s the largest OHV specific gathering of managers anywhere. We have managers coming from County, State, Provincial and Federal agencies from the U.S., Canada and a growing list of countries. When we became recognized as the source of OHV recreation management information, and our Conference became the place to get it, that was huge.”
Silvio Carrara, “the godfather of NOHVCC,” said he is most proud of the relationships NOHVCC has made with agencies, and NOHVCC’s reputation as a user group that’s respected for its integrity. Do you feel the same?
“Absolutely. Integrity is key. The NOHVCC staff and board of directors take a lot of pride in our personal integrity, which is critical for us doing a good job. The board of directors has always been very actively engaged in the management of NOHVCC. Having an active board with a lot of perspectives gives us the ability to make smart decisions, to maintain the integrity of the organization over the long haul. Sometimes the decisions you make that maintain your integrity are not always the easy ones. And sometimes you catch heat for them from your own constituents. But with the help of the board and officers we’ve managed to make the right decisions along the way.”
What has NOHVCC done to build partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management?
“Over the course of 25 years, we’ve had a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the Forest Service. We’ve also worked closely with the BLM through Assistance Agreements. We’ve engaged with groups like the National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP) and participated in the American Trails International Trail Symposiums. Anywhere that we have an opportunity to interface with the agencies, we’ve done our best to take advantage of those and build the relationships that we now have.
“When it comes to our Annual Conference and Workshops, we do our very best to incorporate the BLM and the Forest Service on a local and national level into the presentations, and encourage them to participate.”
Are there more recent examples of the NOHVCC partnership with Federal agencies?
“There are a couple examples. NOHVCC Management Solutions is good one. NMS was created in 2011. It provides on-the-ground assistance to land management agencies, efficiently and at far less cost than they typically pay. In the two first projects, NOHVCC partnered with the BLM at the Whitetail/Pipestone OHV area near Whitehall, Montana, and the Texas Creek OHV area near Canon City, Colorado. Those and other NMS projects have been very successful and the Pipestone project is ongoing. Our role will continue to increase with Federal agencies as their budgets become harder to maintain, and the need to partner becomes necessary to get things done.”
And isn’t there an NMS project involving all states with BLM lands?
“Yes. NOHVCC is partnering with the BLM on a new initiative. We’ll be helping them establish a nationwide Action Plan for OHV recreation. That’s very exciting.
“NOHVCC is working with the BLM on a state-by-state basis. It’s the biggest NMS project so far. We’ll provide them with OHV information that will help them develop their OHV strategies, inform their Travel Management Plans and Resource Management Plans, and result in high-quality, better managed opportunities for OHV recreation. We will be engaging OHV clubs, associations and individuals across each of the States with BLM lands. We’ll be gathering information about the types of opportunities riders enjoy and are looking for, where they can leverage existing opportunities, and how the BLM can partner with clubs and associations to better manage and maintain OHV areas. Montana will be first State, with meetings in August and September. We will gather information that the BLM can use, and really get at the heart of what can be done to provide better opportunities and improve sustainability.”
What’s another example of Federal agency partnerships?
“Another example is that our Workshop Series continues to evolve. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve developed a new Workshop called “OHV Trail Design, Construction and Maintenance.” One of the challenges the Federal agencies are facing is that a lot of their very talented people are reaching retirement age. Critical knowledge is leaving the agencies. This Workshop Series is aimed squarely at providing hands-on information on how to design, build and maintain OHV trails on the ground for the State agencies, Forest Service and BLM personnel. We’ve held this Workshop in Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico, and will be doing more of them. We’ve really become a training source for Federal agencies. That’s an important step, when they can go to a nonprofit NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) like us for their training needs. We can do it efficiently and help them build their skills. That’s a huge accomplishment for NOHVCC.”
Does NOHVCC also have good relationships with State agencies on OHV recreation?
“We have incredibly strong relationships with the State OHV programs. One of the keys to that is, we’ve taken a very active role in creating the International OHV Administrators Association (INOHVAA) and helping it become a viable organization. Being able to co-locate our Conferences is a great success story. We’re proud of that relationship and proud of the results.
