Friday, March 28, 2014

Wet Weather Soil Study - A New Trail Management Tool?

*QWR’s, Don Amador, recently helped the FS’s wet weather management study lead, Roger Poff, with field research on the Mendocino National Forest.  QWR thanks Mr. Poff, a leading soil scientist, for sharing his overview of this important project with our readers.

Roger Poff Explains Soil Study to FS Resource and Recreation Specialists

Forest Service Wet Weather Management Studies – R. Poff

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.

 Poff Takes Soil Moisture Reading at Sample Site 

The USFS is conducting field studies to develop an evidence-based method for opening trails based on direct measurements of trail condition. Four pilot studies are underway, in the Pozo area on the Los Padres NF, the Stonyford and Upper Lake areas of the Mendocino NF, and the Sugar Pine area on the Tahoe NF.

Don Amador Pre-Sample Test Ride at Data Collection Site 

The field studies 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.

Test Site Recon with Roger Poff

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.

The field studies will be completed by October 2014.

# # # 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

OHV Trail Icon and Pioneer - Trails Unlimited

Contour Trail at Carnegie SVRA

There are few, if any, trail-related national “enterprises” that have helped shape the concept of managed or sustainable OHV recreation more than the crew at Trails Unlimited.

Post Mill Fire Trail Repair of 4WD Route

QWR had the recent privilege to visit with Cam Lockwood, founder of Trails Unlimited, while working on a Forest Service trail research project in Northern California.  Before the US Department of Agriculture Reinvention Program authorized the Enterprising of a Trails Training Program through Trails Unlimited, Cam pioneered (circa 1980s) the concept of engineered contour trails with rolling dips while working for the BLM at the Cow Mountain OHV Area near Ukiah, California.

Over the last 26 years, Trails Unlimited has led the way in constructing and reconstructing motorized and non-motorized trails and related structures for local, state, and federal land agencies throughout the country.  The team has also trained many of the top trail dozer operators that work on numerous county, state park, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management units.

The next time you are out on a contour trail and ride over a “rolling dip,” remember that modern trail structure is an integral part of sustainable OHV recreation that helps secure that use for future generations.

Trails Unlimited

Monday, March 24, 2014

Combined Use - Important Tool in Travel Management

M10 - East of End of Nail Track

QWR wants to commend Colusa County in California for its recent combined-use designations (CVC 38026) to help improve green-sticker access to looped trail opportunities for the larger non-street legal SxS, dune-buggy, and 4WD vehicles that utilize the system route network on the Mendocino National Forest.

County roads often play an important role in Forest Service Travel Management planning efforts where said paved routes can help users access and better utilize agency system routes.

M10- Near Bottom of Potato Hill

Understanding the importance of motorized recreation opportunities on the Forest, Colusa County made formal combined-use designations of relevant segments of M10 and the Goat Mountain Road.

Using M10, owners of larger non-street legal OHVs can now complete a 40-70 mile loop opportunity from the Fouts Springs OHV Staging Area.  In addition, those larger vehicles can now legally access historic gas and start points for AMA District 36 events.

Near Historic Gas Stop at Bottom of Potato Hill

SxS owners and other recreationists with larger non-street legal OHVs can now use Goat Mountain Road between Little Stony OHV Staging Area and Lovelady Ridge (Trail 01) to complete all day “Green Sticker” tours of up to 100 miles in length.

QWR believes that travel management requires genuine collaboration between federal agencies, users, OHMVRD, and counties.  This is a good example of that team approach.

If you would like to send a note of appreciation to Colusa County Board of Supervisors, please see the contact information below:

Colusa County Board of Supervisors
547 Market Street
Colusa, CA 95926

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 CA OHV Commission Report - 10B Economic Impact to the Golden State?

A RCD/BLM Restoration Project at Chappie-Shasta OHV Area

QWR wants to commend the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division and Commission for the recent publication of their 2014 Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission Program Report.

The 150 + page well-written and highly informative document chronicles the 40-year history of the “Green Sticker” program.  It details many program issues related to the budget, commission appointments, OHV grants, economic benefit, partnerships, trail stewardship, SVRAs, law enforcement, safety, and resource protection.

Just a few of the high points (page 6) include preliminary information that an economic impact
study currently being conducted by several industry associations has preliminary findings that indicate the direct annual OHV-related expenditures exceed $10 billion in California.

On page 41, the document outlines the soil conservation practices that helps preserve trail access for future generations.

The report (page 72) describes the Division’s outreach to federal, state, and local partners to help improve  utilization of the restoration grant program.   It also notes that Resource Conservation Districts and other non-traditional stakeholders are applying for grants to help increase the number of projects that are being realized on the ground.

