2014 Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance Year in Review

Our second year was just as phenomenal as our first year! Again it was all due to your help, donations and a strong Board of Directors. We continue to make progress on opening the Savage River Trail System, and have been working hard with western civic and social leaders espousing the gospel of OHV recreational tourism. It was quite a year and you made it happen with your generous support! As Paul Harvey would have said, now for the rest of the story!

Savage River State Forest OHV Trail & NOHVCC Workshop for DNR

It has been many years in the making and members of your Alliance Board have been working on this long before the Alliance was formed. Last year the State officially started the process to create an OHV trail system within Savage River State Forest. The initial engineering assessment was completed and the Alliance was invited to review the proposed trail layout. To put it mildly, we were underwhelmed. Fortunately we saw this coming and had been working with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) to conduct a 2-day workshop (at no cost to DNR) on trail design and maintenance.

We used your donations and split the cost with NOHVCC to conduct the workshop. It was money very, very well spent. NOHVCC sent one of their senior project managers, Jack Terrell, as well as Ron Potter who recently retired from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource. Ron spent 37 years as the MN DNR Recreation Systems Manager in the Parks & Trails Division. He is a nationally respected public trails manager and was very, very well received by the MD DNR members who attended. DNR sent two senior leaders and about 20 other employees who ranged from headquarters level planners to local land managers. The workshop was one-day of classroom followed by a day in the field. It was amazing and exciting to see their eyes opened by Jack and Ron over the two days of the workshop. We should also add that when we went to the field, the engineering firm DNR hired accompanied us.

By the end of the workshop, the original plan was totally scrapped and DNR proposed a dual-trail system paralleling the 7-miles of Red Dog Road with interconnecting loops. We went from 5-6 miles of trails to 30+ miles of trails and from 15 users per day to 30 users per day. We believe that a well designed trail monitoring system will show DNR that even more users per day can be achieved. This is a great start and will be a model for future OHV areas on public land.

DNR expects all the work to open the trail system to be completed by the end of 2015. You can be assured we will stay closely involved with DNR to ensure that happens!

Trail System Monitoring Initiative

Your Alliance was the instigator to start a trail monitoring working group with representatives from the Maryland DNR (Wade Dorsey, Savage River Land Manager), Garrett College (Kevin Dodge), Steve Storck (local volunteer and trail erosion expert) and the MD OHV Alliance (Ken Kyler). Steve has a PHD in Outdoor recreation Management and has done a lot of work on trail monitoring programs that is directly applicable to creating an OHV trail monitoring program. DNR has found seed money to fund some Garrett College students to do the monitoring under the supervision of Kevin.

You may ask why we should embrace trail monitoring. Trail monitoring is a proactive way to ensure trails are sustainable and thereby remain open! Green Ridge had no trail monitoring program and was shut down with little warning as an unsustainable trail. We view a well designed trail monitoring program as a defensive measure as well. By being proactive, we can bring volunteers to the trail and mitigate issues before they become problems—something we should have done at Green Ridge. Also, because Maryland manages all forests as “sustainable forests” a monitoring program is vital to their next evaluation. By being proactive and mitigating issues as they arise we can show that OHV recreation is compatible with sustainable forests.

Economic Benefit Meeting with Western Leaders

The Alliance had a social meeting with Senator Edwards, elected state and county leaders, as well as landowners and significant social leaders to continue last year’s discussions on the economic benefits of OHVs to the counties. This time we presented the economic impact that surrounding areas experience from OHV recreational tourism. The attendees seemed quite surprised by the economic benefit the counties could experience. This is a very slow process but we are making inroads. One result was an invitation to meet with Mike Koch who is the executive director of Garrett County’s Department of Planning and Economic Development. Mike thinks OHV recreational tourism can only be good for the county if done right. Our job is to show him it can be.

Future Initiatives

Your Alliance will continue to push forward on the issues above as well as undertake new initiatives.

New State leadership!

