NOHVCC Newsletter - February 2017 edition

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In this Issue:




Pacific NW 4WD Association Uses Spill Kit To Protect Ground, Publicize The Group

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


Want to build a trail spill kit for your off-highway vehicle (OHV) club members to carry in their trucks, ATVs, ROVs or motorcycles?


Contents of the spill kitCheck out the one assembled and distributed by the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association (PNW4WDA). It’s light, compact, with everything you need to clean up the ground, protect your trail...and promote your group.


“We started it in 2011 at our Trail Jamboree,” said Angie Marek, the Association’s public relations chairperson and past president. “It’s held in July and open to the public. We give a spill kit to each participant and our hosts at the 5-day event. It went over really well with everyone, including the land managers.


“We work with the Forest Service and the Washington State DNR, and we’re always trying to be proactive in taking care of our public lands. One of our Jamboree participants went to the Easter Jeep Safari at Moab. His rear differential broke, oil leaked out. They took the kit and soaked everything up. They were up there the next day, and couldn’t even tell where it happened.”


The contents of the homemade spill kit are purchased on Amazon by Marek, and assembled by her and Association members. “I order all the stuff, have it ready, and we do an assembly line for the Jamboree,” said Marek. “It’s a fun time. Now the same people show up every year. They’ll say ‘Hey! Is it time to put them together?’ ”


The kit includes three absorbent pads, a pair of rubber gloves, and a black garbage bag for hauling out and disposing of the used material, dirt shoveled up and anything else used to clean up a spill. It’s important to have two types of absorbent pads, says Marek. “The white pads separate oil from water, and the grey ones, they soak up anything.  So I put two of the white ones in the kit and one grey one.”


Everything is put into a clear plastic bag, along with an 8-by-5 inch card. It has the directions for using the spill kit on one side, and a message from the PNW4WDA on the other:


“Staying environmentally safe is essential when recreating with motorized vehicles. This kit provides the proper items to ensure vehicle fluids will not become part of the landscape. When you find yourself in a situation where your vehicle is leaking anti-freeze, oils, fuels, and other vehicle fluids while on a trail, please use this spill kit to remove and dispose of the fluids safely, according to environmental guidelines.”


The card also features the logos of the Association, Tread Lightly! and the Washington State DNR.


The Association has distributed 1,500 spill kits in the past 5 years. They are sold for $5 each, with most given to riders as part of their event fee at the Jamboree and other truck events. Marek is looking at adding a bottle of biodegradable Oil Eater cleaner/degreaser to the kit, after picking up a 4 ounce sample at the SEMA show.


Carry extra spill kits to promote your 4WD, ATV or motorcycle club


Marek encourages all OHV riders to carry a spill kit. “The motorcycle guys, they put it in the bag on their bike; they might downsize it a little bit. And we’ve really been encouraging the side-by-side owners to carry them. They have the room to take one on all their rides.”

 4-wheel drive trucks on a trail

The spill kit is also a great way to promote your association, adds Marek. Each one of hers includes a trifold brochure about PNW4WDA and a membership form to join it. “We encourage our members to carry an extra one in their rig. One for themselves, and one to hand to other people they meet on the trail,” she said.


A NOHVCC Associate State Partner for Washington, Marek grew up in the 4WD Association. “My parents belonged, and I got involved that way,” she said. “I met my husband at a Jeep race, and both of my kids, now in their thirties, are officers in the Association. We do competitions, we do trail running, and we do a lot of land and legislative stuff. I’m really pleased that my kids have continued with that. A lot of people, they just know they have a place to play. They don’t understand that there are people out there who are not able to go out and play on the weekends, because they’re sitting in a meeting somewhere, working to protect their rights.” 


Now in its 27th year, the Trail Jamboree is a primary fundraiser for the PNW4WDA. It is based out of Jim Sprick Park in the community of Nile, in eastern Washington, surrounded by the Cascade Mountains.


