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By: Robert Janis

Arkansas OHV Conservation Association

The Arkansas OHV Conservation Association: Getting the Grass Roots Involved

They say that change is better achieved from the bottom up than the top down. That appears to be the philosophy of the Arkansas Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Association (AOCA). The organization was created in January 2008 to represent off-highway vehicle interests in Arkansas and to work on issues in cooperation with land managers, legislators, and educators to conserve, expand, enhance, and protect responsible OHV recreation opportunities.

According to Darren Linn, president of the association, it does not have lobbyists to push its issues with the state government. Instead, it relies on its members to lobby, educate, and work with the state to solve issues of interest to the OHV community. “Our influence is on a personal level,” said Linn. It encourages individual members as well as local clubs to get involved. “Individual membership in the AOCA is important; however, we also stress the importance of local organizations. The AOCA is an umbrella, and the local clubs are the heart and soul of any successful OHV state.”

With this in mind, it encourages the importance of organizing. It helps to create local clubs using materials from the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). These materials provide step-by-step information on how to form a club.

The AOCA also gets involved and provides support to “anything the local clubs are doing,” said Linn. This can include helping to organize events, work days, and more.

The AOCA informs, educates, and motivates its members by showing how each issue relates to them and what the consequences and rewards can be for the community as a whole if they get involved. The group directs members to the appropriate agency or legislator depending on the issue. Members are also encouraged to get involved with national organizations related to off-highway vehicle recreation. These groups include the National ATV Association, the American Motorcyclists Association, Tread Lightly, the BlueRibbon Coalition, and more.

Like with most off-highway vehicle associations around the country, the major issue for the Arkansas Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Association is access. “It’s access with a capital A,”quipped Linn. “Arkansas has just undergone the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) in both national forests. We have no motorized use on State Parks. This issue covers both the recreational riders and racers.”

Linn admitted that the AOCA is about “10 years too late. We are having to start from scratch,” said Linn. “We are currently spending a lot of time developing relationships with our land managers. We are also trying to build and develop a good base of local clubs. Also, we are working the education trenches. The NOHVCC has brought in three workshops for us in less than a year, and it is currently planning a fourth.”
The group does not get involved in lawsuits. Instead, it meets with forest service land managers and tries to assist with their processes that can affect OHV recreation, explained Linn.

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