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By: Robert Janis

Trail Preservation Alliance

The Trails Preservation Alliance Battles to Keep Single Trails in Colorado Open to OHVers

Trails Preservation Alliance Riders
Trails Preservation Alliance Riders
As we hear about trail closings or attempts to close trails in other states, the off-highway vehicle enthusiasts of Colorado are fortunate to have the Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) to fight for them to preserve trail use in Colorado.

TPA was formed in December, 2007 as the successor to the Colorado 500 Legal Defense Fund (C500 LF). After seven years of operation, it became a 501c3 organization and formed into the TPA. The mission of the organization is to focus on preserving motorized, single-track trail riding and to provide support to off-highway vehicle recreationists including ATVers, 4WD enthusiasts, and snowmobilers.

The Infrastructure of the TPA

The TPA relies on volunteers and works closely with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (LBM) to preserve the sport of off-highway sport trail riding. It struggles mostly with the BLM and USFS to get them to provide to off-roaders a fair percentage of access to the trails through public lands.

The organization moves in a wide number of ways to achieve its goals. These methods include:

  •  Meetings to offer written responses to the Travel Management Plans and Forest Plans for the USFS districts in Colorado and the Recreations Management Plans of the BLM in Colorado.
  • Assists the USFS and BLM with selected trail maintenance through volunteer or paid work of professional trail construction companies.
  • Works with state and local authorities to develop and preserve motorized vehicle recreation.
  • Hires well qualified motorized vehicle recreation consultants who are knowledgeable with planning and travel management issues to assist TPA to respond to BLM and USFS.

It is said that during the last 25 years, the USFS and BLM focused their travel management planning efforts in Colorado on reducing or eliminating OHV recreation areas on public lands. Advocates of an open trails system in Colorado say that a look at the record will show that the USFS and BLM have provided significant increases in wilderness designations, unlimited ski area expansion, and commercial enterprises on public lands. So every form of leisure time activity except for motorized vehicle recreation has received their fair access to public resources. The TPA has been struggling with the USFS and BLM to make access to public lands more equitable for OHVers.

There is always time for trail work.
There is always time for trail work.
As you can determine, most decisions concerning OHV use come from USFS and BLM. So the organization focuses its lobbying efforts toward these agencies. When lobbying is necessary concerning other issues that impact OHVers, the TPA relies on national organizations such as the American Motorcyclist Association, BlueRibbon Coalition, the ARRA, ORBA and other groups.

The TPA has created a working group that does trail maintenance all over the state of Colorado, explained Don Riggle, director of operations for the Trails Preservation Alliance. Moreover, TPA donates funds to small OHV clubs throughout the state to help them with their budgets.

The organization works with local clubs on a variety of levels, noted Riggle. “One is direct money donations, the other is providing technical assistance through our consultants when the local clubs need to respond to USFS and BLM public notices for OHV recreation,” he said. The association also assists in writing state and federal grants for money to help OHVers.

According to Riggle, the TPA has raised $79,356.94 for its cause. “That may seem like a lot of money, but when you look at the groups that are trying to shut our sport out of the public lands, it is very small,” he said. “The task that we face in the next 18 months will require a significant amount of outside consultants and legal assistance. This is going to be expensive. The goal is to build a financial ‘nest egg’ that will allow the TPA to take whatever actions are necessary to try to save our sport.”

Issues that the organization will focus on during the next one and one-half years will include responding to a series of USFS and BLM final draft Travel Management Plans, participating in fund raising, implementing OHV grant requests, initiating a joint trail/OHV project with the Colorado Off-highway Vehicle Coalition, and maintaining and updating the TPA website.

Currently, membership to the TPA is open to Colorado as well as out-of-state OHV riders. “The TPA represents a significant amount of out-of-state members,” said Riggle. “They understand that out-of-state riders are the ones that stand to lose the most from the USFS and BLM actions. Out-of-state riders come here expecting to see open trails, marked trails, etc., and they will find nothing. Anyone who rides in Colorado needs to support the TPA, the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition and local clubs,” he concluded.

For more information on and to donate to the TPA, visit its website at: http://www.coloradotpa.org.


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