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AMA News and Notes: October 2013

October 25, 2013

AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris at nharis@ama-cycle.org.

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            The AMA is happy to introduce a new member of its AMA government relations staff member in Washington, D.C., Steve Salisbury. Steve is the new Off-Road Government Affairs Manager, has a degree in forestry and is an avid off-road rider. He has written access advocacy articles for Trail Rider magazine and volunteered as a Master Tread Trainer with Tread Lightly!. Steve is a native of central New Jersey and has moved to Washington, D.C., from Maine where he worked in the forest products and powersports industries. He brings a varied background to the AMA and will focus on the off-highway access challenges faced by riders nationwide.


            Washington D.C.:  A new U.S. Forest Service rule could accelerate trail deconstruction. The rule will allow the agency to fast-track the destruction of motorized trails. On Sept. 12, the Forest Service published a final rule in the Federal Register that adds three new "categorical exclusions" to its national Environmental Policy Act regulations "for activities that restore lands negatively impacted by water control structures, natural- and human-caused events, and roads and trails."

            Categorical exclusions allow the agency to act without preparing a costly and time-consuming environmental assessment or environmental impact statement to determine the project's impacts.

            Among other things, the new rule allows the U.S. Forest Service to obliterate "unneeded and unauthorized roads and trails" without doing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement which can be establish by merely leaving them off their trail and road maps. The rule can't be applied for recognized National Forest System Roads and National Forest System Trails.

            When using the categorical exclusion related to roads and trails, the rule says U.S. Forest Service officials "will conduct appropriate scoping and public involvement assuring that citizen views are taken into account in an appropriate manner given the context of the decisions being made."

The rule also states "this category will not be used to make access decisions about which roads and trails are to be designated for public use."

            When the Forest Service sought public comments on the proposal last year, the AMA expressed concerns that the proposed rule would "allow a categorical exclusion from the current environmental review to accelerate the pace of road and trail deconstruction. In other words, these new categorical exclusions will make it much easier for the Forest Service to reduce the number and mileage of trails."

            The AMA also asked why a categorical exclusion wasn't proposed for instances when the Forest Service restores trails for the safety of users.

            "Now, more than ever, it's important for all riders to contact their local national forest and get on the contact list to be notified when the local forest plans to take any action on trails," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "Since the Forest Service can move quickly to destroy trails, we must be prepared to move quickly to voice our concerns as motorized recreation enthusiasts whenever we can."


            Pell City, Ala.: The Cheaha Trail Riders are celebrating 25 years of creating trails. It has been a long time since the Cheaha Trail Riders began and completed its first major off-highway vehicle project: the Kentuck OHV Trails near Oxford, Ala., in the Talladega National Forest.
            The Kentuck OHV trails were built circa 1991 through a partnership of the Cheaha Trail Riders and the U.S. Forest Service. Today, Kentuck OHV is still open and visitors from all over the South frequent the park. It was the first public OHV park in Alabama.
            The Cheaha Trail Riders is an AMA/ATVA-chartered organization. Glenn Myers, one of the original organizers of the Cheaha Trail Riders and current president, has been instrumental in the accomplishments of the group. The organization has worked over these past years to help in the development of Kentuck OHV area; Minooka OHV area in Chilton County, Ala.; Warfield Point in Greenville, Miss.; TOPTRAILS Park in Talladega County, Ala.; and some new trails that are being built in Geneva State Forest in Kinston, Ala., in cooperation with the Geneva State Forest Stakeholders Volunteers.
            Cheaha Trail Riders members can be found in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Arizona and other states. If you would like to join in the Cheaha Trail Riders ongoing quest to improve and enhance opportunities for the OHV community, visit the group’s website for more information.
 

Fredonia, Ariz.: New rules defining where you can drive in the Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona are being implemented. As of September 23, 2013, motorized use will be restricted to within 30 feet of designated roads, except in camping corridors, which allow vehicles to travel up to 300 feet from the side of the road. Vehicles can also be taken off-road to retrieve firewood, and a legally harvested bison or elk.

            The district's new travel management plan designated a motorized system of roads, trails, and areas across the nearly 650,000-acre ranger district, and restricts motorized travel off the designated routes.

            Free maps are available at all Kaibab National Forest offices. The Travel Management Project was undertaken in response to the 2005 national Travel Management Rule, which requires all national forests and grasslands to designate a motorized travel plan.

To learn more about the new regulations visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/kaibab/tmr


            Placerville, Calif.: Twenty-four of the 42 routes in the Eldorado National Forest that were closed by court order in 2012 were re-opened on September 12, 2013 for motorized vehicle use. The remaining 18 routes have segments that interfere with water flows in meadows and will be reopened after corrective actions have been made.

            The 24 routes have been added to the Eldorado National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map, which is available at all Eldorado National Forest offices. The map identifies the routes that are open for public motor vehicle use. The Forest Service recommends that visitors obtain the latest map to insure they are travelling on routes that are open to the public.

            Copies of the Eldorado National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map, the Record of Decision, a list of the 24 routes that were reopened for public motorized vehicle travel, a list of the 18 routes that will receive future corrective actions, and the agreement the Forest Service will keep while implementing the record of decision, are available on the Eldorado National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado.


