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NOHVCC Newsletter- October 2017 Edition

 In this Issue:

  • Concept Maps Help Iowa OHV Park Take Next Step In Redesign
  • Pennsylvania Testing Use Of Wider OHVs On State Trails
  • Washington Jeep Club Is Small In Numbers, Big In Giving Back To The Community
  • BLM Creating Website Showcasing Top 34 OHV Riding Areas


Concept Maps Help Iowa OHV Park Take Next Step in Redesign
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Third 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.


“Great Trails don’t just happen. They are created, managed and maintained through vision, passion, and sound engineering.” -Dick Dufourd, “Great Trails” guidebook published by NOHVCC.*

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 rutted, uphill climbs in every direction. 

As reported in Parts 1 and 2 of this series (see June and July NOHVCC Newsletters), Park Managers Dale Witzenburg and Randy Van Maaren have 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 Management Solutions (Ron Potter) 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. Drew Stoll, GOC Executive Director, then processed and cleaned up all the data collected, and ran the photos through software to make sure they are properly geo-referenced. 

In August, GOC presented its concept maps to park managers and the DNR. “I went over two different concepts,” said David Chester, GOC Project Manager for Bluff Creek. “After we went through the maps, and had an idea on where features would work the best, we went out in the field and verified that there was enough space.”

Both map concepts included opening up the park to side-by-side vehicles (defined as ORVs in Iowa) up to 65 inches in width. The park managers and DNR were receptive to allowing access to ORVs and preferred Concept B, which could open certain trails to them. Park managers also identified additional trails and areas that would be suitable for ORV use.

Out on the site, the group made its decisions on locations for new features being proposed, including:

-A Safety Training Area and Beginner Trail.

-An ORV Practice Area.

-Additional trails that would accommodate ORVs up to 65” wide.

-Safety improvements to the “Gravity Cavity” motocross track, including signing it as an area for advanced dirt bike riders, fencing its perimeter to prevent cross traffic, lowering jumps and improving sight lines over obstacles.

-Identifying scenic areas around the park where interpretive and historical panels can be placed, detailing the geography and mining history of Bluff Creek OHV Park.

“The meeting and site visit were very productive,” reports Chester. “It helped narrow the two concepts into one concept, with on-site verification where new features could be located.”

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:

Next in the series: GOC presents its final draft of a conceptual design for the OHV Park, its trails and facilities.

*The “Great Trails” guidebook 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


Pennsylvania Testing Use of Wider OHVs On State Trails
By Dave Halsey, NOHCC Contributing Writer

It’s been 10 years since the industry’s first 50-inch wide recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) hit the showroom floors of dealerships. It, and others that followed, have greatly impacted the industry, as enthusiasts jumped at the chance to drive an OHV with two bucket seats and a steering wheel. 

Since then, ROVs (commonly called side-by-sides) have grown in both their popularity and their specs. They have gotten bigger, in width, length, weight and horsepower.

The rapidly growing numbers of side-by-sides have presented a challenge to OHV program managers and public land managers. Today, many National Forests and State Forests allow wider vehicles on their Forest Roads that are open to highway-legal vehicles. It’s a different story on OHV trail systems. Most National Forests still have a 50-inch maximum-width policy on OHV trails. And while many States now allow the wider vehicles on OHV trails, some are still struggling with how to accommodate the wider, heavier side-by-sides on public and private lands.  

Pennsylvania is one of those states. Its Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s (DCNR) recently announced a pilot program to increase the size of registered ATV’s permitted on two of its state forest trail systems. ATV riding is only permitted on designated trails in Pennsylvania state forests. State forest roads, state parks, and state game lands are not open to ATV riding.

“Beginning with the 2017 riding season, both the Whiskey Springs and Bloody Skillet ATV trail systems in Sproul State Forest will allow larger vehicles to ride on designated ATV trails,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “The Susquehannock ATV trail system will follow suit for the opening of the 2018 riding season. These three trail systems have the correct features to accommodate the larger ATVs, which is why they were selected for the pilot program. These larger machines have been steadily gaining popularity with the riding community.”

The pilot program on Sproul and Susquehannock ATV trail systems will permit operation of ATVs measuring up to 64 inches in width and weighing up to 1,800 lbs. The bureau will monitor the trail systems in those State forests to determine if use of the larger machines is sustainable in the long term.

Prior to the pilot program, nine of the bureau’s eleven ATV trails were open to machines in the Class II category, that is, not exceeding 58 inches in width and 1,200 lbs. The ATV trails in the Michaux and Tiadaghton State Forests are currently not open to Class II machines and restricted to Class I ATVs -- not exceeding 50 inches in width and no heavier than 1,200 lbs.

“DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry has historically provided ATV riding opportunities in locations that are environmentally suitable,” Dunn said. “To accommodate the growing number of ATV riders, eleven designated trails have been established in seven state forest districts -- Bald Eagle, Buchanan, Delaware, Michaux, Sproul, Susquehannock and Tiadaghton -- providing nearly 270 miles of trails for riders to enjoy.”


In addition to State forest trails systems, ATV riding enthusiasts can choose from a variety of private ATV parks across the state, as well as trails in the Allegheny National Forest.   

Some state ATV trails reopen for winter use in conjunction with the snowmobile season from the day following the last day of the regular or extended deer hunting season through April 1, conditions permitting. Riders are urged to check in advance with forest districts to be sure winter use is permitted. 

