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NOHVCC Newsletter- November 2017 Edition

In this Issue:

  • A Message from the Executive Director
  • Trail Management Objectives (TMO's)
  • Youth Outdoor Activity Day
  • Great Trails Guidebook is Changing Attitudes


From the Executive Director- Support The Recreational Trails Program
By Duane Taylor, Executive Director NOHVCC

Duane TaylorThis is my first article submission to the NOHVCC newsletter, but it will not be the last.  There are many exciting things happening in the NOHVCC world and I hope to keep you updated on the progress and successes as well as the hurdles and issues that lie before us as a community.  Expect a year-end recap in next month’s newsletter, and as we move forward expect increased direct communication from me as well as from NOHVCC’s hard-working staff.   OHV enthusiasts continue to face barriers, threats to access, and misguided perceptions from the non-OHV public, but we are also making strides in the right direction.  Thanks in large part to the efforts of many of you we are advancing NOHVCC’s mission of furthering a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.  We hope to use this space to keep you informed of how NOHVCC is achieving that mission.

Sign Your Club/Association/Agency Up To Support RTP Moving Forward

Click Here To Sign Up To Support RTP!

The importance of the Recreational Trails Program cannot be overstated.  It is likely the most important government program for OHV recreation.  As such, I find it fitting for my first use of this space to highlight an opportunity for you to support the RTP.

For any who may not be aware of the RTP, it is a grant program administered by the Federal Highway Administration. The program embodies the user-pay, user-benefit philosophy by utilizing a portion of funds generated by motorized vehicle users who pay the gas tax on any fuel they purchase for use in their off-highway vehicles to provide grants to fund trail building, maintenance and other trail-related projects.  For more information click here.

Most of you will be aware that the RTP is authorized by transportation legislation that is considered from time to time by the U.S. Congress.  In recent memory, RTP faced elimination through this process, but with the help of many of you and other trail-related interests RTP has survived and has steady champions and growing support in Congress. 

This doesn’t mean it is time to relax.  Instead, the RTP-focused Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) is actively advocating for not only continuing, but also growing the program.  (For more information on CRT click here.) I serve as the motorized vice-chair of CRT, and remain actively involved in creating its agenda and priorities.

CRT has created a council of organizations that support the continuation and expansion of the Recreational Trails Program in upcoming authorizations of the national surface transportation program. By joining the Council, the Advisors agree to sign on to letters supporting RTP to Members of Congress, the Administration or to relevant State Governors and/or legislators. In addition, Advisors are asked to recruit other RTP supporters and to help in a variety of ways.  A geographically and philosophically diverse group of supporters can only help as CRT advocates for RTP on Capitol Hill.  For the sign up form click here

It is important to note that CRT is looking for organizations to sign on – not individuals.  If you have the authority to sign your club up, please do.  If not, please raise this issue with the appropriate people in your organization and urge them to sign on.

If this all seems familiar to you, CRT first created the Council of Advisors several years ago, but is concerned the list is out of date.  As a result, it is necessary for everyone eligible to fill out the new sign on form.  CRT is starting with a clean slate. Please lend your support to RTP by downloading the sign on form here.

Thank you – and you will be hearing from me again soon.


Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) Turn Good Rides Into “Great Trails”
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributor

 

A Midwest ATV club maintains one of the region’s largest off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail systems. Its many miles of both easy Forest Roads and rocky, winding technical trails attract riders from many States and several Provinces. 

Recently, some riders mentioned to the club that they didn’t like taking their ATVs and Side-by-Sides down a rocky, technical section of trail and wished it was smoother and easier. The trail manager got in his excavator and removed the small boulders on that stretch, essentially changing the difficulty level from “more difficult” to “easy.”

Other riders, who like the challenge of rocky trails, complained.

It was a bad situation, creating conflict and confusion between the club and user groups. Unfortunately, that club and others in the State have no official Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) to refer to. No printed guidelines on how to manage the trails and maintain them for the difficulty level for which they were designed.

 TMOs are the thread that sustains Great Trails

The “Great Trail Continuum” -- the interdependent and ongoing components of a successful trail project -- includes Planning, Design, Implementation & Construction, Maintenance, and Management. “TMOs are the thread that weaves the continuum together,” writes Dick Dufourd, in the NOHVCC guidebook titled “Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences.” From Dufourd’s introduction to TMOs, on page 23:

“The designer must know the intended user, the intended difficulty level, and how the trail will be constructed. Construction personnel must know the user and the difficulty so that technical features like rocks, logs, and roots can be left or removed. Maintenance personnel must understand the use, the desired experience, and difficulty in order to properly maintain the trail (so they know to cut out a log or keep a technical feature). Whoever is inspecting the trail needs to understand the resource values and determine if they are becoming impacted. Those people also need to determine if the trail is still providing the desired experience or difficulty level and ascertain if maintenance, reconstruction, or relocation is warranted.”