The PNW4WDA was organized in 1960. Its mission is to draw together 4-wheel drive enthusiasts, supporters and land management agencies in Oregon, Washington and Idaho to: support 4-wheel drive activities, promote responsible use to protect the resources, enhance the positive image of the sport and the enthusiasts, maintain or improve 4-wheel drive opportunities, and protect access to public lands. For more information, visit their website at



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Utah Club’s Award-Winning Bridge Project Makes Positive Impact In Many Directions

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


When off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs partner with state and federal agencies to build bridges for trails, they also build bridges to stronger relationships with those agencies. And, very often, they help boost tourism, local economies, and recreational opportunities for both motorized and non-motorized enthusiasts.


Sometimes, they also win awards.


The Kanab Bridge fully installedThe Kanab Creek OHV Bridge in Utah’s Hog Canyon is a perfect example. It was a project of the Utah/Arizona ATV Club, in partnership with the Kanab Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In June of 2016, the project was awarded an Annual Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Coalition of Recreational Trails and held in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. House of Representatives offices.


BLM praises outcomes of bridge project


Here’s what the BLM had to say about the Kanab Bridge, as reported on the website of American Trails:


The installation of the Kanab Creek OHV bridge and the establishment of a novice trail through the Hog Canyon Trail System has created the possibility of accessing hundreds of miles of pristine OHV trails directly from Kanab without the need of trailering OHVs to separate locations. The successful completion of the aforementioned trail projects has contributed to the reality of Kane County becoming an OHV riding destination, which has provided an economic benefit to Kanab and the surrounding communities. Many small businesses in the area are now benefiting financially because of the UT/AZ ATV Club's efforts to establish safe and direct riding to popular visitor destinations.


ATV Club’s description of the bridge project is inspiring


Ed Browning, past president of the UT/AZ ATV Club, wroteMen installing a sign by the Kanab Bridge up the project description that won the award. It’s an inspiring account of the club’s first, and incredibly resourceful, bridge-building project. Here it is, in his own words:


For years those riding OHVs were required to follow a trail up and along Kanab Creek and make a last crossing of the creek in order to reach the Hog Canyon Trails, and eventually to gain access to other connecting trails to the east. At this last creek crossing, often the water was too deep and dangerous to cross with an OHV, let alone wade, at times more than four feet deep. This caused many OHV enthusiasts to drive up US 89 along the side of the highway, where highway vehicle speeds were in excess of 55 mph, and sometimes OHVs drove on the highway. This was very hazardous not only to the OHV rider, but to the motor vehicle operators, due to the narrow Kanab Creek Canyon corridor.


The bridge design and funding 


Tony Wright and Ray Wells, working through the UT/AZ ATV Club of Kanab, UT, began coming up with ideas on a solution, and through their leadership and vision they began planning to build a bridge over this deep obstacle. With the support of the then ATV Club president, Jim Aziz, along with members Price Nelson, Bill Reese and other members to various degrees; a plan of action was developed.


Estimates for a new bridge were between $250,000 to $300,000, and there was no way we could make that happen. Tony Wright contacted Page Steel in Page, AZ, which suggested using a 60-foot overhead crane beam that had been removed from an industrial building in Las Vegas. A local engineer was hired to review the structure to see if it could be modified to be used as an OHV bridge over Kanab Creek.


The engineer came up with a plan that was accepted by the BLM, who were in favor of the bridge project. Now all we needed was funding, as early estimates for the project decreased dramatically from $250,000 to less than $50,000. The bridge materials and crane beam were already being modified at the Page Steel yard, consisting of the newly reinforced bridge beam and needed ramps and railings. The Kanab Field office of the BLM was consulted for review of the finalized project plans and input was obtained with reviews of the Engineering Plans.


Overviews of the bridge plan were also presented at meetings with the Kane County Office of Tourism, the local government entities of Kanab City and Kane County. Finally, a funding request was made through the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.


Reception of the CRT award for the Kanab Bridge projectA Recreational Trails Program grant of $25,000 was awarded, with additional funding of $5,000 from Kane County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District, along with $15,000 in-kind labor and materials provided. All agreed with the overall plan, because of the potential of someone getting hurt, or worse having to drive up the highway to access the trails, there was an overall consensus favoring this bridge project.


The bridge construction


Now with funding, and concurrence with the related government agencies, the arranging of required materials and actual project coordination began. Tony Wright and Ray Wells diligently moved the project forward whenever it appeared to stall for various reasons.