QWR story on RCD/BLM Project

QWR story on FS Restoration Project

QWR believes this report is a must read for industry representatives, shop owners, recreation professionals, agency staff, non-profit leaders,  club officials, aftermarket companies, conservation groups, law enforcement, and individuals.

2014 OHMVR Commission and Division Report

QWR wants to thank the Division and Commission for their dedication to, and support for, responsible OHV recreation on public lands.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sierra Trip Launches QWR Adventure Bike Module

QWR’s trip today to the Stanislaus National Forest marks the launch of its new “Adventure Bike” module that currently consists of a 2006 Triumph Tiger 955i.   Our discussions with agency staff centered on Subpart A of travel management and the impacts of the Rim Fire to the trail and road network.

Adventure bike and dual-sport based recreation is a growing segment of the OHV community.   Those interests deserve a seat at the table and we want to make sure that opportunities continue to exist for those forms of motorized recreation on public lands.

A March 29, 2012 letter from the Washington Office of the Forest Service to all Regional Foresters stated the agency expects to maintain an appropriately sized and environmentally sustainable road
system that is responsive to ecological, economic, and social concerns. The National Forest Road
System of the future must continue to provide needed access for recreation and resource
management, as well as support watershed restoration and resource protection to sustain healthy ecosystems.

QWR wants to encourage both street legal and non-street legal motorized trail and road users to be on the lookout for travel analysis reports which are to be published by the end of FY2015. Those reports are supposed to rank, identify, and/or map FS system roads (maintenance levels 1-5) according to their ability to meet a unit’s resource and recreation goals.

Catastrophic wildfires such as the Rim Fire can often cause the impacted area to be closed to all human activity (i.e. OHV, hunting, hiking, fishing, etc.) for periods of a year or more.  Also, those fire events can have a devastating impact on the developed OHV recreation infrastructure such as engineered trails and campgrounds.

QWR is excited about the addition of our adventure bike module which joins our other vehicle programs that advocate for responsible SxS, SUV, trail-bike, and dual-sport use on public roads, trails, and areas.

Link to March 29, 2012 FS Chief’s Subpart A Letter

*Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters who help keep us on the road or trail!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

CARB Continues Outreach to OHV Community on OHMC "Red Sticker" Planning Process

QWR attended the CARB Off-Highway Motorcycle (OHMC) Workshop: Assessment Update today in Sacramento, California.

QWR wants to commend all members of the OHV community (OEMs, dealers, organizations, users, and OHMVRD) who are actively engaged in the process. 

The willingness of CARB staff to substantively engage the various stakeholders in a collaborative planning effort is ground-breaking and is a refreshing change from what some users have felt is a bunker mentality at the agency.

The key bullet points from today are:

CARB’s commitment to have a trusted observer from the OHV community at the testing events

CARB stated its effort is focused on emissions from new motorcycles, not used vehicles

CARB stated that it is not their intent to penalize or punish owners of red-sticker vehicles purchase under current laws and regulations

CARB remains committed to working with its sister agency at OHMVRD

QWR appreciated the statement by James Lombardo, legislative advocate for the California Motorcycle Dealers Association, to ask his board to help secure new motorcycles – which would be leased by CARB from the dealers – for the testing procedures.

QWR wants to urge OHV stakeholders to review the survey and related documents and submit comments on how you feel they can be modified or improved.  

Link to CARB OHMC Documents/Survey

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the CARB representative below:

Cassie Lopina
Air Pollution Specialist | California Air Resources Board | Monitoring and Laboratory Division
Evaporative Control, Engineering, and Regulatory Development Section
1900 14th Street | Sacramento, California 95811
916) 322-2411 |916) 322-2444 |

Thanks for your interest in the CARB OHMC planning process.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Trail Management Tools - Heated Rain Gauge

"Heated" Rain Station on Upper Lake RD

QWR has long been an advocate for the use of modern scientific methods to accurately measure rainfall on federal and state units that have wet weather-based trail management prescriptions.

On February 27, 2014, the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission toured various recreation and resource management programs on the Upper Lake Ranger District located on the west portion of the Mendocino National Forest.

One of the tour stops included a review of the new Campbell Scientific rain station with heated catch basin.  Unit staff explained how freezing temperatures had often rendered older “non-heated” rain stations inoperable due to the water freezing in the catch/measuring device.

FS Staff Explains Rain Station Operation

The Forest Service also stated that riders appreciate being able to access rain gauge data on the internet so they can evaluate – in real-time – if it looks like a rain-closure of system trails will be put into effect.

Link to Upper Lake Rain Gauge

QWR believes these updated units could be useful to the agency and users as more federal riding areas evaluate if it is practical to transition from seasonal extended period wet-weather closures to rainfall-based closures.