Sunday, January 31, 2016

Collaborative Effort Promotes Responsible OHV Recreation and Minimizes Resource Impacts

2011 Post Subpart B Trail Recon with FS
and Local OHV Club

QWR has long believed that partnerships and collaborative efforts are key elements in any 21st Century OHV recreation program.  In many rural areas where federal land-based timber or other resource industry activities have ceased to exist, recreation tourism can help bring economic benefit to the region.

A good example of where OHV tourism may fill that role is in Trinity County, California.  Several decades ago, this NW region of the Golden State had a robust timber economy.  However, due to growing environmental regulations and other factors, the federal timber program ground to a halt and so did the local economy.  The lumber mills were closed and people lost their jobs.

QWR is proud of the recent collaborative effort between The Watershed Center, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and the California State Park Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division’s Grant Program to promote sustainable OHV recreation on public lands in Trinity County.

Remember to Share the Road
Shasta-Trinity NF

According to the Center, the Trinity OHV Project is part of an ongoing effort to promote OHV recreation in Trinity County while facilitating sustainable OHV trail use through community engagement, the promotion of legal riding, and long-term planning that minimizes the damage to the environment.

Historic FS Fire Camp Cabin
Shasta-Trinity NF

The Center also states, by providing user-friendly information that showcases legal routes and offers information about environmentally sensitive areas, we are working to serve the dual goals of minimizing environmental damage while promoting OHV recreation in Trinity County.

QWR credits the Shasta-Trinity National Forest of laying much of the groundwork for this effort by fulfilling its commitment to the OHV community to engage in post subpart B project-level trail/area planning.  About 5 years ago, the Forest hired an OHV program manager to review the agency’s OHV route network with a goal to enhance legal motorized recreational opportunities.

Plummer Peak LO
Shasta-Trinity NF

The Trinity OHV Project joins a growing list of high quality OHV-based recreation programs throughout the country that strive to bring economic benefits to the local economy while minimizing environmental impacts to the resource.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sound Tool for OSV Recreation in 2016

QWR OSV J2567 Sound Test Station

As many of you know, QWR believes it is important for winter-based recreation advocates to proactively support the adoption of the SAE J2567 stationary sound test for OSVs. 

Many National Forests are in the early stage of doing Subpart C travel management planning for OSV recreation.  QWR believes that part of the planning effort is identifying the appropriate “Education, Engineering, and Enforcement” management tools.

Travel Management Signs

Being proactive in the development of new OSV recreation “tools” (such as reasonable sound laws) is a smart practice and something recreationists should embrace.

Woods-type Riding Opportunity in Open Area

A few days ago, QWR’s OSV Trail Stewardship Module had the opportunity to practice application of the J2567 sound test on the Stanislaus National Forest with several of their recreation specialists.

OSV Sound Team for J2567 Practice Day

Since the same sound testing equipment common to OHV management is also used for application of the OSV J2567 stationary sound test, there is no additional cost for a sound meter if an agency is already engaged in testing OHVs using the SAE J1287 test procedure.

Popular Non-Groomed OSV Trail 

QWR believes that adoption of SAE J2567 by a public land agency can be used as a potential mitigation or minimization factor in a final travel plan that authorizes OSV use on popular trail networks and open riding areas.

Popular Open OSV Riding Area

Don’t let excessively loud exhaust noise from modified OSVs create conflicts with other user groups.  In OSV planning, those conflicts could result in the closure of popular snowmobile riding areas or could prevent new areas from being designated for OSV use.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Trail Partner Highlight - Support the the California Conservation Corps

CCC Crew Reviewing Trail Management Prescriptions
2013 Ranger Ride/Trail Workshop - Mendocino NF

QWR believes that partners have an important role to play in 21st Century trail management programs.  Over the years, we have highlighted those partners in various stories and articles. 

Today, QWR wants to give a special salute to our friends at the California Conservation Corps (CCC).  They are a valued recreation partner and often work to maintain OHV trails on Forest Service and BLM lands.

QWR has had the privilege to work with the CCC and/or observe their efforts to maintain a high quality trail system.

QWR Article on the CCC Working on the Stanislaus NF

If you support youth-oriented trail efforts, QWR is asking you to consider joining us by also becoming a member of the California Conservation Corps Foundation (CCCF).

LINK to the CCCF

Thanks as always for your support of managed OHV recreation on public and private lands.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Companion Trails Complement Federal Land Road Networks

ATV/MC Companion Trail Along Road 1
Chappie Shasta OHV Area - BLM Redding Field Office

As the Forest Service and BLM continue to plan for motorized travel management throughout the country, QWR believes the agencies should add the concept of the “companion trail” to the planning process. 

In regions of the country where federal units have been planning for and implementing travel management,  the companion trail often plays an integral role in creating a high quality motorized route network that is both functional and fun.

ATV/MC Companion Trail Along Forest Road M5
Stonyford OHV Area - Mendocino National Forest

Construction of new companion trails along existing high standard roads can separate vehicle types for safety and an enhanced trail experience.   Adding a companion trail for OHVs will create a “trail” opportunity for non-street legal motorized recreation.

Companion Trail Along Road 3
Chappie Shasta OHV Area - BLM Redding Field Office

Often, the environmental review process is less complicated if the companion trail is sited within the road’s sphere of influence or prism.

In many cases, companion trails can utilize pre-TMR routes (where OHV use was allowed), existing skid roads, or old mining paths.  Often, no new construction is needed.  The old road/trail bed simply needs to be brushed and the downed trees cleared.

