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By: Robert Janis

NY ATVers Working to Overcome Obstacles

Things are not well for the ATV community in the State of New York. There are no public lands available for the ATV community of New York on which to ride. The best they can do is negotiate the use of private lands when they go out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Obviously, there is a need for an organization to fight the state and make things right for ATV owners. That responsibility falls on the New York State Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle Association (NYSORVA).

The association was founded in 1993 and its mission is to provide advocacy between the ATV (OHV) clubs and riders of New York State and the New York State Government. "We are out to promote safe and legal OHV trails, establish a method of training, education enforcement and to be a resource for New York State clubs," explained Jeffrey Binga, president of the Association and Region 9 delegate.

The Nuts and Bolts
The association relies on the local ATV clubs throughout New York State to get things done. It has divided the state into nine regions. Each region has a director and it is the responsibility of that director to create local clubs and to work with local clubs that are already in existence. NYSORVA offers assistance to new and existing clubs and has a legal department that has drafted forms that the clubs can use to incorporate and also use for all relevant issues. These forms include club membership applications, landowner consent forms, and club applications for joining NYSORVA. In addition, the association has hired Patricia Lynch Associates as their lobbyist.

"NYSORVA is a club-based organization," explained Binga. "The members of those clubs are data based through our 'Get Active' program. We stay in contact with our club members by e-mail with current events that are off-highway vehicle related. When the time comes to act upon a bill or contact state representatives, the word goes out and the members react. "

With the help of the local clubs the NYSORVA focuses on issues that affect the trail motorcycling and ATVing community. These issues include land use and legislation. The organization is recognized by other relevant organizations including the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), and the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). There is a state memorandum of understanding with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of the State of New York mandating that the association also serve as a line of communications between the four-wheeled off-highway vehicle community and the state government.

The state of New York has one of the largest off-highway riding communities in the entire country. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service there are more than 1.9 million New Yorkers or 13.1 percent of the population who are 16 years-old and older who participate in wheeled off-highway recreation. Binga noted that there is an estimated 1.3 million ATVs in the state of New York.

The NYSORVA is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on volunteers and is funded by donations from the local clubs, individuals, dealers who sell ATVs and ATV related products, and grants.

In soliciting membership, the NYSORVA points out that ATV enthusiasts can join or be a member only by joining a club affiliated with NYSORVA. "Naturally, there are different levels of meaning to the word 'join' and 'member,'" explained Binga. "The NYSORVA is set up to be as flexible and unimposing as possible with a limited bureaucracy. So we hope that members, or simply those who join, do as much as they possibly can to help."

When you join the organization, your name and address becomes a part of an OHV Advocacy Database and you receive e-mail alerts from the association. You can also join with a financial contribution or donation. The donations are used to finance lobbying of the State Legislature and State Agencies, pay for communications efforts, and finance research projects like a 20,000 rider survey that was done to prove to the state that Off Highway enthusiasts are a major part of the state's community.

One of the most important duties of the association is to identify and develop and then encourage outside parties to provide trail funding. "New York does not currently have dedicated ATV funding similar to the snowmobile trail fund. There is no dedicated trail system for our use and no public program recognizing our interest like there are for other trail based forms of recreation in the state of New York," said Binga. So, the association has had to be creative to figure out ways to get funds.

The association has been able to encourage manufacturers of ATVs to become a part of the struggle and set up means to fund what the NYSORVA wants to do. For example, Polaris has set up a T.R.A.I.L.S. grant program which helps to promote land access, safety and trail development programs. "The objective is to promote grants to U.S. National and State ATV organizations for trail development and maintenance projects, safety and education initiatives, lobbying and other projects to increase or maintain land access," said Binga.

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