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.”