Thursday, January 22, 2009
Monday, September 1, 2008
All I guess I can say is "I warned you".
The last Land Use Blog was back in late July. Of course.. LOTS has happened since and is still happening.
I have a lot of EC4WDA "national" info.. from OH and PA and SEMA. There is Regional stuff too.
Go grab a soda or other beverage, recline the office chair back a little and get ready for a lengthy read. Enlarge the screen so its easy and comfortable...
The main thing.. Please read this Blog. Make me feel that its worth writing.. thanx! (hell, if you read this, would you mind shooting a quick email off to me saying "Yep, I did" ? E4WBrill@aol.com )
What should be first?
I guess the MaBell situation.
MaBell is a great trail in central MA. Lots of ledge work, hills, some beautiful views, some boulders, good fun. I have been wheeling at MaBell for nearly 18 years. The trail has changed a bit but overall not too much. There is some heavy braiding going on however.
Some quick back ground. MaBell used to be a telephone line cut. All the poles are gone now, most decaying along the side of the ROW. For the longest time, most of the property was simply known as "unknown owner". Police would stop by and watch and there was never a problem.. Of course, with our sport simply exploding in popularity, what used to get used maybe once/twice a month, are now getting weekly use if not more.
WE NEED MORE TRAILS/MORE PRIVATE PROPERTY.. more on that later.
So, here is my recent write up on MABell:
The thing that most of you may not have seen is why and what is going on with the area.
I feel that in order for the general wheeling public (not necessarily the organized groups operating under umbrella organizations like EC4WDA or NEA) to be able to grab ahold of why they shouldn't go through it or turn around or not, they need to be fully informed.
When I first heard about the situation via an email from an E4W member telling me to take a look at the post over on NEOW; I read the alert and my first response was.. "Uhh, who says?" Why? Because a 5 gal container was found in it? Why didn't someone just pick it up? Whats going on, and why haven't I heard anything about this?"
Well, after a little prodding over in the super secret sections of the Friends of Coy Hill site (this has become a place where both NEA and EC4WDA secret operatives meet and discuss the behind the scenes issues of New England land use issues before they hit the general public) I was able to get this information.
Bic White and Mike White have been working with the town of Northampton for some time now. (I was told recently that it hasn't been for that long) As a matter of fact, back in 2006, the town of Northampton started the procedure to take possession of the initial piece of property that enters one into the MaBell trail. That parcel has been listed as "no owner" for many years. Our organizations simply did not have the cash available to purchase the parcel or even pay the back taxes.
So, the town takes possession officially in early 2007 and has been recently watching over the land.
Somewhere in this, Bic and Mike start working with the town, apparently unbeknownst to all but a couple of people within the NEA. They did mention in a post on FoCH that they were attempting to start a dialog with the town but didn't go much further with that info.
What has now transpired is the town, in its regular check of the area (although rather impressed with how clean the area is kept), stumbled across the 5 gal bucket apparently filed with oil/petroleum based product. ( I was also corrected on this, it was not full.. sounds like it was a 5 Gal gas can.)
The conservation commission considers the the mud hole a vernal pool ( do a Google to find out what that is) (another correction, apparently, the town hasn't said that.. don't remember where I read that though) and hence we can no longer drive through it. This is a statement from the Town of Northampton, as current land owner, NOT something that NEA came up with. Unfortunately, we can not post any signs stating that or do any work to prevent it...yet.
The town of Northampton is willing to continue allowing use of the their piece of the pie (which btw, is the section from the face back to, but NOT including, Committed). As long as certain stipulations are kept to.
* We are not allowed to expand the parking area.
* For the time being, we cannot post any signs (we need to put signs in the plan first)
* We cannot advertise (I'm not sure what this means)
* We cannot begin any work that is not part of an approved and adopted plan
* We cannot cut new trails (Focus on preservation!)
* No camping
* No fires
These are the major concerns the town currently has:
1. Oil Spills
2. Parking & vehicles in the road
3. Trail braiding
4. Environmental impact to wet areas
5. Complaints (continue avoiding any)
The most current work will be to identify EXACTLY where we are or will be allowed.
Identify all the challenges to operating a sustainable trail.
Identify specific tasks to preserve the surrounding land and minimize impact.
Identify where we are not allowed to recreate and which side trails need to be closed.
Explain Volunteer Trail Patrols and how signs will help establish a sustainable trail.
Set up VTP on MaBell.
(A Volunteer Trail Patrol is pretty much what it sounds like.. Educating people who are wheeling there of the specific stipulations and how keeping to them will allow us to continue wheeling there. Failure to do so will almost immediately close the place down.)
There are also some long term goals that have been set. I won't hit on them here. I also don't know if the goals are NEA's goals or the town's.
The last piece of important information is the "rest of the trail".. what about from Committed on?
I will not list the landowner's name, however, several years ago, contact made presented us with the fact that he would not "officially" give permission but wasn't going to actively chase anyone away. His major fear of course, was/is liability. This stance has not changed but he has expressed a concern with what so many trucks may have done to his property. He has not been there in years. His land runs from Committed out past Zuki Hill and almost to the clearing. I have read that Mike and Bic are confident we will get permission.
NEA has instructed their clubs to turn around before Committed.
If things haven't changed with the landowner, I'm not sure if I'm going to mandate that EC4WDA clubs turn around. If we vote on that stance at our region mtg, then I will pass that word along to the masses.
The main point of all of this is:
The Town owns it, IS watching and will shut it down if we screw up.
Please pass this word along to any and everyone who does or may at some point in the future, drive at MaBell.
And so it goes.... As more info becomes available to me, I will pass it along.
The NEED for MORE LAND
Yea, I can't stress that enough. This goes for our entire association. They're dealing with it in OH, PA, MD, NY, CT, MA, etc, etc.
I know the Northeast Region situation the closest, so my comments will be based on what is happening here but they go for the entire association and pretty much any organized OHV entity.
The sport is becoming more and more popular. Information is now at the fingertips of anyone who owns a 4WD vehicle. Google works wonders, thats why they are multi billionaires.
So, with close to 40 clubs (if not more) within New England, the public places are getting hammered by the groups that won't join one of the large regional organizations. Our private places are getting over run by the onslaught of the clubs that have joined an association to be able to wheel the private lands. Those that need to be at the private parcels due to landowner wishes are getting tired of having to run the same trail 4-5 times a year, never mind maybe head out on their own club's trail rides.. never mind the financial burden of traveling to those locations.
This is how E4W and ADK Jeeps have come upon several of our parcels. This is what YOU can do too.
Both Steve and I were at work (me in CT, Steve in upstate NY). In talking with our co-workers, we both discovered that one of them owned land that sounded as if it would be great for wheeling. I asked my co-worker if he ever rode his quads up there, had any logging ever been done, etc. He knew I was a wheeler, he had seen the Turtle on it various trips to work. Very similar situation happened with Steve, the guy was sitting right across from him!
We both mentioned that we were members of clubs that were always looking for lands to be able to wheel on. We mentioned the lack of land through out New England, we both gave them the "OHV Options; A Landowner's Guide" booklet. We both arranged dates so we could go and check out the properties. After seeing that both properties would be GREAT, we met up again, introduced a few club members, set up guidelines for the lands, etc.
That is the story of the Ranch and DeadFall. Oh, both of which are NOT any where near where Steve or I live. Pretty damned easy.
