Industry to play role in developing trails – July 3, 2006
July 3, 2006
Filed under Features
Various powersports-related organizations are providing resources to develop and conduct a series of workshops for U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel and OHV enthusiasts. The workshops are aimed at ensuring a new OHV route rule results in quality OHV trail systems that are adequate for demand, sustainable and fun.
The “Travel Management: Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use Rule” requires each national forest or ranger district to designate those roads, trails and areas that are open to motor vehicles. The implementation of the rule will be a massive undertaking that will require individual forests officials to carry out an extensive process of route identification, evaluation, designation and mapping.
The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) are partnering with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) to design the workshops, in collaboration with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA).
The workshop concept grew from a number of discussions over the past year with U.S. Forest Service staff in Washington, D.C., regarding ways in which MIC and SVIA could work with the Forest Service to implement the OHV Route Designation Rule.
The curriculum for the USFS personnel and OHV enthusiast workshops was developed at a collaborative summit in Salt Lake City in April. MIC, SVIA, ARRA and NOHVCC invited representatives from AMA, UFWDA and BRC to meet over two days to generate outlines of course topics and content.
Workshop objectives are to help Forest Service personnel better understand the needs of the OHV community, how to develop good trails, and how to facilitate OHV rider involvement. The enthusiast component will teach OHV riders how to effectively work with the Forest Service to help ensure their needs are met.
“The importance of successful implementation of this rule to the future of OHV recreation on our national forests cannot be overstated,” said Kathy Van Kleeck, MIC’s senior vice president for government relations. “The industry is committed to working with the United States Forest Service and the rider community over the next several years to achieve the goal of putting quality OHV trail systems in place.”
The workshops will be conducted by NOHVCC and held at selected locations throughout the country. Workshop dates and locations have yet to be determined. NOHVCC anticipates it will begin holding these workshops this fall. Additional workshops will be held in 2007.
Trail funding in doubt
In related news, the U.S. Forest Service’s fiscal year 2007 budget proposed by the Bush administration reduces the Forest Service recreation budget by $11 million and the trails budget by $14 million.
Since the Forest Service has no dedicated funding for implementation of the OHV Route Designation Rule, funding will need to come out of existing Forest Service program budgets.
However, on May 4, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies passed the fiscal year 2007 Interior and Related Agencies appropriations bill that restores $13 million to the recreation budget and $11 million to the trails budget.
While the House committee action is only a first step (the bill will now need to be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee before being acted upon by the full House and then the Senate), the MIC Government Relations staff calls the action “a very positive first step.”