“Sharing Trails” Event Is A Good Lesson For Students And Adults
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
What if every instructional course and safety training class in America, for every kind of outdoor recreation involving trails, included training on trail etiquette and sharing trails with others?
Okay, that may be a bit unrealistic.
What if there was a 2-day event for school children and the general public, where they could learn about trail etiquette and how to share trails, from local user groups and land managers? It’s happening in Montana.
Last spring, the Lewistown office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Judith Basin Back Country Horsemen (JBBCH), hosted “Sharing Trails.” It was held at the Fergus County Fairgrounds on April 19th and 20th, 2013. The Friday event was for students from schools in and around Lewistown. Saturday was open to the general public.
About 130 sixth-graders and their teachers attended on Friday. In small groups, they rotated from station to station, visiting with trail user groups and agencies, learning what each group was all about, how they used public trails, their equipment, and their responsibilities as trail users. Kids who rode motorcycles learned how they should act when they meet hikers and horse riders. Kids who backpack or ride horses learned what they should do to share the trail with ATV and mountain bike riders. Everyone learned about noxious weeds and how to prevent spreading them.
Groups with stations included: BLM, JBBCH, Little Belts Snowmobile Club, Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, Montana Wilderness Association, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Montana Search and Rescue, Fergus County Weed District, and Lewistown Honda.
A public-land station included representatives from the BLM-Lewistown and the Lewis & Clark National Forest, providing information on the importance of having a wide variety of opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation, land stewardship, and how to use a map and GPS.
“Their favorite stations were the GPS station and the weeds station,” said Kelly McGill, outdoor recreation planner with the BLM-Lewistown Field Office. “Every kid got to have a GPS in their hands, and they did a short scavenger hunt outside, so they got to see what coordinates are and how to get to the next point. It’s nice to have the hands-on experience and not just talking to them.” Judy Fossum, a teacher from Moore Public School and a JBBCH member, agreed. “Who knew that learning about noxious weeds could be so much fun! I was excited to be a part of the event,” she said.
One of the goals was to help students recognize that they are using trails on public land, said David Cunningham, public affairs officer with Lewis & Clark National Forest. “When we asked how many of them recreate on public land, they did not raise their hands. Then we named mountain ranges. We asked how many of you go to the Snowies, and half the hands went up. How many go to the Little Belt mountain range, half the hands go up. Well that’s National Forest. How many of you go to the Moccasins, well that’s BLM land. So they weren’t even realizing they were on public lands.”
That’s where the “motorized travel map” for the Little Belt Mountains came into play. Created by a partnership between the Lewis & Clark National Forest, the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, and the Great Falls Trail Bike Riders Association, it’s more user friendly than a U.S. Forest Service Motorized Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). Even 6th graders can understand it. It shows many multi-use trails, and includes information on OHV safety, navigation, parking and camping areas, sharing trails, riding in areas with cattle, invasive species and a section for young riders. The students were able to see various routes on the map where they had been with their families, and that in many places they were sharing trails. The students enjoyed using the map and GPS, Cunningham said. “There was some challenge to it and they got to work together. They saw there is a lot of opportunity to use public land and that they have a responsibility to get a map, pay attention to it and have basic skills on how to use it.”
Just as important as user groups sharing information with kids, was adults cooperating with each other, adds Cunningham. “Honestly, one of those stealth benefits that may be the most lasting, was you had this group of users and agencies all there collaborating and working together on a common cause. That was seen by a group of students; they saw people working together and collaborating.”
That’s what Sharing Trails is all about.
For a first go at the 2-day event, it went very well, with positive feedback, said McGill. “Everybody involved, including the teachers, came up to me and said this was a great idea, we’ll do it again next year.”
The BLM published a “Sharing Trails” pamphlet for the event, and has made it available to the public. It covers trail etiquette for motorized and non-motorized trail users, answering the question: “What if we meet on the trail?” To view and download the pamphlet for your club or organization, visit the BLM Lewistown Field Office recreation page at http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/lewistown_field_office/recreation.html.
COHVCO Sends Out An S.O.S. For Motorized Recreation
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
With millions of acres at risk of being closed to public access, motorized recreation in some states is in distress. What do you when you’re in distress? If you’re the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO), you send out an S.O.S.
Earlier this year, COHVCO released “S.O.S.: Save Our Sport.” It’s an awareness and fund-raising program featuring a colorful “S.O.S.” logo sticker, offered to riders who want to help protect their sport and preserve access, for just $25.
