Second In A Series
The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) “Public Land Advocacy” DVD, and the workshop and webinar series it is based on, are designed to assist OHV enthusiasts, government agency personnel and other interested parties with creating and maintaining sustainable OHV trails. This article series highlights key points of that information.
The Paiute ATV Trail in Utah.
The Rock Run Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.
The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in West Virginia.
What do these successful OHV trail systems have in common?
First, all three were planned, designed and constructed using the management techniques presented in NOHVCC’s OHV management workshops, webinars, publications and the “Public Land Advocacy” DVD.
Second, all three are very successful and sustainable trail systems that are actively managed using the principles of the 4 E’s:
-- The design of the trail and facilities that makes it sustainable, meets riders’ needs, and protects resources.
Education -- The tools that help set rider expectations and inform visitors of rules and regulations, including quality mapping, signs, kiosks, public contact, interpretive signing, guides, printed materials, and public service announcements.
-- Essential to OHV management programs, to increase agency visibility, deter misbehavior, increase compliance, reduce vandalism, and increase riders’ feeling of security. The more effective the engineering and education, the less enforcement will need to focus on citations.
Evaluation -- Also called monitoring. It’s essential to regularly evaluate overall program effectiveness, visitor satisfaction, compliance, resource protection, and prevention of renegade trails.
An early chapter in the DVD is titled “The 4 E’s.” It’s just 10 minutes long. But within that chapter is information that forms the foundation of successful trail planning, and should be understood before viewing other chapters. “The 4 E’s are so simple and so commonsensical that people often overlook them,” said Karen Umphress, NOHVCC Project Manager. “NOHVCC tries to hammer these basic principles, to help people look at things in a more wide ranging perspective.”
For example, let’s say you build a new ATV trail. Six months after the ribbon cutting ceremony, you notice a user trail heading straight up a hill off the main trail. The easy solution would be to block the user trail with boulders or trees. But it’s not the best solution, and actually presents an opportunity to apply the 4 E’s.
“If you don’t find out why riders are going up that hill, you’ll never solve the issue, even with enforcement,” Umphress said. “What’s up there? Is it a campground or a swimming hole? If you can figure out why people are going up there, you can create a good trail that goes there. Or, if there’s already a trail that goes there from someplace else, put signing along that spot to direct riders to the correct access point. If they’re going up a hill just to go up a hill, that means your trail may be boring, and you have to ask yourself how to make it less boring, to keep riders where you want them to go.”
The 4 E’s are related and interconnected. Whether you’re building a new trail, revitalizing old trails or problem solving, the take-home message is “don’t do trails on the cheap,” said Umphress. “Don’t try and make it less expensive on the front side. Sometimes people say ‘Oh there’s a road or user trail that already exists, we can use that as part of our trail system.’ Or they may say ‘We want the trail to go from point A to point B, so we’re going to bulldoze a path.’ But when you do either of those things, without considering the principles and practices within the 4 E’s, you are spending less money up front but a lot more money on the back, and causing yourself issues.”
By sticking with the 4 E’s, we effectively manage OHV use. And when we do that, we provide quality recreational experiences, resource protection, agency confidence, proactive management, fewer social conflicts, and economic benefit to communities.
The DVD content is based on workshops that were jointly developed by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), BlueRibbon Coalition, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), and the United Four-Wheel Drive Association (UFWDA).