BTC is a small piece of property that JT4x4 has access to. Currently it is open to their club members. However, in meeting with the Church heads, I'm sure they would have no issue with JT4x4 inviting other like minded people and clubs to enjoy the property. Heck, when I met him, he was talking about the possibility of competitions on the land while standing in front of a half pipe/skate course the church had set up for the public to come out and enjoy, finishing up the day with a BMX and skateboard stunt demo. Pretty damn wild for a church!
How did they get that permission? They simply walked the property after church one day, saw it was wicked cool and just went in and asked the pastor. He was all into it. Just no chainsaws on Sunday...LOL BTW, JT4x4 has been a club for just about a year.
So, there are two excuses wiped out... Nothing near by to our club. DeadFall is two hours away from me, the Ranch is almost an hour from Steve.
We haven't been around long enough to have the resources. JT4x4 has been around for maybe a year.
6 pieces of property plus maybe 10 "public roads/trails" simply aren't enough to accommodate 20 clubs within EC4WDA Northeast Region. NEA has about the same number of clubs, and same number of pieces of land... AND we must SHARE those same 10 roads. Now, add in the numerous forum groups, unaffiliated clubs and just groups of friends who don't have a clue anything organized exists and we simply do not have enough land.
WE NEED MORE
If you have any questions on this, please don not hesitate to ask me. E4WBrill@aol.com
OUR MTG with the GOVERNOR'S OFFICE CT
Aili and I met up with Matt Fritz, Special Assistant to the Governor.
It was at his urging that we rec'd the second group of letters from the CT DEP Commissioner.
I would have to say that the meeting went very well. First off, Matt is from the same town where I was born and raised and where Aili has lived for more than 3/4 of her life. This made for an immediate connection.
Matt was very open to hear what we had to say. He was also rather embarrassed for the state's inability to communicate not only within different agencies, but simply different arms of the same agency. He is quite understanding of the needs that lay in front of us. He was also a bit surprised/impressed, I think, to see the presentation Aili and I had put together. I don't think he was expecting a couple of hicks, chewing tobaccy, but I think he was expecting just a couple of angry citizens, not two professional representatives of the OHV community.
We presented him with economic assessments from EC4WDA and the Hatfield-McCoy trail system. We showed him several examples of other state run OHV parks and states that have a distinct, working, profitable OHV program.
We spoke in particular about the roads that were recently closed and what could be done to either open them up or oepn others. We spoke of the current policy of open unless posted closed/blocked/gated/etc.
He has taken our concerns back to several members of the DEP staff and management and is working to set a date for us to all sit and discuss. He now realizes that we are NOT just a small group but a community who votes. I'm fairly sure he has taken this word back to the Governor and is now working to make sure things take a different turn.
Overall, the meeting was great and looks like there is good potential to come from it.
I will update as further news comes in from Matt.
OHIO Motorized Trails Assoc.
From Bill Kaeppner.
Ohio is currently in the rewrite process of their SCORP (State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan)
They are having meetings across the state through the end of September.
If you live in OH, you should make a point of working to schedule one in to attend.
You can email Bill so that he can coach you on what to say at each one.
I have encouraged folks to go to the Forests strategic plan meetings; the full text of my letter to the membership is after the schedule. Starting Tuesday there will be meetings at the individual forest district offices.
Anyone can go and lobby for their sport. If you ride or wheel you should go and support your sport! I have put the bug in the ear of Dave Lytle that all the service roads could be adopted by 4x4 clubs. They would immediately provide riding opportunity and get someone else (4x4 clubs) to bear the cost (which is all labor) to keep them maintained. If folks brought that to the meetings and suggested it around the state it would be a plus.
The fact is you have to go or write to be heard. Going to the meeting is talking the loudest!
September 2, 2008
4 pm – 6 pm
Athens District Office
360 E. State St
Athens, Ohio 45701
Hocking, Blue Rock, Perry, Zaleski, Shade River, and Gifford State Forests
Open House Summary (pdf)
September 3, 2008
6 pm – 8 pm
Eastern State Forests and Mohican
New Philadelphia Office
2205 Reiser Ave SE.
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
Fernwood, Harrison, Yellow Creek, Beaver Creek, and Mohican State Forests
Open House Summary (pdf)
September 3, 2008
5 pm – 7 pm
345 Allen Ave.
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
Tar Hollow, Scioto Trail, Pike, Richand Furnace, and Dean State Forests
Open House Summary (pdf)
September 10, 2008
3 pm – 7 pm
Maumee State Forest Office
3390 County Road D
Swanton, Ohio 43558
Maumee State Forest
Open House Summary (pdf)
Each year the Division of Forestry opens our doors to interested citizens and neighbors and displays our upcoming forest management activities for the upcoming year. A number of activities including timber harvesting, prescribed burning, timber cruising, grapevine control, recreation trails, and facility maintenance that are proposed for the upcoming year are on display.
Interested citizens are encouraged to attend and meet local forest managers and staff who will be present to answer any questions that you may have. In addition, citizens are encourage to comment on cards that will be provided concerning any topic relating to state forest management.
Thank you for your participation in state forest management. We look forward to meeting you!
Chief and State Forester
The division of forestry has their new draft strategic forest plan. You may view it and comment on it online at http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/4803/Default.aspx. It is under news on the right side of the page. You can also go to one of the forests annual open houses http://ohiodnr.com/Default.aspx?TabId=20687 . These are at the various state forest regional offices. This is very important to you and commenting is relatively easy.
Part of the draft forest plan is
3. Provide recreational opportunities that require a large forest land base
Objective3: Provide recreational opportunities that require a large forest land
• Goal: Develop a comprehensive backcountry recreation plan for the state
– Strategy: Inventory Recreational Opportunities on each state forest
– Strategy: Ensure User Safety
– Strategy: Ensure Resource Protection
– Strategy: Evaluate User Satisfaction (Quality of Experience)
• Goal: Build recognition for unique and varied recreation opportunities on
– Strategy: Emphasize backcountry (or back to basics) experience
– Strategy: Work with DOF Communication Team to develop strategies to
accomplish this goal.
More from Bill K
I am sending this to you as this is an issue that district, clubs, promoters and riders should be involved with. This affects everyone who rides. It would not hurt clubs, promoters or districts reputation to help all the membership who do more then race. We need $2500 for a retainer. It would do a lot to boost our reputation. Any donation to OMTA is tax deductable.
This is a constitutional issue; we cannot afford to be cut out of the process. If we lose our right to speak in court about our right to use “public roads with legal equipment” would your legal event on or off public roads be next?
Any donation will help and OMTA is a 501 c3 so all donations are tax deductable.\
If you have any questions please reply and I will give you a complete explanation
This is being sent to the membership and our attorney.
We have a decision to make. I just received the attached PDF and the following letter from our attorney.
As I read it this court is saying we have no recourse once the commissioners fail to act either by accident or design. It effectively says if the commissioners sit on their hands we are denied a voice. The commissioners can say it is not their fault and even though we could prove use and need, we would be cut out. We need to find out if we can appeal and if we have the financial will and ability to appeal. I believe this is a constitutional issue. The idea that you can cut the public out of a public process just by doing nothing is appalling. Fighting this would not be free. I think this would be a good opportunity for a national organization to show support for state level issues. The fact is we need to decide if we have the will. It would be easier with outside help as it is an issue with (I think) national implications that users have no standing. Yet it is still our issue, do we care enough?
