2015 Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance Year in Review
Our third year just gets better! 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, we have continued to work with western civic and social leaders espousing the gospel of OHV recreational tourism, and we have established a strong working relationship with the new DNR administration! 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!
Partnership with DNR
On July 20th, we met with Mark J. Belton, Secretary of Natural Resources, and the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Land Resources, Darryl Anthony. We had a very positive meeting with the Secretary and Assistant Secretary. We focused on OHV recreational tourism and the economic benefit to rural counties, and public/private partnerships using reclaimed coal mines. We specifically asked him to ensure that the Savage River trail opens next year. Our community has waited almost 5 years for the promised establishment of a public OHV area and it is time to deliver. We also briefed him on the need to have a certified trail builder assist with the trail layout. Construction of sustainable and safe trails is not a job that anyone can do. The State needs to get this right the first time. He promised to engage other departments and remove roadblocks as well as push to ensure a trail builder is part of the construction team. The DNR has been looking at 3,000 acres near Kitzmiller, MD. We have been discussing this with DNR and western Maryland leaders for several years. We asked him to purchase the property and ensure it is operated as an OHV park. This could be the southern anchor to a joint public private riding area similar to Hatfield-McCoy. The Savage River trail would be the northern anchor. In that regard, we asked Secretary Bolton to engage with the Department for Economic and Business Development to request a Joint DNR/DBED working group to look at OHV recreational tourism state-wide.
It gets better!
On October 23rd, we had a follow-up meeting with Daryl Anthony, Assistant Secretary for Land Resources. In this capacity, he is responsible for Engineering and Construction, Maryland Environmental Trust, Forest Service, Land Acquisition and Planning, Wildlife and Heritage, Maryland Environmental Trust, and the Maryland Park Service. For such a busy man, I was surprised and pleased that he gave me nearly 2-hours of his time. I should add we spent a good portion of that time discussing his awesome Jeep Rubicon and some of his wheeling adventures! Asst Sec Anthony is definitely an off-road guy!
Early on in our conversation Daryl stated that DNR recognizes OHV/ORV use as a viable recreational opportunity and DNR will provide opportunities for this use. The rest of the conversation supported that. I have no doubt that he is committed to opening and maintaining OHV riding areas on State land.
Much of our conversation regarded the Savage River trail systems. He stated frequently that DNR must ensure that it is done right the first time. He shares our concerns that without heavy involvement from the end user group, DNR is at risk of building a trail system no one wants or would use. As a wheeler, he is personally vested opening Savage River for OHV use.
Economic Benefit Meeting with Western Leaders
We have continued to meet with civic and political leaders in Allegany and Garrett Counties. This is a slow process to build support but we are making excellent progress. The new Garrett County Commissioners are very interested in the economic benefits of OHV recreation tourism — that in itself is a big win on our part.
We met with the mayors of Barton, Midland, Westernport and Kitzmiller to discuss how OHC tourism could benefit them. These towns are economically challenged and OHV’s could be a huge boon. They were cautiously receptive. We at least have a foot in the door!
In 2016, Assistant Secretary Anthony would like to see another NOHVCC workshop conducted for Park personnel. We’ll be working hard on that.
We will be meeting with business leaders and clubs in southern and eastern Maryland to discuss how they may benefit for our efforts in western Maryland as well as our partnership with DNR.
Lastly, we will keep DNR’s feet to the fire to get the Savage River Trail System opened as promised.
Your Alliance will be pushing hard on OHV issues. 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!