Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hope and Optimism for OHV in 2015

Adventure Ride in Northern California

QWR is looking forward to 2015 with great enthusiasm and the belief that OHV recreation’s future looks bright.  Understanding there will always be battles to fight, QWR believes that motorized recreation has secured a front row seat at the land-use table and will continue to benefit from that reality as highlighted by the following examples.

Last week, President Obama signed legislation that created the Nellis Dunes OHV Recreation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada.  Senator Dean Heller (R- NV), a 4WD enthusiast, had worked hard for over 5 years to have more than 10,000 acres designated specifically for OHV use near Nellis Air Force Base. This bipartisan bill also conveys over 1,200 acres to Clark County for use as an OHV park.

QWR believes the aforementioned pro-OHV legislation passed in Nevada bodes well for similar legislation that seeks to reopen 70K acres to motorized use once again at Clear Creek in the Central Coast Mountain Range in California.

Legislative Efforts Continue in 2015 to Reopen Clear Creek to OHV

The BLM recently stated their desire to designate legal OHV trails within the Temblor Range near Taft, California. The agency is also working to secure public access routes through the oil fields to this unique area just east of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

New OHV Carsonites Like This in Temblor Range?

 Completion of the General Plan for Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area near Livermore, California is expected in 2015.  Besides updating management prescriptions for the existing riding area, the long anticipated opening of the 1,500 acre Tesla parcel to OHV recreation is part of the document.

Entrance to Carnegie SVRA

County officials are working with local OHV leaders and the Forest Service to enhance the quality of OHV recreation and restore open dune structures in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

In November, Del Norte County in California designated over 100 miles of their non-paved county roads as “non-highways” which are open for non-street legal OHVs.  This county route network will allow increased OHV access to many Forest Service level two 4WD/ATV/SxS roads within the Smith River National Recreation Area.

View from FS Route in Smith River NRA

There are a number of high elevation “Alpine-type” OHV trails in the Sierra Nevada that are scheduled to be reopened for motorized use once important trail armoring projects are completed.

Alpine 4WD Route in the Sierra Slated to be Reopened

On the industry side, QWR has heard there are many new street-legal and non-street legal OHVs of all types slated for release in 2015.  Those new models will most certainly raise the excitement level for those of us who enjoy OHV adventures.

QWR is encouraged by these developments and is strongly committed to see OHV recreation continue to grow and prosper in 2015 and in the years to come.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Signs" are Important Communication Tools

South Border Fence at Oceano Dunes SVRA

Festive lights at shopping malls, decorated store fronts, and carols playing in many venues are all signs the Christmas season is upon us.  Signs are important forms of communication.   Land management agencies also use “signs” to communicate their commitment to high quality recreation and resource protection.

Boundary Fence between Motorized and Non-Motorized Area

One example of that commitment is Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) located on California’s Central Coast.   Managing about 1,500 acres of open OHV sand riding and another 1,500 acres for non-motorized uses requires a complex system of “signs” that include border fencing, travel management placards, and public education.

Placards are used to advise users about speed limits, dangerous surf, and where to camp.  With over 1.6 million recreationists visiting the SVRA each year, maintaining those signs is a must. 

Dune Condition Advisory Sign

Insuring the integrity of the border fencing that separates the motorized area from the non-motorized section requires a constant vigil due to blowing sand or sand washed in by the tide.

Native plants are protected by exclosures in the OHV open area.  Exclosures (specific areas fenced in to protect important natural or cultural resources) have proved effective management tools in many sand-based state and federal OHV open areas.

Vegetation Islands (Exclosures) within SVRA OHV Open Area 

QWR believes the ongoing public education program at the SVRA is also an important sign the agency has dedicated a significant amount of time to help users, school children, and local residents understand the many recreational, natural, and cultural resources that reside within the unit.

SVRA Education Program on Cultural Heritage

The aforementioned signs are the most effective (and often the only management tool the public sees) method by which a land agency communicates its commitment to the public and the resource.  Other “signs” can include level/type of law enforcement, route markers, and understandable maps.

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Road-to-Trail Conversion Project

As QWR prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, I just want to express my deep felt thanks and appreciation to our partners, sponsors, and colleagues in the OHV community.

I am thankful for that support and friendship that has seen us successfully champion responsible motorized recreation on public roads, trails, and areas.

Some of those positive events for OHV include substantive grant funding from the CA OHMVRD to our local, federal, and non-profit partners for betterment of the sport and the resource.  There is a growing acknowledgement by federal agencies, legislative bodies, conservation groups, and the media that sustainable OHV recreation is here to stay and that it contributes significantly to local economies and personal well-being.

