Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Recreation Report Shows National $650 Billion Dollar Economic Benefit

Designated Multiple-Use FS SystemTrail
Mendocino National Forest

QWR wants to thank our good friends at the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) for sharing some great news about recreation from the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) in their:  OUTDOOR RECREATION OUTLOOK 2017.

The report notes that outdoor recreation has more than a $650 billion annual economic impact in America.

It also highlights that federal land agencies are doing more recreation-oriented outreach to the public. 
QWR agrees with that observation since both the Forest Service and BLM have devoted more resources to trail-based recreation opportunities and collaborative planning efforts.

OHV Travel Management Kiosk
Stanislaus National Forest

The report also states that recreational use of on- and off-highway motorcycles, ATVs, and ROVs is also growing and contributes nearly $109 billion in direct spending to the U.S. economy annually and over 1.5 million jobs.

ARC notes that Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs) or Side-by-Sides (SxSs) are becoming increasingly popular and are the fastest growing segment of the powersports market. They found that nearly 30 million Americans ride motorcycles on and off roads, and ATV ridership is some 35 million annually.

Designated FS Trail for Wide Range of Vehicle Types
Mendocino National Forest

In addition, the report cited information from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) that showed average snowmobile (OSV) use grew at 10% which is often in rural parts of the country.

Open Area for OSV Recreation
Tahoe National Forest

QWR believes this report should help inspire both the motorized and non-motorized recreation communities to work together to help champion sustainable outdoor recreational opportunities on federal lands through a combination of increased (and dedicated) appropriated  “recreation” funds, grant monies, and site-specific user-pay/user benefit fee programs where monies collected stay on the unit for on-the-ground public services.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

QWR Launches ROHVA BasicDriver Course Training

QWR's, Don Amador, Demonstrating an Exercise

QWR is proud to have completed teaching its first Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) BasicDriver Course today at Argyll MX Park located near Dixon, CA.  Argyll MX Park is QWR’s primary teaching facility.

Student Reading Labeling and Stickers
Exercise 1: Vehicle Familiarization

According to the ROHVA website, the association was formed to promote the safe and responsible use of recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) manufactured or distributed in North America. ROHVA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop a standard for the equipment, configuration and performance requirements of ROVs. Based in Irvine, Calif., the not-for-profit trade association is sponsored by Arctic Cat, BRP, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Polaris, Textron, and Yamaha.

QWR's, Don Amador, Ready to Instruct Students

Don Amador, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, states, “SxS use is an important and growing recreational activity on public lands.  I think it is important for trail-based recreation professionals to aid in SxS or ROV-related safety education of agency and private sector operators of these vehicles.”

“I think this is an important service that QWR can now offer those wanting to learn how to operate  ROVs in a safe and environmentally sound manner.” Amador concludes.

LINK TO ROHVA (Go ahead and take the free online ROHVA E-Course)

*If you are interested in having Don teach a ROHVA BasicDriver Course, contact him at:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sharing Passion for Trails with Next Generation of Land Managers

Chico Student at OHV Information Kiosk - Stonyford OHV Area
Mendocino National Forest

QWR, as part of its Sound Trails Initiative (STI), spent the last 5 days doing various post-fire and other trail stewardship projects on the Mendocino National Forest.

Merriam-Webster defines “Stewardship” as:  the conducting, supervising, or managing of something [and/or] the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care [i.e. trail-based recreation]

QWR believes an important element of trail stewardship is helping pass on your expertise and field experience to a new generation of public land managers that are enrolled in outdoor recreation education at institutions of higher learning such as Chico State University and their Recreation, Hospitality and Parks Management Program.

Designated Trail for Dirt-bike, ATV, SxS, Buggy, and 4wd Use
Mendocino National Forest

According to Chico State, students develop appropriate, professional capabilities, and attitudes required for work in a variety of settings. They learn to advise customers, to organize and plan, to budget, and to manage both leisure services and recreation and park resources. Using technology to enhance the provision of leisure services has become a distinguishing characteristic of our graduates.