The 60-foot reconstructed bridge beam was strengthened and modified at the steel yard. Footing for the bridge was laid, and the delivery of the 60-foot bridge was scheduled. On the day the bridge was delivered to the site, a rainy summer day, the highway had to be shut down to move this large structure to the creek site. The bridge sat perfectly on the cement footings, and was secured.


Ramps were then made to access the 73-inch wide bridge, which was rated to hold 16,000 lbs. As per the request of the BLM, willows were planted along the disturbed banks of Kanab Creek and the bridge was in service. It was not long afterward that the bridge would be tested, when a late summer flash flood roared down Kanab Creek and out of Hog Canyon. Debris and logs pelted the bridge. The water actually went over the bridge, but it withstood due to exceptional structural design, planning and quality. Tony Wright and Ray Wells organized ATV Club volunteers for another area clean-up and the bridge never went out of service to the community.


The success of the project has had a number of effects on our Kane County Community. This bridge has opened up unlimited recreational opportunities for the residents and visitors to Kanab and Kane County, Utah. The trail from Kanab has now been dramatically improved, it has made the ride on the Kanab Creek Trail safe and has improved motor vehicle safety by removing OHVs from the side of the US 89 roadway. It has additionally removed the environmental impact of OHVs crossing through the waters of Kanab Creek. Tony Wright and Ray Wells continue maintaining this trail and are noted to be the sole architects of the plan and concept of this bridge. A job well done by both of them.


The office of tourism has since developed trail maps of various trails including Hog Canyon. The City of Kanab has designed OHV routes through town to reach this now accessible trail system. The new bridge has opened trail-based recreation, which has increased in Kane County exponentially, with the community seeing new visits from out-of-area individuals and OHV clubs.


A world-class destination for motorized and non-motorized enthusiasts


This bridge also opens up opportunities for equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers to use the trails in Kanab Creek Canyon. With this bridge there has been a new branding of Kanab and Kane County as a world-class OHV, equestrian, hiking and biking destination.


Congratulations to the UT/AZ ATV Club, its leaders and members, on this outstanding accomplishment and much-deserved award.


The UT/AZ ATV Club’s mission is to be a social organization for ATV enthusiasts. It provides guided ATV rides, camp outs, tours and social events. Educational and recreational forums are provided for all ages based on safe use of ATVs and the responsible use of ATV trails. Members assist in the development and maintenance of ATV trails on public lands specifically for ATV recreation and continued access to public lands. The club supports the local community through positive outreach programs and contributions. For more information, visit the club website at:


To learn more about the CRT’s Annual Achievement Awards, with a state-by-state list of past awards, go to:



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Some ATV Clubs in Minnesota Are New And Growing Fast, Others Calling It Quits

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


The Arrowhead ATV CScreen shot of Arrowhead ATV group facebook pagelub held a pizza party this month. Not to gather after a work day, or celebrate the opening of an ATV trail. But to officially dissolve the club that has been active in Duluth, Minnesota, for 20 years. “It was a celebration of a beginning and an end,” said Mike Levig, club president for the past two decades.


Ninety miles to the north, another ATV club recently had a different kind of celebration. The Voyageur Country ATV Club held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new ATV trail it developed on existing roads and trails. The club is 2 years old, and growing fast. 


In the past 2 years, five new ATV clubs have formed in central and northern Minnesota. And at least that many have decided to be less active, leaving the State’s Grant-In-Aid program of clubs that develop and maintain trails, dropped their status as an organized non-profit, or dissolved entirely. 


Why are some off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs thriving? And others calling it quits?


Ironically, the reason both of the Minnesota ATV clubs organized in the first place, was to create more riding opportunities in their local areas.


The now-dissolved Arrowhead ATV Club worked at it for many years. “I tried to build a trail and get it on the Minnesota DNR’s books for 18 years,” said Levig. “It didn’t go too far because a county representative was against motorized recreation. That was the gear that didn’t turn.”