Companion Trail Along Samoa Road
Provides Access from County Park to Samoa Dunes Recreation Area

Companion trails for non-street legal OHVs can provide access from a camping/staging area to the trail network. 

Companion Trail Along Forest Road M5
Stonyford OHV Area - Mendocino National Forest

Ultimately, the goal of a companion trail is to complement existing OHV opportunities.

Companion Trails Along Paved Road
Access from Staging/Camping Area to Main Riding Area
Samoa Dunes Recreation Area - BLM Arcata Field Office

QWR believes there are a lot of quality OHV recreational opportunities that can be enhanced through better utilization of roads and trails within an existing riding area and we urge users and land agencies to look for projects where use of the companion trail makes sense. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Region 5 Overview/Video on Forest Health, Partnerships, Wildfire, and Recreation

R5 Regional Forester, Randy Moore, Reviews
Trail Armoring Project on Mendocino National Forest

QWR wants to commend Region 5 for its effort to inform the public on the agency’s mission and commitment to the residents of California and the resource.

As many of you know, there are outstanding OHV/OSV recreational opportunities in Region 5 which includes all of the National Forests in California.

QWR has had the privilege to work with the Region’s recreation staff on various projects, planning efforts, and trail workshops.  QWR can attest to the Region’s commitment to partnerships and to having a high-quality system of designated OHV/OSV roads, trails, and areas.

Soil Scientist, Roger Poff, Explains R5 OHV Soil Study
2014 QWR Trail Workshop - Tahoe National Forest

Links are provided to Region 5’s outreach webpage that addresses a number of issues which include; timber, recreation, fuel reduction programs, wildfire suppression, forest collaboratives, and partnerships.

Region 5 Mission Overview

Regional Forester, Randy Moore, Video on Mission of Region 5

QWR believes it is important for user groups to make a similar commitment to remain engaged with the Region and Forests in regards to the planning process, forest projects, partnerships, volunteerism, and recreation management efforts.

FireScape Mendocino - A Forest Collaborative in Region 5

It is also important for public land agencies to continue efforts to enhance their outreach program by publishing robust narratives that highlight the agency’s various challenges, opportunities, and solutions.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 "Quiet" Kickoff of OSV Recreation in the Sierra - Travel Management Tools

Don Amador at Vista Point
China Wall OSV Area, Tahoe NF

QWR supports the efforts of the Forest Service and other land agencies to update and enhance their OSV management programs.   Tenets of managed snowmobile recreation should include designated trails and open areas, adequate staging/parking, quality signing, partnerships, maps, education, and enforcement.

OSV Trail in the China Wall OSV Area
 Tahoe NF

One important and effective management tool is the enforcement of reasonable sound laws for motorized vehicles.

Winter Recreation Travel Management Sign

The greater OHV community (users, agencies, clubs, local government, etc.) realized many years ago that excessively loud exhaust noise from modified dirt-bikes and ATVs created conflicts with other user groups.  In some cases, those conflicts resulted in riding areas being closed to motorized recreation or prevented new trails from being designated for OHV use.

Responsible Use is Key to Trail/Area Access

QWR believes it is important for winter-based recreation advocates to proactively support the adoption of the SAE J2567 stationary sound test for OSVs.   Recently, QWR’s OSV Trail Stewardship Module had the opportunity to practice the application of the J2567 sound test at the China Wall OSV Staging Area on the Tahoe National Forest.

Open Areas are Important Part of OSV Recreation

Located about 1 hour east of Sacramento, California, China Wall is a popular multi-use winter recreation facility that is used by both motorized and non-motorized trail enthusiasts.   It has an extensive OSV trail network that provides a high-quality recreation experience for snowmobile riders.  It is operated in partnership with the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division’s Winter Program.

OSV Route Marker

After a few hours of touring some of the OSV trail system, QWR set up a sound check station using our Quest/3M Type 1 law enforcement grade sound meter and guidelines from J2567.  J2567 requires that the sound meter microphone is placed 4 feet above the ground, in-line with the exhaust outlet/center point of multiple exhaust outlets, on the side of the snowmobile toward which the exhaust is directed, 4 meters distance from the snowmobile longitudinal centerline. The operator holds the brake during the test, starts and runs the engine up to normal operating temperature, then slowly opens the throttle until a steady 3,750 to 4,000 rpm is achieved for not less than 4 seconds. The test is immediately repeated and the two readings averaged.

Application of J2567 Sound Test

With the help of a local dog sledder who acted as the operator of the sled, QWR recorded a 76.7 dBA sound level on our 2015 Polaris RMK 600 which is way below the 88 dBA test threshold.  The operator commented that it is the quietest OSV she had heard.

According to a 2014 report: Facts and Myths about Snowmobiling and Winter Trails (developed by the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) with funding provided by the Recreation Trails Program) protocol for the SAE J2567 was issued in January 2004 and has since been adopted by several states.  This new test established a sound level threshold of 88 dBA at 4 meters (13 ft.) which, due to the logarithmic nature of sound levels, corresponds to the ’78 decibels at 50-feet’ sound law.

Side View of J2567 Sound Test Station

The report goes on to state the result of this test is that illegally altered exhaust systems can now be identified with an enforcement tool that is safe to administer in the field and will also hold up in court.

Parking Area for Large Vehicles
China Wall OSV Area

OSV is an important part of the winter recreation matrix and provides a critical economic benefit to rural areas.  The use of modern OSV management tools is a smart way to ensure the long-term viability of this popular form of motorized winter recreation.



Stay tuned for updates on J2567 and other management prescriptions to help preserve and protect sustainable OSV recreation on public and private lands.