The election of Larry Hogan has changed the world and created vast opportunities for us. We believe Governor-elect Hogan will be a strong supporter of building OHV recreational tourism using State land as well as public/private partnerships. It appears that Hogan will appoint Charlie Evans Jr. (who worked as the assistant secretary at DNR during the Ehrlich administration) as the next DNR Secretary. We will be working to get on his calendar and discuss OHV recreation on DNR lands and we will push to reopen Green Ridge State Forest.

Updating Maryland’s Outdated OHV Noise Legislation

Maryland’s legislation on OHV noise is woefully outdated. With the help of AMA, we are drafting an update to use the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and AMA’s recommended noise standard and testing method. It will also address spark arrestors. We are drafting language to ensure this only applies to OHV use on public property and may be waived for races or events. We all follow these standards already so this won’t be any change for you. This is primarily a defensive move on our part. We would rather have standards passed that we all already adhere to versus having someone with an axe to grind push through a very onerous law. Noise is a major issue and has contributed to closing OHV parks and other riding areas.

Summary

Your Alliance will be pushing hard on the issues above. We are achieving results many long-time Marylanders though impossible. This is all because of your strong support. We are a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) organization and we have been achieving great results with your funds!

2013 Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance Year in Review

We had a phenomenal first year, thanks to your help and a strong Board of Directors.  We achieved what many long-time Maryland riders said was impossible; DNR is opening an OHV trail in Savage River State Forest, the Maryland Legislature unanimously passed legislation modifying Maryland’s Recreational Land Use statute to apply to the entire State and to cover OHVs, for the first time ever OHVs are included in the State’s 5-year Land Preservation & Recreation Plan; and Senator Edwards had a meeting with us and three western counties including State Legislators, county commissioners and county planners to discuss the economic benefits of OHVs to the counties.  It was quite a year and you made it happen with your generous support!  As Paul Harvey would have said, now for the rest of the story!

Savage River State Forest OHV Trail & new areas

It has been many years in the making and members of your Alliance Board have been working on this long before the Alliance was formed.  The State has officially started the process to create an OHV trail system within Savage River State Forest.  The initial engineering assessment should be done this spring and the Alliance has been invited to participate with the engineering firm on trail layout and user expectations.  This is a slow process and we continue to push DNR on our issues; this needs to be done right the first time.  This will be a model for future OHV areas on public land.

Speaking of public land, we also are pushing DNR to acquire more land either through outright purchase or via a public/private partnership to create new OHV areas.  This is gaining momentum and DNR is actively looking at one parcel in western Maryland of nearly 3,000 acres.

Recreational Use Landowner Liability legislation

This legislation was introduced by the Maryland Motorcycle Dealer’s Association with support and assistance by the Alliance.  It extends the same liability relief to landowners throughout the State that previously were only granted to landowners in Garrett County.  It also extends the relief previously restricted to cross-country skiing and snowmobiling to include OHV recreation.  Veterans of Maryland legislation initiatives will tell you it is rare to get a statute change on the first effort.  This took a lot of action by you calling your representatives and sending emails.  This is truly a huge win for us.

5-year Land Preservation & Recreation Plan

For the first time in Maryland’s history, OHVs are in the Land Preservation and Recreation Plan (LPRP)!  Every 5-years the State must update the LPRP to identify essential and contemporary issues impacting outdoor recreation and natural resource protection in Maryland.  “The Land Preservation and Recreation Plan will help guide land conservation and development of outdoor recreation opportunities over the next five years and builds upon the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to include proactive approaches to address critical issues identified in the planning process. The Plan aims to: provide Maryland’s citizens and visitors with safe and easily accessible amenities; encourage the enjoyment and stewardship of Maryland’s natural world; and balance outdoor recreation land use with natural and cultural resource protection. It also serves as Maryland’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and qualifies the state to receive funding through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

In a nutshell, the State has said it will include the need for OHV trails in their planning!  This is huge for our cause.  Monitoring how well the State delivers is one of the Alliance’s primary functions.

