Thursday, April 21, 2016

Trail-based Volunteer Programs Don’t Happen by Accident.

Recent Pre-Event Recon for May Volunteer Project
Upper Lake Ranger District, Mendocino NF

QWR believes that substantive federal trail-based volunteer programs don’t happen by accident. 

The success of any volunteer program is directly related to agency and user commitment to both the process and the product.  

QWR understands that agency volunteer programs are simply just one tenet (albeit an important factor) of managed recreation on a Forest Service or BLM unit.

Field Recon with Local Club Representative from
Marin County Motorcycle Association

One aspect of user involvement is to participate with the agency on pre-planning for any large volunteer work project(s).    Often that pre-event planning requires meetings with recreation staff to review material needs for products such as cement, barriers, signs, tables, building materials, etc.

With reduced amounts of federally appropriated funds for recreation projects, there can be a role for users to play by helping secure construction materials via state or industry grants or private donations.  

One key planning tool is for OHV leaders to do a pre-event field-level recon of the project to ascertain the number of volunteers required and which specific skillsets/tools are needed to help the agency accomplish the task.

In areas where the agency is just beginning to staff up with recreation specialists, it will be important for trail enthusiasts to reach out to new FS/BLM staff.  Riders should invite agency leads to attend club meetings or go out for a tour of the area in OHVs.

It has been QWR’s experience that agency recreation staff are more than willing to go out in the field with the OHV community to discuss trail management, solutions to resource issues, and potential future projects. 

A field trip not only gives them an excuse to get out of the office but it is an important method by which both parties can build mutual trust and respect. 

There is a lot of truth to our trail motto which is: The quality of the unit’s trail program is directly proportional to the quality of the relationship that exists between the agency staff and user community.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Off-Road Community Honors Retiring BLM Area Manager

Off-Roaders Honor BLM's Rich Burns 

QWR had the privilege to attend a formal OHV tour with Rich Burns, the soon-to-be retired Area Manager for the BLM’s Ukiah Field Office.  On April 15, various OHV organizations and clubs conducted a formal 4x4 tour to honor Rich’s 20+ years of service, commitment, and leadership as the unit’s area manager.

                                                         Rich Burns with Service Award

The Mendocino 4x4 Club presented Rich with an award citing his support for responsible OHV use on public lands.  Other organizations thanked Rich for his balanced approach to resource and recreation management.

OHV Trail at Cow Mountain Recreation Area

This event also doubled as a “passing of the torch” to the new Area Manager, Amanda James.  Amanda comes to Ukiah from her BLM post in Arizona.    She takes over the helm at the end of April.

Don Amador, QWR president and western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, “It has been an honor to work with Rich over the last 20 years on numerous recreation projects at the Cow Mountain OHV Area.  I have been most impressed with his strong commitment to serve all user groups in a fair and equitable manner.”

Designated Route Sign at Cow Mountain Recreation Area

“I believe Rich has been the epitome of what a land manger should be.  Both motorized and non-motorized recreationists have been well served by Rich and his staff since the mid-1990s.  I know off-roaders look forward to having the same substantive relationship with Amanda,” Amador concludes.

Bill McGibbon (AMA D36) Teams Up with QWR's Sound Team
2016 Sawmill and Crosscut Family Enduros
(Cow Mountain is home to several OHV events)

According to the BLM, the Ukiah Field Office includes approximately 270,000 acres of BLM-managed surface acres and 214,000 additional subsurface acres (mineral estate) in northern California. The geographic area includes all BLM-managed public lands within the counties of Marin, Solano, Sonoma, Mendocino (south of the City of Willits), Lake, Napa, Yolo, Colusa, and Glenn. Approximately 1.5 million people live within this region.

Monday, April 4, 2016

User/Agency Trail Field Trips Important Part of Collaborative Process

Stonyford OHV Program Manager - Sarah Ridenour-Chamberlin (R) Explains 
Soil Erosion Structures to Forest Supervisor - Ann Carlson (L), 
and Forest Recreation Officer - Katy Rich (C)

QWR is committed to the collaborative process as a strategy to bring land agency staff and the trail-based recreation community together with a common goal of both protecting resources and providing a high-quality outdoor experience.

Much of the collaborative or stakeholder process is centered on attending meetings where information is shared, values are appreciated, and relationships are formed.

QWR believes that “out-of-the office” field trips where private sector partners invite agency staff to review the development and management history of an OHV area is also an important element of the stakeholder process.

Mendocino Forest Supervisor - Ann Carlson, Reviews
St. John's Mountain Restoration Project (Funded by a CA OHV Grant)
with Agency Staff

Recently, leadership from the Mendocino National Forest toured the multiple-use recreation program on the Grindstone Ranger District.  With one of the largest destination OHV programs in the country, the District is a good case study on how OHV management prescriptions have evolved over the last 36-40 years.

Mendocino NF OHV Manager Reviews Work Order
with Trails Unlimited Crew

On the Mendocino and several other National Forests/BLM units, managed recreation didn’t start with the 2005 Travel Management Rule.   Rather, it has been a multi-decade process where the 1960s-era mining, firebreak, or logging road-based route network was gradually converted to a sustainable trail system that consists of engineered contour trails, soil loss structures, and road-to-trail conversions.

Functioning Sediment Catch Basin on System Trail

Managed federal OHV trail-based recreation programs are hard to sustain on current (and future) recreation budgets appropriated by Congress.   In some regions of the country, the Forest Service and BLM receive grants from state funding sources such as the CA OHV Division Grant Program or OR’s ATV Grant Program.

In the 21st Century, successful OHV trail programs must also rely on partnerships with the private sector such as OHV clubs, conservation groups, and other local stakeholders.   Those entities can be the source for the agency’s professional volunteer workforce where users are given chainsaw certification classes or other trail maintenance training.

Getting Ready for a Day of Trail Clearing

QWR commends those user groups and agency units where an all-hands-approach has been adopted and implemented.   QWR understands that it can take a lot of agency staff time to manage a substantive volunteer program.   However, a robust volunteer corps can also play a supportive role in helping the agency obtain non-federal resources/monies (i.e. grants to help manage their trail program, fund projects such as an OHV bridge, or donations for construction labor/materials).

Post 2012 Mill Fire Volunteer Work Party

 The collaborative process is a two-way street.  Don’t wait for agency staff to call for a meeting or workshop.  As a private sector partner, looks for ways to engage your federal contacts either at meetings, field trips, or volunteer work parties.  Be willing to do some heavy lifting yourself. 

Successful Day of Trail Clearing

QWR believes the quality of our trail future is directly proportional to the quality of the collaborative process/stakeholder involvement on your Forest or BLM unit.