I have a stack of mail from the last 4 days to go thru and I expect to see a letter from our attorney. My wife and I spent last Thursday thru Sunday at the AMA vintage days representing OMTA (and pushing raffle tickets).
I want to thank 4x4 chair Jim Keogh and Lake County Off Road members Dennis Wylie Jr. and Kevin Steadman for working the Canfield show last Saturday and Sunday. The folks who volunteer are contributing at the highest level, we cannot thank them enough.
The first bit I'm going to hit on is the SEMA Automotive Caucus.
These are our reps/senators/both local and national, organized under one umbrella.. the love of the automobile.
Generally speaking, these are our reps who are on our side.
Listed below are the caucus' newest members. I have listed only the states pertinent to EC4WDA members. For the entire list head to:
Representative Zeke Zalaski
Senator Sue Landske
Representative P. Eric Turner
Senator Joey Pendleton
Senator Dorsey Ridley
Representative Thomas Burch
Representative Danny Ford
Representative Mary Lou Marzian
Representative Jody Richards
Representative Tom Riner
Representative Robin Webb
Representative Brent Yonts
Senator Katherine Klausmeier
Representative Joe Fallert
Representative Gayle Kingery
Representative Daniel Eaton
Representative Sherman Packard
Assemblymember Upenda Chivukula
Senator Robert Schuler
Representative Michael DeBose
Representative John Evans
Representative Daylin Leach
Representative Tony Payton, Jr.
Delegate Harry Keith White
Please take a quick moment and thank them for joining the Caucus.
PARKS: Lawmakers, officials wrangle over Cape Hatteras OHV use
Eric Bontrager, Land Letter reporter
The standing agreement for regulating off-highway vehicle (OHV) use on North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the best option available until the completion of a permanent management plan and should stand despite legislation to reverse it, Bush administration officials told a Senate panel yesterday.
Daniel Wenk, deputy director of the National Park Service, told the Senate National Parks Subcommittee that a proposal to reinstate the interim management plan for OHV use would be detrimental to the seashore.
A federal judge threw out the interim OHV management plan last year after finding the National Park Service lacked adequate regulations for OHV use on the seashore, a popular nesting area for endangered birds and wildlife. A settlement reached three months ago by stakeholders increased restrictions on OHV use until the agency finishes its plan, but S. 3113 would reinstate the interim management strategy use until the agency issues a final regulation.
"A return to managing the seashore under the interim management strategy would result in a reduction in the size, frequency and timing of the buffers protecting federally and state-listed species and a likely reduction in the increase in nesting activity observed in 2008," Wenk said.
NPS was supposed to develop permanent rules for OHV use 35 years ago, but the agency has instead operated under the interim management plan. The initial injunction that prompted the court's action came from Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, which both argued the interim strategy would be detrimental to seashore birds and wildlife.
Parks subcommittee ranking member and co-sponsor Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said the plan negotiated in the settlement has already led to an almost 15 percent decrease in visits to the seashore during the height of tourism season, harming local businesses dependent on the influx of beachgoers every summer. "We haven't been thrown an unusual curveball, we've been thrown a curveball that never existed before," he said.
The bill's other sponsor, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), said the settlement's management plan was reached without public input and noted that it could take NPS two to three years before it completes a permanent solution.
The interim strategy includes some prohibitions on OHV use, but the settlement that went into effect May 1 increases restrictions on where OHVs may roam, requires all seashore ramps to be closed to OHVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. and requires protective areas for nesting grounds to be clearly marked.
The hearing on the Cape Hatteras bill and other legislation was the last for the subcommittee before it leaves for its August recess, and while the Senate is likely to only be in session for a few short weeks after that, Burr said he hopes to get the legislation passed before the end of the year.
Specialty Equipment Market Association
E&E News PM: August 22, 2008
BLM: Northeast Utah plan opens 1.7M acres for energy development, OHVs
Eric Bontrager, E&ENews PM reporter
The Bureau of Land Management proposed the opening today of 1.7 million acres in northeastern Utah to new energy development and off-highway vehicle use.
The proposed resource management plan for BLM's Vernal field office would open about 1.72 million acres for energy leasing while designating about 1.65 million acres and 4,860 miles of roads for OHV access.
The plan is the fourth in a series of six plans being released by BLM's Utah field offices this summer. The plans from the Moab, Richfield and Kanab field offices have already been released and have been heavily criticized, not just for their emphasis on energy development and OHV use. Plans from the Monticello and Price field offices are expected soon.
The Vernal plan and the forthcoming Price plan are unique in that work on both plans began as early as 2001 but was delayed and supplemented to include options for protecting non-wilderness study areas with wilderness characteristics.
An alternative in the draft plan identified about 277,596 acres as having wilderness characteristics, and while the preferred alternative in the draft called for no protected areas, the final plan proposes about 106,178 acres.
The remaining areas would be open to other uses like oil and gas development, said Scott Braden of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. That means they could lose their wilderness characteristics over the 10-15 years the plan is expected to last.
"We're pleased they're choosing to manage a portion of the areas identified with wilderness characteristics, but they're really signing a death warrant for the rest of it," Braden said.
The draft also included a proposal to add several segments of the White and Green rivers as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System, but the White River is absent from the final plan.
Click here to read the proposed plan.
BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!
Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,
Attention Motorized Recreationists!
BRC has been working with the Pirate4X4.com crew on several recreational access issues. Right now, they are working diligently to generate a big response to the Boxer/McKeon Wilderness Bill from the OHV community and they need your help. Pirate's goal is to generate 2500 letters or more that BRC can deliver to Congress in opposition to this bill. Time is ticking down and the BlueRibbon Coalition wants to help them exceed their goal. Please help.
I have pasted a copy of the Pirate4X4.com request below, please take a couple of minutes to read it over and pass it on!
Thanks in advance for your support,
Public Lands Department Manager
208-237-1008 ext 107
The Pirate 4x4 Land Use Crew Needs Your Help
Dear Motorized Enthusiasts,
Pirate4X4.com needs to make a personal request to all OHV enthusiasts everywhere. We would never make this kind of request unless it was extremely important, and unless your response had a good chance of making a difference.
Here is the situation:
Years ago, key staff from the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as leaders from some of California's radical anti-recreation groups, made a commitment to keep the historic Furnace Creek Road open. Well, guess who has not kept their promise? The anti's are going back on their word and trying to close this trail forever. The Forest Service, politicians, and other land management agencies are going back on their commitments to the OHV community.
Not only that, now they are asking for even MORE Wilderness in that area! U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon are proposing a bill that would designate 400,000 acres of Wilderness in Mono County, CA along the CA/NV border.
40 years ago the Wilderness Act was passed to protect land from development and things like mining and commercial clear-cut logging. This act is an OUTDATED act, and NONE of these things are happening in this specific area. There are many other ways to manage this land than to shut it down to everyone.
While some routes would remain in this "roadless" area if the bill passes (supposedly to keep the OHV public satisfied) this bill would close many others, including the Furnace Creek Road, a popular 4x4 route which has been in existence since BEFORE Inyo National Forest was even created. The road was used at the turn of the last century for ranching and mining, but there is evidence of use since the mid to late 1800's!
Here's the kicker: Years after the federal land managers and the radical anti groups made a commitment to keep the Furnace Creek Road open, they want to use this Wilderness bill to go back on their word!