“The true success on a State level has been getting more and more State folks to a conference, all in one place, to share their stories on OHV legislation and getting trails on the ground. That has resulted in more trail systems being developed and more opportunities on the ground.”
What can NOHVCC’s State Partners do to build on its partnerships in the future? “
We encourage State Partners to keep showing up at the Annual Conference, at their State association meetings, at other conferences and keep building relationships. Look for those opportunities to be partners, to become engaged. When a problem presents itself on maintaining trails or access, be the person that can find the solution. Look to NOHVCC for the tools you need.”
Any final thoughts on NOHVCC partnerships and the challenges ahead?
“While challenges to OHV access seem never-ending, we have made great strides across the nation by helping OHV riders become more effective at advocating for responsible OHV access, and by educating land managers that OHV recreation can be managed. We've worked with literally hundreds of managers and shown them that it's possible to provide high quality, challenging, fun trails that are absolutely sustainable.
Managers are learning that, by giving riders trails they “want to ride” instead of trails they "have to ride," that riders do the right things.”
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This Oklahoma OHV Trail System Is City Owned And Operated
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
A lot of U.S. cities have recreational parks that offer camping, swimming, fishing and hiking to scenic vistas. Very few have all that and own and operate an off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system.
Davis, Oklahoma, is one of them.
For almost 100 years, Davis has owned Turner Falls Park, 1500 acres and one of the state’s oldest and most famous tourist attractions. Nestled in the Arbuckle mountains of southern Oklahoma, it features a waterfall feeding two natural swimming holes, and trout fishing. When a nearby, 6500-acre cattle operation called the Cross Bar Ranch went up for sale in the ‘90s, the city bought the property in order to expand its recreational offerings. In 2006, it built an OHV trail system open to ATVs and dirt bikes. Located about 6 miles west of town, the city-owned Cross Bar Ranch trail system has over 30 miles of trails, ATV rentals, and rustic campsites. Located just off Interstate Highway 35 between Oklahoma City and Dallas, the trail system gets visitors from those major cities, and from all over the country.
“Our numbers have really been increasing in the last two years,” said Billy Sandifer, manager of the park and ranch. “We have 24 RV sites and all were full last weekend. And many other people come in and ride for the day. Most are bringing in ATVs, but we’re getting more and more of the side-by-sides in there all the time.
“We have two sets of trails. The blue trail is flat and easy to ride. The red trail goes up the hills, it’s tougher to ride and you cross the same creek four or five times.” The city also built a half-mile flat track for kids and beginning riders, which is popular with riders of all ages.
All riders are required to wear a helmet. Those renting ATVs must be 16 or older, ride solo, wear boots and are provided a helmet as part of the rental cost. The city charges $40 per hour with a 2-hour minimum. An all-day pass is $125. Ranch admission for those riding their own ATVs is $10 daily for adults and $5 for children.
“I don’t know of any other cities doing this,” said Sandifer. Across the country, there are cities that own land that are part of OHV trails, but few also manage the trail system. Iowa has 8 ATV parks. Four are city owned but are operated by local OHV clubs through management agreements. In southern Minnesota, the city of Houston is in the planning process of building and operating an OHV park that will accommodate ATVs, dirt bikes and 4WD trucks. “It definitely is less common for a city to own and run a park, but more are coming on-line every day,” said Karen Umphress, NOHVCC IT and Project Manager.
The Cross Bar Ranch trail system is open year-round. It was partially funded by the federal Recreational Trails Program. The RTP provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. It is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
For more information on the Cross Bar Ranch, local accommodations and attractions, visit: http://www.davisok.org/arbuckle_attractions/Cross_Bar_Ranch/.