Chico Student at Wilderness Trailhead
Example of Motorized Access to Non-Motorized Recreation
Mendocino National Forest

Fieldwork is offered in various recreation and resource settings; students serve full-time internships with public recreation agencies, private or commercial recreation businesses, hotels and resorts, therapeutic programs, or parks and natural resource-related agencies. The Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management has one of the largest and most respected programs of its kind in the nation. Fifteen diverse and dedicated faculty members strive to ensure the best professional education for program majors, minors, and graduate students. The department was first accredited in 1986.

OHV Restoration Project - St. John's Mountain
Funded by CA State Park OHV Restoration Grant
Mendocino National Forest

QWR commends the Forest for encouraging interns and students to learn about recreation and resource management at the dirt or ground level.   A number of students from Chico State worked alongside agency staff and federal partners at the Oakland Motorcycle Club’s annual Jackhammer Enduro to better understand how both casual OHV recreation and permitted events are managed by the agency.

QWR was privileged to take one of the students on a full day tour of the OHV program on the Grindstone Ranger District.  The field trip in a SxS included on-site reviews of various federally funded or California State Park Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Grant funded designated trails, destination and dispersed camping opportunities, trail signing, kiosks, conservation and restoration projects, and how OHV routes can often provide motorized access to non-motorized recreation.

User Pay-User Benefit Fee Station at Developed Campground
Mendocino National Forest

As the Forest Service and BLM continue efforts to maintain and enhance their recreation programs, QWR believes that it is important for the OHV community (public land agencies and partners) to share their experience and passion for trails with a new generation of land managers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Commitment to Collaboration and the Stakeholder Process is Future of OHV Recreation

Chad Roberts (L), Tuleyome, Mary Huffman (C), The Nature Conservancy
and Fire Learning Network, Don Amador (R) Quiet Warrior Racing/BRC

As many of you know, QWR is a strong supporter of the collaborative process as it relates to forest health and recreation planning efforts.  OHVers are now an important stakeholder in public land management decision-making.   That hasn’t always been the case!

According to the 2008 Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation in the United States and its Regions and States: An Update National Report from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) in 1960, when the first U.S. National Recreation Survey was done for the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, off-highway motorized recreation was not included as a recreational activity. There were, of course, many people who rode motorcycles on back country trails and used 4-wheel-drive vehicles (such as jeeps) to gain access to the back country, with and without roads. But there was no recognition of off-highway motorized recreation (then referred to as off-road driving) as a population-wide outdoor activity and the use levels were modest. However, OHV use is now recognized as one of the faster growing outdoor activities.

Earlier today, I was given the opportunity (as an OHV stakeholder) to give a presentation on  “Collaborative Engagement in Land Use Management to Meet Recreational Needs and Other Nontraditional Objectives” at the 43rd Natural Areas Conference at U.C. Davis, California.

There were 7 presentations as part of the Organized Session entitled- “Science and Collaborative Action: Addressing Climate Change, Disturbance, and Restoration in California’s Northern Coast Range and Beyond.”

The important role that collaboration plays or should play in modern land management planning (forest health/fuel/timber projects, private land forestry and conservation efforts, forest plan revisions, mobilizing local and elected official support for projects and legislative initiatives, forest collaboratives such as FireScape Mendocino, motorized and non-motorized recreational trails, etc.) was highlighted by the speakers.

Again, QWR is committed to the collaborative process as a strategy to bring land agency staff, conservation groups, local government, other diverse stakeholders, and the trail-based recreation community together with a common goal of both protecting resources and providing a high-quality outdoor experience.  This stakeholder process is centered on attending meetings and field trips where information is shared, values are appreciated, and relationships are formed.

