Monday, May 12, 2014


Don Amador on 2006 Pre-TMR Single-Track Motorcycle Trail 
Tour of Six Rivers National Forest

Author: Don Amador
Date: May 12, 2014
Word Count: 847

*Permission to Reprint is Hereby Granted


Having been intimately involved in post-2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule (TMR) Subpart B planning efforts in California and other Western States for the last 9 years, I am concerned about the loss of many, if not most, of our historic single-track motorcycle trails.

Designated Single Track Motorcycle Trail on Eldorado NF

In 2007, Bill Kresnick, compiled an article for the American Motorcyclist Association entitled: Vanishing Trails.  Kresnick chronicled how the rigid timeline and/or lack of agency staff for TMR resulted in most legal and well-established (many had official FS markers or were on agency maps) single-track trails being excluded from the designation process.  

Historic and Legal Pre-TMR Single-Track Motorcycle Trail
Closed by Shasta Trinity NF TMR Decision

Many Forests restricted their travel planning process to maintenance level 2 system roads that allowed use by non-street legal OHVs or maintenance level 1 roads that were managed as motorized trails.   Historic and legal motorized single-track opportunities such as enduro trails, old pack-mule/mining or pioneer trails were simply eliminated from consideration due to time constraints.

Example of Single-Track Motorcycle Trail Experience on ML 1 Road

For example, in 2010 the Six Rivers National Forest issued a Record of Decision for travel management on the Mad River and Lower Trinity Ranger Districts.  Of the 80+ miles of historic single-track trails identified by the BlueRibbon Coalition and local OHV enthusiasts during the planning process, the Forest only designated 5 miles as single-track motorcycle trails. 

Historic and Legal Single-Track Motorcycle Trail Closed in
Six Rivers NF 2010 TMR Decision

During those early planning efforts, agency representatives promised the OHV community that once these initial “foundational” route networks were established and codified that they would work with the users to either bring some of these historic single-track opportunities “back onto the system” or construct new engineered single-track system trails.

Another factor that has contributed to the significant loss of single-track motorcycle trails is the conversion of said routes by illegal ATV use.   By definition, a trail is a route 50 inches or less in width (used by ATVs, motorcycles, or narrow SxSs)  or a route over 50 inches wide that is identified and managed as a trail (36 CFR 212.1) for larger OHVs such as jeep-type vehicles and full-size SxSs. Motorcycle-only single-track trails are generally 24 inches or less in width.  ATVs are not allowed on motorcycle-only trails.

Vehicle Width Restrictor on Motorcycle Only Trail
Tahoe National Forest

Also, many of the “road-based” single-track trails which have evolved over time to provide a high-quality single-track experience are often obliterated by bulldozers during the initial attack on a wildfire or by reconstruction of the road to extract resources.  That single-track experience can be lost for several generations.

Agency commitment to post TMR project level trail planning varies greatly from Region to Region, Forest to Forest, and Ranger District to Ranger District.  It is my experience that commitment is largely based on unit culture and personnel.

Replacement of lost single track experience on a unit should be part of the discussion between agency staff and affected stakeholders. Retention of single- track dirt-bike trails is no different than keeping single-track hiking, equestrian, and mountain-bike trails.

New single-track construction vehicles such as the Single Track ST240 appear to be a cost-effective way to reconstruct existing road-based single-trail trails or to construct new trails.  In fact, some Forests are already using it on single-track trail projects.

Work-type motorcycles such as the Rokon can be used to ferry in trail supplies such as rock, tread blocks, and power tools for volunteer work parties.

Rokon Hauling Tread Block in OR State Forest

Concepts such as the construction of new “companion-trails” along existing road-based ATV and 4WD trails to separate vehicle types for safety and an enhanced trail experience should be embraced by the agency and trail groups.  I understand the Six Rivers National Forest is evaluating that very concept along Route 1.

Again, some of these ideas are already being considered and planned for on Forests with an OHV or trail-based recreation background.  The challenge will be for trail enthusiasts to engage with Forest Service staff on units where a substantive trail-based recreation program has never been established.

Designated Single-Track Motorcycle Trail
Tahoe National Forest

 The cost of the specialized trail equipment could make it hard for a Forest with a new trail program to justify purchasing a trail tractor or other piece of specialized equipment.  The Regional Office might have a role in coordinating existing trail specialists to help units enhance new trail opportunities or bolster the trail work force on other Forests so that routes can be worked during optimum soil moisture conditions.

I believe with leadership and support at the Regional and Forest level that users can partner with agency staff, other stakeholder groups, local government officials, and states with grant funding sources to plan for and implement high-quality trail programs for all vehicle types including motorcycle trails for the single-track enthusiasts.

Single-track motorcycle fans should also consider joining national trail advocacy organizations such as the BlueRibbon Coalition and their state and local clubs.  Being engaged on all fronts is the most effective strategy in the preservation of the OHV trail experience.

