NOHVCC Newsletter - February 2018 edition


In this Issue:

Momentum is Building for the 2018 Annual Conference

Help Spread The Word About OHVs and Railroad Safety In Your Area

Design Concept For Iowa's Oldest OHV Park Well Received by Stakeholders

Grave Digger! Monster Mutt! Honda! Yamaha! Wait...What?

Momentum is Building for 2018 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, MI – DRAFT Preliminary Schedule Available
By Duane Taylor, Executive Director

In our last newsletter we asked you to save the dates - August 14-18 – for the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and International Off-Highway Vehicle Administrators Association joint annual conferences.  This month we can provide more information for planning purposes.

Click here for a draft preliminary schedule.  As you might imagine we are still in the process of selecting talented and knowledgeable presenters, but we do have some information.  Anyone who has a long approval process can use the draft to secure approval for travel.  Of course, the draft will receive updates as we move forward, but this version should give you a good idea of what we have planned.

NOHVCC and INOHVAA annual conferences are always informative and fun.  Please don’t miss out – join us this year in Grand Rapids!




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Help Spread The Word About OHVs and Railroad Safety In Your Area
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Here’s an easy safety quiz:


Operating off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on service roads or the gravel alongside railroad tracks:

A) Is trespassing and illegal, as the Right-of-Way along tracks is almost universally private property.

B) Can negatively impact the ballast (gravel bed) or cross ties, and contribute to a train accident.

C) Can dislodge buried electric lines or track-safety fasteners posing a hazard. 

D) All of the above.


Of course, the correct answer is D. While in many rural areas of the country, riding alongside tracks is inviting, it should be totally avoided, and warned against by OHV clubs and associations.


Operating an OHV on tracks or crossing a rail line at anywhere but a legal crossing area is even riskier. Trains are quieter than in the past and can be hard to hear while operating an OHV.


Free flyer to spread the word about RR Safety

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has a flyer OHV clubs can post on their websites or hand out at meetings to spread the word to riders about staying off tracks and railroad rights-of-way.


The 3-by-9 inch, two-sided flyer is titled “Rail Safety for ATV Riders” and, while aimed at ATV owners, its message rings true for all OHV operators: “Rails and riding don’t mix.”


The flyer is a joint project of the FRA and Operation Lifesaver (OL), a non-profit organization providing public education programs to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks. OL is celebrating 45 years of providing free public rail safety education to communities across America.


Here are a few of the safety tips from the flyer: 

--Expect a train on any track, at any time, in either direction.

--Cross only at designated crossings.

--Look for trains. Lift your helmet visor to make sure you can see.

--Listen for trains. Turn off your machine so you can hear.

--If your vehicle gets stuck or hung up on the tracks: get away from your ATV, and move away from the tracks. If at a crossing, look for the railroad emergency notification number located on a sign at the crossing, or call 911. Give the operator the USDOT number and state your emergency.

--If you are not at a crossing, call 911 and explain where you are located by nearby streets or landmarks.


To download the OL “Rail Safety for ATV Riders” flyer for distribution to your group, go to this web site: .



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Design Concept For Iowa’s Oldest OHV Park Well Received By Stakeholders
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Last in a series. Across the country, there are off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail systems that started out as user trails. Many have since been redesigned into safer, more economically and environmentally sustainable trail systems, that also provide a great rider experience. This article series presents a step-by-step look at the redevelopment of an OHV Park in Iowa that is 23 years old, showing its age, but filled with potential to be one of today’s “Great Trails” destinations.


The Bluff Creek OHV Park Development Plan. It’s a year-long project that brought stakeholders together, inventoried trails and facilities, surveyed riders for their input, and resulted in a detailed, conceptual design for the Bluff Creek OHV Park, that includes:

-New riding opportunities for ATVs and Side-by-Sides (defined as ORVs in Iowa).

-A new safety training and practice area.

-Designated open play areas.

-True single-track motorcycle trails.

-Improvements to the parking area and campground.

-A new hiking trail to scenic overlook.


The Bluff Creek OHV Park is built on an abandoned coal mine in southern Iowa. It is 350 acres of winding trails, steep hills, three motocross tracks, a no-frills campground and the “gravity cavity,” a deep pit with uphill climbs in every direction. 


As reported in this article series (see June, July and October, 2017 NOHVCC Newsletters), Park Managers Dale Witzenburg and Randy Van Maaren partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to take a step-by-step approach to transform what is primarily a day-use trail system into a regional destination where riders will camp and ride for extended periods. The Iowa DNR team, lead by Rhonda Fowler, OHV and Snowmobile Program Coordinator, hired Colorado-based Great Outdoors Consultants (GOC) and NOHVCC to create a detailed Park Development Plan.


In early May, GOC and NOHVCC did a 3-day inventory and analysis of Bluff Creek, its trails, picnic grounds, showers, restrooms and campground. Using GPS units and GPS-enabled digital cameras, it inventoried 19.4 miles of trails and took 323 geotagged photographs. 


In August, GOC presented two concept maps to park managers and the DNR. Both concepts recommended opening up the park to Side-by-Side vehicles up to 65 inches in width, which the stakeholders agreed would be a good addition. Out on the site, the group made its decisions on locations for new features being proposed.


On January 20, 2018, GOC presented its completed concept plan at the annual meeting of the Iowa OHV Association. “With a few minor changes, the DNR and park managers were pleased with the report,” said David Chester, GOC project manager. His powerpoint presentation showed the group of 30 attendees the design plan goals, process and schedule, initial park inventory, results of a DNR survey of park users, and the features of the final concept plan. In addition to the list above, new features include kiosks with park maps and rules, color zones for improved navigation and emergency response, perimeter fencing of motocross tracks to prevent cross traffic, and width restricting gates at track entry points.