We REALLY need your help on this one. We have a GOOD chance of making a difference and, at the very least, saving this historic trail if we get a big enough response.
This is a tremendous opportunity. If we ALL team up to fight for each other, we can pack a huge punch. PLEASE take 5 minutes to join enthusiasts from across the country and send a letter! We've modified our letter generator so that the job is easy. We've even provided a sample letter to help you in writing your own.
Here is what YOU can do:
Go to the letter generator at www.pirate4x4.com/letters and click on the Boxer and McKeon Wilderness Bill link. That will take you to the letter page.
Follow the directions on that page. Either write a personal letter (the preferred method) or copy and paste the sample letter.
One more thing:
Pirate4X4.com has made an agreement with the BlueRibbon Coalition that if we can get 2,500 letters from the generator, BRC will print them all out, go to Washington DC and HAND DELIVER the stacks of letters to Senators and Representatives. That way we can maximize the impact and they can't just "delete" an e-mail from us...
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!
The Pirate4X4.com Crew
PS - BRC's Executive Director, Greg Mumm, has been on several trips to Washington DC lately and he reports that the anti-recreation lobby has been very active! BRC has submitted written testimony in a House Subcommittee hearing on OHV use, and last month he testified in person at a Senate Subcommittee. BRC has also been involved in a new General Accounting Office (GAO) study on OHV use. The anti-recreation zealots are setting the stage for a very aggressive legislative and regulatory strategy for 2009.
This election cycle will be very important for the OHV community. PLEASE register to vote
More from BRC:
The National Land Use Action Committee has been communicating regularly over the summer via email.
I get regular emails from both Bill Kaeppner from OH and Skip Schultz from the UP in MI.
We are scheduling another conference call and I will report back what gets discussed.
Could this be the end?
As always, I'm probably forgetting somethings...
If you made it this far, would you be so kind to shoot me another email saying.. I made it to the end! E4WBrill@aol.com
Of course I forgot something...
The New Rock Run OHV park in western PA has opened up for 4x4 truck use. They have set several dates for 4x4 events and if they are well attended, they will further consider opening up those full size trails for our regular, unguided use.
Volunteers from several local clubs have spent countless hours at the park to provide you with a safe, legal wheeling experience. The trail system is still relatively small by offroad park standards, but the response by those running the trails already has been extremely positive. We’re already working to secure more area to expand the trail network. We feel that the majority of trail rides would be limited to one day, with limited exceptions. On site primitive camping will be available for those instances.
The members of the Advisory Committee (http://wpa4xtrac.
The WPA4XTRAC will provide trail guides. Trail rides are limited to 40 participants. Pre-registration for all events is required.
We will offer three trail rides each day: green/low blue, blue/low black, and upper black. We do not have a red trail rating, but we certainly have trails that would garner a red rating at other parks. The trails were cut with smaller SUVs in mind (such as Jeep Grand Cherokees). Full size vehicles will find the trails to be very tight. Suggested equipment is as follows:
Green/low blue: stock vehicles and those with a mild lift (15 vehicles per trailride)
Blue/lo w black: 33” tires and at least one locker (10 vehicles per trailride). Potential for body and drivetrain damage.
Upper Black: 35” tires(minimum requirement)
Additional required equipment for all vehicles is as follows:
1.) Have solid recovery points on the front and rear of the vehicle.
2.) Have a capable tow strap – no metal hooks or chains.
3.) Have an operational fire extinguisher.
4.) Have properly installed seat belts for all passengers.
5.) Have a lifting jack capable of lifting the vehicle's tire off the ground.
6.) Have a fullsize spare tire compatible with the other four tires.
7.) Have tools available to change a tire.
8.) Have a standard First Aid kit.
9.) Have your vehicle in good running condition.
To register for one of our trail rides, please include your name, address, phone number, trail selection, club (if applicable) and general vehicle specifics to dan58@marylandcreep
Western PA 4x4 Trails Advisory Committee
To get this place open to unguided rides, we need everyone to sign up and book this place solid, let them know we mean business. I have been there, defiantly worth the time. Awesome place, worth wheeling. ANYONE can sign up.
Land Use Chair: East Coast 4WD Assoc.
V.Chair/Land Use Chr. Region D/Northeast of EC4WDA
President, Eastern 4 Wheelers
Tread Lightly! Master Trainer
Blue Ribbon Coalition NLUAC
Brilliant Signs & Grafix
Saturday, July 26, 2008
From the most recent blog some updates.
The NY proposed regulations. Letters have been written and many people have rec'd responses back. I haven't seen any new movement however. I rec'd a real letter back from Senator Sayward, not a canned response.
Nothing new on the MA bills either. Although I wrote, I did not receive any response.
The CT State Road Closures. We did very well on this one, in terms of getting people up and angry and writing letters. Well over 50 letters were written to the Governor's office. I think all of us rec'd the same canned response letter back. We were told that we would receive word from the state within a month max. 32 days to the day after I wrote my letter, I wrote another letter exclaiming that I had not rec'd any comment back from the DEP or anything else from the Governor's office. Two days later, nearly everyone who wrote a letter, rec'd a nice canned response from the DEP Commissioner. I won't reiterate the entire letter but will highlite this section:
Access roads in state parks and forests are considered public roadways by law and are open to registered motor vehicles and non-motorized use. However, the Department may close these roads for specific reasons such as public safety, wet unstable conditions, flooding, forest management activity or other special authorized use. In the case of Nipmuck State Forest, vehicle use was damaging some of the roads resulting in negative impacts to the wetlands, watercourses and other sensitive habitats within the forest. Therefore, the Department decided to close these roads.
A road is considered open unless it is posted as closed, blocked or gated. They did not close ALL of the roads within this state forest.
Also, I did not receive a letter from the Commissioner. Instead, I rec'd a phone call from the Governor's office and I have a meeting with them on Tuesday, July 29th. Aili should be accompanying me so we can be sure to hit on all points. You will all be updated as to how this goes.
As some of you may be aware, the Blue Ribbon Coalition formed the National Land Use Advisory Council last year. Over the last year, they have gathered possible members of that council and have now put us all together. The NLUAC is now official. Although I do not know all of its members, we are spread out across the country. One nice aspect I found was that several of us are from here in the eastern half of the country. There are 7 people on the council. I am the Northeast Representative. Yet, EC4WDA has three more people within its realms to represent this part of the country. Dick Lepley from PA, Bill Kaeppner from OH and Skip Schultz from MI. They are not members of EC4WDA but are highly active within the "territories" of EC4WDA. We all just had a conference call meeting last week. Of course, with me on the phone, it lasted close to two hours. I am excited about the information we can exchange and the fact that I have some very active people from whom I can now garner info from on whats happening elsewhere within the EC4WDA realms.
Rock Run Recreation Area
This state run OHV park is in western PA. Currently, it is only open to ATV/OHMs. HOWEVER, they are definitely open to allowing full sized 4x4s. They have hosted several rides with all 4x4s and they went great. They are now looking for input from our community as to whether they should work to open the facility to us as well.
Check out some of the pix from them:
Rock Run is in Patton, PA. That is about 6.5 hours from central CT but is much closer to those in western areas of EC4WDA.