QWR appreciates that federal land agencies have made a long-term commitment to a substantive stakeholder process on the front-end of the NEPA process.   This is a much needed and welcome change from historic NEPA planning efforts where the agency had already made the decision and was simply going through the required public process as more or less of a formality.

The agency’s shift to investing more time up front in collaborative efforts also requires the recreation community (both motorized and non-motorized) to make a similar commitment to getting some skin-in-the-game by attending meetings and substantively engaging with agency planners, recreation staff, conservation groups, and other stakeholders.

QWR has an axiom that “The quality of your local FS/BLM trail recreation program is or will be directly proportional to the quality of your engagement with agency staff and other users.”

Now is the time for your club to appoint a designated representative(s) to attend local land use planning meetings and make that long-term commitment to help ensure that you and your family continues to have access to high quality trail-based recreational opportunities.  Congrats to those clubs and individuals who have made that commitment.  It is the future of OHV.

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*Don Amador is a Founding Core-Team Member of FireScape Mendocino

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Encouraged" ROV Use on Public Lands Requires Partnership

Colusa County Road Combined-Use Designation
(County Road Provides OHV/ROV Access to Federal Route Network)

As the popularity of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) -- which is sometimes called a Side x Side (SxS) or Utility Trail Vehicle (UTV) -- recreation continues to grow in the country, it creates a need for land managers to ensure (on units that have potential ROV opportunities) their OHV program includes ROV-related travel management information and legal access to designated roads and trails where said use is appropriate.

In addition, travel management has become highly complex and even political since many federal OHV route networks depend on city, county, or state roads (both paved and natural surface) for campground/staging area access or connectivity.

Plumas County Non-Highway Designation for OHV/ROVs
(County Dirt Roads Provide Connectivity between Federal Route Network)

Some states have laws that classify ROVs via a legal description which then dictates which routes are open based on vehicle type.  Helmet law requirements for ROV use can also differ from state to state.

ROV/ATV Helmet Law Sign
(Mendocino National Forest in California)

QWR understands that public land agencies often don’t have the fiscal or human resources to construct new ROV specific trail opportunities.

However in the meantime, OHV program managers can review their route network and camping opportunities to see where road/trail reclassifications or designations can be made to create legal ROV opportunities.

New ROV Access Route from Campground
(Hull Creek Campground, Stanislaus National Forest)

ROV users also have a role to play in helping enhance the functionality of the existing route network.  They can help identify where a road/trail segment needs to be reclassified or redesignated for ROV use (i.e. level 3 road to level 2 road or road to primitive road, etc.) ROVers can also suggest where appropriate loop or destination opportunities might exist.   Those opportunities could be part of an “encouraged” ROV route network.

Discovery Point Along OHV/ROV Tour Route
(BLM's Chappie Shasta OHV Area)

Local ROVers have an important role in helping create political support in areas where county or state roads provide connectivity between federal recreation facilities such as trails and campgrounds.

QWR commends the land managers and local ROV groups who have created partnerships to designate fun and exciting opportunities.

Backcountry ROV Adventure
(BLM's Carson City Field Office - Pine Nut Mountains, NV)

QWR believes that current and future high quality ROV recreation on public lands will rely on a substantive working relationship/partnership between the public and private sectors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Passion for Trails and Public Service Highlight Sierra Interagency OHV Workshop

Campground OHV Access Trail to Adventure on the
Stanislaus National Forest

Cooler weather and spectacular scenery welcomed about 35 attendees to the 2016 Ranger Ride and OHV Workshop held on October 4-6, 2016 at the Hull Creek Campground. This annual interagency trail management event was coordinated by Don Amador of Quiet Warrior Racing (QWR) and the BlueRibbon Coalition/ (BRC). The event was hosted by the Mi-Wok Ranger District on the Stanislaus National Forest. 