At the meeting, club leaders who manage some of Iowa’s 8 OHV parks were able to see the process and work that went into the Bluff Creek project, and the importance of hiring professional trail designers. “It’s extremely valuable to have that outside input,” said Dan Kleen, former president of the Association, and president of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). “Their experience on projects around the country, their trail inventory techniques, and the rider survey were all very helpful. The new campground design is a great example. You have to know how to lay out a campground that accommodates people towing toy haulers behind their RVs.”


The next steps in the redevelopment of Bluff Creek include additional planning by the Iowa DNR to come up with cost estimates, applying for RTP grants and prioritizing the improvements and additions over the coming years.


Additional recommendations in the design concept plan focused on improving public access and communication through website and social media, smartphone digital maps for visitors, and establishing a volunteer program to support the recreation area. Bluff Creek OHV Park is open year-round, but is closed when weather or trail conditions do not permit riding. A current registration is required for Iowa residents, and a nonresident user permit is required for out-of-state riders. If registration is required in the nonresident home state, it must be displayed on the machine. For more information, visit:

The “Great Trails” guidebook referred to in this article series can be downloaded in separate pdf files, free of charge. Hard copies for your club or agency can be purchased for $30 each. To get started, go to



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Grave Digger!  Monster Mutt!  Honda!  Yamaha!  Wait...What?
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Thousands of teens and pre-teens go to Monster Jam to see “Grave Digger” and “Monster Mutt.”  This year, many of them are coming away from the big-truck event equally excited about “Honda,” “Yamaha,” and other off-highway vehicle (OHV) brands.


In a new initiative called RiDE, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) is reaching out to kids ages 6 to 16 at a dozen Monster Jam events, scheduled from January to June in six States. Right next to the afternoon “pit party” of Monster Trucks, kids are invited to suit up in riding gear and go on a short ride on dirt bikes and ATVs, with the help of professional coaches and instructors.


“We registered over 600 people at our first Monster Jam RiDE event in Anaheim,” said Tim Buche, MIC president and CEO. “That includes about 140 people that had their first ride ever on an ATV or dirt bike.”


For kids not quite ready to ride at RiDE, MIC also has moto photo booths where kids can sit on dirt bikes mounted on giant springs, getting a feel for what it’s like to move side-to-side and back-and-forth on a motorcycle. The bikes are set up in front of various Supercross backdrop images to create exciting social media photos. Smaller children can sample Strider Balance Bikes on a small paved course. And anyone can slip on a virtual reality headset while seated on a stationary dirt bike or ATV, experiencing a simulated trail ride.


RiDE participants are also encouraged to take the next step to becoming a real rider, and attend a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) DirtBike School or an ATV Safety Institute (ASI) course. “We also encourage everyone to go to the website,” said Buche. “That website helps kids and their parents figure out what kind of bike they might be interested in, and what they should do next.”


Buche believes the powersports industry will thrive and stay relevant, in part by focusing on the next generation of riders. “We’re excited about Monster Jam,” he said. “The whole idea here is giving them a hands-on experience. Or they can get their picture taken and share it with family and friends. Parents were sharing their experience on social media. So we’re able to influence tens of thousands of people through social networks. I imagine the school conversations the day after RiDE were very good.”


MIC previewed RiDE at the annual conference of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), held last October in New Hampshire. “We’re so proud to be affiliated with and offer support to NOHVCC,” said Buche. “The best source for new riders are current riders. The more riders we have, the more the trails are needed, and the more local politicians will look at local riding areas and say ‘We get it’. A lot of their constituents are out there enjoying the great outdoors on a motorcycle, ATV or ROV (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle, also called Side-by-Side). So to a degree, we all need to amp up a little to promote our sport and mode of transportation.”


Wanted: Volunteers To Help At Future RiDE Events

The MIC is asking for local-market volunteers to help staff future RiDE events. Volunteers will receive a commemorative RiDE T-shirt to wear during the event, a free ticket to Monster Jam at the event they staff, a small stipend and, most rewarding, the opportunity to engage with the next generation of enthusiasts. Volunteers can welcome families, work with parents to get kids geared up, or enjoy the photo display or virtual reality experience. Volunteers who are ASI Instructors, MSF DirtBike School Coaches or RiderCoaches can work with kids at the demo ride “tracks.”


2018 RiDE Events Schedule:

Feb. 3 – University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Feb. 10 – Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, Calif.

Feb. 17 – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.

Feb. 18 – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.

Feb. 24 – Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, Calif.

Feb. 25 – Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, Calif.

Mar. 23 – Sam Boyd Stadium, Monster Jam World Finals, Las Vegas

Mar. 24 – Sam Boyd Stadium, Monster Jam World Finals, Las Vegas

May 12 – MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

June 9 – Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

June 23 – Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.


RiDE is funded by MIC members BMW, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha. MIC is a national trade association supporting motorcyclists in the U.S. by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services. For more information, go to

Interested in volunteering at a future RiDE event? Click here for more details: RiDE Volunteer Sheet.

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Upcoming Events:

March 6-8, 2018- Arizona Great Trails Workshop
          - Arizona Great Trails Website
          - Please note the date change

August 14-18, 2018- NOHVCC and INOHVAA Annual Meeting
           - Grand Rapids, Michigan
           - Website page soon