Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Commitment to Collaboration and the Stakeholder Process is Future of OHV Recreation

Chad Roberts (L), Tuleyome, Mary Huffman (C), The Nature Conservancy
and Fire Learning Network, Don Amador (R) Quiet Warrior Racing/BRC

As many of you know, QWR is a strong supporter of the collaborative process as it relates to forest health and recreation planning efforts.  OHVers are now an important stakeholder in public land management decision-making.   That hasn’t always been the case!

According to the 2008 Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation in the United States and its Regions and States: An Update National Report from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) in 1960, when the first U.S. National Recreation Survey was done for the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, off-highway motorized recreation was not included as a recreational activity. There were, of course, many people who rode motorcycles on back country trails and used 4-wheel-drive vehicles (such as jeeps) to gain access to the back country, with and without roads. But there was no recognition of off-highway motorized recreation (then referred to as off-road driving) as a population-wide outdoor activity and the use levels were modest. However, OHV use is now recognized as one of the faster growing outdoor activities.

Earlier today, I was given the opportunity (as an OHV stakeholder) to give a presentation on  “Collaborative Engagement in Land Use Management to Meet Recreational Needs and Other Nontraditional Objectives” at the 43rd Natural Areas Conference at U.C. Davis, California.

There were 7 presentations as part of the Organized Session entitled- “Science and Collaborative Action: Addressing Climate Change, Disturbance, and Restoration in California’s Northern Coast Range and Beyond.”

The important role that collaboration plays or should play in modern land management planning (forest health/fuel/timber projects, private land forestry and conservation efforts, forest plan revisions, mobilizing local and elected official support for projects and legislative initiatives, forest collaboratives such as FireScape Mendocino, motorized and non-motorized recreational trails, etc.) was highlighted by the speakers.

Again, QWR is committed to the collaborative process as a strategy to bring land agency staff, conservation groups, local government, other diverse stakeholders, and the trail-based recreation community together with a common goal of both protecting resources and providing a high-quality outdoor experience.  This stakeholder process is centered on attending meetings and field trips where information is shared, values are appreciated, and relationships are formed.

QWR appreciates that federal land agencies have made a long-term commitment to a substantive stakeholder process on the front-end of the NEPA process.   This is a much needed and welcome change from historic NEPA planning efforts where the agency had already made the decision and was simply going through the required public process as more or less of a formality.

The agency’s shift to investing more time up front in collaborative efforts also requires the recreation community (both motorized and non-motorized) to make a similar commitment to getting some skin-in-the-game by attending meetings and substantively engaging with agency planners, recreation staff, conservation groups, and other stakeholders.

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 your club to appoint a designated representative(s) to attend local land use planning meetings and make that long-term commitment to help ensure that you and your family continues to have access to high quality trail-based recreational opportunities.  Congrats to those clubs and individuals who have made that commitment.  It is the future of OHV.

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*Don Amador is a Founding Core-Team Member of FireScape Mendocino

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Encouraged" ROV Use on Public Lands Requires Partnership

Colusa County Road Combined-Use Designation
(County Road Provides OHV/ROV Access to Federal Route Network)

As the popularity of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) -- which is sometimes called a Side x Side (SxS) or Utility Trail Vehicle (UTV) -- recreation continues to grow in the country, it creates a need for land managers to ensure (on units that have potential ROV opportunities) their OHV program includes ROV-related travel management information and legal access to designated roads and trails where said use is appropriate.

In addition, travel management has become highly complex and even political since many federal OHV route networks depend on city, county, or state roads (both paved and natural surface) for campground/staging area access or connectivity.

Plumas County Non-Highway Designation for OHV/ROVs
(County Dirt Roads Provide Connectivity between Federal Route Network)

Some states have laws that classify ROVs via a legal description which then dictates which routes are open based on vehicle type.  Helmet law requirements for ROV use can also differ from state to state.