New OHV Corridor Designated 

In many areas, local government has accepted their role as an important factor in OHV travel management via new designations of county roads for use by non-street legal OHVs.  Said routes often provide functionality and connectivity with existing federal trail systems.

Colusa County Designates Combined Use Road

Land agency staff that QWR works with appears to have a renewed interest in providing enhanced trail opportunities for all sizes of OHVs.

The Industry and Aftermarket are continuing to expand their support for trail-based advocacy and education efforts.

Again, QWR wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Don Amador, President
Quiet Warrior Racing

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 OHV Trail Workshop Highlights New Management Tools

Sutter 300 Single Track Trail Tractor

*Article Compiled by QWR and Tahoe NF Staff

The weather was perfect October 28-30, 2014 for the re-energized annual public land OHV manager’s Ranger Ride event coordinated by Don Amador of Quiet Warrior Racing and the Blue Ribbon Coalition. The event was hosted by the Tahoe National Forest at the American River Ranger District’s Sugar Pine OHV area.  Approximately 40 OHV managers, instructors, volunteers, and support staff from California-based public land management agencies (Forest Service including Region 5, BLM, CA Parks OHMVR Division) gathered to discuss OHV management, view demonstrations, take motorcycle/ATV training certification courses and exchange OHV management strategies/challenges/successes. 

Demonstrations included: the Sutter 300 single-track trail dozer road to trail conversion; Magnum Buster boulder breaking tool; wet weather soil management monitoring instruction by soil scientist Roger Poff; OHV sound testing demonstration, and; restoration projects review.

Tahoe NF Trail Lead Explains Magnum Buster 
to Agency Staff and Volunteers

The Magnum Buster boulder breaking tool demonstration showed OHV trail managers how large boulders/rock can be broken down to manageable sizes or removed through use of the Magnum Buster, which does not require a certified blaster to use.  The rock breaking technology uses water as a means to transfer a shock wave from the Magnum Buster’s initiation cartridge to the black powder cartridge placed in a hole drilled into the boulder/rock.  The Yuba River Trail Crew drilled a 1 5/8” hole in a 4’ diameter boulder with a gas powered rock drill, about 36” deep, filled the hole with water, placed the 30 grain cartridge in the hole and set the Magnum buster on top of the hole.  The group was moved back to a safe distance and watched as the 100 foot long chord was pulled to set off the series of concussions.  With a loud BOOM the boulder broke into about 5 pieces that could be handled by an individual. 

Demo Rock Fractured Into Many Segments

OHV managers saw the benefit of being able to break down large rock without needing to call in a certified blaster.  The Magnum Buster goes for about $5,000, and a gas powered rock drill will cost about the same. 

Paul Hart Teaching DirtBike School Class

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s DirtBike School is a great way to teach new riders and experience rider’s the required skill’s to safely ride an Off-Highway Motorcycle.  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 to agency students from the Forest Service and the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD).  Students learned basic riding skills, trail ethics, and environmental responsibility. A total of 14 students completed the training.  The students riding experience varied from 1hr to 30+ years.  All of the students learned that safety is the most important thing while riding an Off-Highway Motorcycle! 

After graduation from the course, students took part in easy and moderate trail rides lead by local volunteers and agency staff. This allowed the students to improve and practice the skills taught during the DirtBike School.  Some of the advanced riders that completed the Dirtbike School went on an expert trail ride.  QWR 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.

Sarah Ridenour Teaching ASI ATV Class

Sarah Ridenour, the OHV Program Manager for the Grindstone Ranger District at Stonyford on the Mendocino National Forest, a certified ATV Safety Institute (ASI) ATV instructor, taught the ATV class.  Students learned basic riding skills, trail ethics, and environmental responsibility.  Agency instructors are an important element in the training or recertification process for government staff that ride ATVs. According to ASI, the ATV Instructor Preparation (IP) Courses are 4 days in length, with each day lasting approximately 8 hours. The sites will provide the ATV for you to use during the 4 days; however, instructor candidates will need to provide their own riding gear: DOT approved helmet with either a face shield or riding goggles, full-fingered gloves, over the ankle boots, long sleeved shirt and long, sturdy pants. The fee to attend is $830 per person, which includes the cost of tuition and course materials.

Pre-Demo 10 ft. Wide "Motorcycle Only" Road 

 Tony Dipino from the Sutter Equipment Company demonstrated their new Sutter 300 mini dozer that has a 24 inch wide blade by implementing a road to single-track trail conversion laid out by the district trail manager.  The OHV managers watched the machine make quick work of the project and helped with the conversion by placing woody debris into the abandoned portions of the old route to keep motorcycles on the now more narrowly defined trail. 

