Numerous organizations offer information, educational materials and advice to dealers interested in becoming an advocate for land access. Here's a list of national ones, but you'll also want to search for local organizations. Be sure to bookmark the Web sites.
Advocates for Access to Public Lands: a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving public lands for responsible multiple use. This past spring, the group released National Forests — Our Trails Are in Trouble, a DVD designed to educate legislators. See the video at www.trailsintrouble.org.
All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA): a direct branch of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Both associations are well known for sanctioning competitive events, but they also busy themselves with impending legislation regarding OHV recreation at the local, state and federal levels. Check out the AMA's Rapid Response Center at www.amadirectlink.com. You'll also find an interactive map of the United States outlining each state's motorcycle laws. Ed Moreland, the American Motorcyclist Association's vice president for government relations, is a frequent panelist at congressional hearings. He has been critical of the Forest Service's efforts to inventory trails. He cites lack of funds and staff, as well as unrealistic deadlines that "sacrifice expediency for accuracy." In recent congressional testimony, he said: "An inventory system that fails to provide adequate time and funding to do the job right is destined to fail. ... What we have yet to see is the adoption of full-scale active management, a truly collaborative approach and the budgets and people to accomplish an achievable multiple-use mission."
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) is the Motorcycle Industry Council's public land use advocacy arm. It also serves this function for the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA, www.atvsafety.org), a sister association of the MIC (www.mic.org). All three organizations help fund the Travel Management Rule workshops mentioned in the NOHVCC entry. The ARRA Web site features a Land Access Notification Database (LAND) where people can submit meetings and process notifications, which ARRA then distributes to its members in the affected areas. ARRA is also very active on Capitol Hill. Every year, for example, it advocates increased funding for the Forest Service's Trails and Recreation budgets, the primary budgets from which funding for the implementation of Travel Management Rule is drawn. At press time a sign-up sheet was at www.arra-access.com to help fight a decrease in the 2009 budgets. Also visit the site to sign up to receive information about how to have your voice heard on access issues in your area. Membership is free.
The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is an organization dedicated to recreational land-access issues. The group has often been described as the "pit bull" branch of OHV advocacy groups because it regularly engages in lawsuits against the anti-access groups. The BRC also serves an educational role. It depends on the money derived from individual memberships. To join, call 800-258-3742 or log on to www.sharetrails.org. The monthly BlueRibbon Magazine features a "Land Use Outlook" section that describes the hot spots across the country. Issues of the magazine are archived on the Web site. Greg Mumm, executive director of the BRC, is often a panelist at congressional hearings.
National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, or NOHVCC (pronounced no-vac), is a nonprofit, nonmembership-based organization composed of consultants for OHV activists and land managers. These are the people to call if you need help to organize, gather funds or work with local politicians or land managers. Every year NOHVCC holds a national conference bringing together all its state reps. Open positions are available, so check the Web site (www.nohvcc.org) if you'd be interested in representing your state. If you have any questions, call the organization (800-348-6487) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. According to NOHVCC, even questions as simple as "Where can my customers ride in my area?" will get a response. Here's just a partial list of what NOHVCC offers:
- Club Kit on how to start an off-road club
- Instructional GPS Trail Mapping DVD
- OHV Park Manual and (separately) Management Guidelines for OHV Recreation
- Adventure Trail, an interactive tour through the NOHVCC trailer with a quiz at the end (a big hit with kids at events). A mini Adventure Trail consisting of 11 posters is available, as are Adventure Trail CD-ROMs and activity books
- Association Development Workshops (does your state lack a strong OHV association?)
- Information on getting federal gas tax monies for your trail project
- Ongoing workshops to educate the public about the Forest Service's Travel Management Rule, and to help sustain routes after the designation process — check the NOHVCC Web site for a schedule, and contact the council if you would like to schedule a workshop in your area
- Free high-resolution images to illustrate your brochures, fliers, PowerPoint presentations, etc.
- A weekly newsletter
- Information on using private lands for OHV recreation
- Contacts for OHV-related insurance
- Sound Advice document, a product of a two-year effort by the Motorcycle Sound Working Group (a consortium of many organizations)
- Stationary Sound Test Manual for Off-Highway Motorcycles and All-Terrain Vehicles — produced by the MIC but mailed to you for free from NOHVCC. NOHVCC also offers advice on how to test your customer's vehicles for illegal sound levels (it's cheaper and easier than you'd think)
Many of these materials are available as a free download.
Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) is a nonprofit organization composed of hundreds of businesses nationwide involved in the off-highway vehicle recreation industry. It is the principal mission of ORBA to ensure the long-term viability of those businesses by working to keep public lands open to responsible recreational access. Learn more at www.orba.biz.
Tread Lightly! (www.treadlightly.org) is a nonprofit organization offering a variety of tools such as brochures, guidebooks, PSAs, Web banners, promotional items, a Youth Outreach Kit (downloadable off the site), and a Tread Trainer program that teaches people how to teach outdoor ethics at events. Trainers receive a 100-page manual, PowerPoint presentations on CD, a DVD and other education materials. Also available are a Lightfoot costume (Lightfoot is a cartoon squirrel that acts as the organization's mascot) and a booth display. Tread Lightly! dealer memberships cost $150 per year and include:
- Use of the Tread Lightly! corporate log on advertising, literature and other promotional materials (requires approval)
- 100 Tread Lightly! information packets for customers
- Trails bi-annual newsletter
- Web site link
- Your choice of guidebook to responsible recreation
- Eligibility to receive one-page tip sheets for only the cost of shipping and handling