            Ouray, Colo.: The city council agreed recently that off-highway vehicles licensed in other states should no longer be permitted to operate on city streets. The city’s code, in keeping with state statute, has never explicitly allowed OHVs to operate on city streets – even those from states that, unlike Colorado, do legally license them.    

            However, after a 2002 district court case in Hinsdale County recognized that licensed OHVs from other jurisdictions met state criteria for recognition as licensed vehicles, a number of Colorado towns including Ouray began allowing licensed OHVs from other states to operate within their jurisdiction.

            The discrepancy created confusion for law-enforcement officers, who found themselves having to verify whether a vehicle was licensed in another state before stopping it on city streets. Local OHV enthusiasts, meanwhile, complained of a double standard, as they observed OHV operators from other states driving around town, yet were not permitted to do so themselves. 


Springfield, Ill.: The cost to ride an off-road vehicle is about to rise for many residents of Illinois. As part of an effort to raise money for state parks and other outdoor activities, officials are in the final stages of approving the rules for a $15 annual fee on most all-terrain vehicles.

            The new permit for four-wheelers is expected to go into effect Jan. 1 pending the outcome of a hearing next month by a special panel of lawmakers who are reviewing the proposed rules. The new fee, which could raise as much as $800,000 per year, is similar to programs already underway in Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud.

            Not every owner of an ATV will have to buy a permit sticker. Among the exemptions are golf course owners, who will not have to buy stickers for their fleets of carts. The same goes for farmers and ranchers who use ATVs on their property.

            People who ride on property where they reside also are exempted. However, those who ride four-wheelers on property they own but don’t live on would be required to pay the fee.


            Carson City, Nev.: A recently enacted law, Assembly Bill 117, enables motorcyclists, moped, trimobile and bicycle riders to proceed through red lights after waiting for two rounds of the signal without getting a green light. Starting on October 1, if a motorcyclist comes to a red light at a signal that doesn't seem to be working or has failed to detect these vehicles, the rider will be allowed to go through.            

            The Nevada Highway Patrol said signals use sensors to detect metal, which may make it more difficult to detect motorcycles than other vehicles. The new law still requires motorcycles to stop at a light, and only proceed when it is safe to do so.

            Nevada has launched a website to educate residents about the new law.


            Baker City, Ore.: Public-use restrictions regarding off-road vehicle travel, campfires, chainsaws and smoking in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest were lifted as of Sept. 18.

            Forest visitors are reminded to obtain the most current public use restriction information before heading out. If you are unsure of which restrictions apply, please call 541-426-5546 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman

            Fire restrictions within one-fourth mile of the Snake River, in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and along the Grande Ronde River are not affected and will remain in place.


Salt Lake City, Utah: To help balance outdoor recreation with resource protection, the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah State Office has awarded a five-year grant to Tread Lightly! to lead a collaborative partnership that is the first of its kind nationally.

            The funding will be used to help implement the award-winning RIDE ON Utah education and outreach campaign to help raise the public’s awareness of responsible and legal use of motor vehicles on Utah’s public lands. The overall goal of the initiative is to raise the public’s awareness of changing regulations involving the use of motorized vehicles, also referred to as off-highway vehicles, to ensure compliance and ultimately, minimizing impacts from OHVs.

            The message – RIDE ON Designated Routes – was created by Tread Lightly! to educate recreationists who use motorized vehicles in their outdoor pursuits, even if only to access a special destination and enjoy non-motorized activities like hunting, fishing or camping. The message and campaign materials have been customized with both a southern and northern Utah look to resonate with public lands visitors throughout the state.

            The Utah partnership brings together both multiple federal and state public agencies, including the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The partnership is a collective effort to spread research-based messages that consistently promote responsible recreation across the boundaries of the lands that these agencies manage.

            The RIDE ON campaign and its associated educational materials and strategies can be viewed online at http://treadlightly.org/programs/ride-on/


            Saint Paul, Va.: The Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (SRRA), also known as Spearhead Trails, recently commemorated the opening of its first multi-use trail system with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The 70-plus mile Mountain View system is located in the counties of Dickenson, Russell, and Wise with the trailhead located in the town of St. Paul.

            SRRA was formed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2008 and, since that time, has grown from a volunteer organization to a revenue generating initiative with a full-time staff. Spearhead Trails sells its annual rider permits though “Partner Retailers” who offer fuel, gas, food, and other related ATV/OHV supplies. SRRA plans to open more systems in the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, and Tazewell within the next two to three years.  The Scott County trails will be equestrian focused and the rest will be ATV/OHV centric, with the exception of Lee County where a “braided” OHV/Equestrian trail is planned.

            The mission of the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority is to stimulate, enhance, and sustain economic development and job creation through entrepreneurial opportunities.

            The Spearhead Trails effort was initially facilitated by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) at the request of regional localities eager to capitalize on this growing revenue stream. SRRA continues to receive development and marketing assistance from the VTC.

            For more information on Spearhead Trails, visit www.SpearheadTrails.com.

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