Post-Demo Road Put to Bed and Replaced 
with New Motorcycle Trail
This demonstration seemed to pique the interest of many of the OHV managers who spoke of having address frequent complaints from motorcyclists about maintaining motorcycle trails with a 4 foot wide trail dozer and making the trails “too wide.”

As many of you know, OHV traffic on trails under wet conditions can damage treads and drainage structures. Determining when to open or close OHV trails has been a challenge for trail managers. Some have used seasonal closures; others have used rainfall. Both of these approaches have limitations.

Roger Poff Gives Research Update

Roger Poff gave an update on his field studies that involve measuring soil strength and soil moisture, and correlating these measurements with observed levels of trail damage. This 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.

Poff believes this method will not be a “magic bullet” to solve all the issues related to opening and closing trails under wet conditions. However, it will be an important tool in the trail manager’s toolbox for managing trails under wet conditions.  Stay tuned for related updates on this project.

Students Practice the SAE J-1287 Sound Test

QWR’s Don Amador gave a 20 inch SAE J-1287 sound test introduction to agency staff to better acquaint them with the procedure.   A sample “enduro tech station” was set up and staff practiced looking up rpm data for each bike as well as checking for spark arrestors and registration.  The goal of the class was to give students some realistic field practice in preparation for them taking the certified sound testing class taught by Chris Real at DPS Technical, Inc.

Tahoe NF Staff Explains Proposed Restoration Project

The workshop included a tour of several proposed OHV restoration projects.  The CA OHMVRD funds restoration projects that QWR believes are an important part of a holistic approach to managed OHV recreation.

A big note of thanks goes out to all of our agency and volunteer partners, including trail guides from AMA District 36 and Racers Under the Son,  who helped make this event a huge success.  This workshop proves there is no substitute for “getting out in the field.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Health Benefits of OHV Trail Riding

Off-road motorcycle enthusiasts are well aware of the physical workout one gets when riding on OHV trails.  This was the topic of a lunch-break discussion last weekend when riding with a 70 year-old A level competitor.

Both of us believe that riding keeps your mind sharp and is a good form of outdoor exercise.  That discourse reminded QWR of an excellent article written in 2011 by our good friend at NOHVCC, Karen Umphress.  Her discussion points were based on a Canadian health study on the physical benefits of OHV recreation.

Article on Health Benefits of OHV Recreation

QWR believes this information is useful on a number of fronts.  First, it confirms that OHV trail riding is a good form of exercise.  Second, it validates OHV trail-based recreation and its health benefits as important elements to be included in the recreation-matrix on public lands.

Next time you get back to camp after a long day of trail riding, you can feel comforted in knowing that science has confirmed  your exhaustion and sore muscles are healthy signs of a good workout.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trail Management - Post-Fire Hazard Tree Mitigation Takes Collective Effort

QWR SxS Module on FS Post-Mill Fire Volunteer Project

Extreme wildfires have an immediate impact on OHV recreation such as public access bans in the burn area for periods of one year or longer.  They also destroy management tools such as trail delineators, signs, kiosks, and campground facilities.  Costly soil erosion and water quality trail structures can often be obliterated in the initial attack by dozers blading fire lines around the blaze.

While these immediate impacts and their associated mitigation measures are readily apparent, the long-term post-fire management efforts to address hazard trees (dead trees) falling across designated roads and trails for the next 2-15 years should not be overlooked.

As OHV users know, downed trees create a number of management issues which include completely blocked routes or riders creating impromptu reroutes to get around the obstacle.   The presence of hazard trees also requires both non-motorized and motorized recreationists to be aware of their surroundings when traveling through the forest.  Trail obstacles can impact both casual use and permitted events.

QWR believes it takes a committed partnership between the agency, volunteers, and other stakeholders to successfully manage a designated road and trail system on any National Forest.  This is especially true on units that have experienced a recent uncontrolled wildfire.

Team Effort to Clear Downed Trees

QWR suggests the best way for you to participate in volunteer trail management projects is to join a local OHV club that has an existing relationship with the Forest Service or BLM unit you like to visit.  If your local federal unit does not have a volunteer program, consider contacting them and inquiring how you can help partner with the agency. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adventure and Dual Sport Recreation is Growing Segment of OHV-Related Economy

Don Amador at 2014 Lost Coast
 Dual Sport Adventure Ride

According to a 2012 Economic Impact Study from the Outdoor Industry Association, OHV related expenditures have an estimated $66 billion dollar fiscal benefit to the nation’s economy.

