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A group of motorcycle riders taking a break on a forest trail next to a stop sign.

Toledo Trail Riders step up to improve safety at local state forest APV area

April 30, 2024 (This story appeared in the May 2024 edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Keaton Maisano

Unlike in the comics, no caped crusader — accompanied by a “Holy Toledo” quipping sidekick — swooped in to save the day when tragedy struck the Maumee State Forest All Purpose Vehicle area near Toledo, Ohio…so Matt Bucher felt called to step up.

Bucher, who grew up riding in the Maumee State Forest, started the Toledo Trail Riders to help better the forest’s public riding area after his dad witnessed the deaths of two riders involved in a high-speed collision.

“I saw the effect of what those incidents and tragedies did to my dad,” Bucher said. “In 2008, I said maybe we can do something about this.”

Bucher met with Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Forest Manager Donald Schmenk in December 2008 to discuss ways to help improve the APV area. The meeting sparked the creation of the ODNR-certified Toledo Trail Riders in spring 2009 to act as a strategic partner to address the well-being of the Maumee APV area.

In June 2009, the club held its first volunteer day, and four showed up to pick up litter, prune vegetation and clean trail markers. Today, the club has grown to around 75 members, with a third of the members being extremely active.

The dirt bike and ATV club has also hosted several events over the years, including family enduros, charity events and its first District 14 hare scramble in 2017.

“We’re kind of unique in that we do the trail advocacy work at the Maumee State Forest, and we promote our own races,” Bucher said. “Most clubs, from my experience, are kind of one or the other.”

As the club has proven itself to be responsible over the years, its responsibilities and influence have grown. Bucher stressed the importance of building relationships and gaining trust to open the door to make a greater impact.

“That takes time, and you have to have patience,” Bucher said, “and if you don’t have that you’re just going to give up and walk away from it and accomplish nothing. That’s not in the spirit of off-road riding. In off-road riding, you just keep going…You can’t give up, and if you surround yourself with people that don’t want to give up either, I think a lot of great things can happen.”

It is through networking that Bucher suggested to Schmenk that a kids loop in the riding area would be a huge benefit, as it would allow parents to supervise their kids without having to ride alongside them. Schmenk and ODNR took the suggestion and got to work, opening a youth loop in early 2024.

“What an opportunity for youth and even beginner riders,” Bucher said. “It’s another opportunity to get people into the sport.”

While the club’s progress and improvements to the riding area are points of pride, Bucher is most proud of the safe environment that has been created at the Maumee State Forest.

“Nobody else has perished at the state forest, and that’s why we started,” Bucher said. “Two people died and they shouldn’t have…I’m most proud of getting involved so nobody else would have to feel that pain or see that tragedy.”

Now 15 years since the club picked up its first piece of trash at the Maumee State Forest APV area, TTR is going strong and steadfast in helping the trails community.

“Once you get to this level, you kind of have an obligation,” Bucher said. “You also have motivation to keep growing.”

To learn more about the Toledo Trail Riders, go to