The group included OHV managers, trail specialists, line-officers, instructors, recreation staff, law enforcement officers, public affairs, field crew members, and private sector partners from the Eldorado National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, Tahoe National Forest,  BLM Eagle Lake Field Office, BLM Redding Field Office, BLM Ukiah Field Office, BLM CA State Office, CA State Parks OHMVR Division (OHMVRD), BlueRibbon Coalition/, Quiet Warrior Racing, Stewards of the Stanislaus National Forest, and Trails Unlimited LLC.

Topics and modules included trail rides, demonstrations, dirt-bike certification and recertification courses, and exchanging OHV management strategies/challenges/successes.

Mi-Wok District Ranger, Fred Wong, Welcomes Group

After the welcome by Mi-Wok District Ranger, Fred Wong, and other Forest staff, an overview of OHV recreation on BLM land in CA was given by the BLM State Office Trail lead, Jane Arteaga.

Brian Robertson, OHMVR Division Chief, also gave the group an update on the CA State Park Transformation Process and how it recognizes the important relationship that exists between the CA OHV Program and its federal partners.

OHMVRD Chief, Brian Robertson, Talks about State OHV Grant Program
that Funds Restoration and Trail Projects on Federal Lands

Attendees then broke up into several groups to either take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s DirtBike School or participate in a walking tour to review the 15 year evolution of various restoration, signing, and armoring projects implemented to protect natural resources and preserve continued OHV access to the Hull Creek Campground.  

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, over the course of two days, to agency students from the Forest Service, BLM, and OHMVRD.  Students learned basic riding skills, trail ethics, and environmental responsibility.  

FS Trail Staff Enjoys Dirt Bike Tour of Designated 
Road and Trail System

After graduation from the course, students took part in easy and moderate trail rides lead by agency staff and local volunteer partners. This allowed the students to improve and practice the skills taught during the DirtBike School.   QWR strongly 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.

Hull Creek Campground Restoration Project

The upgrades to Hull Creek Campground are a good illustration of how a pro-active “all-hands” holistic approach to managing OHV facilities can be successful in protecting important natural/cultural resources  while providing continued public access to a high quality camping and riding experience.

Campground Tour Includes Stop at Recent Tread Block
Armor Project

The many Hull Creek Campground improvement project partners include; OHMVR OHV Ground Operations Grant funding, American Conservation Experience Crews (ACE), CA Conservation Corps (CCC), Merced Dirt Riders, and Summer of Success High School Crew funded by Tuolumne County RAC and administered by Mother Lode Job Training.

OHMVRD LE, Kim Baker, Takes Turn on Kubota Trail Tractor

The workshop wants to thank Scott Kuhlwein from Garton Tractor for providing the event with a demo Kubota subcompact tractor/backhoe so event participants could practice on this popular piece of trail equipment.  These sub-compact tractors are used on the Stanislaus National Forest and other units to perform various trail maintenance and construction projects.

FS Trail Staff Illustrate Trail Tread Block Installation

Later in the day, folks worked on a tread block project to armor a trail grade against erosion from dirt-bikes and ATVs.

BLM's, Jane Arteaga, and Don Amador at
 Tread Block Demo

Another group went on a trail ride to review the ongoing efforts by the local trail specialists to provide a high quality and sustainable trail program for riders that visit this destination OHV area in the Central Sierra.

Trail Rides/Tours of Designated Routes

Day two started off with a presentation of the Forest’s travel management signing strategy.  The unit’s trail staff believes that an effective signing program is one of the most important methods of conveying (to the public) its commitment to managing sustainable OHV recreation.

Travel Management Signs at Hull Creek OHV Area

QWR believes that signs are an important form of communication in showing the public where they can ride on designated roads, trails, and areas.  Effective signing programs may also consist of a complex system of alternative “signs” that can include border fencing, maps, public education, the appropriate level/type of law enforcement, trail delineators, and vehicle parking restrictors.

Low Profile "Signs" to Stay on Designated Trails

QWR believes the quality of an agency’s signing program is directly proportional to the rate of user enjoyment, public compliance with regulations, and success of the unit’s mission, vision, and values.

