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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to become a NOHVCC partner.
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.
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 email@example.com.
see this link
DNR Announces Results of Off-Road Vehicle Trail Review Process
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.
There will be a second meeting in regards to the potential trails at St John’s Rock (Savage River) and Sideling Hill WMA. The meeting will be Wednesday September 25th 2013 at 7 PM in the Hancock Town Hall 126 W. High St, Hancock, MD.
Spread the work and show up if you can!
It’s been a while since the Maryland OHV Alliance has reached out to you. The forward momentum has been incredible this year, as we’ve now have three potential ORV trails pending final adjudication with Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). As much as we’d like to think this tough part is over, the truth is we still need your voice to be heard!
Three new ORV Trails being considered are: (1) one ORV Trail in Garrett County on the Savage River State Forest, in the general vicinity of St. John’s Rock-Red Dog Road, (2) two ORV Trails in Washington County, on DNR managed lands on Sideling Hill north and south.
There will be a public meeting on Sept 4th 7pm at New Germany State Park. Please attend if possible and comment regardless.
Points to consider:
1. This is a good start but does not adequately replace the more technical trails at Green Ridge State Forest. Please encourage DNR to establish more technically challenging, but sustainable trails for bikes, ATVs and jeeps.
2. Please encourage the DNR to establish monitoring programs so that we can reduce the subjectivity of when a trail is no longer sustainable.
3. Encourage the DNR to use volunteer labor to maintain and monitor trails. Volunteers can also establish new single and 2-track trails at little or no-cost to the DNR.
Please send us feedback if you attend the meeting or if you comment by email. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.