TMOs are more than verbal directions

TMOs involve more than difficulty level. And they must be more than verbal directions; they must be part of a written document, describing the use and management of a trail, and outlining the following:

-The primary uses and vehicle types

-Other allowable uses

-The desired recreation experience: transportation road, recreation road, trail, loop trail, destination trail

-The intended difficulty level (This may change once the trail is finally located on the ground)

-Design guidelines including clearing width, tread width, and grades

-How the trail will be constructed: machine or hand-built

-Maintenance frequency and methods

-Trail management such as open all year, seasonally closed for wildlife, closed during wet season

-Frequency of trail inspection and assessment

-Any specific resource concerns or issues associated with the trail including grazing allotment, wildlife, cultural sites, sensitive plant sites, water quality, and nearby residents

Documented TMOs also provide a level of continuity of maintenance, when those who manage or maintain the trail pass their job on to the next person. “You need to record it and report it,” said Jack Terrell, NOHVCC Senior Project Manager, at a NOHVCC Great Trails Workshop. “And why we say that is, if it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen. If you’re constantly doing maintenance on a particular location, that fact needs to be documented, because maybe what you’re doing isn’t the most efficient or the most economical. You need to look at it and decide if you should be changing the trail as opposed to maintaining the trail. That’s why it’s important to keep a record of the maintenance work you’ve done.”

A lack of TMOs also creates confusion in States with Trail Ambassador programs. They visit with riders, answering questions about OHV rules and regulations. They also monitor the trails, photographing and GPSing any hazards they discover, such as clogged culverts or downed trees, and report them to their State DNR. But without TMOs, Trail Ambassadors are free to clear trails of small branches or logs, creating a smooth trail surface, or leave them as an obstacle for everyone to ride over, enhancing the fun factor and their riding skills.

Said one OHV Program Manager at a Great Trails Workshop: “TMOs provide a clear understanding between the sponsors, the DNR and the enthusiasts about what is the level and degree of how the trails should be on the ground.”

There is much more to learn about TMOs, as they cut across almost all topics related to designing, building and maintaining OHV trail systems, in order to meet rider needs, have a high fun factor, and a high level of resource protection. TMOs are discussed throughout the “Great Trails” guidebook. You can purchase a copy of the 350-page, fully illustrated book for $30, or download the book in separate pdf files, free of charge. To get started, go to http://gt.nohvcc.org .

 

 

Youth Outdoor Activity Day Reaches Out To Thousands Of Minnesota Families
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributor

Imagine 2,200 kids, all with big smiles on their faces, as they are given the chance to try over 30 outdoor activities for the first time. Including sitting on a youth dirt bike, ATV and snowmobile, putting on a helmet and hopping up on an ATV simulator, and going for a short ride with mom and dad in a Side-by-Side.

Introducing kids to the wide array of motorized and non-motorized recreational pursuits in the great outdoors, in a family-friendly environment, is the whole idea behind Youth Outdoor Activity Day. Held in late August in Alexandria, Minnesota, the annual event is hosted and organized by two local non-profit conservation organizations: Viking Sportsmen, Inc., and the Douglas County chapter of Pheasants Forever. This year’s event attracted four times the number of youths who attended when it was first held in 2014. Over 300 volunteers participate in the one-day event, which takes place at the Alexandria Shooting Park. 

With their parents and grandparents, youths of all ages eagerly walk from station to station, choosing from over 30 activities to learn about and experience: archery, fishing, dog training, rock climbing, bird house building, trap shooting, fire building and geocaching, to name a few. Many of the activities are instructed by volunteers with local chapters of national outdoor organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. This year, 1,400 kids received free fishing rods and reels. Many adults also pulled back on a bow, or shot a rifle or shotgun for the first time.

At one point on the grounds, motorized recreation is the focus. In rural Minnesota, many families own and operate ATVs, Side-by-Sides and dirt bikes on their farms and private property. A dozen members of the Runestone Off-road ATV Riders (ROAR) -- the local ATV club -- gave families rides as passengers on 10 Side-by-Sides, provided by local powersports dealers. The course built by the club in an adjacent field had bumps, turns and, thanks to overnight rains, good-sized puddles. For many families, it was their first off-road riding experience. This year, the club’s DNR-certified ATV Instructors also put 140 young riders on an ATV Simulator, provided by the Minnesota DNR, complete with a short lesson to the kids and their parents, on riding safely and responsibly.