OHV Info in Hull Creek Campground

QWR commends the Stanislaus National Forest for its implementation of a holistic signing program that uses the minimum level of “signs” needed to meet its management goals and objectives.   The unit uses adaptive management to adjust its signing prescriptions as appropriate.

Example of Well Signed OHV Trail in Hull Creek Area 

The greater Hull Creek OHV Area is home to a number of waterways including Hull Creek, Trout Creek, and the Clavey River.

Restoration Project in Trout Creek Watershed

The Forest took a number of participants on a tour of its rather impressive and substantive restoration efforts in the Trout Creek watershed.  Those numerous water quality and resource/cultural protection projects included installation of rock barriers, restoration signs, and route delineators.

Restoration Project in Clavey River Watershed

Joe Chavez, Tahoe National Forest Trail Lead, gave an update and field demonstration of the R5 Wet Weather Soil Studies.   Chavez demonstrated the procedure and stated they might do a pilot project soon at one of their riding areas on the Tahoe National Forest.

Tahoe National Forest Trail Lead, Joe Chavez, Takes
Soil Moisture Reading

According to a previous QWR article by Roger Poff (lead scientist on the project), the Forest Service has been conducting field studies to develop an evidence-based method for opening trails based on direct measurements of trail condition.

The field studies involved measuring soil strength and soil moisture, and correlating those measurements with observed levels of trail damage. The 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.

Chavez demonstrated the procedure and stated they might do a pilot project soon at one of their riding areas on the Tahoe National Forest.

QWR believes it will be an important tool in the trail manager’s toolbox for managing trails under wet conditions.

A good “campfire” discussion broke out on the topic of managing trail/route opportunities for SxS recreationists.  With the demand for backcountry SxS touring opportunities growing each year, the group felt it is important for units - that have the capacity to provide for SxS recreation - to look for ways to adjust their travel management strategies to accommodate said use.

Campground Access Route for Dirt-Bikes, ATVs, and SxSs

Often that can include making sure that SxSs have legal access from campgrounds and staging areas to backcounty touring or destination type experiences.  Units should also consider reviewing their existing trail/road networks to identify “encouraged” route opportunities for ½ or full day excursions.

Historic Bourland Train Trestle - A Potential OHV/SxS Destination Site

Another discussion related to travel management on Forest Service lands included the concept of the agency reviewing how its level 3 (usually not open for non-street legal OHVs) road system is integrated into it overall OHV travel program. 

Level 3 roads can often provide important connectivity between motorized trails/level 2 roads for non-street legal OHVs.  Where connectivity is critical for a high quality OHV recreation experience, agency units should consider mixed-use designations for level 3 roads or administratively reclassify the level 3 road to a level 2 which then can be used by non-street legal OHVs.

Example of Mixed Use Sign on the Mendocino National Forest
At the conclusion of the event, it seemed the participants appreciated the education modules, dirt-bike training/certification, opportunities for networking and relationship building, and the effort made to include a lot of “seat time” for trail riding.

Mi-Wok District Recreation Officer, Chuck James, Gets Ready to Lead Trail Ride 

Finally, QWR appreciated that RZ Mask sent some demo dust filtration masks to the event.  Fitting under the rider’s helmet, those masks really helped filter dusk on several of the longer trail rides and added a much appreciated level of comfort for the participants.

Don Amador with RZ Mask

A big note of gratitude goes out to our agency and volunteer partners who helped make this event a fun and informative learning experience.  Once again, this annual workshop proves there is no substitute for “getting out in the field or on the trail.”

Trail Delineator with Wire Strand Deterrent to Discourage
Cutting with Chainsaw

The main takeaway from the event for QWR was the participant’s passion for trails and public service.  It was evidenced by the smiles on their faces and the management prescriptions they have implemented over the last decade to preserve and protect natural/cultural resources while providing continued access to high quality OHV trail-based recreation.

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