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By:  Robert Janis

Off-Road Riders Association

Off-Road Riders Association Assists in the Never-Ending Battle to Protect Black Hills Riders

Continued from page 1

The Issues

The most urgent issue confronting riders in the Black Hills area of South Dakota is a change from the Black Hills National Forest policy of “open unless designated closed” to “closed unless designated open.” “Historically we had motorized access to the vast majority of the Black Hills,” explained Brown. “After generations of travel freedom in the Black Hills, when this change comes, I hope we have an extensive, high-quality trail system in place; or I fear our land managers will have some major challenges getting the public to comply.” ORA is heavily involved in this process. Its members have GPS’ed routes of trails they want included in the new trail system, and they have also provided other information to the National Forest Service. Moreover, members of the group have taken representatives of the National Forest Service on walks to help identify trail location and possible maintenance issues. In the Mystic District of the Black Hills, ORA members spent several days riding with Forest Service personnel to locate hard-to-find trails that had been submitted to the Forest Service.

Another major issue is for the state to pass an all-encompassing law dealing with off-road recreation issues. “In 2007, Governor Rounds created an OHV legislative task force,” explained Brown. “ORA Director, Ed Gross, and BlueRibbon Coalition Executive Director, Greg Mumm, sat on that task force. In addition, ORA board members Patty Brown and Troy Hall traveled to the capital on numerous occasions to monitor the task force meetings. “After the task force submitted recommendations, we fully expected the governor to create a legislative package including a funding source for the trails system in South Dakota. The funding was based on selling a sticker. That didn’t happen. Many legislators see a sticker program as a tax, and new taxes aren’t very popular in an election year. Until the state puts something together, it’s in the hands of the Forest Service to determine a potential funding source. However, together with SDOHVC and the BlueRibbon Coalition, we’ve made it abundantly clear to the Forest Service that a lack of funds is not an acceptable excuse to reduce the amount of trails.”

The Website

The Off-Road Riders Association website (www.offroadriders.org) offers a whole lot of information of interest to riders. There is an “In The News” section that provides links to articles published by local newspapers that are of off-road interest; an “Action Items” page that outlines potential threats to motorized recreation access, rights to public lands and rights of private property owners; a “Stay Safe and Stay Informed” section that offers South Dakota ATV laws, an ORA information packet and “What Not To Do” information paper for download; a frequently asked questions and answers section that provides information that concerns off-road enthusiasts; a section that provides visitors to South Dakota with information on trails, travel planning, lodging, sightseeing and more; a page that identifies U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as South Dakota legislators so you know how and whom to contact when there are off-road issues pending in the state legislature and/or U.S. Congress; a section from which you can download the ORA monthly newsletter; links to the websites of the BlueRibbon Coalition, SDOHVC, AMA, NOHVCC, Tread Lightly!, Black Hills National Forest Off-Highway Vehicle Program, and Bureau of Land Management; and links to websites of businesses that sponsor ORA.

Some businesses that sponsor the group include Geico Insurance, Rice Honda-Suzuki, Black Hills Powersports, Outdoor Motorsports, Sturgis Yamaha-BMW-Suzuki, Deerfield Lake Resort, Covered Wagon Resort and Campground, Nemo Guest Ranch, and more.

All of this is proof positive that “There’s power in numbers and in team work,” concluded Brown.

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