They are looking for comments so please take a few moments and let them know that you would be highly interested in heading out the their park by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see more info on the park at :
200 Acre Gated Facility: Indian Lookout Country Club Mariaville NY – ½ hour west of Albany, NY
- Enduro/Quad Challenge Course
- ATV Drag Race
- FMX/Street Freestyle Exhibition
- 4x4 Truck Obstacle Course
- ATV/4x4 Truck Mud Bog Race
- ATV Sled Pull
- Youth Demo Rides
- Custom Truck/Jeep, ATV, Motorcycle Show
- Children/Family Entertainment Area
- Bounce Rides and Slides
- Live Music Nightly
- Political Guest Speakers
- Toy Hauler/RV Dealer Display Area
- Vendor Area
News from Indiana:
This goes to show us what a bunch of phone calls, e-mails and letters to state politicians can do! We have been working with the DNR for about the last 6 years to get this property opened back up. This is 3500 acres with trails from easy open trails to wild and crazy. This is what the DNR released today.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
402 W. Washington St. W255 B
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748
Phone: (317) 232-4200
For immediate release: July 25, 2008
Interlake property to open for use Aug. 23
Interlake, one of only two Indiana Department of Natural Resources-owned properties that permit off-road vehicle (ORV) use, will officially open for year-round use Aug. 23.
The property, located in Warrick and Pike counties in southern Indiana, near Lynnville also can be used for horseback riding, mountain biking, boating, hiking, fishing, hunting, trapping dog training and other activities. Operating hours will be sunrise to sunset.
Property rules will be posted at four entrances:
· South entrance (main entrance) - S.R. 68 (east of Lynnville)
North entrance - C.R. 1200 South (Pike County, south of Spurgeon)
· West entrances – C.R. 1300 South (Pike-Warrick county line)
· Clutter Road (Warrick County)
Parking is permitted along roadsides and at the Marion parking lot (adjacent to the north entrance road).
No on-site amenities will be offered at opening; however, a master planning process is in progress to identify opportunities for future property development. Public meetings on that subject will be announced soon.
Persons who visit Interlake are required to follow all DNR-property rules. Vehicles and horses are not permitted on marked reclaimed areas. Camping and open fires are prohibited. The Carry In/Carry Out trash policy is required. All off-road vehicles must be properly registered. Equestrians must comply with bridle tags rules. Interlake is for day-use only and is an at-your-own risk property.
Information about Interlake is at: www.in.gov/dnr/
As you can see, there is still alot taking place out there. We can achieve if we all act together and make some noise.Hope to seeya on the trails!
Land Use Chair: East Coast 4WD Assoc.
V.Chair/Land Use Chr. Region D/Northeast of EC4WDA
President, Eastern 4 Wheelers
Tread Lightly! Master Trainer
Blue Ribbon Coalition
Brilliant Signs & Grafix
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Don't remember the date of the last blog... about 3 weeks ago...
We are truly becoming a liberal communist society... or will if we allow it to happen around us.
Take a look at two recent bills introduced:
This first one in NY. Is this red China?!
Please see http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2359.html#Proposed_Regulations
Written comments for Part 190 will be accepted through July 5th 2008 and should be directed to:
David M. Forness
NYS DEC, Bureau of State Land Management
Albany, NY 12233-4255
Telephone: (518) 402-9428 (for Part 190 only)
Of particular interest;
|(dd) On State land, no person shall sponsor, conduct or participate in any organized event of twenty or more people, except under permit from the department. Examples of organized events include, but are not limited to: sponsored hikes; archery and fishing tournaments; snowmobile; bicycle, horse and orienteering races, runs, rides or competitions (including biathlons and triathlons); encampments; and re-enactments. |
(ff) On State land, no person shall sponsor, conduct or participate in advertising, weddings or film making and other such events, except under permit from the department.
I mean WTF!!
Then this one in MA:
Senate bill 2772
Its a bit of a read if you go from top to bottom. Some memorable points.
SECTION 5 Said section 20 of said chapter 90B, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the definition of “Recreation vehicle” and inserting in place thereof, the following 2 definitions:-
“Recreation vehicle”, “off-highway vehicle” or “off-road vehicle”, any motor vehicle designed or modified for use over unimproved terrain for recreation or pleasure while not being operated on a public way as defined in chapter 90, including but not limited to, all terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, dirt bikes, recreation utility vehicles, utility vehicles and all legally registered motor vehicles while not being operated on a public way as defined in said chapter 90,SECTION 9. Said section 24 of said chapter 90B, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the second and third paragraphs and inserting in place thereof the following 2 paragraphs:- No snow vehicle and no recreation vehicle shall be operated which emits obnoxious fumes or which makes an unusual or excessive noise.
SECTION 10. Said chapter 90B is hereby further amended by inserting after section 24 the following section:-
Section 24A. Whoever violates any provision of sections 21 to 24, inclusive, or any rule or regulation made thereunder, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500.
SECTION 13. Said chapter 90B is hereby further amended by inserting after section 25 the following 7 sections:-
Section 25A. No person shall operate or ride in or on a recreation vehicle or a snow vehicle, or a sled attached thereto, without wearing protective headgear that conforms to such minimum standards for construction and performance as the registrar of motor vehicles may prescribe.
(see definition above: when we are in a state forest, on state land and even on private land and in the act of "wheeling", we are considered a "recreation vehicle". Yes, the above means that when wheeling, even on private land, we will need to wear helmets. If we are on a public way/road, we should be ok tho WTF!?)
Section 25B. No person under 14 years of age shall operate all terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle.
This section shall not apply to any person under 14 years of age operating a recreation vehicle or snow vehicle in a sanctioned race, rally or organized event which is supervised by a person aged 18 or older and has been authorized or approved by any municipal permitting authority. It shall be an affirmative defense to this paragraph that such person was operating such vehicle in preparation for such a sanctioned event, if: such person was so operating such a vehicle while under direct supervision, as defined by section 25C, by a person aged 18 or older; the operation occurred within 21 days of such sanctioned event; and the operator was a registered participant therein or did in fact participate therein.
Section 25C. No person between the age of 14 years of age and 16 years of age shall operate an all terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters unless directly supervised by an adult that is 18 years of age or older. For the purposes of this section, “direct supervision” shall mean that the supervising adult shall be sufficiently close to an operator at all times that the vehicle is in operation, such that a reasonable person under the totality of the circumstances including, but not limited to, vehicle and ambient noise, the landscape and geography of the location, and the operator’s wearing of protective headgear, would believe that he is maintaining visual contact and verbal communication with the operator.
(What the above means: 14 or younger CAN participate in a race, sanctioned event. They can practice for 21 days prior to that event, provided they actually participate in that event, and all of the above supervised by an adult 18 or older)
Section 25F. Whoever violates section 25 to 25E, inclusive, or section 26B shall be punished, for a first offense, by a fine of $250 and for a second or subsequent offense by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $2,500 and the snow vehicle or recreation vehicle that the operator was operating at the time of such second or subsequent offense shall be subject to forfeiture under section 26J.
Yeah.. you read that right. Allow your 12 year old to ride on your own land if its the second time, you get fined up to $2,500 and have their ATV taken by the state.
Better to have them inside getting fat while playing video games, or even better, get em hooked on some illicit drugs... woo hoo! At least that way they can have the state pay their way for the rest of their life.
No wonder people call MA the Communistwealth.
CT State Forest Rd Closures
Of course, other than the canned response letters we all received, we haven't had any other word from the Governor's office.