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These Program Managers Love Twisting The Throttle On OHVs And OHV Recreation Planning
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Fourth in a series. Is it important for land managers, recreation planners and off-highway vehicle (OHV) program managers to know how to ride a dirt bike, ATV or ROV? How does being a rider help them in their work managing trail systems, promoting rider safety, and partnering with OHV user groups? In this article series, we’ll talk to decision makers in state and federal agencies to find out. Over two dozen people replied to our request to participate in this series and offer their views. Some are lifelong riders, some learned to ride as part of their job. We’ll hear from as many as we can in coming months.
Their riding experiences, education and career paths vary widely, but for these OHV program managers, their love of riding and recreation management are virtually identical.
In Montana, Brad Colin Puts Riding And Resource Management Skills To Work
Brad Colin may be one of the few people who, after advancing to a supervisory role with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), took a step down the career ladder to get back to what he loves most: working on motorized recreation planning...and riding.
“I realized that maybe I jumped the gun a little bit,” Colin said about his role as an Assistant Field Manager. “I enjoyed being a supervisor and was told I was pretty good at it, but it just wasn’t in my heart. And let’s just say my riding time went away. So I’m one of the rare people in government who took a voluntary downgrade to be a recreation planner again.” Today, he is is an Outdoor Recreation Planner, working out of the BLM Field Office in Butte, Montana.
Colin grew up in Kansas, riding dirt bikes, street bikes and ATVs. He went to the University of Montana and got a degree in Recreation Resource Management, with a minor in Wilderness, hoping to become a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. “I was interested in that at the time. I don’t think I realized what other kinds of jobs were available with Federal, State or local land management agencies,” he said.
That changed when Colin discovered motorized recreation planning. He went to work seasonally for the Forest Service in Colorado, and got involved with Travel Management and off-highway vehicle (OHV) issues. In 2003, with job offers from two Federal agencies in front of him, he went to work for the BLM as an OHV Manager in the Ukiah, California, Field Office. He worked there for 2 years before taking a similar job in the BLM’s Monticello, Utah, Field Office. It’s south of Moab, a very popular OHV riding area. “I soon learned that there were a lot of conflicts going on down there. My experience at Cow Mountain (Recreation Area) in California really helped me deal with some of the contentious issues. I also got to keep riding, which was really nice. I started to realize that maybe Wilderness wasn’t the way I was supposed to go. Quite the opposite, motorized Travel Management was where I was supposed to focus my attention, and I’ve really enjoyed my job ever since.”
From Utah, Colin spent a couple years in Fairbanks in that supervisory role, before taking his current job in Butte. “I went to school in Missoula 10 years before, so it was nice to come back and live where I always wanted to be: Montana. Now my riding for work and personally has skyrocketed. I’m thrilled with it. I’m a big street rider too. I really enjoy doing that on the weekends, and I get my off-highway time in at work, which is a great combination for me.
“In our office, I’m the Travel Management Coordinator, but I’m also the Motorized Recreation Coordinator for the Pipestone OHV Area. When I first got here and saw the condition of the trails, I was blown away by how poorly they were being maintained. My first time riding there, I knew we could do better. I knew that we had to get a maintenance program in place, to keep things going and to make experiences better on the ground. Having been a rider and knowing what I like on trails helped me better understand what the trails at Pipestone needed, and how to communicate better with the public on what exactly they are looking for.”
Listening to riders also helped Colin realize that trail systems can be over-managed to the point that they exclude riders looking for a more challenging experience. “In the very beginning, we were making our trails a little too smooth at Pipestone,” he said. “We were just running the Sweco (trail dozer) through and pulling a rake behind it. We received a lot of positive feedback. But there was a small contingency of people saying ‘you’re changing my experience out there’. So now I think, because I’ve been a rider and have been able to talk to people using the same language, I have a better understanding that certain trails are better with smoother tread types, and others are better left more rugged and challenging. That way, we’re providing trails for a better cross-section of users, and can really help them enjoy riding.
“We realized that we needed to come up with a wide array of riding opportunities. Consequently, now about a third of our trails are ‘Easiest’, a third are ‘More Difficult’ and a third are ‘Most Difficult’. And we’ve even created single-track trails that are ‘Extremely Difficult’, going down granite rock faces. In the future I hope to be able to offer even more variety.”