Economic benefit Meeting with Western Counties

Members of the board met with Senator Edwards, and representatives of the three western counties including State Legislators, county commissioners and county planners, to discuss the economic benefits of OHVs to the counties.  We discussed the DNR’s efforts to open new OHV trails, the concept of Public/Private Partnerships for recreational use of land (similar to the Hatfield/McCoy model), the potential for trails in Washington County specifically near the old Ft Ritchie site, and other challenges and opportunities for OHV recreational tourism.  There was a lot of interest and support from those in attendance and that support was evident in getting the landowner liability statue amended as stated above.

Future Initiatives

Your Alliance will continue to push forward on the issues above.  To date, we have been creating the foundation necessary to facilitate OHV riding and driving areas on both public and private property.  In that regard we are supporting a landowner in Garrett County who is trying to open a small ATV park.  We will continue our education mission by facilitating a 2-day workshop between the DNR and the National Off-Highway vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) on trail design, maintenance and enforcement.  We will also be focusing on building support in the counties for economic development through OHV recreation as well as opening new OHV areas across the State.

Success!

I apologize for the late post on this important issue.  Both the House and the Senate unanimously approved passage of the liability legislation.  We are waiting for the Governor to sign the bill.  Thanks for all your support! We’ll post more information here soon.

ACTION ALERT! One more time – SB533

Team – one more time!
Time is of the essence — act now!!!!!!
Thanks to your efforts, the House committee gave it a thumbs up to HB 660 (I errored when I said earlier that the Maryland House approved HB660–it was the committee) and it is now off to the full House chamber this week.
If you want to listen to the testimony before the Senate subcommittee, go to this link
We are told that it shouldn’t see much pushback given a 22-0 vote from the committee.
The Senate committee is likely the rougher ride with several plaintiff’s litigators in that body. This is where we need your help again!
Please contact the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (listed below) and let them know your stance on SB 533 “Forests and Parks – Public Recreation on Private and State-Owned Land – Off-Highway Vehicles.”
Why is this good for OHVs?
The first obstacle to private landowners opening their property for OHV use is liability. This change extends the current liability exemption (for a landowner who agrees to the use of the landowner’s property for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling in Garrett County) to all Counties in Maryland and includes the use of OHVs. This is good for owners of reclaimed coal mines in western MD, owners of sand or gravel pits in southern or eastern MD, for stone quarries, for farmers wishing to generate some additional revenue from their land, etc.
Also, many landowners do not want OHVs on their property and become alienated to OHVs in general when rogue trails appear on their property without their consent. The greater use of OHVs on private land should reduce rouge trails on private and public land.
Also, this bill is a natural complement to recent Sideling Hill legislation (SB 471) which passed the Judicial Proceedings Committee this week.
Please contact the committee members listed below and your elected representatives ASAP!
Please send a courtsey copy of your email to Travis Martz <travis@martzlegal.com> and Ken Kyler <ken@kyler.com>
You can read the entire bill at the link below:

Action Alert! OHV Landowner Liability Legislation

Team – please contact the members of the Natural Resources Subcommittee of Environmental Matters Committee (listed below and let them know your stance on HB 660 “Forests and Parks – Public Recreation on Private and State-Owned Land – Off-Highway Vehicles.”
Why is this good for OHVs?
The first obstacle to private landowners opening their property for OHV use is liability. This change extends the current liability exemption (for a landowner who agrees to the use of the landowner’s property for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling in Garrett County) to all Counties in Maryland and includes the use of OHVs. This is good for owners of reclaimed coal mines in western MD, owners of sand or gravel pits in southern or eastern MD, for stone quarries, for farmers wishing to generate some additional revenue from their land, etc.
Also, many landowners do not want OHVs on their property and become alienated to OHVs in general when rogue trails appear on their property without their consent. The greater use of OHVs on private land should reduce rouge trails on private and public land.
Please contact the committee members listed below and your elected representatives ASAP!
Please send a courtsey copy of your email to Travis Martz <travis@martzlegal.com> and Ken Kyler <ken@kyler.com>
Marlin Holmes (Chair) – marvin.holmes@house.state.md.us
Anthony O’Donnell – anthony.odonnell@house.state.md.us
You can read the entire bill at the link below:

OHV Liability Amendment

The Maryland Motorcycle Dealers Association (MMDA), with the support of the MD OHV Alliance, submitted a technical amendment to Maryland’s Recreational Use Statute that extends landowner liability to cover OHV use.