ROV/ATV Helmet Law Sign
(Mendocino National Forest in California)

QWR understands that public land agencies often don’t have the fiscal or human resources to construct new ROV specific trail opportunities.

However in the meantime, OHV program managers can review their route network and camping opportunities to see where road/trail reclassifications or designations can be made to create legal ROV opportunities.

New ROV Access Route from Campground
(Hull Creek Campground, Stanislaus National Forest)

ROV users also have a role to play in helping enhance the functionality of the existing route network.  They can help identify where a road/trail segment needs to be reclassified or redesignated for ROV use (i.e. level 3 road to level 2 road or road to primitive road, etc.) ROVers can also suggest where appropriate loop or destination opportunities might exist.   Those opportunities could be part of an “encouraged” ROV route network.

Discovery Point Along OHV/ROV Tour Route
(BLM's Chappie Shasta OHV Area)

Local ROVers have an important role in helping create political support in areas where county or state roads provide connectivity between federal recreation facilities such as trails and campgrounds.

QWR commends the land managers and local ROV groups who have created partnerships to designate fun and exciting opportunities.

Backcountry ROV Adventure
(BLM's Carson City Field Office - Pine Nut Mountains, NV)

QWR believes that current and future high quality ROV recreation on public lands will rely on a substantive working relationship/partnership between the public and private sectors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Passion for Trails and Public Service Highlight Sierra Interagency OHV Workshop

Campground OHV Access Trail to Adventure on the
Stanislaus National Forest

Cooler weather and spectacular scenery welcomed about 35 attendees to the 2016 Ranger Ride and OHV Workshop held on October 4-6, 2016 at the Hull Creek Campground. This annual interagency trail management event was coordinated by Don Amador of Quiet Warrior Racing (QWR) and the BlueRibbon Coalition/ (BRC). The event was hosted by the Mi-Wok Ranger District on the Stanislaus National Forest. 

The group included OHV managers, trail specialists, line-officers, instructors, recreation staff, law enforcement officers, public affairs, field crew members, and private sector partners from the Eldorado National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, Tahoe National Forest,  BLM Eagle Lake Field Office, BLM Redding Field Office, BLM Ukiah Field Office, BLM CA State Office, CA State Parks OHMVR Division (OHMVRD), BlueRibbon Coalition/, Quiet Warrior Racing, Stewards of the Stanislaus National Forest, and Trails Unlimited LLC.

Topics and modules included trail rides, demonstrations, dirt-bike certification and recertification courses, and exchanging OHV management strategies/challenges/successes.

Mi-Wok District Ranger, Fred Wong, Welcomes Group

After the welcome by Mi-Wok District Ranger, Fred Wong, and other Forest staff, an overview of OHV recreation on BLM land in CA was given by the BLM State Office Trail lead, Jane Arteaga.

Brian Robertson, OHMVR Division Chief, also gave the group an update on the CA State Park Transformation Process and how it recognizes the important relationship that exists between the CA OHV Program and its federal partners.

OHMVRD Chief, Brian Robertson, Talks about State OHV Grant Program
that Funds Restoration and Trail Projects on Federal Lands

Attendees then broke up into several groups to either take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s DirtBike School or participate in a walking tour to review the 15 year evolution of various restoration, signing, and armoring projects implemented to protect natural resources and preserve continued OHV access to the Hull Creek Campground.  

Paul Hart, a certified DirtBike School coach and Trails Manager for the Yuba River Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest, taught this one-day hands-on training session, over the course of two days, to agency students from the Forest Service, BLM, and OHMVRD.  Students learned basic riding skills, trail ethics, and environmental responsibility.  

FS Trail Staff Enjoys Dirt Bike Tour of Designated 
Road and Trail System

After graduation from the course, students took part in easy and moderate trail rides lead by agency staff and local volunteer partners. This allowed the students to improve and practice the skills taught during the DirtBike School.   QWR strongly believes that post-class mentored trail rides where new riders get extra seat time to further hone their skills is a vital aspect of the training program.