# # # 

Additional Resources:

AMA Vanishing Trails (pages 24-25)

Black Hills NF Gets Single Track Dozer

Single Track ST240

TV Story on ST240 and Single Track in OR

Rokon Work Motorcycle

BlueRibbon Coalition

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Federal Register Notice Today Highlights Water/Soil Loss Trail Prescriptions

OHV Bridge over Stream on Eldorado National Forest

QWR believes the Federal Register Volume 79, Number 87 notice today regarding Proposed Directives for National Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality Protection on National Forest System (NFS) Lands highlights the import of ongoing use of modern water/soil related OHV trail prescriptions on public lands throughout the country including those on the Eldorado National Forest in California.

May 6, 2014 FR FS Proposed Directives

Rolling Dip to Address Soil Loss/Water Quality 
on Eldorado National Forest

 For over 20 years, addressing water and soil concerns have been an important part of managed OHV recreation in California.   Those management prescriptions were updated a few years ago in the California OHMVR Division’s 2008 SOIL CONSERVATION STANDARD AND GUIDELINES which states:

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation facilities shall be managed for sustainable long-term prescribed use without generating soil loss that exceeds restorability, and without causing erosion or sedimentation which significantly affects resource values beyond the facilities. Management of OHV facilities shall occur in accordance with Public Resources Code, Sections 5090.2, 5090.35, and 5090.53.

Wet Weather Prescription on the Mendocino NF

It also requires other land agencies (FS, BLM, counties) with projects funded by the OHV Trust Fund (PRC Section 5090.06) to be managed in accordance with the 2008 Standard. Assessment, maintenance and monitoring activities are necessary for any OHV project to ensure that an OHV facility is managed for its sustainable prescribed use, without generating soil loss that exceeds restorability, and without causing erosion or sedimentation which significantly affects resource values beyond the facilities.

CA OHMVRD 2008 Soil Conservation Standard and Guidelines

Wet Weather/Wildlife Travel Sign on Eldorado NF

Ongoing drought conditions in the West and new resource and wildlife regulations being promulgated means that being pro-active in the application of modern trail management practices will continue to be important in the decades to come.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Partnerships Core Element of Modern Trail Program

Mike Damaso (L-Merced Dirt Riders) and Chuck James (R- FS OHV Lead)

QWR recently took part in a post Rim Fire recreation and resource tour of the Hull Creek OHV Area on the Stanislaus National Forest.  The Forest Service OHV Program Manager, Chuck James, led the ride and was also joined by AMA District 36 leadership, and the Merced Dirt Riders Motorcycle Club.

L-R: Jerry Fouts (D36), Don Amador (BRC/QWR), Mike Damaso (Merced Dirt Riders)
Chuck James (Forest Service)

While the fire’s impact to about 20 percent of the OHV trail system was clearly evident, the main takeaway from the event was the outstanding public/private partnerships the agency has embraced to help them manage their high-quality OHV facilities.

OHV Trail Leading Out of Campground

 Here are some of the recent partner projects on this unit.

Hull Creek Campground Restrooms- Funding partnership between Forest Service, Tuolumne County Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) Grant, and Recreation Enhancement Act (REA campground fee collections) for purchase and installation of two CXT vault restrooms. Operations and maintenance of restroom facilities are a partnership between the Forest Service, Calif. OHMVR OHV Ground Operations Grant funding, and Forest Service Campground Host.

Trail Barriers Next to CXT Vault Restrooms

Hull Creek Campground Trail Barriers - Partnership between Boy Scouts from Troop 500 in Sugar Pine, assisted Michael Oryall in this Eagle Scout Project with Mi-Wok Recreation Specialist, Chuck James, supervising the effort.  Approximately 623 feet of barrier fence was installed to protect riparian habitat, stream banks, the Hull Creek aspen grove, and prevent unauthorized vehicle use adjacent to Hull Creek Campground campsites 20, 21, 22, and 23.

Hull Creek Campground Eagle Scout Project

OHV Trail Repair and Maintenance (Turf Pavers/Tread Block)- Partnership between Forest Service, Calif. OHMVR OHV Ground Operations Grant funding, American Conservation Experience Crews (ACE), Calif. 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.

AMA Dist. 36's, Dave Pickett, Riding on Paving Block Armor

Trout Creek/Clavey OHV Restoration Project (blocking of unauthorized routes with debris, installation of erosion control woodstraw, straw wattles, and silt fence, and installation of project signing)- Partnership between Forest Service, Calif. OHMVR OHV Restoration Grant funding, and Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC).

Trout Creek Restoration Project

Twomile OHV Restoration Project (Camp Clavey Barrier Fence Construction) - Partnership between Forest Service, Calif. OHMVR OHV Restoration Grant funding, and Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC).

Camp Clavey Barriers

Twomile OHV Development Project (Construction of reroutes to avoid sensitive areas and reduce need for tread hardening mitigation per Stanislaus NF Travel Mgt. Plan, Construction of 3N01 bypass trail to reduce Combined Use segment)- Partnership between Forest Service and Calif. OHMVR OHV Development Grant funding.

Camp Clavey Meadow Protection

As you can see after reviewing this impressive list of projects, it really does “Take a Partnership” to keep trails managed and riding areas open in the 21st Century.