This month, Colin flew to Washington, D.C., to accept a national award for the maintenance work at Pipestone, completed in partnership with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association (MTVRA), and the U.S. Forest Service. Colin’s success has also allowed him to take a step back up the career ladder with the BLM. “I’m now what’s called the Motorized Recreation Master Performer for BLM’s Washington Office. I like the idea, it’s pretty progressive. We are going to attempt to use the Pipestone model and start duplicating it all around the country. We’re slowly building up this cadre of Master Performers for all the various trail uses, motorized and non-motorized, in hopes of building a great trails program. We couldn’t have done it without NOHVCC. Russ Ehnes (NOHVCC Executive Director) and I continue to ride at Pipestone, and we talk about what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”
In Texas, Steve Thompson Used His Ride & Work Experience To Build An OHV Program From Scratch
Born and raised in Arkansas, Steve Thompson started riding motorcycles in his teens, has owned 25 street bikes and dirt bikes, and still rides recreationally. And when it comes to riding on the job, he’s used every kind of OHV there is.
Thompson, 62, has a unique title: Senior Geologist/OHV Program Manager, in the Recreation Grants Branch of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. He received degrees in geology from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He moved to Texas, and started his career working for the London office of Phillips Petroleum, doing exploration geology in Africa. He rode a motorcycle to work every day. A few years later, he returned to Texas to work as Program Manager for a state environmental agency, cleaning up groundwater contamination following oil spills and natural disasters.
In 2005, Thompson moved over to Parks & Wildlife, to head up its new OHV program. He calls his experience riding on the job an evolutionary process. “Throughout my career, I’ve always used different kinds of off-highway vehicles – trucks, Jeeps, ATVs and motorcycles -- to get back to remote areas. For 13 years, I managed the Emergency Response Program for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. We used ATVs and early ROVs to clean up oil spills and collect containers off the beaches, in remote areas where contamination had been spilled or dumped, or caused by hurricanes and floods. I used them as tools rather than as recreational vehicles.
“When I came to work for Parks & Wildlife, I was looking at these vehicles, how they could be used recreationally, and how to do it well. Because of the different aspects of my education and professional experience as a geologist, including soil mechanics and erosion control, I was already used to thinking about how to manage water and sedimentation from a technical aspect.” However, adds Thompson, designing a trail to manage traffic and keep riders safe was new to him. The state’s OHV program was brand new, there was no history of procedures. Everything had to be developed from the beginning. “For me, I had technical skills and experience as a rider, but I had to learn resource management and park design and operation. All three of those areas apply, to put together a concept for a well-designed, well-built, and well-maintained OHV park,” he said.
Thompson knew where to go for help, contacting OHV program managers from other states and the Forest Service, who were working with more mature programs. “I learned fairly quickly that when a park was well run, well managed, and popular, whether it’s in California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado or Idaho, the elements were pretty consistent. On the flip side of that coin, where riding areas were problematic, they had the same problems, over and over again.”
Thompson also started attending the annual NOHVCC conference, and was a founding member of the International OHV Administrators Association (INOHVAA). “I want to stress the importance of having INOHVAA as a resource,” he said. “I talk about it when I go to city and county park managers. I talk about national best practice standards codified by those two organizations.”
Over the years, Thompson has partnered with the non-profit, Texas Motorized Trails Coalition (TMTC) to create OHV trail systems, helping it obtain grants, buy land, complete resource surveys, create park management plans and build trails and infrastructure. As he approaches retirement, he knows what to look for when it’s time to find his replacement. “Being a rider and understanding the sport and why people ride and what they enjoy about the sport, is very important. I might rank that as Number One. Being connected to user groups within that community is also important.
“Number Two is a toss-up between knowing technical aspects of designing sustainable trails versus how to design a park that’s well managed. Those are both key components in a well-run park. The elements of success are building sustainable trails, knowing where the resources are, and also how to manage traffic. How to design a park with a common sense set of rules, where people are protected by the activities that are allowed, resources are protected, and rules are enforced.