I am proud to say that we wrote a minimum of 50 letters that I can accurately account for. We are working on some other avenues as well.
This brings up something that I was going to bring up at our most recent Region meeting:
(I'll preface this by saying that I know there will be some that think I shouldn't say this.. but.. I'm going to say it anyway)
We, as a community ...organized 4WD enthusiasts... simply are not seen as a viable, noticeable community. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. We aren't loud enough, we aren't in their face enough, we aren't noticeable. That can work for us.. but has also worked heavily against us.
The reason the CT Forest roads were closed is becasue we wanted to do the right thing. We wanted to do a clean up. Help the state that won't do ANYTHING for us. When the powers that be heard of our actions, they immediately closed the roads. If we contacted the MA DCR about doing work on any road within their state forests, that road would soon be closed to us.
My opinion and paradigm has shifted. I was all for doing the right thing. I can't say that I wholly espouse that entire thought process any longer.
I am not condoning haphazard wheeling wherever we feel like. However, if the research we do show the road to be an open road (IE, the state GIS shows it, the town/state forest maps show it and town records show that it hasn't been discontinued completely (something that can be checked w/o causing a stir at city hall) then we continue to treat that road as open until shown full blown proof it isn't. Gates, signs, state paperwork, etc. Getting a ticket is not PROOF that a road is closed. Of course, we must be willing to fight any tickets we may get.
The greenie wacko groups do it all the time. They blow up and burn buildings. They chain themselves to heavy logging equipment and/or trees. They throw paint on people wearing fur. They stand out on the town greens and shout at people driving SUVs, they vandalize SUVs.. all in the name of Mother Earth.
Hell, they even string up make shift guillotines that kill 13 year old boys.
( See the stories here: http://www.cttrailusers.com/forum/index.php?topic=1331.0 )
AGAIN.. I am NOT condoning ANY kind of violent actions.
However, if 50 rigs showed up on the stairs of the CT state capitol building, or at the Forest HQ or at the Governor of MA mansion... we would get attention drawn to our predicament.
If the roads at Breakneck are not posted, then we drive there... with the knowledge that we may very well get ticketed.. but if the roads aren't posted they are open. Those roads are shown plain as day on the State of CT's own forest maps.. the ones online available to JQ public.
Can you tell I'm really pissed?
If any of this offends or if people feel that by advocating any of this, I shouldn't be in this position as a Land Use Chair of a national 4WD association.. so be it.
Oh yeah.. they're still trying to close Tellico!
BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!
Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,
COMMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGES FOR UPPER TELLICO OHV TRAILS NEEDED!
The Nantahala National Forest today announced proposed changes in the 39.5 mile Upper Tellico OHV Trail System. The proposal calls for maintaining approximately 24 miles of trails, upgrading five miles of Davis Creek Road for street-legal vehicle use, and closing and restoring 11 miles of other trails. The Forest Service is asking for the public comments on the proposed changes.
BlueRibbon Coalition has gotten with our partners over at Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) to come up with some comment suggestions. In addition, we have developed a system to help you submit those comments in a quick and simple manner. To view the proposed changes, go to the forest's website at http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/tusquitee/tellico.htm.
This is also a reminder that the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System Open House on new Trail Management Proposal is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, 2008 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. It will be held at the First Baptist Church, 517 Hiwassee Street, Murphy, NC. The church is located at the intersection of US 74-19 and Hiwassee Street in Murphy (across the street from McDonald's); entrance for the open house will be marked. Individuals may come anytime during the open house hours.
The public is invited to come ask questions and learn more about the proposal as well as submit written comments and suggestions.
Comments may be sent to the Tusquitee District Ranger, 123 Woodland Drive, Murphy, NC 28906. Comments may also be sent via email to email@example.com.
THE DEADLINE IS JULY 9, 2008, SO PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE AND SEND
THE FOREST SERVICE YOUR COMMENTS.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.
Thanks in advance for your support,
Public Lands Policy Director
208-237-1008 ext 102
The Nantahala NF is accepting comments on proposed changes to the Upper Tellico OHV Trail System. Comment deadline is July 9, 2008. For additional information, contact Candace Wyman at 828-837-5152 extension 113, or go to http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/tusquitee/tellico.htm.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Please send an email to the Nantahala National Forest. Use the comment suggestions below. Be sure to add a bit of personal information.
If you want, you can use BRC's letter generator (www.sharetrails.org/letters/letter.php?id=14). It has an easy interface for adding additional comments and sending your letter.
Be polite. Be Professional. Be on time. (The comment deadline is Wednesday, July 9, 2008)
EMAIL COMMENTS TO:
- firstname.lastname@example.org- Acceptable formats for electronic comments are text (.txt), MSWord 6.0 or higher (.doc), Portable Document Format (.pdf), or Rich Text Format (.rtf).
- In the Subject Line of your email, please put: " Comments on Upper Tellico OHV System "
- Paste in the name and address:
Tusquitee District Ranger
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906
- It's always good to include a brief paragraph about how much you and your family enjoy motorized use on National Forest lands.
- Use the comment suggestions below in your email:
MAIL WRITTEN COMMENTS TO:
Upper Tellico OHV System
Steve Lohr, Tusquitee District Ranger
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906
I would like to strongly suggest that the FS consider scoping for reopening and maintaining trails at Tellico instead of closing trails. If the purpose and need for this action is to reduce sedimentation in streams, then that should be the desired outcome of this analysis, not closing trails. If the FS were to change the proposed action to reduction of sedimentation, this would allow the FS to conduct a more comprehensive analysis under NEPA and could provide recreation opportunities to OHV community and reduce sedimentation in the Tellico River watershed at the same time.
I take issue with the idea that the FS is scoping to close trails at the Tellico OHV area based on inaccurate science. I feel that the FS is crumpling under the threat of a lawsuit by a sportsman-turned environmental group. The FS provided information states that Jenks Branch is the creek with the most sedimentation. I feel that it is coming from the Tipton Community rather than the OHV area. The upper portion of the "Lower 2" trail does not drain in the watershed and, even if it did, can be maintained. The area in between that was logged recently needs to be reworked as there were no BMP put in place during that logging and the result is erosion. This erosion is not due to the OHV area and therefore we as users of the area should not be punished for actions for which we are not responsible.
It is inaccurate to say the FS has to close trails because of maintenance issues when they are the entity that did not perform the maintenance. SFWDA volunteers have been working for years in cooperation with the FS and now that relationship is being cast aside in an effort to pacify another less involved user group.
The motorized recreating public will not accept monetary constraints as an excuse for trail closures. Ironically, it is the motorized user community that has been successful in securing substantial funds for OHV management. There are several grant and volunteer programs available, and the OHV community is committed to help provide the tools to address legitimate concerns about route maintenance. Therefore, my comment is that you address any legitimate maintenance concerns by incorporating a training protocol into your plan that would train agency staff on how to apply for grants, use the available ICE-T Money, effectively manage volunteer programs, and learn about and apply for other funding sources. In addition, you might consider MOUs or other similar agreements with recreational groups, such as the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association.