Motorized recreationists stay in hotels, use campgrounds, buy fuel, purchase vehicles and accessories, patronize grocery stores, and order parts.

According to Motorcycle USA.Com, The Dual segment (adventure/dual-sport motorcycles) continues to enjoy the most robust growth trend in the US motorcycle industry.  However, they note that the total sales for the 1st quarter of 2014 for the on/off-road capable bikes were 7644 units which is about ½ the number of  Off-Highway motorcycles sold.

QWR believes that Dual motorcycle recreation will continue to grow in popularity and import as part of the OHV recreation economic equation.   Other recreation leaders appear to share that view as well.

John Lane, Founder of Rocky Mountain Adventure Riders, states, “Most dual-sport, adventure riders stay in a hotel and eat in restaurants.  I am amazed as I travel throughout Colorado on a regular basis, by how many DS/Adventure bikes I see parked at motel/hotels and restaurants.” 

Dual Riders at Grocery Store on CO/UT Border
 (photo credit: Don Riggle)

Motorcycle icon and publisher, Don Emde, says, “Adventure bikes open up unlimited opportunities for riders to expand their horizons and experience new riding areas around the United States and the world.”

Mattole Road South of Ferndale, CA

QWR believes there are a number of factors that are contributing to the rise in popularity of Adventure motorcycling.  First, the 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule resulted in the closure of thousands of miles of forest roads historically used by non-street legal dirt-bikes.  This resulted in riders purchasing dual-sport motorcycles so they could connect between various trail networks.

Second, many non-traditional  “off-road motorcycle” interests from the tech world, conservation movement, 4x4 community, and other stakeholder groups have found that Adventure riding is a great way to escape the city and experience the great outdoors.

Third, adventure and dual-sport motorcycles can also serve as commuter vehicles during the week.

The aforementioned observations are based on QWR’s work at a number of adventure/dual-sport rides including the Oakland Motorcycle Club’s SheetIron 300 Dual Sport Ride and the North Bay Motorcycle Club’s Lost Coast Dual Sport Adventure Ride.

Dual Sport Riders Ready for Take Off at SheetIron 300

QWR looks to expand our Adventure Bike Module in 2015 to better serve the exploring community and promote the many benefits of Dual motorcycling to both the riders and economy.  This addition will enhance our ongoing efforts to champion responsible non-street legal and street legal motorized recreation on public roads, trails, and areas.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trespass on Private Property is Not Cool

As OHV recreationists get ready for the fall riding season, QWR wants to remind users that motorized trespass onto private property that is properly signed and gated is not legal or cool.

Private Land Boundary Sign

California and some other states have “hold harmless” laws to help encourage private land owners to allow both motorized and non-motorized recreation on their property.  Throughout much of California and the West there are “checkerboard” lands where there is a mix of private and federal property.

Area under Electronic Surveillance

While there are some private land interests that allow motorized access on their lands, there are many property owners that do not.  Some of those who restrict public motorized use include timber companies, ranchers, and hunting clubs.

Gate on Private Timber Land

QWR believes it is important for riders to respect private property and their management prescriptions which can include restrictions on OHV use, mountain bike access, and other forms of recreational activities.

FS LE Rule # 6 – Don’t Trespass

Many of these private lands have extensive electronic monitoring systems which capture pictures of you, your vehicle, and license plate.  They also have to comply with complex soil erosion and water quality regulations.  OHV users owe the private property owner the same respect that we show land managers at Forest Service, BLM, and SVRA riding areas. Trespass can also dim the prospect for any future use of said lands for legal OHV recreation.

Tread Lightly! Respected Access is Open Access PSA Program

Our good friends at Tread Lightly! have a new “Respected Access is Open Access” campaign and QWR believes this type of outreach from private land owners in partnership with federal, state, and local agencies is something that can help riders understand the importance of staying on legal routes regardless of the managing agency or in-holder.

QWR believes this type of pro-active messaging can help address the trespass issue which will actually enhance and protect managed OHV recreation for future generations.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Forest Service Open Area Designations - Important Part of Travel Management

The 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule (TMR) directs the agency to designate roads, trails, and areas for motorized vehicle use.  There has rightfully been a lot of focus on road and trail designations since inception of TMR.  However, QWR believes that “area” designations may have not received as must attention as they should have on some units.

Rules of the Area - Prosser OHV Area

Open OHV areas can provide important motorized recreation opportunities for sand dune enthusiasts, play riders, youth training, beginner practice, 4WD obstacle courses, or trials riding.