Despite not being able to create a new ATV trail, the club grew and thrived, thanks to Levig’s leadership. It focused on holding rides for its members, even during cold winter months, and doing many community minded activities. The club gave scholarships to students, held food drives for churches and food pantries, and bought helmets for young riders. “I helped organize those efforts for 20 years,” said Levig. “Unfortunately, there was no one who wanted to take over as an understudy. The majority of our members are older. It’s hard to maintain a club without a trail to work on, and without people able to volunteer in leadership roles.”  

 Flyer for Voyageur ATV Club Ribbon Cutting

Not far to the north, the Voyageur Country ATV Club was organized in 2015 and expanded rapidly, with monthly meetings held at local resorts and restaurants. The clubs fast growth can be attributed to its members being focused on a common goal: opening new routes to ATVs, in order to 1) connect existing trail systems and 2) create new riding opportunities on roads and trails in the Superior National Forest, with access from local resorts and cabins. The trail-building activity attracted a lot of new members. Club membership now numbers over 600, including many local businesses. The club leaders worked with township, county, state and federal agencies to create and sign routes now open to ATVs. About 200 people attended the trail’s official opening in October, including elected officials from Minnesota and Washington D.C. The project took just 18 months.


Not all Minnesota clubs are as fortunate in developing trails. Sometimes, the inability to create a trail can stall out an active club, says George Radke, president of the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM). The Minnesota DNR’s “Trails Assistance Program” includes a detailed, 8-step process that clubs must follow to create a designated, signed trail within its Grant-In-Aid program. The first step, Step 0, involves partnering with the Parks & Trails Division of the DNR on the proposed trail project, and obtaining written approval from all possible stakeholders. That includes county boards, multiple township boards, as well as cities and snowmobile clubs along the proposed route, and the U.S. Forest Service if on federal lands. It can take years. “Ultimately, some of these clubs formed to create and promote riding opportunities in their area, but have lost interest due to how long it takes in Step Zero,” said Radke.


Recently, some Minnesota ATV clubs have pulled back from trail maintenance and development, or dissolved altogether. There are a variety of reasons for that, said Mary Straka, who works with many ATV clubs in her role as OHV Program Consultant with the Minnesota DNR. “With some clubs, the active members have had changes in their life,” she said. Older members may move away, have health issues, or retire and decide to do other things. Younger members may have busy schedules with kids in school, and can’t ride or attend meetings like they used to. In many cases, she adds, members of dissolved clubs don’t stop riding. They simply join other, more active clubs. “Clubs evolve over time. It can be like waves in a lake. Sometimes the clubs have big waves of activity and sometimes just ripples,” said Straka.


One solution: form club alliances 


In central Minnesota, several counties have formed ATV club alliances. Years ago, a half dozen ATV clubs banded together to form the Itasca County ATV Alliance. They work together on common issues, build and maintain trails, and save money by buying a shared trail liability insurance policy. The ATV Alliance also belongs to the Itasca County Snowmobile Alliance, formed over 40 years ago, and made up of all the local ATV clubs, snowmobile clubs and a local sled dog organization.


ATVAM has six regions. Region 3 includes 10 Minnesota counties. Its ATVAM regional directors, who are also leaders of local ATV clubs, hold an annual meeting of 10 ATV clubs. About 50 people attend each year, including county land commissioners, and representatives from the Minnesota DNR. The group shares information about their clubs’ successes and challenges, and work together to connect their trail systems.


“Alliances can help spread the load,” said Straka. “Clubs can go beyond insurance sharing, and take it to work days, and start supporting each other on new endeavors, so your club isn’t over-burdened.”


The 45 people who came to the final pizza party of the Arrowhead ATV Club will still be riding, just not as an organized non-profit. The club zeroed out its checkbook, gave away leftover inventory of club gear at the party, and changed its name to the Arrowhead ATV Group. It will be communicating on Facebook. “It was bittersweet,” said Levig.  “I enjoyed it. I put my 20 years in and now it’s time to do something else.”




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New Guidelines Add Clarity To OHV Trail Signage And Placement

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


If there is one thing that’s universal about off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail signs, it’s that when it comes to size, color, quality, placement, or clarity of the message they send to riders, they are not universal.


Cover of the INOHVAA Signing Guidelines DocumentTrails signs vary widely, depending on whether the trail system is on land managed by a county, state or federal agency. And on public lands as well as private ATV parks, they may be confusing ... or absent altogether. 


