American Honda opened its second Environmental Learning Center (ELC), a facility designed to provide off-highway-vehicle training and environmental education.
The ELC also is designed to be a model for OHV recreation facilities in urban park settings.
Located at Honda's Rider Education Center (REC) in Alpharetta, Ga., the facility is the second such project for Honda. The company's REC in Colton, Calif., opened the first-ever ELC in October 2004.
Honda's Alpharetta center consists of 5.5 forested acres that flank the side and rear of the existing three-acre, 14-year-old REC street, dirt and ATV training facility.
"We hope that by teaching people how to ride in a natural setting, we will instill in them a sense of how to leave a riding area just as they found it," says Rider Education Center administrator Don Wilson.
When the Alpharetta Rider Education Center opened in 1990, Honda offered rider training for street and off-road motorcyclists and ATV riders. It wasn't long before the wooded areas adjacent to the off-road training range were developed to teach off-road riders intermediate riding skills. To further develop this area into an environmental classroom, Honda enlisted the aid of environmental experts and followed Forest Service trail building practices to construct a number of training stations that mimic real-world riding scenarios. The trail head features a covered wooden pavilion that serves as an outdoor classroom. Once on the 1.2-mile trail, riding coaches instruct the riders how to navigate such challenges as wet and dry rock beds, step-ups, a sand pit, rolling whoops, a bridge, inclines and descents.
Honda plans for its fourth ELC in Troy, Ohio.