“I have had a great, most enjoyable career. It’s a rewarding profession, with some down and dirty work, but we have developed a unique way to build sustainable trails.”
In Michigan, Rob Katona Is A Biologist, Turned Trails Analyst
Like Thompson in Texas, Rob Katona took a circuitous path to his job as a Trails Analyst with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Katona grew up in a rural area near Marquette, Michigan, hunting, fishing and riding snowmobiles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers. He attended Lake Superior State University, where he majored in Fisheries and Wildlife Management. Fresh out of college, he went to work for a federal agency. “I started working in lower Michigan for the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, as a technician and biologist,” Katona said. “Then I moved out west to Oregon for a year with the Army Corps of Engineers, then to Seattle with Fisheries, then back to Marquette and started working for the Michigan DNR, in the UP (Upper Peninsula).”
Katona says being a rider helped him land his current job as a Trails Analyst. “I had my cycle endorsement and experience riding ORVs and snowmobiles. I emphasized that I enjoyed doing all that growing up. On the job, being a rider, I was able to get out on the state’s single-track trails and do inspections. There’s roughly 1,200 miles of trails and routes in the UP, and close to 400 of that are motorcycle-only. I understood what the riders were looking for, that’s really helpful. It would be difficult to do any of that work without being a rider.”
Coming into the job as a biologist, Katona had to learn about OHV recreation planning, trail design and construction on the job, and from others in OHV program management. “We have three categories of trails. Snowmobile trails open to OHVs of all sizes, including Jeeps; there’s not a lot of real trail characteristics for that. But for the 50 inch ATV trails and single-track motorcycle trails, it becomes much more involved. You need to look at trail layout for the fun factor, but also that it flows right, and have areas where you can take a break and not have to concentrate as hard. If I was not a rider, it would be pretty difficult to design and build an OHV trail with good characteristics.”
Katona adds that being a rider also helps him in his work with many, very active OHV and snowmobile clubs in the Upper Peninsula, which have been instrumental in building new trail systems, and are involved in getting OHV bills passed at the State Legislature. “Last year, four pieces of legislation were passed, all good tools to help expand and develop our trail systems,” he said. “Legislators look to program managers who ride as the experts out in the field. Now, with the shift to side-by-sides and two-up ATVs, and riders doing more touring and stopping at communities, we’re working on developing an interconnected route system, to put more trails on the ground every year.
“Being a rider definitely helped me get to where I’m at right now. I really enjoy what I do.”
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Wanted: Success Stories On Powersports Dealers Working To Keep Public Lands Open To The Public
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Do powersports dealerships in your riding area get involved in public land access issues? Have they helped keep an OHV trail system open through their efforts with riders, clubs and associations? Whether you’re a rider, dealer, club or OHV organization, if you have a success story to share on this topic, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across the country, powersports dealers promote safe, responsible riding of the off-highway vehicles (OHVs) they sell, partner with local clubs on trail projects and get involved on OHV issues that may negatively impact their store and its customers.
When the now infamous “Lead Ban” issue was in full swing, powersports dealers were directly affected. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, inadvertently made it illegal for them to sell youth motorcycles and ATVs. Dealers everywhere got involved in the issue, joining industry organizations, vehicle manufacturers and riders, to create a groundswell of comments that, eventually, moved Congress to fix the problem.
Is public land access an equally large issue for powersports dealers?
In Western States with large tracts of public land, how much are dealer sales impacted when an area long open to OHVs is closed by a local, state or federal agency?
In States with less public land and fewer riding opportunities, is the impact just as great on a dealership when there is a closure of what may be the only trail system in the area?
On the flip side, are there instances where dealers have banded together with riders, clubs and state associations to keep a trail system open or create a new trail, and what has that meant to local powersports dealers?
We’d like to hear your comments and stories to help us answer those questions.