Meadow Protection at Prosser OHV Area

The Forest Service Manual 7700 states in Section 7715.73 that areas should have natural resource characteristics that are suitable for cross-country motor vehicle use or should be so altered by past events that motor vehicle use might be appropriate.  Examples might include sand dunes, quarries, the exposed bed of draw-down reservoirs, and other small places with clear geographic boundaries.
Also those areas should consider impacts to adjacent private property, including noise and the potential for trespass.

FSM 7700 – Chapter 7710

Recently, QWR toured the Prosser Pits OHV Open Area on the Tahoe National Forest near Truckee, California.  This facility is managed with support from the California State Park Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division and offers an open play area for OHV enthusiasts.  Its management prescriptions include signs for dust control, spark arrestors, and resource protection.  There are also signs and trail barriers to protect nearby meadows.

Dust and Noise Control Sign - Prosser OHV Area

As various Forests review their current TMR plans, QWR believes that users should meet with agency recreation staff to review the potential for inclusion of historic or new OHV road, trail, AND area designations. 

These proactive post TMR projects can help the agency and OHV community build on the base route and area network that was part of the initial planning effort.  TMR is a dynamic process and the quality of the opportunity is directly proportional to the commitment of, and the relationship between, the user community and agency staff. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nor Cal Redwood Empire/Coastal Dual Sport Adventure Ride - Oct. 4/5

OHV recreation creates an estimated $66 billion dollar benefit to the U.S. economy each year according to a 2014 California State Park OHV Commission Report.  In California, that yearly fiscal boost amounts to approximately $9-10 billion.

QWR believes the growing “Adventure/Dual-Sport” community is an important element of that equation with much of that benefit coming to rural areas where many adventure/dual-sport rides take place.

For riders who enjoy the SheetIron 300 Dual Sport Ride that occurs each year in May that goes from Stonyford to Fort Bragg and back, there is another premium ride opportunity coming in a few weeks.

The Lost Coast Dual Sport Adventure Ride is back for 2014.  The dates are October 4 and 5. Riders will stage in Ukiah from a large private parking area with plenty of space for RVs.  The two day adventure will take participants on a tour of the Coastal Mountain Range with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, old logging towns, rivers, redwoods, cool dirt roads, and spectacular forest and rangeland vistas.

Link to Lost Coast Dual Sport Adventure Ride Flyer

Riders will stay in hotels in Fortuna on Saturday night where there is some good dining available.  This two day adventure in the Redwood Empire is not to be missed and it gives participants a good opportunity to help support the sport and local economies.

QWR will be there with its sound tech station and will also be riding the event with its new Adventure Bike Module to document the sights and sounds of riders enjoying this rare opportunity to sample the natural wonders of this part of California.  See you there.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Signs of R.E.S.P.E.C.T - OHV Management in the 21st Century


QWR believes that respect for the resource on private, state, or federal lands is an essential part of any sustainable OHV program.

As you know, QWR believes that a quality signing program conveys the land manager’s commitment to both the resource and the public.  It is then up to the user to respect those management prescriptions that have been developed to enhance and protect the recreational experience for this and future generations.

The concept of designating roads, trails, and areas to reduce environmental impacts has been around since the 1970s.  In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11644 to control the use OHVs on public lands, to protect the resources, and to minimize conflicts among various uses.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 11989 that directs federal land managers to close areas to OHVs where said use will cause considerable adverse effects on natural and cultural resources. It also orders the mitigation of those impacts before the route can be reopened.

Since those early presidential directives were issued, Congress has passed many laws and regulatory agencies have promulgated numerous rules, including the Forest Service’s 2005 Travel Management Rule, to govern motorized use.

Despite that ever growing list of regulations, there are many units that have robust and growing OHV programs where new trail opportunities are being created, new partnerships are being developed, and long-term plans for managed motorized use are in the queue.

Law enforcement officers that QWR talks with continue to state that even though it appears that OHV access to public lands is a complex issue, the actual rules that govern the sport are very simple and easy to comply with.

Those access tenets are as follows:  Use a sound compliant exhaust system that has a functioning spark arrester, have a valid license or permit, and stay on designated roads, trails, and areas.

This is not to say that OHV has an easy path ahead.  There certainly will be more rules and regulations that will be implemented to address water quality, soil loss, and wildlife impacts over the next 5-10 years.  There will be more meetings to attend, stakeholder groups to join, comment letters to write, and trail decisions to defend or challenge in court.

However, if trail enthusiasts can show respect for the resource and follow those simple three rules, QWR believes our future looks relatively bright and secure.