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By: Robert Janis

Arizona OHV Coalition

Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Coalition Combating Closures of Trails for Dust Rules Violations

Continued from page 1...
"see attached planning map for comments we sent in on BLM Bradshaw trail planning ,this is only one of over 30 maps and docs that we did as part of the planning......we have the same for each type of OHV use...........even rock crawlers.............. we do this for all agency planning....."
"see attached planning map for comments we sent in on BLM Bradshaw trail planning ,this is only one of over 30 maps and docs that we did as part of the planning......we have the same for each type of OHV use...........even rock crawlers.............. we do this for all agency planning....." 

In addition, AZOHVC tries to encourage its members to do cleanups, get involved in trail projects and help their local land agencies with projects.

For example, AZOHVC and ATR had developed a Peer Patrol Program. “After four years we managed to sell the idea to our State Parks OHV program folks,” said Gursh. “Called the Ambassador Program, it is a pilot program this year and will go statewide next year.” Participants in the program help manage OHV used areas in Arizona. The program also includes three days of training with law enforcement officers and rangers from local and federal agencies.

The group has also developed an information packet that helps to educate buyers of OHVs and provides them with information about where to ride, about the rules of riding and maps of areas near their homes where they can ride. This too was picked up by the Arizona State Parks OHV program as a pilot. The information is distributed through dealers who sell OHV equipment.

Moreover, AZOHVC helps organize new clubs from social clubs to a full blown non-profit. “We can help them decide what they really need to accomplish what they want their club to do,” said Gursh.

The organization also works with local clubs that may not seem to be associated with OHV but may have a common view concerning an issue. These groups include the American Sand Association, the NRA, the Sportsmen Association, the Elk Hunters Association, the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy of Arizona, the horsemen’s association, MBA in Scottsdale and Tucson and other groups as well as ATV groups that are not associated with AZOHVC like the ATV Rough Riders.

“We also help local clubs with their comments on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management trail plans,” continued Gursh. A lot of this work includes trail planning. According to Gursh, the AZOHVC or the Arizona Trail Riders before it have worked on many collaborative trail partnerships. These partnerships include:

  • The Friends of the Sycamore-Tonto National Forest Mesa District
  • The Bradshaw Foothills Partnership with The Bureau of Land Management
  • The Central Arizona Trail Partnership in Prescott National Forest

Gursh pointed out that these partnerships are successful because they include both motorized and non-motorized groups who have a common goal to develop and maintain trails. So volunteers and funding could be raised from the divergent groups. This also allows projects to receive grant dollars from both motorized and non-motorized sources.

Dust Rules Most Important Concern

As previously mentioned, dust rules developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Arizona, are the greatest concern to OHV riders in the State of Arizona, according to Gursh. “What makes the enforcement of these new rules almost impossible is that each city in the non-attainment area has written their own version of the dust rules, some stricter and some mirroring the State and County rules,” said Gursh. “Very little is marked on the ground to let you know you have crossed into or are in the non-attainment area.

 
“OHVers contribute about 3 percent of the dust and that puts them on the EPA bad air list,” Gursh continued. As a result of this OHV use can be banned on High Pollution Advisory Days (HPA). There are two kinds of HPA days -- dust and ozone. OHV use can only be banned on dust HPA days. However, the advisory that went out to the public and agencies have combined dust and ozone and that makes it appear that OHV use can be banned on both an ozone AND dust HPA day.

The AZOHVC has put its head down and charged into the issue to try to remedy the problem of interpretation. But their actions have proven to be very difficult. That’s because it appears that personal opinion is being used more so than agencies policies to determine when to ban OHV use. “Land agencies have a big problem,” said Gursh. “The managers are constantly changing jobs and there are a lot of promotions and retirements and all of this causes us to work with ever changing managers which presents a real problem. Each new person has his or her own idea of how the rules and policies should be interpreted.” AZOHVC is working with the State and Counties to come up with an outline of the current dust rules that will allow events. According to Gursh, only the largest county in the state, Maricopa, as well as a small part of Tucson are affected currently by the dust rules. “State Trust Land is looking to close all their land in the AREA A on August 1. It could change if we are successful with our lobbying efforts to make a change,” he said. The outline of the current dust rules would allow such events as:

  • A National AMA Enduro
  • A Baja five day MC trip
  • A four-wheel drive National Day
  • A Spook Rally every year
  • Numerous club rides for novice and pro

Moreover, AZOHVC promotes and helps keep these events viable through its work with land agencies:

  • Arizona ATV club events and club rides all year round in all parts of the State
  • An ATV Rough Riders’ ATV jamboree in Snowflake, Arizona every year
  • Other two day campouts and rides

Finally the AZOHVC has a website but “it is a work in progress,” said Gursh. “We try to keep up-to-date on events statewide and we try to keep updates on OHV legislation and land agency planning. We also hope to soon have a section that tells OHVers where to ride legally and what they need to do to do it.” The website is: www.azohvc.com

Anyone can join the organization and one can do so on line.

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