Friday, July 12, 2019

OPINION - OHV TURNOUT STEMS CLOSURE TIDE AT OCEANO DUNES

Packed Main Hearing Room
CA Coastal Commission Hearing, July 11, 2019

OPINION
By Don Amador
July 12, 2019  
  
Historic OHV Turnout Stems Closure Tide at Oceano Dunes  

A huge crowd of 850-1,000 OHV enthusiasts, related businesses, elected officials, and partners made access history yesterday at the Coastal Commission hearing held in San Luis Obispo, California where the long-term future of motorized recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA was hanging in the balance.  They packed the main hearing room and a number of overflow rooms.

CA State Park Director, Lisa Mangat, Talks About Need
for Coastal Commission to Allow PWP Process to Move Forward

The 8-2 vote to defer the Coastal Commission’s staff recommendations - so as to allow the California State Park Public Works Plan (PWP) public process for Oceano Dunes SVRA to play out - was also the result of State Parks taking a strong position against the Coastal Commission report and a lot of hard work by various parties before the hearing as highlighted in the LA Times article below:

LINK TO LA TIMES ARTICLE

It’s not often the Coastal Commission is forced to look affected citizens in the eye about how their closure proposals will devastate local businesses and communities where shop owners will be forced to close and lay-off staff and the newly unemployed will not be able to pay their mortgages or put food on the table.

San Luis Obispo County District 4 Supervisor, Lynn Compton
Speaks in Strong Support of Oceano Dunes SVRA 


The Coastal Commission was also confronted with the fact their staff did not consult with local government agencies that were also blindsided by the staff report.

Proud Duner Stands in Support of OHV Recreation


While the vote result was significant, the key element in the Coastal Commission decision was to direct staff to work with State Parks to create a collaborative stakeholder group that would include representatives from the Coastal Commission, CA OHV Commission, State Parks, local government, OHV groups, businesses, and conservation interests.  That venue would allow for more robust and meaningful discussions between the Coastal Commission and other members of the group.

Rugged Radio Shows Up to Defend Local Business

I don’t view the Coastal Commission decision as a major “OHV Victory” but rather an event that earned its place as a seminal moment on the land access timeline alongside other significant issues such as the S21/CA Desert Protection Act, Clinton/Gore Roadless Initiative, 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule, and the 2007-2017 fight to restructure and permanently reauthorize the CA OHV Program.

Coastal Commission Staff Continue to Front OHV "Dust Plume" Hoax


While OHV lives on to fight another day in the battle for Oceano Dunes SVRA, we have some immediate action items and those are:

Encourage OHV Stakeholders to Be Active in the PWP Process

Challenge False APCD/Coastal Commission OHV Generated “Dust Plume” Assertion

Challenge Stipulated Order of Abatement

Continue to Build OHV Political Force  

Be Prepared for Future Legal Challenge

The greater OHV community should be proud of what they accomplished at the hearing.  Your attendance and testimony made more of an impact than you can ever know.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend what will go down as a major milestone in OHV political history.

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Don Amador has almost 30 years in the field of land use management, policy, and politics.  Don writes on recreation and environmental issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  He may be reached via email at: Damador@cwo.com





Sunday, July 7, 2019

TAKE THE PLUNGE - U.S. Forest Service Seeking OHV Representatives to Service on Recreation Advisory Council


2010 R5 RRAC Site Visit to Campsite Armor Project
Inyo National Forest


According to a Forest Service news release, The United States Department of Agriculture’s Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service is seeking nominations to fill the eleven-member Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) in California.  Recreation RAC members provide recommendations to the Agency on recreation fee changes at national forest sites throughout the state of California. This includes making recreation fee program recommendations on implementing or eliminating standard amenity fees; expanded amenity fees; and noncommercial, individual special recreation permit fees; expanding or limiting the recreation fee program; and fee-level changes. Nominations are now being accepted through August 1, 2019.

