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By: Robert Janis

California ORV Association

California Off-Road Vehicle Association Uses Political Skills, Websites to Push For Goals

Continued from page 1...

Educating the Grass Roots and Decision Makers

In order to educate the grass roots members of the organization, CORVA publishes a monthly 24- to 28-page newsletter called “Off Roaders in Action.” The newsletter was first published 20 years ago and has gone on continuously since then. Not only does it go to the members of the association, it is also distributed each month to shops and expos to educate the general public. “It educates and encourages our members and the general riding public to get involved whether it be in politics, trail maintenance projects, clean up efforts, attendance at CORVA fundraisers, attendance at public meetings or OHMVR commission meetings or letter writing campaigns,” said Dyer.

Also to help with education, CORVA created N2Dirt. This division of CORVA educates the general public and kids on safe riding, trail etiquette, mine shaft safety and clean trails concepts. It also has its own website (www.n2dirt.org). “We are actively trying to educate the members to stay on the trails. This is a top priority to keeping our trails open,” said Dyer.

The members of CORVA are an essential part of its success. They are encouraged to get involved in any manner that they find interesting. “We promote the concept that anyone is vital to our organization no matter what their skills,” explained Dyer. “Each member has a talent and it is our job as officers to find what that talent is. Some members are great talkers, but horrible at letter writing. So we put them to work at an expo in our CORVA booth or send them to agency meetings or hearings. Others want no board title, but want to be field reps in their local riding area or do behind-the-scenes work. Other volunteers are great fundraisers and others like hard labor and they work on trail maintenance, driving tractors to cut down whoops, moving hay bales, and sowing seeds to revegetate closed trails.”

Dyer pointed out that members of the association have received grants that are used to purchase tractors and water trucks that are used to maintain the trails. “By buying the equipment ourselves and finding the volunteers to run it, we keep up on the trail maintenance,” she added. In addition, this type of participation helps to debunk myths spread by environmental zealots who attempt to demonize the off road community.
CORVA does not necessarily organize local clubs. However, it does promote them through its newsletter and website (www.corva.org). The association also has annual awards that promote members and clubs. For example, there are “Off-Roader of the Year,” “Club of the North,” “Club of the South,” as well as a conservation award, charity award and other types of awards that honor clubs, members of the association, and the general OHV public. Dyer pointed out that Congressmen and State Legislators have been honored with the “Off-Roader of the Year” award.

Moreover, realizing the importance of getting diverse groups to cooperate, CORVA has organized the “Friends Groups” which gets local community leaders, business owners, and participants in other forms of recreation including fishermen, campers, veterans, and more involved. “CORVA has done this in many local riding areas and has now helped form 14 groups statewide,” said Dyer. “The groups work autonomously from CORVA, but we provide guidance, historical background, strategic planning, contacts with legislators, interaction with OHMVR staff and assistance where needed.”

Environmentalists Causing Concern among Off-Road Community

Dyer identified the most urgent issue confronting the California ATV community as lawsuits by zealous environmentalists. “They are taking away our rights to access public lands through judicial actions, not the public process,” she noted. “They use ‘best science’ in their court cases that has not been peer reviewed or proven accurate. As a result, off roaders are now having to pay for sound scientific studies to refute the inaccurate findings of the green groups.”

To counteract the environmentalists CORVA has spent a large amount of its income on attorneys. The group also works with other OHV organizations on legal issues to plan strategies and organize. Dyer warns that the association needs assistance from riders and the industry to raise enough funds to pay for this. “We can only keep this up if riders and industry step up and ‘Pay to Play!’ We need new industry partners and new funding sources,” she said.

With this in mind CORVA organized the Action Program, an industry-driven grant program that provides funding for lawsuits and scientific studies. The Action Program gets $25 from trailer manufacturers for every ramp trailer sold (i.e. toy hauler trailers) to fund the grants. The program has gone national with a board of directors that includes representatives from AMA, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, United 4WD Clubs, and other multiple-use organizations such as horsemen, gold panning, mining, and other groups. Besides providing grants for lawsuits and scientific studies, the board also offers grants for land use activities nationwide. More about the program as well as the names of the top trailer manufacturers who are participating can be found at the program’s website www.actionprogram.info.

Website
Of course, CORVA has its own website (www.corva.org). The site includes daily updates on land use topics as well as news pertinent to the OHV community including information on clubs, a calendar of events, and a list of every OHV meeting scheduled by every state agency including the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service and the OHMVR. A section called “Latest Issues” includes articles detailing CORVA’s present and previous battles. Included is an article titled “48 Hours of Hell” and a related article “Battle for Truckhaven Hills” which describes how the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued CORVA and the OHMVR program to get the Truckhaven Hills Challenge Event shut down and how CORVA beat the suit.
Also included on the site are links to OHV-related organizations and the name of businesses who are members of CORVA.

It should be noted again that there are a number of websites that are associated with CORVA that work hand-in-hand in achieving the organization’s goals. These sites are:

California League of Off-Road Voters Political Action Committee [ www.clorv.org ]
N2Dirt [ www.n2dirt.org ]
The Action Program [ www.actionprogram.info ]
CORVA [ www.corva.org ]

Membership
Membership to CORVA is open to anyone who owns or rides an off-road vehicle, clubs and their members, and businesses associated with off-road vehicles. According to Dyer, there are 3,000 paid family memberships. Families can join for an annual fee of $30. Clubs pay an annual fee of $300. Businesses pay a fee of $365.

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