In the meantime, we talked with Larry Smith, executive director of Americans For Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), for his thoughts on dealer involvement on public land access issues. Here’s what he had to say:
“I think most people recognize that access issues are important. There was a time when we had to spend more time talking about responsible recreation. It’s now in people’s DNA. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk about it, but it’s less of an issue because more people are taking responsible actions. That’s happened over a period of time. Access issues are not related to human behavior. They have more to do with environmental issues.
“Across the country, dealers have to focus on their territory. If, for example, there is a lack of access to public lands in their area, frankly, they’re going to sell more product if they get involved and access is developed. They can see the direct result of their efforts and they’re going to be more knowledgeable.
“While dealers need to focus of local access issues, they can’t afford to ignore what is happening with national access issues. ARRA’s job is getting information out on national issues and therefore can be a real asset to the dealer community and their customers.”
The key is for dealers and their customers to get involved.
Just as they did with the Lead Law, many powersports dealers and their customers keep informed on public land issues and comment on them, whether they are ongoing issues in their State, neighboring States or on the other side of the country.
Two organizations that have made it easy to stay informed and comment are ARRA and the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC). You can read about new developments on their web sites, as well as sign up to receive their email newsletters and regular “action alerts” on trail closures and national OHV issues. In many cases, you can add your opinion and real-life experiences to pre-written comments, and have them submitted to the proper agency simply by typing in your name and zip code. BRC and ARRA forward the comments directly to your Senators and Representatives in Congress. More local issues often involve letter writing campaigns created by OHV clubs and state associations.
Said Smith: “We have more tools available to us than we had 15 years ago, both in terms of access to information and the means to communicate with decision makers. And that might be a land manager or it might be a member of Congress.
“Contacting a land manager may be more important in some areas, because a land manager is on the ground, making decisions. In a sense, they are the first line of defense. When an issue percolates to a point where it gets up to the Congress, it’s a much larger issue and it’s more difficult to solve.
“We want dealers to not only get on the ARRA mailing list, but then to encourage their customers when they come in to their dealership to sign up as well. If the dealers look at this as a way to help their customers get more access and keep access, yes, it’s self-serving, but it’s another way they can provide and expand the service to their customers. It’s more than just selling and servicing the bike or the side-by-side. It’s developing a partnership with that customer.”
For more information on ARRA and to sign up to receive its newsletter and OHV alerts, go to: http://www.arra-access.com/site/PageServer. To learn more about BRC and receive its action alerts, visit: https://www.sharetrails.org/. Both web sites also make it easy to find out the access issues in your state. Just go to the U.S. map and click on your state..
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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.
As part of our year long celebration, each month we will be asking a NOHVCC history trivia question. All of the correct answers received will be put into a drawing for a prize.
Q: What year was the Adventure Trail series created?
Send your answers to us at email@example.com by July, 18 2015
(yeah, other than extra credit, only 1 entry per person)
Answer to May Trivia Question:
There were two people who submitted correct answers to the May trivia question. Congratulations to Mark Mitchell and Nancy Minard.
Q: How many women have served on the Board of NOHVCC?
A: One woman has served on the NOHVCC Board of Directors, Nancy Minard. Several other women have been involved with the creation and operation of the organization.
Planning ahead for this year's NOHVCC/INOHVAA conference?
It will be held in Folsom, a suburb of Sacramento the week of October 25 - November 1, 2015; most likely using the same schedule as last year. Details will be coming soon! Really.
The annual COHVCO workshop is coming up next month. It will be held July 15 - 17 in Meeker, CO. The early registration ends this week, so don't delay.
The Great OHV Trails guidebook has been delayed, but not for a very long time. The new tentative schedule is for the published book to be available in August. We will keep you posted so you will know when they are available.
This is the time of year when we all just want to ride. However, it is also the time of year when there are many scoping, planning, and other opportunities for public comments or input. Apathy in one of our biggest enemies. Now is the perfect time to join a local club or association; start a partnership with your local dealership; and find out what is happening in your local riding areas that needs your attention. It takes all of us, working together, to make Great OHV Trails happen.
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