I believe that the USFS has not properly evaluated the impacts of closing or restricting the Upper Tellico OHV Area. I believe that the economic impacts to the area have not been considered at all in determining the current proposed changes. I believe that the Forest Service has not considered the rapid, explosive growth of interest in motorized recreation, and has simply wilted in the face of a NOI from an extreme environment group. The FS needs to consider the interests of others besides itself and the few environmental lobbyists and lawyers who represent a small but well-financed group who wants to prevent the public's use of land that rightfully belongs to the public. The FS needs to consider where the OHV operators who currently utilize the Upper Tellico OHV Area will go, and what damage may occur from that shift to other areas. I believe that current plan for Upper Tellico OHV Area is unfair, unwise, and scientifically and economically unsound.We're not alone:
Controversial Washington Wilderness Bill Approved by Congress
Lawmakers Pursue Other Proposals to Limit Off-Roading
Congress has approved legislation designating 106,000 acres in Washington state’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as wilderness. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law. SEMA and the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community opposed the bill and supported an alternative version to preserve existing roads and trails on about 13,000 acres of the land. By law, wilderness areas generally prohibit roads and the use of motorized vehicles. The issue is consequential to SAN members as off-roaders will have less riding areas in the region.
The measure, which is commonly referred to as the “Wild Sky Wilderness” may sound familiar to SEMA members as it has been pushed in Congress for about five years. In years past, the bill was blocked by former House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) who, with SEMA’s support, proposed a compromise “backcountry wilderness” designation to set aside specific tracks of land that have existing roads and trails. Chairman Pombo was defeated in the 2006 election, and the bill’s sponsors were able to pursue the legislation without concession.
Leaders in the Democrat-controlled Congress are now moving forward on other wilderness proposals, which also may not adequately protect existing roads and trails. Currently, there are more than 20 other wilderness bills pending before Congress.
If you made it all the way through all that and have questions.. by all means, please do not hesitate to ask.David Brill
Land Use Chair: East Coast 4WD Assoc.
V.Chair/Land Use Chr. Region D/Northeast of EC4WDA
President, Eastern 4 Wheelers
Tread Lightly! Master Trainer
Blue Ribbon Coalition
Brilliant Signs & Grafix
Saturday, June 7, 2008
As many of you may already be aware, Pain Hill and Breakneck are now closed.
This brings up a couple of points.
First: As responsible 4WD enthusiasts, we should be open with the authorities and we shouldn't really be wheeling anywhere unless we are pretty damned sure that its legal. That means checking with the local authorities to find out if a road is still indeed an open road or if those state forest roads you're driving on are indeed still state forest roads.
Second: Even when we are as responsible as we can be and even when certain authorities say we are A OK, there will be people higher up who feel that our activities aren't "conducive with state forest ideals" and simply close an area. Or, say the area has been closed for years and that the ranger/unit manager in that area was turning the other cheek to our activities.
Third: There is no communication between the many arms of the CT DEP.
Fourth: The CT DEP has no qualms about breaking/ignoring the law themselves.
OK.. What happened at Pain Hill and Breakneck and why are they closed. (Get ready, this might get long)
About 20 years ago, we were shown the area known as Breakneck Pond. Some real nice 6 rated roads. Three roads actually, Breakneck Hill Road, Cat Rocks Rd and Snow Sled Rd. These are state forest roads, not town roads. They lie completely within a state forest boundary. From my research (staying up well after midnight last night searching) and prior knowledge, I can't find anything that defines a state FOREST road as to how it compares to any other state road. It would seem from what I could find that they carry the same regulations. However, it also seems that state FOREST roads don't have the same constraints in terms of public notice for closure, etc. In pouring over old maps, from the 1930's, those roads existed as town roads with different names. Once the state purchased the properties and took over as a state forest, the roads, which had been abandoned, became part of the state forest property.
Ok, back to the story: We, the 4WD community, albeit rather small back then, used those roads, with ranger Jim Kane's permission and knowledge. We did several clean ups there as well, one time pulling something like 6 junk vehicles from the woods. We were told by Jim that the powers that be within the state were having second thoughts about us using the roads and they were thinking about gating them. Jim said he would have no issue allowing us in though. Then a situation happened out there with an individual club that turned the eyes of the region on the area. 15+ vehicles and people got "stranded" out there right after a massive snow storm. This news hit all the papers and even the TV stations. With this kind of publicity, Jim said he would have to ask us not to use those roads but had a whole series of roads nearby that we could use instead. Paine Hill Rd and Bear Den Rd and a couple of other surrounding state forest roads. He showed us through them.
Jim Kane leaves the position and Marilyn Aarastaad takes over the position. In wanting to make sure everything is still good, we ask for assurance that we're still legal. She send us maps of what we can drive and can't drive. It matches what we had been doing for the last several years.
We run for many years up to about a year ago. not many clubs use the area as the roads are pretty tame, probably 4 on a 1-10 scale.
In the last 5 years, Capitol Jeep has held a charity ride and we have used Pain Hill area for part of the ride. Each year, a simple check into Marilyn would make sure everything was OK before the ride took place. There was never a need for any permits as these are state forest roads and as long as you're registered and insured... just like on any other state road, you're covered. One doesn't need a permit for ten trucks to drive down rte 5 or across rte 80. That is what I was also just told when calling again this year. Also, Marilyn retired and new person, Dean Hyde, took her place. He owns a Jeep and is totally into motorized use. In speaking to Dean, we discuss the Breakneck roads and doing a clean up etc. He is very excited. He speaks to his superior, Mike Reed who asks for me to contact him.I do and explain exactly what it is we do. He is also excited at the relationship we can have and how we can all benefit.
Unfortunately, Mike is the Eastern Region Manager (pretty much from 91 east) and he needs to report to others in Hartford about activities taking place in the forests. Of course, he's excited. Of course, everyone he tells is not. They have assumptions about what we do, and they wont listen to the truth, their assumptions are correct, not what we tell them or show them.
Also, at the same point in time, a landowner contacts us and says that one of section of Bear Den is private and has been for the last 50 years (funny how no signs have ever been posted to that effect and how there has never been a problem until now.) he is angry that the state has allowed this use and contacts the state yelling about the abuses.
This happens a day before the Capitol Jeep ride. Both Dean and Mike assure me that we will have no problems using the Breakneck roads or the Pain Hill roads. The event goes off w/o a hitch.
At that point the clean up is coming up in just a couple of weeks. I make pretty much final preparations with Dean as to where we will dump the large items, the trash bag sand even the junk cars that we'll be pulling. Two days ago, Thurs, June 5th, I get a couple of posts from people stating they know people who have recently been ticketed up on Pain Hill road and that the enforcement officer stated that the reason it was now closed was due to E4W and Capitol Jeep not getting proper permits to use the area. I immediately get on the horn to Dean and Mike. They both explain that the state is changing how they handle things and how people in the field will have much less input as to how their forests are used and operated. They apologize that there is very little they can do as the order to ticket people didn't come from them but from Hartford and through enforcement. They suggest canceling the clean up.
So, now I call Sgt. Mike Enrite who is in charge of that area of the state. He tells me that he is only aware of ATVs getting ticketed out on the roads but it was his impression that roads have been closed for years.
I explain to him everything that has taken place over the last 20 years and he reiterates the fact that the state is changing and the field personnel will have less to do with most of the decisions affecting their forests. He also tells me that his guys most probably aren't going to ticket anyone on the roads. If someone is off the roads doing something stupid, they will be ticketed.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing that has any real laws or rules for our kind of use.
The state statues show plenty of laws that say that ATV riders have several places to go and that the state shall designate areas for ATV use. There are all sorts of laws RE ATV registration and where one can or can't ride them.