Why is this good for OHVs?  The first obstacle to private landowners opening their property for OHV use is liability.

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Maryland’s OHV Trails May Be Gone…But Not For Long Thanks To New OHV Alliance

Maryland’s OHV Trails May Be Gone…But Not For Long Thanks To New OHV Alliance
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Across the country, many OHV success stories can be traced back to the actions of a very few people. In Maryland, Ken Kyler stepped up to the plate along with some additional riders. And while his success cannot yet be measured in trail miles, it can be measured in building a coalition of riders working to create a positive future for OHV recreation.

“Two years ago, the state essentially closed all the OHV trails,” said Kyler. “We were down to a nice trail of 18 miles. After the DNR closed that, we banded together. But instead of forming a specific club, because there are many motorcycle, ATV and truck clubs around, we formed an alliance of all the clubs. The Maryland OHV Alliance (MDOHVA) is truly a single voice for all the clubs in the state of Maryland.”

MDOHVA was organized in March of 2013 by Kyler, secretary/treasurer, and Mike Twigg, owner of Twigg Cycles in Hagerstown, MD and president of the Alliance. It is a 501(c)(3); has a board of directors representing many OHV user groups; and voting members from 18 OHV clubs, associations, and local businesses. “Even though Mike is a dealer and I’m a motorcycle rider, we think about all the user groups in everything we do. We are the grease to make things happen. We facilitate success, providing solutions and activities that make things happen for the clubs,” said Kyler.

Even before the OHV trails closed, Kyler was using his skills and experience as a dirt bike rider, retired military officer, and chess player; working quietly and effectively to create partnerships between riders and agencies. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asked him to be part of the state’s first OHV Stakeholders Working Group. He is also a member of the MD DNR Land Preservation and Recreation Plan review committee, working with the state to open new areas to OHV recreation. And he is working with Allegany County to develop reclaimed coal mines for OHV recreation.

“We have two OHV initiatives,” explains Kyler. “OneDual -Sport Adventurers of Maryland and Nearby banner is a private land initiative, because in western Maryland there are many reclaimed coal mines. It’s in a great area to ride, and truly emulates what’s in the Hatfield-McCoy Trails (in West Virginia). The second initiative is to educate the state to create a state-owned OHV park. There are many sand and gravel pits in eastern and southern Maryland. We can’t work like West Virginia, because we don’t have a central organization. Our goal is to get it started, then get the counties to come together and lease all the land and run it the same way.”

Thanks to the efforts of MDOHVA and its broad-based executive team, the state has a short trail system on the drawing board, reports Kyler. It includes single track and two-track trails, with the potential for 40 trail miles in the future. The Alliance is working with the state legislature on liability issues, but is unsure if they will succeed on their first attempt, given the political climate in Maryland. However, Kyler is optimistic that success is coming. “We formed just last March, and we’re pretty happy with what we have been able to accomplish. The word is getting out, people are seeing our success, and are encouraged.”

To see the complete list of MDOHVA member clubs and associations, and follow their progress to rebuild an OHV trail system in Maryland, visit their web site at: http://mdohvalliance.org/.

Ken Kyler is a new Associate State Partner with NOHVCC, and is putting NOHVCC resources to work through the efforts of MDOHVA. To see a list of who is a NOHVCC Partner in your State, go to our State Contacts page. Each State can have one Partners and several Associate State Partners. Contact us at trailhead@nohvcc.org for more information or to become a NOHVCC partner.

Willderness Designation Meetings

This just in – I did not get it in time to go to the Frederick meeting.  Please attend if you can!

From: “Karis King” <KKing@dnr.state.md.us>
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2013 11:40:27 AM
Subject: DNR is Gathering Public Input on Possible Designation of Additional Wildlands

You are receiving this message because of your interest in Maryland’s natural resources. Starting today, the Department of Natural Resources will be holding public meetings in nine counties across the State to collect comments on designating additional Wildlands in Maryland’s Wildlands Preservation System. Click here for more information.

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