The General's take on off-road recreation

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Q&A with Don Amador — land-use consultant for the BlueRibbon Coalition and owner of land-use consulting agency Quiet Warrior Racing. (This interview has been edited for style and clarity.)

Dealernews: What are the biggest concerns the industry faces in the fight over land use?

Amador: The loss of recreational opportunity for OHVs. Current federal land-use planning efforts have closed thousands of miles of routes in the West to non-street-legal OHVs. Also, apathy among [dealers]. [Dealers] are often too busy trying to stay in business (or don’t care) to be of help to local or national OHV groups.

DN: What have you done recently to build awareness to land-use issues in your area?

Amador: I started an off-road blog that has become quite popular. Large land-use organizations are often too cumbersome and bureaucratic to be able to address land-use issues in real time. Users today want information PDQ. For example, BRC members often complained about not getting enough information. Once I started my blog, those complaints dropped to zero.

DN: How can dealers and manufacturers become advocates for land and OHV access issues?

Amador: Show their customers they are engaged in land-use issues. For example, they could start an e-mail alert system for their customers, host occasional land-use meetings or sponsor a land-use advocate.

DN: What successes have you had in your efforts to raise awareness, or change laws?

Amador: I was lead OHV negotiator in the 2006 Thompson Wilderness Bill for the North Coast of CA (H.R. 233) and was able to get all OHV trails codified as a prescribed use (for more information, click http://bit.ly/dmK5nq). I was lead OHV organization negotiator on the 2007 CA OHV Program (S.B. 742). I helped restore trail funding pots with more money dedicated for on-the-ground trail efforts than the program had in the 1990s.

DN: Why are OHV associations and clubs necessary?

Amador: National and regional OHV groups are of little value without an engaged local club. OHV power starts at the grassroots level.

DN: How have you worked with environmentalists in your area?

Amador: I deal with environmental leaders all the time. Some are “reasonable,” others are not. Building relationships with reasonable enviros and legislators is important. I just met with environmental groups to discuss my access concerns with potential legislation that might designate two popular OHV areas in Northern California as a National Conservation Area or national monument.

DN: What impact will land-access/OHV-access issues have on off-road racing?

Amador: Environmental lawsuits or the threat thereof are a clear and present danger to permitted OHV events in areas that have been “adopted” by environmental activista. More than four OHV events in AMA District 36 have been canceled lately because of eco-lawsuits. Also, the misapplication of cost recovery (where the agency can charge fees to permitted events) by the Forest Service to get money from clubs has resulted in the cancellation of a number of enduros in Northern California.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews October 2010 issue.