“We’re facing a lot of closures out here,” said Scott Jones, COHVCO board member and representative for the Colorado Snowmobile Association. “We used to have to battle just one resource (Travel Management) plan each year. In the last year, we’ve handled five, and there are two or three more coming. The main purpose of S.O.S. is to boost awareness of the issues we’re facing, and increase involvement. We’re trying to get more people aware of all these things that can close trails.”
The round, bright red sticker says “S.O.S. Save Our Sport,” and includes small silhouettes off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and a snowmobile, the COHVCO web address and the Colorado state flag. A promotional poster goes into greater detail, highlighting that OHV-use areas in Colorado face an additional 70% closure, and encouraging riders to become a “Friend of COHVCO” by buying an S.O.S. sticker when they purchase their state OHV sticker.
“It took off so well, it’s taken us by surprise,” said Jones. “We’ve had good response at the individual level and many dealers are also making donations. We tell everyone that their $25 matters. Right now it goes for operational expenses. COHVC is all about advocacy. We’re in three lawsuits, and always commenting and fighting wilderness (designations). We want to make sure people know we are winning, we are making a difference.” Jones is also on the board of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, serving as Public Lands Team Leader and Associate Partner for Colorado.
Jones credits Ben Janin, COHVCO Director At Large, for spearheading the effort, including working with a graphic designer to create the colorful poster and sticker, which is now available on caps, T-shirts and polo shirts that are part of the fund-raising effort.
S.O.S. is off to a great start, reports Jerry Abboud, COHVCO executive director. “In 3 months, we’ve sold $12,000 worth of stickers,” he said. “This is a really good idea. And the sticker really catches your eye. It appeals to a broad spectrum of people, crossing all the age lines.” COHVCO is considering broadening the S.O.S. program to include an annual sticker worth collecting, with a different color or design each year.
COHVCO was formed in 1987 by a group of leaders from the 4WD, motorcycle, snowmobile and ATV communities. It works to promote legislation and regulation favorable toward OHV recreation. It has established relationships with federal and state legislators and land managers to enhance OHV opportunities, and works closely with local clubs, state and national OHV organizations, as well as other trail and recreational coalitions to promote OHV opportunities and responsible use of public land. For more information on COHVCO, make a donation and receive your S.O.S. sticker, visit www.cohvco.org.
Minnesota Non-Profit Receives National Award For School Messaging Program on Motorized Trails Safety
by Karen Umphress, NOHVCC IT and Project Manager
The Coalition of Recreational Trail Users (CRTU) has received a national award for a new safety message program directed toward school-age children riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and snowmobiles. The award for Education and Communication was given by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), a national organization dedicated to raising the awareness of the value of the Recreational Trails Program, in Washington, D.C., on June 4, 2013.
The award was for a school messaging program that put OHV and snowmobile safety training messages into local schools. The messages were posted in 12 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, and 5 high schools in the Becker, Forest Lake, Holdingford, North Branch and St Francis School Districts in Minnesota. The messages featured the Adventure Trail Poster series of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) for the elementary schools, safety training messages for the middle schools, and a message about protecting riding areas by staying on the designated trails for the high schools.
The large 5 ft. by 5 ft. posters were in the schools for the months of May and June in 2012. Over 20,000 kids had the opportunity to view the posters on a daily basis. School administrators and teachers reported that they were happy with the posters because they promoted safe and responsible OHV use, and that the kids liked the posters because the images were cool and they could relate to the messages.
Funding for the project was provided by a Minnesota Department of Recreation Recreational Trail Program grant, plus five local clubs; 3 ATV clubs, 1 Off-Highway Motorcycle club (OHM), and 1 joint ATV/OHM club; contributing another $2,300. “This was a true partnership and a great project,” said Tom Umphress, Vice-President of CRTU. “Money came from the RTP and from local clubs, while the organization of the project was at a national level, and utilizing tools created at a national level. All the organizations working better to keep kids safe while riding OHVs and snowmobiles.”
This was a pilot project for NOHVCC to ensure the program would be successful. A number of Minnesota motorcycle, snowmobile and ATV clubs assisted with funding. The program was so successful, NOHVCC expanded their offering of posters — now available to schools across the country — to include the 4 Adventure Trail posters, 3 Training posters, and 10 Responsible Riding posters. For information about the project and to view all of the posters available, visit the NOHVCC website at: http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/schoolmedia/messagecategories.aspx.