Next to the ROAR booth was the safety education trailer of the Coalition of Recreational Trail Users (CRTU), representing Minnesota’s four motorized state associations (ATVAM, ARMCA, MNUSA and MN4WDA). Hundreds of youths got a chance to sit on a youth-sized ATV, dirt bike, snowmobile and Jeep, while their parents talked to experienced riders and trail advocates about the state’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) rules, regulations, safety training classes and trail systems. 

“We signed up a lot of kids for our club’s ATV Safety Training Class,” said Ray Bruggman, ROAR president. “And when we ask them if they want to go for  a ride, well, the smiles are priceless.”

To learn more about Alexandria’sYouth Outdoor Activity Day, visit:  http://youthoutdooractivityday.org/. For information on CRTU of MN, go to: http://www.rectrailusers.org/.



 

‘Great Trails’ Guidebook Is Changing Attitudes, Moving Trail Projects Forward
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributor

 

It’s been 2 years since the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) released its new guidebook titled ‘Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences’. Today, it is the ultimate resource for OHV organizations, as well as OHV program managers and land managers at state and federal agencies. It is helping folks at all levels of motorized recreation to move the NOHVCC mission forward. In addition to verbal feedback on the 350-page resource, we occasionally receive email notes. This one from Bryan Much, NOHVCC Associate State Partner in Wisconsin, reports on how he is using ‘Great Trails’ to educate club members new to trail building.  

Hello NOHVCC!

I wanted to share some feedback about the new ‘Great Trails’ book. Not long after the book was released, I started working with a new club to get a trail project started. Some people started making comments about doing “a little cutting and we could be riding in a couple of months.” I explained to them that the days of simply riding in a trail without much planning and poor construction are long gone.

Over the past year, I’ve been working to help them understand that the trail has to be sustainably constructed, with the best practices, or we will not likely get another shot at additional trail projects around the State. This is largely because we have an old trail in one county that is in pretty bad shape. Unfortunately, people are pointing to it as the likely outcome of a trail project. I point out to them that we do things differently now.

I asked people involved in the trail project to buy the ‘Great Trails’ book, to learn more about trail design and construction techniques. They’ve been reading and slowly coming to adopt its principles. 

One day, I was working with them on developing the project. As they worked in small groups doing a practical exercise with acetate overlays, I overheard some encouraging conversations that indicated they had internalized much of what I had been trying to get them to buy into.

They had a meeting today to work on some things, without me being there, and the report I got is that they now “get it.”  They realize the project may take 3 years to complete, and they are committed to doing it properly. It was encouraging to hear that the conversations weren’t just to go along with me (since I wasn’t there), but were their own beliefs. It made me smile.

They are passing the books around and really working on developing their understanding. I have formal trail-training scheduled for some of the members. In that training, they will also learn about Wisconsin water regulations, dealing with oak wilt, and other important add-ons to a trail course.

Upon my recommendation, the county land manager also purchased the book, and will be part of our trail training class. The book showed him that we can build a proper trail, with little risk to their forestry certification program. Clearly, the Great Trails book is a valuable resource, with up-to-date information and illustrations that help to develop understanding. It would have been very difficult to change some attitudes without this reference.

‘Great Trails’ will have a far-ranging impact in Wisconsin over time. We want this trail to be a showcase for other projects we might go after. The project is now approved and the first phase of construction is underway. Without the book, I’m not sure we could have gotten things on the right track.

I just wanted to let you know, with this as an example, that products like this really make a big difference in the field. Please pass the word to those involved in this great resource.

Regards,

Bryan Much, Wisconsin

Thanks for that report, Bryan. It’s great to hear that ‘Great Trails’ is having a big impact at the grassroots level. Bryan Much is president of the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (WOHMA) and is a NOHVCC Associate State Partner. In 2016, he was presented with the NOHVCC Partner of the Year Award for his strong OHV advocacy in Wisconsin. He championed the State’s new off-highway motorcycle (OHM) sticker program, allowing motorcyclists to generate funds in order to build and sustain OHM trails. 

 

Four years in the making, ‘Great Trails’ was written by one of the industry’s most-respected experts, Dick Dufourd of RecConnect, with assistance from 20 more OHV experts from around the country. The guidebook was funded by 30 OHV agencies and organizations. You can download the book in separate pdf files, free of charge, or purchase hard copies for your club or agency for $30 each. To get started, go to http://gt.nohvcc.org.

Upcoming Events:

November 13-20th, 2017- Nevada BLM Listening Sessions.... more info
August 14-20th, 2018- NOHVCC Annual Meeting, Grand Rapids, Michigan







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