There are reams of laws that pertain to trucks and how they can or can't be operated on any kind of legal "highway".
Highway defined as: (37) "Highway" includes any state or other public highway, road, street, avenue, alley, driveway, parkway or place, under the control of the state or any political subdivision of the state, dedicated, appropriated or opened to public travel or other use."
There are all sorts of laws within the state forest section of the general statutes that speak to how parks and forests can be used for hunting, fishing, logging, hiking, camping, fires, etc. How, where ATVs can be used. Even an entire section on enduros. NOTHING on registered, insured, 4WD passenger vehicles. You see, it is assumed that the state forest roads are treated as regular state roads and so any/all laws that apply to state roads would also apply to the use of state FOREST roads. However, the gist of the matter lies within the DEPs SOPs.
Even there, things seem to swing in our favor. However, all the state will have to do is post them as closed. Posted from the DEP's own SOPs: Section 23-4-1
(l) Trails and roads.
(1) Trails are open to non-motorized, multiple use activities unless posted closed.
Use of any trail, road or path posted as closed by the Department of
Environmental Protection is prohibited.
(2) Use of Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trails and the National Park Service
Appalachian Trail crossing state property shall be limited to hiking except
where Department of Environmental Protection blazed trails supporting other
(3) Public roadways in state parks and forests are open to registered motor
vehicles as defined in 14-1 of the Connecticut General Statutes and other nonmotorized
multiple uses unless posted closed.
(4) Service, logging and other roads closed to public use by motor vehicles are
open to non-motorized multiple use activities unless posted closed.
From Section 23-4-2:
(d) Motor vehicles, use restricted.
Motor vehicles, including motorcycles and motorized bicycles, are restricted
to operating on roads, parking lots, campsites and other areas posted for such,
except as authorized by the Department of Environmental Protection. The use
of all other motor vehicles, except motorized wheelchairs, is prohibited,
except as authorized by the Department of Environmental Protection.
That is where we stand. Its seems that as long as the roads are NOT posted as closed, we can go there... However, there is the chance of getting a ticket.. Much like at OFR. If we get tickets we fight them.
Although currently I would say treat the areas as closed, I will be doing a bit more digging and research and contacting those with legal backgrounds to look into this as well.
As I said, its something that we can probably prove ourselves correct BUT.. in turn all the state will have to do is post the roads closed. Use of this area will need to be decided at the next region mtg.
WOW!! So, in the last 3 weeks to a month, since my last blog.. what the heck else has been happening?
I'm going to skim over the next stuff because I took so much space with RE to Pain Hill.
The CCJC Land Use Seminar was well attended and from what I heard, and could see, only a few people fell asleep. LOL
There is currently a whole bunch of new trail work taking place in central MA this weekend. This will open up close to 3 new trails for use. There are about 3000 acres and we are working together with NEA to get this stuff cut and drivable.
Regionally, there isn't a whole lot else that has happened.
The signs have been getting posted throughout the region. They look great!
R E W A R D
For specific information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the vandalism of the symbolic fencing resource protection signs located approximately 1 mile east of Ramp 49 in the South Beach area of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The vandalism took place on or around May 10, 2008.
According to the National Park Service investigation, two sets of footprints were found along the edge of the fence line that extended from the dunes to the waters edge. No footprints or tire tracks were observed entering the closed area which was established to protect a least tern colony; no birds appeared to have been disturbed during the act of vandalism.
A recent court approved Consent Degree requires the National Park Service to automatically expand
the closure area by 50 meters where a confirmed deliberate act disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants. The vandal(s) action leading to the subsequent enclosure enlargement have not caused harm to the birds but have caused additional harm to the businesses and ORV community recreating and fishing at Cape Hatteras!
Anyone having information please contact
United Four Wheel Drive Association
Each person submitting a tip will receive a code number for them to use in tracking the status of their tip. Tips made to UFWDA can be made anonymously, no caller ID is used and caller need not identify themselves.
Or contact Ranger Davis Carter of the National Parks Service, at 252-475-8326, P.O. Box 190, Buxton, NC 27920
HUMMER’s Recreation Rescue
Save Tellico Now
Before There Is Nothing Left To Save
SFWDA, UFWDA, BRC files Law Suit
On Thursday, May 22, 2008, The Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) along with United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) filed suit in US District Court Western District of North Carolina against the US Forest Service to restore access to improperly closed off-highway recreation trails located in the Upper Tellico Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) Area in North Carolina.
A Little Background
On June 28, 2007, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a "notice of intent to sue" the USFS on behalf of the North Carolina and Tennessee Councils of Trout Unlimited, as well as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. SELC's threat demanded that the Forest Service permanently close trails, and seasonally close the entire system.
Caving under the pressure of SELC and TU, the Forest Service announced on December 18, 2007 there would be a seasonal closure of the entire trail system and Trails Lower 2, 7, and 9 would be closed for a year to assess the condition of the trails to see what needs to be done.
Closing trails does not address the issues and SFWDA feels that the Forest Service took steps that are not correct. This lawsuit is intended to reopen the trails that were improperly closed.
SFWDA has worked with the US Forest Service in the Tellico OHV area for over 20 years, providing free maintenance and restoration work to address the agency-wide maintenance backlog estimated nationwide at over $100 billion. The trail maintance, clean up, and volunteer work we have donated to the area is well over $100,000 just in the past few years. SFWDA values the relationship we have with the US Forest Service and plan to continue the work, volunteering and cleaning up as we've done in the past.
What are the effects of the closures?
The impact of closing the trails has greatly wounded the economy in the area. Not only are there fewer places to ride in the Upper Tellico area, but local businesses have felt the impact. Cabin Rentals, Campgrounds, parts stores have all seen a decrease in business. Outside of the impact to the economy, this act sets a precedent for large special interest groups to bully our government to preferentially close access to public land to one user group.
What you can do
Frankly, law suits are not cheap. We need your donations. You can donate online at www.SFWDA.orgor Tax deductable at www.sharetrails.org/rescue-tellicoor donate tax deductable through the United Land Action Fund at P.O. Box 15696, Chesapeake, VA 23328. You can purchase Rescue Tellico Items at www.cafepress.com/rescuetellico. All proceeds are donated to the Rescue Tellico Fund.
At the very least we need your membership. If you are not a member of any or all the below mentioned groups we need you. Please join us so that you can have your voice counted in unison with ours. If you have always wondered, what does my membership get me, here is your answer. SFWDA, UFWDA, and BRC are fighting to keep trails open so we have places to ride.
Please spread the word. This is not only a 4x4 problem but ATV, Motorcycle and UTV's are affected as well.
The Blue Ribbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. www.sharetrails.org
United Four Wheel Drive Associations is an international organization comprised of four wheel drive enthusiasts, clubs, associations, and businesses dedicated to providing community services around the world, education in responsible land use and safe vehicle operation, and protection of our natural resources through conservation practices. 1-800-448-3932. www.ufwda.org
Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) was founded in 1987 to promote responsible land use and to keep public lands accessible for motorized recreation. Since the formation of Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, the focus and mission is to promote responsible land use and to help keep public lands open for motorized recreation. For more information on the activities and accomplishments of Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, please visit www.sfwda.orgor contact us at 1483 N. Mt. Juliet Road, PMB # 222, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
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A whole lot to digest as always.