Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Natural Wonders Await Adventure Riders in 2016

Don Amador on Mendocino NF

Exploring less-traveled backcountry forest roads on a dual-sport or adventure motorcycle is one of the reasons that riders, in growing numbers, have taken up the sport.

Road 18N04 on Mendocino NF

Because of the increased precipitation this spring in California’s Northern Coastal Range, adventure riders can experience a wide array of natural wonders that await them along the route.

High elevation meadows that have been brown for the last 4-5 years are now a lush green color.  Douglas Fir and other conifers are sprouting new growth.  The Dogwood Trees are in bloom.

Dogwood Tree

Depending on the elevation, you will see a lot of California Valley or Mountain Quail.  Deer antlers are now covered in thick velvet.

Many Blue Oaks have dense foliage and look healthier than folks can remember.  Ponderosa Pines are looking good too.

QWR just wanted to share a few photos and some thoughts from a recent trip on the Mendocino National Forest in the hopes that some of you will take the opportunity to explore and enjoy some of our natural treasures in 2016.

See you on the trail.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Trail Culture Ensures Project Completion

Upper Lake Ranger District Volunteer Team
Mendocino National Forest

Culture is described by Merriam-Webster as a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. 

QWR believes the partnership that exists on numerous Forest Service and BLM units between user groups and agency staff is helping foster a “Trail Culture” that bodes well for future collaborative efforts to maintain sustainable trails.

Pre-Event Work Day to Stage Materials

A recent example of a federal unit that has integrated a trail culture mindset into its recreation program is the Upper Lake Ranger District (ULRD) on the Mendocino National Forest.

MCMA Club Members,FS Recreation Staff, and LE Officer
Install Peeler Core Trail Barriers

To help the agency address several important trail improvement projects, the ULRD staff worked with the Hayward Motorcycle Club, Marin County Motorcycle Association, Quiet Warrior Racing, and the BlueRibbon Coalition to armor three new OHV water crossings which needed culvert bank reinforcements before the arrival of any large rain event.

Pre-Event Work Day Staging Materials at Culvert Armor Project

There was also an old forest-health project related skid-road that had been receiving unauthorized OHV use.  That use was shortcutting a designated OHV route. 

Culvert Bank with Cement Armor and Tread Blocks

The skid-road project included installation of several peeler-core barriers and signs which told the riders the shortcut route is closed to public use.

Volunteers Finish Culvert Bank Armor Project

 Success for this trail volunteer event is directly related to the ULRD’s long-standing trail culture which has instilled a sense of shared values, commitment, and responsibility within agency staff and the user community.

FS Recreation Staffer Hauls in Materials

In the weeks and months leading up to the main volunteer work day, there was a lot of event planning that included field trips to assess the resources/materials and number of volunteers needed to complete the mission.

Most importantly there were several pre-event work days to stage key materials at the job sites to help ensure the highest and best use of volunteer time.

Happy Trail Volunteers on Job Well Done

As with other joint agency/user volunteer days there are a number of important take-a-ways to appreciate.  First, the project mission is accomplished where both natural resources are protected and
responsible OHV recreation continues.  Second, the project helps instill ownership and pride of public lands in the user community as they work to manage sustainable trail systems. 

LE, Recreation Staff, and Users Complete Trail Barrier Project

Finally, long-term relationships and trust are cultivated between agency staff and the recreation community as they share sweat equity out on the trail.

QWR wants to thank all FS and BLM units that have embraced the trail culture concept on their unit.
And, we look forward to working with other units that are in the process of creating successful trail-based recreation programs.  Working together is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Washed Out Road - Gifford Pinchot NF
(photo courtesy of Gifford Pinchot website)

QWR believes that creation of a substantive and timely communication program between the Forest and recreation community is a vital element of a successful travel management strategy.

Communication is even more critical when it comes to providing the public with access information during active and post-catastrophic events such as intense wildfires and major floods.

Washed Out Access Road - Gifford Pinchot NF
(photo courtesy of Gifford Pinchot website)

For example, several important roads within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest were washed out by flooding that occurred in December of 2015.  A number of those roads provide access to motorized trails on the unit.


The OHV community and the public-at-large understand how catastrophic events can impact access to recreation facilities such as campgrounds, staging areas, and trail networks.  That understanding and trust is strengthened when the Forest has an effective communication strategy and makes access information available through email and social media alerts with links back to the agency’s website.