Hull Creek Campground Restoration Project

The upgrades to Hull Creek Campground are a good illustration of how a pro-active “all-hands” holistic approach to managing OHV facilities can be successful in protecting important natural/cultural resources  while providing continued public access to a high quality camping and riding experience.

Campground Tour Includes Stop at Recent Tread Block
Armor Project

The many Hull Creek Campground improvement project partners include; OHMVR OHV Ground Operations Grant funding, American Conservation Experience Crews (ACE), CA Conservation Corps (CCC), Merced Dirt Riders, and Summer of Success High School Crew funded by Tuolumne County RAC and administered by Mother Lode Job Training.

OHMVRD LE, Kim Baker, Takes Turn on Kubota Trail Tractor

The workshop wants to thank Scott Kuhlwein from Garton Tractor for providing the event with a demo Kubota subcompact tractor/backhoe so event participants could practice on this popular piece of trail equipment.  These sub-compact tractors are used on the Stanislaus National Forest and other units to perform various trail maintenance and construction projects.

FS Trail Staff Illustrate Trail Tread Block Installation

Later in the day, folks worked on a tread block project to armor a trail grade against erosion from dirt-bikes and ATVs.

BLM's, Jane Arteaga, and Don Amador at
 Tread Block Demo

Another group went on a trail ride to review the ongoing efforts by the local trail specialists to provide a high quality and sustainable trail program for riders that visit this destination OHV area in the Central Sierra.

Trail Rides/Tours of Designated Routes

Day two started off with a presentation of the Forest’s travel management signing strategy.  The unit’s trail staff believes that an effective signing program is one of the most important methods of conveying (to the public) its commitment to managing sustainable OHV recreation.

Travel Management Signs at Hull Creek OHV Area

QWR believes that signs are an important form of communication in showing the public where they can ride on designated roads, trails, and areas.  Effective signing programs may also consist of a complex system of alternative “signs” that can include border fencing, maps, public education, the appropriate level/type of law enforcement, trail delineators, and vehicle parking restrictors.

Low Profile "Signs" to Stay on Designated Trails

QWR believes the quality of an agency’s signing program is directly proportional to the rate of user enjoyment, public compliance with regulations, and success of the unit’s mission, vision, and values.

OHV Info in Hull Creek Campground

QWR commends the Stanislaus National Forest for its implementation of a holistic signing program that uses the minimum level of “signs” needed to meet its management goals and objectives.   The unit uses adaptive management to adjust its signing prescriptions as appropriate.

Example of Well Signed OHV Trail in Hull Creek Area 

The greater Hull Creek OHV Area is home to a number of waterways including Hull Creek, Trout Creek, and the Clavey River.

Restoration Project in Trout Creek Watershed

The Forest took a number of participants on a tour of its rather impressive and substantive restoration efforts in the Trout Creek watershed.  Those numerous water quality and resource/cultural protection projects included installation of rock barriers, restoration signs, and route delineators.

Restoration Project in Clavey River Watershed

Joe Chavez, Tahoe National Forest Trail Lead, gave an update and field demonstration of the R5 Wet Weather Soil Studies.   Chavez demonstrated the procedure and stated they might do a pilot project soon at one of their riding areas on the Tahoe National Forest.

Tahoe National Forest Trail Lead, Joe Chavez, Takes
Soil Moisture Reading

According to a previous QWR article by Roger Poff (lead scientist on the project), the Forest Service has been conducting field studies to develop an evidence-based method for opening trails based on direct measurements of trail condition.

The field studies involved measuring soil strength and soil moisture, and correlating those measurements with observed levels of trail damage. The information is used to predict the risk of trail damage at different levels of soil strength and soil moisture. This prediction of risk can then be used to develop threshold values to determine when to open or close trails.

Chavez demonstrated the procedure and stated they might do a pilot project soon at one of their riding areas on the Tahoe National Forest.

QWR believes it will be an important tool in the trail manager’s toolbox for managing trails under wet conditions.