LINK TO NEWS RELEASE

As a former member of the R5 RRAC (2009 - 2014), I urge those of you in an OHV leadership position - or if you are working to enhance your leadership skills - to consider applying for an appointment to the RRAC.  You have until August 1 to submit your application.

Inyo National Forest Supervisor, Jeff Marsolais, Gives Recreation Overview
to RRAC Members - Inyo National Forest


QWR has an axiom that “The quality of your local FS/BLM trail recreation program is or will be directly proportional to the quality of your engagement with agency staff and other users.”

Don Amador, QWR President and Former Member of the R5 RRAC, states, “The future of OHV depends on folks like you devoting some of your time to engaging with other land-use stakeholders in collaborative processes like the RRAC.   Opportunities like this can be a great learning experience and will help you develop your leadership skills.”


QWR has an axiom that “The quality of your local FS/BLM trail recreation program is or will be directly proportional to the quality of your engagement with agency staff and other users.”

Now is the time for you to consider making that long-term commitment to help ensure that you and your family/friends continue to have access to high quality trail-based recreational opportunities.  Fill out that application today!





Sunday, June 16, 2019

Important Role for Dirt-Bike Based Trail Crews in Post Wildfire Recovery

Dirt-Bike Based Post Wildfire Recovery Project of 50 Inch Trail
Mendocino National Forest - Grindstone Ranger District

One of the lessons QWR learned during the ongoing post wildfire recovery efforts of  three federal destination OHV areas devastated by the 2018 450,000+ acre Mendocino Complex Fire highlight the need for skilled dirt-bike based “strike teams” to perform important hazard mitigation tasks on the narrower 50-inch or single-track motorcycle trails.

Downed Trees on 50-Inch Trail
Mendocino National Forest - Grindstone Ranger District


While some BLM Field Offices, National Forests, and Ranger Districts have excellent trail crews or volunteers that can buck out downed trees or repair trail damage on routes used by larger OHVs such as SxSs or 4x4 vehicles, it appears that many units do not have the staff in-house with those advanced dirt-bike rider skills to deploy on narrow trail-based hazard mitigation projects.

Bucked Out Downed Trees on 50-Inch Trail
Mendocino National Forest - Grindstone Ranger District


As you know, intense wildfires can destroy important OHV management tools along narrow routes such as trail delineators and signs.  Debris flows and downed trees can also impact trail access and in many remote areas they are most effectively addressed by dirt-bike based post wildfire recovery trail crews or strike teams.

Bucking Out Single Track Motorcycle Trail
Mendocino National Forest - Grindstone Ranger District 


QWR believes that OHV recreation sites in California and the West will continue to face the likelihood of more intense wildfires over the next 10-20 years.  And, that creation of skilled agency and/or volunteer dirt-biked based strike teams will have an ever increasingly important role to play in delivery of timely and strategic post wildfire recovery efforts on narrow OHV trails that are largely inaccessible by larger vehicles.




Tuesday, June 4, 2019

POST MENDOCINO COMPLEX FIRE UPDATE - OHV Recreation Reopens on Federal Lands in Northern California

BLM and OHV Partners Reopen Cow Mountain OHV Area
June 3, 2019 - BLM Ukiah Field Office

The 2018 Mendocino Complex fire scorched over 400,000 acres of public lands managed by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.  The Mendocino Complex fire included the 30,000 acre River Fire that impacted BLM lands near Ukiah and the 410,000 acre Ranch Fire that burned mostly on federal and non-federal lands within the Mendocino National Forest boundary.

BLM Signs in over 30 Volunteers at Cow Mountain Work Party
 BLM Ukiah Field Office


It is the largest such wildfire complex in California history.  The wildfire also resulted in the closure of three federal OHV areas that are key destination recreation sites that provide casual trail use, motorized access to non-motorized activities, and permitted motorized events.


BLM OHV Program Lead, Ashley Poggio, Reopens Motorcycle Trail on June 3, 2019
Cow Mountain OHV Area - BLM Ukiah Field Office 

The closure of the BLM Cow Mountain OHV Area and the Forest Service OHV Areas on the Grindstone and Upper Lake Ranger Districts had a direct and significant economic impact on gateway communities, powersports dealerships, and related businesses.