As the Forest Service moves forward with it National Trails Strategy, QWR hopes the agency will encourage units that are ramping up their trail program to hire staff with good networking and communication skills.  In 2016, those talents are becoming a valuable and treasured asset and will complement the other resource-oriented specialized fields.  Communication is a good thing!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

OP ED - OHV Sound Compliance Paints Bright Future for Motorized Recreation

Chris Real Administers SAE J1287 at NOHVCC Workshop


I believe agency adoption of the SAE J1287 20 inch sound test @ 96dBA for OHVs is the single most important factor in the land-use equation as it relates to sustainable motorized recreation on public lands.

QWR/D36 Sound Tech Station @ 2016 Fools Gold Enduro

As a member of the 2002 California State Park OHV Sound Working Group, I commend that diverse interest group (which included representatives from the OHV Industry, motorized organizations, environmental groups, land agencies, and the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division) that came together to address the number one user complaint at the time which was excessively loud OHVs.

OHV Sound Education Day @ Carnegie SVRA
(circa 2003)

 That collaborative effort laid the foundation for eventual enactment of the 2003 California Sound Law which adopted the SAE J1287 20 inch sound test @ 96dBA for OHVs.

2003 CA OHV Sound Law

While working the sound/spark arrestor tech station at the 2016 Fools Gold Enduro, I discussed the progress made over the last 13 years on the “sound issue” with AMA District 36’s sound guru, Ed Santin.

Agency Staff Practice SAE J1287
2014 OHV Workshop - Foresthill OHV Area - Tahoe NF

Both of us agreed the OHV community has largely embraced a “quiet ethic” when operating a motorized vehicle on State Park, Forest Service, and BLM lands in California.  This has resulted in the “loud OHV” complaint being reduced to a non-issue in California and other states that have adopted a reasonable sound law.

Our collective success can be attributed to the following factors; OEMs producing high quality sound compliant exhaust systems, outreach by land management agencies, peer pressure, law enforcement, OHV sound education/tech at events, training of certified personnel, and availability of sound compliant aftermarket mufflers.

Quest Type 1 Law Enforcement Grade Sound Meter

In closing, I must give credit to Chris Real who is the go-to-guy when it comes to OHV sound technology and who also certifies both civilian and agency personnel to administer the SAE J1287 Sound Test.

Sound Certification for Don Amador

I also want to thank the dedicated trail advocates, FS, BLM, and State Park staff that I have had the privilege to work with over the last 18 years on sound compliance issues and application of the SAE J1287 Sound Test.


Lastly, I want to thank all my sponsors and supporters who have helped me develop my skill-set in the field of OHV sound.  I think the OHV community has a lot to be proud of.  The work we have done to address what once was the number one complaint against OHV is a major factor in helping create a positive future for motorized recreation in the 21st Century.

Don Amador is President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting.  Don is also a contractor to the BlueRibbon Coalition and serves as their Western Representative.  Don writes from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don may be reached via email at: damador@cwo.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Travel Maps are Important Management Tool

2016 MVUM - Eldorado NF

The 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule (TMR) requires that each National Forest designates roads, trails, and areas where use of motorized vehicles is authorized.   TMR also requires the Forest or Ranger District to publish a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that identifies where those legal motorized opportunities exist.

QWR believes an important public compliance factor for “staying on the trail” is having MVUMs readily accessible at key staging areas and campgrounds.

Kiosk with Stocked MVUM Holder
Eldorado NF - Georgetown Ranger District

OHV recreation continues to be a highly popular outdoor activity on federal lands.  A significant amount of motorized recreation occurs on weekends when many FS offices are closed.  This can create an information deficit if the unit does not stock kiosks with MUVMs.

Having MVUMs available online is helpful, but QWR believes there is no substitute for having OHV map holders well stocked at sites where riders stage to unload their vehicles.

As more units ramp up their trail programs and as funds become available (via appropriated recreation monies, fees for maps, grants, etc.), they may want to consider publishing a color Travel Opportunity Guide that shows the route system with additional highlights such as topographical features, campgrounds, vista points, route numbers, and trail difficulty.

Color Travel Opportunity Guide (avail. for purchase)
Eldorado NF - Georgetown Ranger District

QWR believes accessible travel maps helps ensure that motorized recreationists stay on designated routes, understand the rules, protect resources, and respect other users. 

MVUMs Guide OHVers to a Great Experience

 Finally, an accessible map can lead to a fun, safe, and enjoyable OHV trail experience.