Proper signing of a trail system can mean the difference between a good ride and a bad ride. Riders that are all smiles as they load up the trailer at the end of the day. Or shaking their heads in total frustration, out on the trail, lost, hungry and low on fuel.


Recently, some State land managers and OHV program managers got together, looked at this issue, and created a document designed to help improve trail signage. It’s called “Guidelines for Trail Signing and Placement for Off-Highway Vehicles.” 


The 18-page document was developed by the International Off-Highway Vehicle Administrators Association. INOHVAA is an organization founded by and for program managers who manage OHV recreation in their areas. The program managers can be on all levels -- federal, state, county, municipals, or private areas -- but the focus is on state level organizations. The INOHVAA manual is not intended to be signage policy, but general guidelines for the development of trail signing programs.


“The goal of this document is to provide international guidelines, to get more uniform trail signing,” said Mary Straka, MN DNR and Chair of the INOHVAA Trails Committee. “And the manual provides minimum guidelines: regulatory, caution and trail guidance markers and blazers. Each State and Province should further develop guidelines for their own information and guide signs.”


OHV trails often share routes used by snowmobile trails, as well as public roadways, so information for the guidelines came from multiple sources, said Straka. “We drew the information from existing state guidelines, as well as the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators, and the U.S. Forest Service. We also took into account information from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which is the Federal Highway Administration manual. They have some recommended guidelines on sign colors and shapes that we wanted to encourage states to be aware of.”


Topics covered in the manual include: trail sign plans and placement; traffic and directional signs on conventional roads; night-time riding and placement of reflective signs; sign mounting methods; regulatory and warning signs; core trail signs; examples of sign use at road crossings, bridges, trail intersections, and curves; and sign recommendations for OHV parks.


INOHVAA is in the process of making final edits to the sign guidelines manual. In the meantime, those interested in learning more about it, and receiving a copy, should contact Mary Straka, OHV Program Consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, at 218-203-4445.


For more information on INOHVAA, go to  If you are a program manager interested in joining INOHVAA, send an email to



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AMA Names Russ Ehnes 2017 Outstanding Off-Road Rider

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer


The American Motorcyclist Association recently announced the recipients of its 2017 AMA Awards. The individuals and organizations selected by the AMA Board of Directors have made outstanding contributions to the motorcycling community; and their efforts support the AMA mission to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As reported in the official AMA press release:


Russ Ehnes 2016 INOHVAA Hall of FameThe AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award highlights the achievements of those who have contributed to the promotion of the motorcycle lifestyle and the protection of off-highway motorcycling.


For 2017, recipient Russ Ehnes is being recognized for his nearly 20 years as the Executive Director of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), a nonprofit organization that develops and provides programs, materials and information to individuals, clubs, associations and agencies to further a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.


Ehnes is also a dedicated OHV advocate in Montana as a charter member and officer of the Great Falls Trail Bike Riders Association and helped launch the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association. He continues to play active roles in both organizations.


"I am truly honored to receive this award from the AMA," Ehnes said. "I've worked hard to promote safe, responsible OHV recreation, so we and our families can continue to ride now and in the future. I appreciate the recognition, but want to be sure everyone knows that it's been a team effort and wouldn't get done without the hard work and support of great partners and the people around me."


Congratulations, Russ, on your well-deserved award!



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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 2017 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.


For some shameless self-promotion, below is a portion of a letter from NOHVCC Association Partner from Wisconsin following-up with a couple of clubs who attended an OHV trail construction course.


Now that you guys are appreciating trail design, construction, and maintenance issues as a result of the course you are in, you will want to follow up when you get home and download a copy of the NOHVCC Great Trails book.  This is the most recent reference available and comprehensively covers some of the newest techniques. 

I have a pretty substantial library on this topic but if I could only have one book it would be this one. 

The book makes great use of photographs and illustrations to demonstrate concepts.

When you get back home, click the following link to get authorization for a free download of the book:  There is also an option to purchase a printed copy.

I showed the printed copy to your instructor and he was pretty impressed with it.

For more information regarding the Great Trails Guidebook, see the website at

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