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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DNR wildlands land-grab

FYI folks – can someone attend and report back? You can bet DNR won’t view wildlands as OHV friendly.

October 18, 2013
DNR wildlands proposal gets mixed reactions

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County Planning Commission members have mixed emotions about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlands Proposal that is up for review, according to county commission chairman Robert Gatto, who is a non-voting member of the planning commission.

Wildlands are state-owned natural areas preserved for their wilderness character or sensitive natural resources. The nine areas proposed in the county, both new and expanded wildlands, total 9,000 acres. The largest wildlands proposed is 3,993 acres of the Youghiogheny Corridor, Maryland’s only “wild” river.

“People definitely like to see the land preserved and protected for future generations, but at the same time there is the concern of are we protecting it too much and we aren’t able to do the things we want to do on that property,” said Gatto during the commissioners’ public meeting. “Some on the commission felt that it’s already protected because it has endangered species and so why protect it even more and limit potential down the road.”

Hunting and fishing are permitted on state wildlands, subject to existing laws, regulations and administrative policies.

“At any time, those designations could be changed where you wouldn’t be able to (do those things) depending on who is in office and what their intent is,” said Gatto.

Commissioner Jim Raley said that when the DNR purchases the properties, everyone becomes a landowner.

“Because each of us who pay taxes have put a little bit of money towards that purchase and it does concern me that sometimes in designations there are certain things they don’t want done,” said Raley. “My concern is that the state is going to continue purchasing land with our monies in our county. Then the citizens should be able to enjoy some economic benefit from that such as usage of those trails. Yes, there are limitations.”

For example, some off-road vehicle trails have been closed and restrictions have been placed on being able to consume alcoholic beverages in parks.

“The rules can change and that becomes my point of contention,” said Raley. “I think the folks in Garrett County need to make sure our state officials and DNR know those concerns. I want the lands protected but I want the citizens protected, too.”

Gypsy moth suppression can’t occur on wildlands, according to Commissioner Gregan Crawford. Swanton resident Marshall Stacy, whose land is surrounded by wildlands, stated, “My little patch is beautiful and green and everything around me is dead.”

“We invite people to see just how horrible the state has been as a steward of forest land by this gypsy moth mess,” said Marshall’s wife, Cindy Stacy.

The state owns $165 million worth of assessed value property in the county, which includes critical infrastructure, according to Raley. The state owns close to 80,000 acres in the county.

Local meetings regarding the wildlands proposal are scheduled Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at Deep Creek Lake State Park’s Discovery Center and Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at Allegany College of Maryland Continuing Education Room CE8.

More information on the wildlands can be found on the county’s website at http://garrettcounty.org/news/2013/10/dnr-beginning-public-input-process-on-wildlands-designation.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.
Link: http://times-news.com/local/x252031722/DNR-wildlands-proposal-gets-mixed-reactions

see this link

DNR Announces Results of Off-Road Vehicle Trail Review Process
by kking

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that of the three off-road vehicle (ORV) trails proposed for State-owned lands in Western Maryland, St. John’s Rock in Garrett County on the Savage River State Forest was the single property selected for ORV use. DNR made the decision based on comments gathered during the public input period this summer/fall.

“We are thankful to the citizens who took the time to share their input through the public process both at the meetings and through our online system,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “This is a great example of the department working with our professionals in the field to craft sound proposals and using public input to help guide the ultimate outcome. We also recognize the great work of the ORV Stakeholder Workgroup in helping lead us to this proposal phase and promise to continue coordinating with them to find alternative locations for this type of recreation.”

Ecologists and trail experts will work to establish paths and boundaries for ORV-use to develop the system for St. John’s Rock that would have minimal impact on surrounding natural resources. The system, slated for completion in the summer of 2014, will be managed, monitored, and its regulations enforced to ensure ecological best management practices.

“Our trails team is looking forward to implementing the new paradigm of ORV management on St. John’s Rock,” said John Wilson, manager of the Statewide Trails Development Office. “Working with our peers in land management, enforcement and information technology, we are confident that this trail, and all future ORV trails, can be well-regulated, safe and sustainable. We are committed to that end and look forward to demonstrating our plans for success.”

The other two proposals ─ Sideling Hill North and South trails, within the Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area near Hancock in Allegany County ─ have been withdrawn and removed from further consideration as ORV trails.

DNR will continue to fortify ongoing efforts to develop public/private partnerships on potential private land ORV trails, and further evaluate opportunities to acquire access to other private land locations for multi-use recreational facilities.

A number of ORV trails were developed within the State Forests in the mid 1980s, quickly becoming a popular, in-demand form of recreation. However, most of the trails had to be closed in 2011, as some of the activity began to threaten environmentally sensitive areas. With only a few small ORV trails still open, DNR began a comprehensive two-year study to assess its landholdings and develop a plan that would incorporate these trails in a manner that would have minimal impact on sensitive natural areas.