Detailed information on ATV riding in Pennsylvania’s state forests can be found at



Washington Jeep Club Is Small In Numbers, Big In Giving Back To The Community
By Dave Halsey, NOHCCC Contributing Writer

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs have big, generous hearts. Across the country, they give back to their communities in countless ways, and donate to charitable organizations at the local, regional and national level. And that’s on top of all the volunteer work they do to build and maintain fun, sustainable OHV trails for the riding public.

One of the most generous OHV clubs in America is also one of the smallest.  

The membership of the Spanaway Moonshiners Jeep Club, in Washington State, is made up of just 17 families. Yet each year, it donates over $30,000 to local organizations, much of it raised at the club’s annual 4 Wheel Drive & High Performance Swap Meet, held at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup.

“We’ve always had a small club, but we put on a very large swap meet, which gives us the dollars that let us do things for the community,” said Angie Marek, lifelong club member. “Our club started the swap meet 36 years ago with 30 vendors, and 150 people showed up. Now we have over 1,000 vendor stalls and 10,000 people show up to our one-day swap meet. The generosity of the people who attend allow us to give back to the community every year.”

When you join the Moonshiners, you know going in that you’ll be busy, on and off the OHV trails. Most of the club’s meeting agendas include benefit programs, with some donations made anonymously. “We do everything as a club,” said Marek. “When you commit to our club you make a commitment, we have pretty high expectations of our members.”

Established in 1971, the Spanaway Moonshiners also organizes trail runs, and holds a competitive 4WD race on Memorial Day weekend. It is a member of the Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association (PNW4WDA), established in 1960 and instrumental in building and maintaining trails throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho. 

In addition to the organizations it contributes to each year, the club comes up with new ideas on a regular basis. “Right now in Oregon and Washington, we have some horrible wildfires,” Marek said. “We had a meeting Friday night, and decided to make a fairly large donation to two fire districts, to support the firefighters and restock some of their supplies. Some of our members’ kids are part of the front line. That brings it close to home.”

Visit the club’s website and you’ll see an impressive list of groups the club donates to and partners with, including: Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and the Festival of Trees,

Tacoma Rescue Mission (for first day of school, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter), Northwest Harvest, Lakewood Policeman’s Guild, American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, and more.

“Ten years ago, we started doing Christmas baskets for the Rescue Mission. The school backpacks are the coolest thing we do for them, because every kid deserves to start school like everybody else.

"What I would tell people in other OHV clubs is that it’s important to give back. It’s not about the money. It’s about giving of yourself. There’s always something out there that people can get involved in. You just have to put yourself out there, and once you do you’ll find it’s really worth it.

“You can have a lot of members in your club, but if they aren’t active, it doesn’t help a whole lot.”

The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) presented Angie Marek with the 2017 Integrity Award at its annual conference, held in August in New Hampshire. In presenting the award, Marc Hildesheim, NOHVCC Project Manager, said, “Angie has served as an officer of her local, state and regional OHV organizations. She has always conducted herself as you would hope that an officer of your club would. Her interactions with other clubs and land management agencies has been open, honest and friendly. Angie is the same kind, caring person at a Jeep race that she is at a Travel Plan meeting.”

Marek is also the public relations and sponsorship chairman, and past president, of the PNW4WDA. To learn more about the Spanaway Moonshiners, go to . To learn more about the PNW4DWA, visit .



BLM Creating Website Showcasing Top 34 OHV Riding Areas
By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Looking for the best places to ride off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management? Soon you’ll be able to use your computer to plan your rides to popular BLM riding areas, and get all the information you need. The BLM is creating a website, complete with maps, photos and videos, of its top 34 OHV riding areas.

The new website will follow the template of a popular BLM website already in use, showing the top 20 mountain bike trails on BLM lands. They are part of an initiative called “Connecting with Communities,” designed to enhance partnerships between the federal agency and local communities, by promoting a wide range of recreational opportunities. 

The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) is playing a key role in the new website’s content. “It’s really cool because it features a lot of information for a single area,” said Marc Hildesheim, NOHVCC Project Manager. “With assistance from NOHVCC's partner network and local BLM Field Office staff, the BLM created a list of 34 of the best OHV recreation opportunities that it manages. From that list, the BLM is creating an interactive website that will include important information about the riding areas, including what you need to ride, maps, pictures and videos of trails and facilities, and points of interest. NOHVCC will be assisting with the collection of the pictures, videos and information for this website.”

Hildesheim is working with Brad Colin and Dennis Byrd, Outdoor Recreation Planners with the BLM. They made a presentation of the project at the joint conference of NOHVCC and the International Off-Highway Vehicle Administrators Association (INOHVAA), held last month in New Hampshire. It was titled “BLM’s Top Recreation Management Mapping Project.” To populate the new website with information, photos and videos, the team is working on materials that explain what information riders can collect and where to send it.  “We’re looking to provide photos and videos, plus what the laws are in that area, and the facilities there, to be prepared for day use or camping, such as availability of water and fuel. We hope to have a workable product by the end of the year.”

To see the mountain bike website, which the OHV website will mimic, go to: .




Calendar of Events:

            13-19th- Nevada BLM Listening Sessions- For more information visit our website.

August 2018:
th- Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
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