Tuesday, April 29, 2014

OHV Trail Condition Monitoring Key to Sustainable Program

Roger Poff Explains Trail Monitoring to Volunteers

On April 18, Roger Poff, consulting soil scientist, gave a field demonstration on trail condition monitoring to volunteers at the Fouts Springs work center located on the Mendocino National Forest. The primary purpose of trail condition monitoring—known as the Green-Yellow-Red trail condition rating—is to prioritize and schedule trail maintenance. GYR monitoring can also be used to document long-term trends in trail conditions. The focus of the monitoring is on trail drainage and water control. Trail drainage affects tread sustainability and the potential for sediment delivery to watercourses.

A Rolling Dip with Functioning Catch Basin

The GYR monitoring process rates seven categories of trail condition:  Water Control; Erosion Off-trail; Sediment Traps; Tread Wear; Tread Width, User-created Trails; and Watercourse Crossings. Each category is rated as Green, Yellow, or Red, based on condition. Green indicates good condition, with no immediate need for maintenance; Yellow indicates maintenance will be needed soon; and Red indicates the trail is in poor condition and needs heavy maintenance, or possibly a reroute.

The monitoring form also includes 15 Cause Codes that are combined with GYR condition ratings to define the cause of the problem, and to suggest the action needed to correct the problem.

An interagency team developed the GYR trail condition monitoring form in 2003 as a revision of Section G of the 1991 CA Soil Conservation Guidelines/Standards. The revision was adopted by the Forest Service in 2004, and a similar version was included in the California State Parks 2008 Soil Loss Standard and Guidelines. Minor revisions to the Forest Service version were made in 2013.

The monitoring process was designed for use by OHV technicians and volunteers. With as little as one day of field training, and some follow-up coaching, most individuals should be able to assign a correct GYR condition class and cause code to OHV trails.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Op Ed - Time for OSV Sound Standards

By Don Amador
April 15, 2014

*Permission is hereby granted for reprint


As many motorized recreationists know, I have long championed the use of sound compliant exhaust for motorized vehicles that use public lands.  Most of those efforts over the last 17 years were focused on summer motorized uses including dirt-bikes, dual-sports, and ATVs.

Many states have implemented reasonable sound laws and those rules have contributed to the long-term viability of OHV use on public lands for future generations.  Having common sense regulations in place makes it easier to defend managed OHV use in court against anti-access litigants who had historically cited “loud bikes” as a major complaint in their lawsuits. 

The Forest Service recently submitted its proposed Over Snow Vehicle (OSV)-specific travel planning rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget.  That agency proposal was driven by a court decision last year that stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Winter Wildlands Alliance.  I believe the OSV community will continue to face a growing avalanche of anti-access lawsuits as more National Forests (including the Inyo NF in California) undertake OSV planning efforts.

Being proactive in the development of new recreation “tools” (such as reasonable sound laws) is a smart practice and recreationists should embrace these management implements for use in their land-use tool box.

In 2013, the New York State Snowmobile Association supported a new state OSV sound law based on SAE J2567.  That measure was enacted because some private property owners were closing trails due to excessively loud snowmobiles.  The New York law mirrors similar legislation in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

I believe it is time for states that do not have current OSV sound regulations to work with various stakeholders in crafting sound-related legislation that helps protect the sport and shows respect for other trail users.

Don Amador writes on recreation and resource issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting and is also a contractor who serves as the Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition.  He may be contacted by email at: damador@cwo.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

Young's Corral Bypass Project - New OHV Corridor Between Two FS Ranger Districts

FS LE and Volunteers Install New OHV Corridor Signs

QWR wants to commend volunteers from the Hayward Motorcycle Club and the Marin County Motorcycle Association for their participation and support at the recent Young’s Corral Bypass Signing Project.  Riders helped Forest Service staff upgrade the current signing prescription to reflect reestablishment of an official OHV corridor between the Grindstone and Upper Lake Ranger Districts on the Mendocino National Forest.

FS OHV Staff Give Project Instructions to Volunteers

This has been a 7 year endeavor which started when private property owners decided to not allow public use on a segment of the old OHV corridor that transected their property.  Once no trespassing signs and gates were installed on the corridor by the owners, it became obvious that another route should be found and designated so non-street legal OHVs could tour between the two units.

Private Property Posting on Old OHV Corridor

Another route was found but there was private property at an important intersection.  However, the solution was simple and that was for the Forest Service to utilize an existing road bed for a short bypass around the private property. 

The Young’s Corral Bypass Project was completed last year and the trail bed was allowed to rest and cure over the winter season.   The signing update project reflected official reestablishment of the 26 mile long OHV corridor which allows use by non-street legal dirt-bikes, SxSs, and jeep-type vehicles.

Sign Advising Riders that Private Property is Ahead
(i.e. Don't Go There)

QWR believes that long-term vision/commitment by volunteers and the agency to provide a sustainable, high quality, and common sense OHV route network is a key element to the future needs of the user community and the Forest.

View from Potential Dispersed Campsite Along New Route

QWR wants to again thank all of the public lands partners including individual users, clubs, agency staff, and OHMVR Division for their support of this and other joint efforts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Overview of April 4 House Hearing on Federal Recreation Fee Program

QWR strongly believes in user-pay/user-benefit land agency fee programs where monies collected stay at the site for on-the-ground public services such as trail maintenance, restrooms, and trash collection.

On April 4, 2014, the House Subcommittee on Parks and Environmental Regulations held a hearing
to amend the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act  (FLREA) to improve consistency and accountability in the collection and expenditure of Federal recreation fees, and for other purposes.

Link to House REA Hearing

QWR encourages land managers, user groups, local government, and other stakeholders to review the testimony from various presenters.   Topics covered include enhanced pass benefits for seniors and active service members, encourage continued public participation/review of fees, fees stay at site, and import of fees being used as leverage against other funding sources.

QWR would urge readers to review the joint letter submitted to Congress by over 30 recreation groups which includes 12 key tenets that should be addressed in FLREA reform.  One of those recommendations is for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the largest single federal provider of recreation experiences, to be included under FLREA to unify federal fee programs and eliminate current complications for visitors.

Joint Recreation Group Letter to Congress

QWR believes the Recreation Resource Advisory Committees (RRAC) have played, and should continue to have, an important role in helping ensure public participation in the review process.   QWR believes the RRAC appointment process for members must be streamlined so those committees can address fee issues in a timely and efficient manner.

QWR wants to thank agency staff and members of the public who work in a collaborative manner to ensure user fee programs are administered in an effective and fair manner.  It is noticed and appreciated.

PS –  My reflections on the CA RRAC