Wednesday, February 25, 2015

User Fees Important to Future BLM Travel Management

Don Amador (L) with CA OHVers 
BLM's Logandale Trails OHV Area, Clark County, Nevada

As the BLM continues with its Resource Management Plan (RMP) revisions on many units in the West, QWR believes that new user fee programs will have an important role to play in supporting managed OHV recreation designated in subsequent project level travel plans.  Those site-specific on-the-ground OHV-related services often include trash pickup, pumping vault toilets, law enforcement, route signing, recreation staff, resource protection, camp tables, fire rings, and trail maintenance.

Designated Route Marker
BLM Las Vegas Field Office

Historically, resource-based industry helped fund or subsidize recreation on public lands.  However, in many regions and states, those industries are either out-of-business or in decline. Without debating if that is a good or bad thing, the fact remains that agencies must have the fiscal resources to manage high-quality 21st Century OHV recreation.

Fee Station - Mendocino National Forest

Since it is highly unlikely that Congress will appropriate more recreation dollars to backfill monies lost to the agencies from resource industries, it will be important for users to support reasonable fee programs where funds collected stay on the unit.

One such fee area that some may look to as an example is the BLM’s 4,795 acre Sand Mountain Recreation Area located about 75 miles east of Reno, Nevada.  That unit charges $90/one year from date of purchase or a weekly permit of $40 that is valid for seven consecutive days upon entry.   Users that QWR has talked with largely support that program because monies collected help pay for public services that benefit both the resource and the OHV recreationist.

Sand Mountain Fee Program

Another popular OHV site is the Logandale Trail System located near Overton, Nevada.  QWR recently visited that area and was impressed with the facilities and trail opportunities.  The riders that we interviewed come there regularly from California and help bolster the economy by staying in town, buying fuel, and eating at local restaurants.

Kiosks, Shade Structures,Vault Toilets,and Tables
BLM's Logandale Trails OHV Area - Clark County, Nevada

User fee programs also help support on-the-ground services at many Forest Service units including the Mendocino National Forest in California and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Oregon.  Fee programs are not the only answer, but they are an ever growing factor in the OHV management equation.

Fee Info - Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

 Certainly fees are not appropriate at all sites particularly in remote areas for dispersed recreation, but in popular developed OHV sites some level of fiscal support might be appropriate given current funding levels coming from Capitol Hill.

If you are asked to support a fee program, please make sure your support comes with the condition that funds collected stay on that unit to benefit that local resource and the user.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eagle Scout Leads Archeological Site/ OHV Trail Project - Partnerships in Action

Early Stage of 2012 Mill Fire at Stonyford OHV Area
Mendocino National Forest

Over the last few years, large wildfires throughout the West have had a significant impact on cultural/natural resources and managed recreation programs including those prescriptions related to OHV activities.

This article will focus on partnerships that help the Forest Service protect archeological sites where the protective vegetation – that acts as a trail delineator - has been burned off.

A good case study is where in 2014; Sean Griffith led a volunteer crew to install trail delineators to help protect an archeological site in California’s Sierra Nevada.  This project was part of Sean’s progression to obtain Eagle Scout status.

According to the agency, Sean planned, directed, and led 21 scouts, adults, family members and friends in a project to protect an archeological site on the Mi-Wok Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest. The district’s Camp Clavey, Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) area has a section which passes by an archeological site. The 2013 Rim Fire burned much of the area, and Sean’s project was to build barriers on both sides of the OHV trail to delineate the trail and protect the site.

Sean selected the project well in advance, but delays happened due to the government furlough, the Rim Fire and hazard tree removal activities. That’s when his perseverance paid off. Once started, the project was completed in 4.5 hours.

“Sean set a good example of being a dedicated steward of the National Forest with the Eagle Scout project he undertook,” said Chuck James, District Recreation Specialist, who was Sean’s mentor and advisor throughout the project.

“Having a partnership with the Forest Service is a win/win for both organizations. Six Eagle projects through the Forest Service have been completed since I’ve been involved with the scouts,” Sean declared. “It’s been an honor to have worked together with the agency and I know that my project will make a difference in protecting the Forest.”

QWR believes partnerships such as this one on the Stanislaus National Forest or the volunteer efforts on the Mendocino National Forest to address the 2012 Rim Fire are excellent examples of how various interest groups can work together to protect both cultural resources and recreational access.

Don Amador on 2013 Volunteer Project 
to Protect Archeological Site

State or OHV industry grant programs can also play an important role as a force multiplier in post-fire trail rehabilitation efforts or other projects that protect the resource and enhance OHV recreation on designated roads, trails, and areas. For example, the CA OHMVRD Grant Program helped purchase the materials used on the Stanislaus NF project.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Q Format Enduros,Cost Recovery, and Improved Communication/Collaboration Key at FS Meeting

As QWR starts our 5th year anniversary in 2015, there might be no better kickoff of our Adventure module then riding to a meeting with Region 5, Forest Service, in Vallejo, California yesterday.   It was great to have Nick Haris (AMA) and Dave Pickett (AMA Dist. 36) join the discussion on important topics with agency recreation and trail leads.

Throughout the country and in California, the Forest Service provides a significant amount of high quality OHV recreation for both the casual user and clubs hosting amateur events such as enduros, poker runs, and dual-sport rides.

I think there is a growing consensus in support for addressing excessive cost recovery fees for permitted events.  Other topics include user support for “Q format” enduros which seem to be growing in popularity with new and old riders alike and improved communication/collaboration between clubs and the agency.

QWR is excited for 2015 and what it holds for both street legal and non-street legal OHVs.  Stay tuned for more articles and updates as this year kicks into high gear.