A good “campfire” discussion broke out on the topic of managing trail/route opportunities for SxS recreationists.  With the demand for backcountry SxS touring opportunities growing each year, the group felt it is important for units - that have the capacity to provide for SxS recreation - to look for ways to adjust their travel management strategies to accommodate said use.

Campground Access Route for Dirt-Bikes, ATVs, and SxSs

Often that can include making sure that SxSs have legal access from campgrounds and staging areas to backcounty touring or destination type experiences.  Units should also consider reviewing their existing trail/road networks to identify “encouraged” route opportunities for ½ or full day excursions.

Historic Bourland Train Trestle - A Potential OHV/SxS Destination Site

Another discussion related to travel management on Forest Service lands included the concept of the agency reviewing how its level 3 (usually not open for non-street legal OHVs) road system is integrated into it overall OHV travel program. 

Level 3 roads can often provide important connectivity between motorized trails/level 2 roads for non-street legal OHVs.  Where connectivity is critical for a high quality OHV recreation experience, agency units should consider mixed-use designations for level 3 roads or administratively reclassify the level 3 road to a level 2 which then can be used by non-street legal OHVs.

Example of Mixed Use Sign on the Mendocino National Forest
At the conclusion of the event, it seemed the participants appreciated the education modules, dirt-bike training/certification, opportunities for networking and relationship building, and the effort made to include a lot of “seat time” for trail riding.

Mi-Wok District Recreation Officer, Chuck James, Gets Ready to Lead Trail Ride 

Finally, QWR appreciated that RZ Mask sent some demo dust filtration masks to the event.  Fitting under the rider’s helmet, those masks really helped filter dusk on several of the longer trail rides and added a much appreciated level of comfort for the participants.

Don Amador with RZ Mask

A big note of gratitude goes out to our agency and volunteer partners who helped make this event a fun and informative learning experience.  Once again, this annual workshop proves there is no substitute for “getting out in the field or on the trail.”

Trail Delineator with Wire Strand Deterrent to Discourage
Cutting with Chainsaw

The main takeaway from the event for QWR was the participant’s passion for trails and public service.  It was evidenced by the smiles on their faces and the management prescriptions they have implemented over the last decade to preserve and protect natural/cultural resources while providing continued access to high quality OHV trail-based recreation.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

OHVers Attend Nor Cal Monument Meeting to Show Interest in Management Plan

Riders Highlight Important OHV Trails at
Monument Recreation Station

A good turnout of both motorized and non-motorized trail enthusiast attended the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management’s public meeting last night in Winters, California.

The agencies said they are in the early stages (pre-scoping) of developing a management plan for the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument (BSMNM) and have invited the public to participate in Community Conversations about the Monument. The conversations are an opportunity for the public to express what is important to them about the management of the BSMNM.

OHV recreationists and clubs who use the area for trail riding and events such as enduros and dual-sport rides know just how important it is for them to participate in the public process related with the upcoming management plan for the monument.

Recreationists Engage with BLM/FS Staff

The third Community Conversation will occur Tuesday, October 4 at the Holiday Inn Express in Willows, Calif. The meeting room is at 545 N. Humboldt Ave. and will also run from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The BSMNM was established in July 2015 to preserve the objects of scientific and historic interest on the lands of the Berryessa Snow Mountain area. The 330,000-acre area is bounded on the north by the Snow Mountain Wilderness and on the south by Berryessa Mountain in north-central California. Approximately 197,000 acres are administered by US Forest Service and 133,000 acres by the BLM.

The agencies hope that you will join them at a Community Conversation. For more information please go here,


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday to the National Park Service

QWR wants to congratulate the National Park Service (NPS) on its 100th Anniversary.  And, we also send our early congratulations to Denali National Park as it prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2017.

Armored Trail near Visitor's Center

While on a recent trip to Alaska, QWR hiked and toured in some of Denali National Park.  This is must see area for those who love the great outdoors.

