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AMA News and Notes: January 2014

January 06, 2014


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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Twentynine Palms, Calif.: The Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in California won't be taken over by the military after all, thanks to language included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 that was approved by a U.S. House-Senate conference committee on Dec. 11.

            The AMA, together with a coalition of off-highway recreation partners, congratulated U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) for his leadership in protecting the interests of the OHV community -- many of whom are motorcyclists -- by getting the language inserted into the bill. Cook's language ensures the safety of the residents in the Johnson Valley area, which is just east of the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles, and provides an adequate training area for the U.S. Marines stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

            Specifically, Cook's language designates the Johnson Valley OHV area as the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, which will be managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The area is designated specifically for recreational uses including, but not limited to, OHV use, camping and hiking. Marine Corps activities would be allowed in a shared use area twice a year for a maximum of 60 days and would require use of non-dud producing ordnance.

            The AMA joined with the California Motorized Recreation Council, a non-profit 501(c)3 represented in Washington, D.C., by The Livingston Group, to work with Cook to develop the amendment that preserves access to the Johnson Valley OHV riding area.

            CMRC members and partners include the Off-Road Business Association, California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, American Sand Association, California-Nevada Snowmobile Association, AMA District 36 (Northern California, Northwestern Nevada), AMA District 37 Off-Road (Southern California), The Partnership for Johnson Valley and countless individuals and businesses. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, the Motorcycle Industry Council and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access also provided valuable support.

            A map of the compromise plan for Johnson Valley can be viewed here.

Washington D.C.: In a recent letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the American Motorcyclist Association expressed concern that the federal agency may be exhibiting a bias against off-highway vehicles in a current effort to collect information related to permits for recreation on public land.

            “At first glance, the information collection process appears to be an ideal avenue for the Bureau of Land Management to learn first-hand how popular responsible motorized recreation and competitive events are on our nation’s public lands,” wrote Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “Recreation and competitive events are important drivers of local economies. They provide sustainable employment, economic growth and have a positive effect on other administration-stated goals, such as addressing childhood obesity.”

            However, Allard went on to write that the AMA is troubled that the BLM, in its document, only pointed its finger at OHVs when discussing potential damage to resources and loss of revenue if recreational uses of public land aren’t managed.

            The BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states.

State News

Foresthill, Calif.: The U.S. Forest Service has restricted motorized use by off-highway vehicles in the Sugar Pine OHV area just outside of the community of Foresthill due to significant snow and rainfall that have created wet and saturated conditions. The closure went into effect on Dec. 17, 2013 and will remain in place until conditions dry sufficiently to protect all resources when motorized use resumes.

            Motorized use on completely saturated routes can cause surfaces to become rutted, leading to increased erosion and sedimentation issues. Additionally, because use during wet conditions has increased, the compacted trail surface is compromised, leading to more soil mobility.

            The most up to date information can be found on the Tahoe National Forest website or by contacting the district office or Victor Lyon at (530) 478-6254 vlyon@fs.fed.us.

            Los Angeles, Calif.: The City Council has agreed to pay nearly $6 million to a group of police officers who accused their superiors of imposing a secret traffic ticket quota system. The settlement, approved unanimously, brings to more than $10 million the amount of taxpayer money spent on payouts and legal fees from the ticket quota cases. But that number could grow because one more officer's case is still pending.

            The lawsuits alleged that starting in 2006, officers were required to write at least 18 traffic tickets each shift and that 80 percent of the citations had to be for major violations. Officers who failed to meet the alleged ticket minimums or raised concerns were reprimanded, denied overtime assignments, given undesirable work schedules, and subjected to other forms of harassment. In a few instances, managers allegedly tried to remove officers from of the motorcycle unit, the lawsuits claim.

            The officers testified that they were ordered to scrap regular patrol assignments and sent instead to specific streets where they were more likely to catch motorists committing moving violations. Though not illegal, being sent to those so-called orchards or cherry patches, they said, reinforced the belief that hitting ticket targets trumped other aspects of the job.

           

Arvada, Colo.: The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, a close ally of the AMA, recently announced structural changes, a new board member and a new partnership alliance with the Trails Preservation Alliance.

            At a recent COHVCO Board of Directors meeting, it was agreed that COHVCO would be much more functional and agile if a full time leader could take the helm. Therefore, the position of chairman of the board and president were split into two separate positions.

            Effective immediately, John Lane will continue in the role of chairman, while Jerry Abboud will take over the position of president/chief executive as well as operations and legislative officer. In other business, a stronger partnership and alliance was forged between the Trails Preservation Alliance, led by Don Riggle, and COHVCO. The TPA will step up to shoulder most of the work regarding land use issues. 

            The board also welcomed Douglas Morris as their newest board member, representing the Rampart Range Committee.


            Tallahassee, Fla.: The Apalachicola National Forest threw its gates open and welcomed the public as they celebrated the grand opening of a new motorcycle trailhead south of Tallahassee.

It isn’t often that a national forest has an opportunity to create a new recreation area, but the stars aligned when a Recreational Trails Program grant became available through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The goal of the RTP is to provide financial assistance for the development of recreational trails, trailheads and trailside facilities.

            In addition, the Florida Forest Service provided money through their T. Mark Schmidt Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation Act, which is designed to provide the public with more opportunities to ride off-highway vehicles on public lands.

            One of the crowning achievements of the trail is an aluminum bridge connecting the forest’s northern and southern motorized trails. The Fisher Creek Bridge is a single span bridge with an overall length of 90-feet and replaces an older antiquated bridge that stretched across the waterway.

            According to Recreation Program Manager Chandra Roberts, the Tallahassee Trail Riders, a local motorcycle club, along with Red Hills Powersports of Tallahassee, actively promoted and participated in the grand opening providing tips on trail riding.