Trail Crew Installs No-Dig Barriers on Dozer/Cat Line
Cow Mountain Volunteer Work Party - BLM Ukiah Field Office


The recreational access prohibitions within the burn footprint also had an indirect resource impact on other OHV areas as trail enthusiasts had to seek their outdoor experiences at federal recreation areas not burned in the 2018 wildfire season.

Understanding the aforementioned hardships the fire closures have had on stakeholders, the BLM and Forest Service have been working diligently to reopen campgrounds and the route network once the most serious post fire mitigation treatments were completed.

OHV Volunteers Install New Route Markers
Cow Mountain OHV Area - BLM Ukiah Field Office


In late 2018, the BLM Ukiah Field Office stated at several public meetings that their post fire reopening strategy was to get the Cow Mountain OHV Area reopened once a majority of the hazard trees were addressed and damaged trail and campground infrastructure was repaired.

Volunteer Trail Recon and Trail Clearing
Grindstone Ranger District - Mendocino National Forest

QWR believes that early communication and substantive engagement with volunteer partners was a critical element that led to the reopening of Cow Mountain on June 3, 2019.


Grindstone RD OHV Program Manager, Sarah Ridenour, doing Post Fire
Recovery of Trails in the Stonyford OHV Area - Mendocino National Forest

The Forest Service also made a similar commitment to restoring public access in a timely manner with an understanding the much larger size and scope the Ranch Fire had on the agency and its recreation facilities.

Don Amador is Member of Trail Clearing Crew on Trail 36
Grindstone Ranger District - Mendocino National Forest

Just as the BLM is honoring its pledge to reopen their unit to public use, the Mendocino National Forest is implementing their “phased” reopening strategy with today’s publication of Forest Order # 08-19-02.  The order reopens certain areas that have received post fire mitigation work by either agency staff, contractors, and recent/ongoing volunteer efforts.

LINK TO FOREST ORDER (with maps) # 08-19-02
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd637051.pdf

Here are the areas/routes reopened on the Mendocino NF

On the Grindstone Ranger District, the following campgrounds are open: Davis Flat,
North Fork, South Fork, Fouts, Mill Creek, Gray Pine Group, and Mine Camp. In
addition, the RV Dump Station, Nail Track OHV Play Area and Day Use, Little Stony
Day Use (all OHV trails and roads remain closed in the area) and Little Stony
Campground (all OHV trails and roads remain closed in the area) are open as well as
the following trails and roads:

Trail 85342 - loop out of Davis Flat Campground
Trail 85341 - north of County Road 43A (M10) - connector trail to campgrounds in Fouts
18N10 - leads to Mine Camp
17N64 - spur to South Fork Campground
17N47 - spur to Fouts Campground
17N60 - spur to RV Dump Station
18N03D - spur to Davis Flat Campground
18N03 - open to junction of 18N03A
18N03A - spur to North Fork Campground
18N08 and 18N08A (access roads to Happy Camp private property)
County Road 42 (Goat Mountain Road) to Little Stony Day use area
County Road 43A Fouts Springs Road open to M10 (Fouts Campground Complex)

The following are open on the Upper Lake Ranger District:
Middle Creek Campground Novice area
Forest Trail No. 60 Erickson Ridge 4x4
Forest Trail No. 61 Coyote Rock
Forest Trail No. 63 Browns Gulch
Forest Trail No. 65 Powder House 4x4 (north of M1)
Forest Trail No. 66 Refuge 4x4
Forest Trail No. 67 Rattlesnake 4x4
Forest Trail No. 69 Windy Point

Please remember that there is a seasonal closure, from May 18 to September 8, which
affects the following trails on the Upper Lake district:

Forest Trail No. 62 Oak Flat Access (also known as Forest Road No. 18N40)
Forest Trail No. 64 Powder House
Forest Trail No. 65 Powder House 4x4 (south of M1, also known as Forest Road No. 19N46)


QWR commends the OHV community and agency leads for exercising patience with, and lending support to, each other during the challenging post fire recovery and reopening process.   It speaks volumes to the substance and quality of a very dynamic private/public partnership that was made stronger by the flames of last year’s wildfire season.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

UPDATE - Efficacy of Lincoln Log No-Dig Trail Delineators

May 2019 Review of Lincoln Log Barriers Installed
in October 2018 - Post Carr Fire Recovery Update
BLM Chappie-Shasta OHV Area

Efficacy is the ability of achieving a goal or objective to produce the intended result.  In the case of post-wildfire recovery of recreation facilities those efforts often include travel management-related projects to reestablish delineation of designated routes, highlight a trail entrance, or protect natural or cultural resources.

Over the last 18 years, QWR has witnessed the increased frequency of reoccurring intense wildfires impacting popular federal recreation areas in the California and the West.

Lincoln Log Barriers Installed in Oct. 2018


Many land management agencies have historically relied on a post wildfire model to “buy and replace” milled timber barriers to meet desired travel management objectives. Often purchasing, constructing, and transporting a milled timber barrier with footings and rebar stakes to its destination at a remote trailhead or cultural site can exceed $100 to $150 dollars each.

While milled timber barriers or trail delineators may still be valid and necessary depending on desired management objectives, QWR believes our new and more frequent wildfire reality requires us to reevaluate the automatic response to purchase miles of costly milled timber barriers vs. increased use of “free” on-site dead or dying trees to construct “lincoln log” trail delineators.

Milled Timber Barriers Installed in Oct. 2018
BLM Chappie Shasta OHV Area


To review the effectiveness of lincoln log delineators to restrict OHV travel on routes impacted by dozer lines, QWR reviewed post-Carr Fire recovery efforts at the Chappie-Shasta OHV Area near Redding, California.

In October of 2018, OHV volunteers and BLM recreation staff installed both milled timber and non-dig lincoln log barriers/trail delineators on several dozer lines created during fire suppression efforts.

The “No Dig” Strike Team was directed to a dozer line that needed barriers installed. The team cut various lengths of dead trees on-site which were then laid into the v-notches of natural footings also cut on-site from fire damaged trees. 

This created a stable natural-looking no-dig barrier/delineator that highlighted the designated path of vehicle travel and/or the area that was protected. 

A recent field review in May 2019 showed those no-dig lincoln log barriers were meeting their management objective and were just as effective to date as the milled timber barriers.

May 2019 Review of Milled Timber Barriers that were
Installed in Oct. 2018 - BLM Chappie Shasta OHV Area


QWR believes that some credit to the effectiveness of both the no-dig and milled timber barriers can be attributed to ongoing travel management efforts by the Forest Service, BLM, and the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to encourage OHV travel on designated roads, trails, and areas.

Freshly Installed Lincoln Log Trail Delineators Installed
May 2019 at Post River Fire Recovery Project
BLM Cow Mountain OHV Area


While the 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule that directed all National Forests to designate roads, trails and areas for motorized use was at the time controversial, it appears that post-2005 travel management planning efforts and subsequent implementation strategies may be contributing to the user community’s willingness to stay on designated routes at popular OHV areas in the West that are at risk from intense wildfires.
  
Lincoln log barriers/delineators are just one of many post wildfire recovery travel management tools that may not be as effective in high use areas such as campgrounds and staging areas where milled timber or rock barriers are more appropriate.

However in more remote areas where OHV recreationists are simply passing through on a designated road or trail, the no dig delineator might prove to be a more cost-effective option.


  

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Agency Leads get Dirt Bike Training at Nor Cal OHV Area



Chris Lloyd (L), Archeologist, BLM Ukiah Field Office - Rebecca Wong (C), Manager,
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument - Paul Hart (R), MSF Dirt Bike Coach 

QWR wants to congratulate the federal land agency leads that completed official dirt bike motorcycle training at a recent trail workshop held at the BLM’s Chappie Shasta OHV Area near Redding, California on April 26, 2019.