Armored Trail Section in Riparian Zone

QWR supports the agency’s ongoing effort to enhance hiking and camping opportunities in that unit for both Alaskans and visitors.

Trail Sign

QWR appreciates the high-quality level of trail construction and maintenance that was noted on the trail system that stems out of the Denali National Park Visitor’s Center.

Mount Denali

While many NPS parks offer only non-motorized trail opportunities, it is important to remember that numerous park units offer some form of sustainable non-competitive street-legal or non-street legal OHV (NPS refers to OHV as ORV) touring/backcountry adventure opportunities.


As the popularity of OHV-related adventure-type recreation grows, QWR believes the NPS will continue to provide that important and specialized link for ORVers to explore and appreciate our natural world. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Trail Gold in Lake Tahoe Area

Recreationists in SxS Enjoy Alpine Trail Touring

QWR had the privilege to recently review some of the backcountry touring routes in the Genoa Peak area on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU).  

Street legal and non-street legal OHVs can access a number of high-elevation trails off of the Kingsbury Grade.   OHVs can also access the main through route (14N32) off of Spooner Summit behind the Nevada Division of Transportation Maintenance Station on Highway 50.

Access to Genoa Peak Trail from Kingsbury Grade

The Logan House Loop, an alpine-like loop opportunity trail (14N33), can be found once you get near Genoa Peak. 

View from Popular Genoa Peak Turnaround

It passes by numerous aspen groves and offers the trail enthusiast some breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley.   This route should be a must ride trail for OHVers who enjoy summer or late fall color touring. 

Historic Carvings in Aspen Grove

Be sure and take a lunch as you will want to take all day to stop and enjoy the various vista points along the way.

View of Lake Tahoe

QWR commends the LTBMU for their ongoing effort to armor the routes by adding soil erosion structures and trail delineators.   

Trail Delineators along Route 

QWR understands the Forest is starting a project to enhance the staging area off of the Kingsbury Grade.  This is great news and will be greatly appreciated by motorized and non-motorized recreationists that use the area.

The staging area project is part of the LTBMU’s long-term effort to engage with the OHV community in a partnership that will both protect natural resources and enhance sustainable motorized trail opportunities in the Lake Tahoe area.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

The California Trail is Important Link to our Past/Future

CA Trail Center near Elko, NV

At QWR, we believe “The Trails You Take on Life’s Journey are Important.”   Trails can offer backcountry adventurists a link to our past and/or help chart a course for the future.  A perfect example of that link to our past is found along the California Trail.  

According to The California Trail Interpretive Center, between 1841 and 1869, up to 250,000 people sold their belongings, packed wagons, and set out on a 2,000 mile trek for California.

Path of CA Trail

Located near Elko, Nevada, The Center is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and offers the public a high-quality “step back into the past” experience via a number of kiosks, video/audio presentations, authentic pioneer-era structures, artwork, and other educational modules.

CA Trail Marker Post 

 The Center also has a number of free publications with maps and site details for those of you who might want to explore the California Trail by vehicle.


While most of the California Trail is in close proximity to major interstate highways or goes through private property, there are some segments on federal lands that are accessible for those of you with high-clearance SUVs  or adventure/dual-sport motorcycles.

BLM Dirt Road along CA Trail

The next time you are near Wells, Nevada, you might want drive about 12 miles up Highway 93 and turn right at the BLM’s Hunter Draw/Willow Creek sign.  Just a few miles up that dirt road you will find carsonsite markers that identify the original California Trail where wagon ruts are still visible.

BLM Route Sign along Highway 93

Remember to stay on the dirt road which mostly parallels the California Trail so as to honor and protect the historic route.

View from BLM Road along CA Trail

QWR commends Congress for authorizing the California National Historic Trail in 1992.  The California Trail is administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the BLM, Forest Service, local/state government, and other stakeholders.   


QWR believes the California Trail highlights the important role that trails have in adding quality to our lives for both current and future generations.

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