Accepting the award for CRTU in Washington, D.C.,
were Karen and Tom Umphress, Board members
of CRTU; (above middle) with Derek Crandall, CRT
Co-Chair; Gloria Shepherd, FHWA Associate
Administrator for Planning, Environment and Realty;
and Marianne Fowler, CRT Co-Chair
About CRTU: The Coalition of Recreational Trail Users is a 501(c)(3) educational foundation made up of directors from each of the four motorized state associations: Amateur Riders Motorcycle Association (ARMCA), All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association (MN4WDA), and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MNUSA). The coalition also has an safety education trailer which travels over 3,000 miles per year, attending over 15 events, with a reach of over 300,000 people annually. For more information, see their website at www.rectrailusers.org; or the website of any of the state association which participate: www.armca.org; www.atvam.org; www.mn4wda.com; or www.mnsnowmobiler.org.
About RTP: The Recreational Trails Program is a trails program administered by the Federal Highway Administration in which a portion of the funds collected by the federal government for use in Off-Highway Vehicles is distributed back to the States for use on trails. The money at the state level is distributed at 30% for motorized trails, 30% for non-motorized trails, and 40% for multi-use trails. More information about the program, the CRT, and the awards can be found at: http://www.americantrails.org/awards/CRT13awards/index.html.
Editor’s Note: The banners created and developed for this program are in a large file format and can be used in applications other than in schools. To see all of the banners, go to: http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/schoolmedia/messagecategories.aspx. Send us a note to email@example.com if you wish to get the banner files.
Across New Hampshire, Businesses Are Tying In To “Ride The Wilds”
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
“Ride The Wilds is open for business!”
That’s how one newspaper reported the grand opening of “Ride The Wilds,” a 1,000-mile interconnected ATV trail system in northern New Hampshire. According to the state’s main person in charge of off-road vehicle (OHV) trails, the key words are “for business.”
Chris Gamache, chief supervisor of the NH Bureau of Trails, can’t keep up with all the requests from towns that want to be connected to the trail system in Coos County. “The support and requests to open up as quickly as possible are actually inundating us. Local communities and municipalities have come out in favor of this trail. Every town wants to be tied in with the four-wheelers.”
The reasons communities want to be connected to Ride The Wilds are similar to those in other states, says Gamache. Town leaders are struggling with tight budgets. Businesses are reporting seeing fewer people coming into town who are hunting or fishing. At the same time, they are discovering that families that ride OHVs need food, fuel and lodging. In New Hampshire, they represent an influx of tourism dollars similar to what businesses now receive from families using New Hampshire’s extensive snowmobile trail system.
Statewide, New Hampshire has more than 1,200 miles of ATV trails. Connecting trail systems has been discussed within the Bureau of Trails for a decade. “We’re like a lot of states, we have OHV riding areas in pockets, 100 to 150 mile trails in an area but with no way to get in or out. Ride The Wilds connects all those riding areas together,” Gamache said. That includes Jericho Mountain State Park, about 7,500 acres purchased in 2006 for the purpose of developing OHV trails that access scenic overlooks and provide recreational opportunities including swimming, fishing and camping.
This did not happen overnight. Over a dozen OHV clubs
Governor Maggie Hassan officially opens
“Ride The Wilds” at the June 15th ceremony,
with Harry Brown, president of the 16-club
North Country OHRV Coalition
worked with the state agency for years, holding many meetings with chambers of commerce, community leaders and business owners. As interest grew, towns started adopting ordinances allowing ATVs on their streets to give riders access to restaurants, motels and gas stations. Legislators liked the potential the interconnected trail system offered to create new jobs and new tax revenue from visitors. Some legislators rode on the trail systems, helping build consensus at the Legislature to pass bills that raised the maximum width of side-by-sides allowed on state trails from 50 to 62 inches, and to allow ATVs and side-by-sides on some state highways with speed limits of 30 to 40 mph, where necessary to serve as connectors, if approved by the state patrol and Department of Transportation.
Harry Brown, president of the 16-club North Country OHRV Coalition, was instrumental in creating Ride The Wilds. “He was a huge catalyst in getting it done this year, and really getting it moving forward with the Legislature and taking a lot of folks up there, especially people from the chambers and businesses, and getting them on board,” said Gamache.
“Ride the Wilds is more than a trail system; it is an economic engine which will drive business to local shops, restaurants, and properties,” said Brown at the opening ceremony. “Connecting the trails will help bring ATV riders from around the region and the Northeast into many North Country communities such as Gorham, Berlin, Errol, Pittsburg, Stewartstown, Colebrook, Stratford, Groveton, and Lancaster.”