Lewiston, Idaho: Two northern counties have filed a federal lawsuit against a plan that closed off 200 miles of national forest trails to motorized vehicles. The lawsuit filed by Idaho and Clearwater counties accuses Clearwater National Forest officials of failing to adequately consult with local authorities while drafting the travel plan enacted last year.

            County officials also claim forest planners didn’t properly analyze the plan’s local economic impact and allege the forest created de facto federal Wilderness areas by banning motorcycles and mountain bikes from areas previously recommended for but not legislated as Wilderness.

            Commissioners from both counties say they were compelled to file the lawsuit after the USFS denied their administrative appeal of the travel plan. The lawsuit is the latest filed against the forest and its 2012 travel policy.

Federal laws require agencies such as the USFS to coordinate their actions and plans with state and local governments. The case filed by the counties asserts agency officials made little effort to coordinate the travel plan with the counties, which favor more motorized access whenever possible.

 Springfield, Ill.: Senate Bill 2633, sponsored by Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria), would amend the Recreation Trails of Illinois Act to address concerns raised by the off-highway riding community.  The bill specifically addresses fees for an Off-Highway Vehicle Usage Stamp and, more importantly, situations under which an OHV is exempt from displaying one.

Concord, N.H.: House Bill 1324, sponsored by Rep. Neal M. Kurk (R-Weare), would prohibit access to information recorded or transmitted by any motor vehicle recording device (event data recorder or “black box”) by anyone without the vehicle owner’s permission, except to comply with a court order, to facilitate an emergency medical response, or to comply with subscription services covered under state statutes. The bill creates a new misdemeanor for violations of confidential information and would continue to treat violations as an unfair or deceptive act under the Consumer Protection Act.

Albany, N.Y.: Senate Bill 6114, sponsored by Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York City), would amend the administrative code of the city of New York to prohibit more than 50 motorcyclists from gathering as an assembly and riding without paying for and obtaining a permit from the New York City Department of Transportation.

Also, Senate Bill 6180, sponsored by Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York City), would define an “illegal maneuver” on a motorcycle as any maneuver performed by the operator that requires the front or rear wheel of the motorcycle to leave contact with the road.  It provides that any motorcycle operator who causes property damage or bodily harm of another would be punished by a fine not to exceed $2,500 and an automatic revocation of the operator’s license and registration for one year. A second or subsequent conviction within 18 months would result in forfeiture of the operator’s motorcycle and automatic revocation of the operator’s license and registration for two years.

             

  Monticello, Utah: The BLM Monticello Field Office is seeking comments during a 40-day public scoping period for the proposed Recapture Canyon All-Terrain Vehicle Trail System – Right-of-Way requested by San Juan County. The purpose of the scoping period is to identify relevant issues that could influence the environmental analysis, including development of alternatives, and guide the planning process.

            The BLM is considering a proposal by San Juan County for a right-of-way for an ATV trail system east of Blanding. The trail system would include a route in Recapture Canyon. The proposed plan includes 14.25 miles of trails, three trailheads and signage.

            The proposal is available for public review and comment on the Environmental Notification Bulletin Board at: www.blm.gov/ut/enbb/index.php – search for project name “Recapture Canyon Trail-Right of Way Application.” 

            The BLM has extended the response period from 30 to 40 days due to the holiday season. The scoping period began Dec.18 and comments will be accepted until Jan. 26, 2014. 

            When submitting comments, be sure to reference Recapture Canyon ROW. The BLM will not consider anonymous comments. Comments may be mailed to: Bureau of Land Management, Monticello Field Office, Attn: Realty Program, P.O. Box 7, Monticello, UT 84535, or emailed.


AMA News

 

Lexington, Ohio: In a move that will help Midwestern motorcyclists get more out their summer events, the AMA and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course have worked together to change the date of the 2014 edition of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, the country's premier celebration of vintage motorcycling. 

            AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2014 will be held July 11-13, one week earlier than previously announced. The new dates prevent a conflict with another event held in Wauseon, Ohio. The move sees Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course's popular AMA Pro Racing event move to July 19-20, track officials have announced. 

            Advance tickets are available to the general public at www.midohio.com. AMA members can purchase a discounted weekend pass for $45 or a one-day pass for $25, saving $5 off the regular advance purchase rate. The AMA member discount is in addition to the regular $10 savings on advance ticket purchases, and there is no service charge for AMA members when purchasing through the AMA. Member pricing, available through May 27, is only available by calling the AMA directly at (800) 262-5646. In addition to these exclusive AMA member ticket savings, all kids under 12 will be admitted free with a paying, supervising adult.


            Pickerington, Ohio: AMA Motorcyclist of the Year announced: AMA Life Member Larry Little. Little, vice president and general manager of Marketplace Events, created a U.S. motorcycle show that debuted in 2013 and brought buyers and sellers together in a bold new way.

            The AMA Motorcyclist of the Year recognizes the person or persons who had the most profound impact within the motorcycling community in the previous 12 months. It is awarded annually by the AMA Board of Directors.

            Little, the former publisher of Cycle World magazine, sought to bring the European motorcycle show format to America starting in the early 1990s. However, that format, which combines new motorcycle model year introductions with aftermarket product reveals, media involvement and consumer access, wasn't acceptable at that time to major U.S. motorcycle distributors, which preferred to introduce new bikes at exclusive dealer meetings.            

In the wake of the recent economic slowdown that tightened manufacturers' marketing and business development budgets, Little revitalized his plan as a cost-effective solution. Companies agreed, and the inaugural AIMExpo was held Oct. 16-20, 2013 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

            The full story of Little's development and implementation of the AIMExpo can be found in the January issue of American Motorcyclist, the official journal of the AMA.



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