Those graduates include Rebecca Wong, Manager of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, and Chris Lloyd, BLM Archeologist at the Ukiah Field Office.  The class was taught by Paul Hart, a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Dirt Bike Coach.  Hart is also the Trails Manager on the Yuba River Ranger District, Tahoe National Forest.

Paul Hart (L), MSF Dirt Bike Coach - Chris Lloyd (L), BLM 
Ukiah Field Office 


QWR believes it is important for agency line-officers, specialists, and recreation staff to learn how to ride OHVs so they can have 1st hand knowledge of how travel management is being implemented on their unit.

Due to decreasing federal funding for recreation and related training, QWR believes that non-government partners have an important role to play in helping provide access for agency staff to certified safety instruction for OHVs.

Don Amador, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, states, “A lot of our OHV trail opportunities are either designated as single-track motorcycle trails or ‘50-inch’ routes that are used by dirt-bikes, ATVs, and in some cases very narrow UTVs.”

“Due to decreased federal funding for recreation programs, it is important for OHV stakeholder groups to create educational opportunities for agency staff to get dirt-bike and other OHV-related training.  There are a lot of important travel management, resource protection, and post wildfire recovery planning efforts that deserve on-trail review by decision-makers and riding the appropriately sized OHV on those surveys is the best way to understand the issue,” Amador continues.

“QWR wants to thank Beta USA for their support of rider education with use of an Xtrainer and Paul Hart for his ongoing commitment to helping educate agency staff on how to ride a dirt-bike in a safe and responsible manner. QWR looks forward to our continued partnership with Hart and land agencies to provide dirt-bike classes at future events,” Amador concludes.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Core Tenets of Successful Competition Off-Road Motorcycle Events



Race 2 - Round 4 - AMA West Hare Scramble Championship
BLM Chappie Shasta OHV Area

Amateur off-road motorcycle competition organizations rely on collaboration with diverse partnerships and key stakeholders for a successful event.  One good example of that axiom was highlighted this past weekend at the Shasta Dam Grand Prix hosted by the Redding Dirt Riders (RDR).

Stewart Helmer (L), RDR Flag Pole Project Lead at Chappie Staging Area receives
 Proclamation from City of Shasta Lake Mayor, Greg Watkins (R)


QWR has created a list of five core tenets that form a solid foundation upon which a competition event is constructed.

BLM Law Enforcement at Event

First, it takes an active OHV club that is substantively engaged with the local land management agency.  Throughout the year RDR often donates time and materials to enhance OHV staging areas or maintain the trail network.  They also attend BLM meetings and have an open line of communication with the agency.

Sky Zaffarano, BLM OHV Lead, on Pre-Event Monitoring Recon


Second, engaging with local government leaders on important public land access and recreation planning efforts is critical.  Often, elected county and city officials rely on active OHV clubs for information and feedback on recreation opportunities within their jurisdiction or sphere of influence.  Those elected officials can then review or amend policies that enhance OHV recreation for their residents and visitors.

Shasta Lake Fire Department at Event

Local 1st responders are also an important part of that local government outreach since they can provide important first aid and rescue for a competition event.

Third, competition events can bring an economic benefit to rural businesses so it is important to communicate with them on event support opportunities for vendors, hotels, dealerships, stores, and other economic interests.

Local Food Vendors at Event

Fourth, robust communication between the local OHV club and larger sanctioning bodies makes for a smooth event that is both noticed and appreciated by the riders and spectators.


Racers Enjoying Event

Last but not least, creating an event that meets rider expectation and spectator need is what all of the aforementioned tenets are focused on and those elements include a quality trail network and camping/staging facility, support from local elected officials/1st responders, working with local economic interests, and substantive communication with the sanctioning body.  When those factors are combined they add up to seamless delivery of a stellar event.

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