Today, about 800 miles of trails are interconnected, with more connections being made this year. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held June 15, 2013, at Coleman State Park. Over 300 people attended, including New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and many state and U.S. Legislators.
“The work is just beginning” said Gamache. “It was a lot of work to get it open, but nothing in comparison to what it’s going to take to keep it open.” In the meantime, he estimates the new trail system and all that goes with it will bring about $394 million annually to the state of New Hampshire. And with the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, Ride The Wilds is open for business!
13th Annual COHVCO Workshop Focused On Building Partnerships And Economic Development
by Jack Terrell, NOHVCC Senior Project Manager
The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) conducted its 13th annual OHV Recreation Workshop in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch on June 27-29, 2013. The event, supported by a grant from Colorado Parks & Wildlife and produced in conjunction with NOHVCC, is the longest running statewide OHV recreation workshop series in the United States.
Approximately 100 elected officials from county and city governments, tourism officials, local business community leaders, state and federal land managers, recreation planners, resource managers, law enforcement officers, and OHV enthusiasts participated in the workshop.
The theme of the workshop was “Colorado Communities – Partners in a Positive Future for Motorized Recreation.” It was developed to focus on building partnerships to bring economic benefits to rural communities. Panel discussion topics included:
- Engaging local communities as partners in off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation
- Economic benefits of OHV recreation to local communities
- Meeting the challenges of all forms of recreation in urban interface areas
- Balancing the need for wildlife habitat and recreation on public lands
Colorado Senator Al White, Director of the Colorado Tourism Office, provided the keynote address, titled “Recreation Benefits to the Economies of Colorado Communities.” Attendees also were treated to a first-hand account of the creation and economic impact of Utah’s Paiute OHV Trail, by Max Reid, recognized as the “father” of that trail system. After the session, Max noted that “Colorado and COHVCO have some exciting things happening. It is exciting to meet a group who have such a passion for providing fun, safe, environmentally compatible riding opportunities in Colorado.”
Katelin Cook, Executive Director of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, commented: “It is great to see so many people working together toward the same goal of keeping outdoor recreation options open and working in a positive manner to sustain the economies of local communities.” Bill Alspach, Public Works Director, City of Woodland Park said: “It provided a timely discussion and dialogue of the often-overlooked economic contributions and benefits of OHV recreation in Colorado.” Mike Bordogna, Lake County Commissioner, added: “I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from experts around the state and region how they are planning to provide OHV recreation opportunities.”
On Saturday afternoon, attendees travelled to the nearby Rampart Range OHV Trailhead for a tour of various OHV trails and facilities. Scott Dollus, with the U.S. Forest Service, hosted the tour and commented: “It was a pleasure to provide on-the-ground examples of what we are doing to maintain and improve OHV trails on the Ranger District which is a popular riding destination for Denver area residents and visitors.” The tour included an opportunity to observe a demonstration of the new Sutter 300 Mini-Trail Dozer™ that has been designed to construct new single-track trails.
This year, COHVCO departed from the format of the previous 12 workshops, which featured trail design and construction, travel management and volunteer development. Based on the comments received from attendees, the new focus on partnerships and economic development succeeded in generating a great deal of interest on the part of local communities.
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.
Annual NOHVCC and INOHVAA conference to be held in Orlando, FL in October 12 – 17, 2013. The conference will be held at the Embassy Suites – Orlando, International Dr. Registration is now open and closes on Sept 24th. This year’s schedule has been flipped so make sure you read the registration pack prior to registering or making travel arrangements. See the conference page for more details and registration links.
Joe O’Malley writes to NOHVCC from Eagle County, CO:
Fellow Riders, I need your help! Congressman Jared Polis is running a photo contest until 7/31. He will use the photo with the most likes as his cover photo and also hang a copy in his …D.C. office. Let’s bring some awareness to our Congress! CLICK THE LINK, THEN, like the photo, it’s that easy! Thanks in advance!
The Town of Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation is presenting a Universal Design for Water Access workshop September 10-11, 2013. Here is a link for more details: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e7i0thhb9a00df1d&llr=bmfhuxcab.
There will be a Sustainable Trails for All Conference – With Trail Accessibility Guidelines held on September 24-25, 2013 at Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield, NH. To get more information, go to: http://www.cmf.org/sustainabletrails.