By: Robert Janis
Little If Any Public
Lands Hamper Growth of Off-Road Vehicle
Recreation in Rhode Island
Rhode Island could very well be the smallest
state in the United States. And, according to
Bob Pacheco, president of the Rhode Island
Off-Highway Vehicle Association, it has only 5
acres, if that, of national park area which is
located in Providence. So, with very little
public lands, it should not be surprising that
the growth of off-highway vehicle recreation in
the state has been restricted.
Still, the Rhode Island Off-Highway Vehicle
Association (RIOHVA) is doing whatever is
possible to assist those OHV enthusiasts who are
looking for some way to enjoy their sport.
Founded in November 2004, RIOHVA's mission is to
establish legal and safe off-highway vehicle
recreation in Rhode Island.
Since there are no public lands on which trails
can be created, RIOHVA has made agreements with
two private landowners to use their land for OHV
recreation. Pacheco noted that the group holds
an annual event as well as summer time events on
Despite the lack of recreational area, the
association has been able to attract 435
members. "When we started the club, we set a
goal of having 500 members in five years," said
Pacheco. "We will have that by our annual
meeting on November 16, 2008."
Members of the RIOHVA can get a 15 percent
discount on purchases of OHV-related products
from businesses that sponsor the group. "If you
spend $100 a year on OHV related products at
businesses that sponsor us, then you will
receive your membership fee plus $5 back," said
Pacheco. There is a $10 membership fee.
If you join during the annual meeting, then you
get a trail ride and a RIOHVA T-shirt along with
a membership card. "We encourage members to wear
the T-shirt which is paid for by our sponsors in
hopes of getting others to ask questions about
the association and to get more people to join,"
Founded just four years ago, the organization
has not yet reached the stage where it can hire
a lobbyist to work the Rhode Island State
Legislature. Representatives of the group have
testified before local city councils and other
decision-making groups, but they don't have the
power yet to influence decisions. The group is
also in contact with the Bureau of Land
Management and the U.S. Forest Service in the
State and attends meetings where recreational
trail plans are discussed. Also, the group has
members who sit on boards and committees that
are involved with off-highway vehicle recreation
The RIOHVA has created one local club in the
State, the Rhode Island ATV Club.
The group works with the National Off-Highway
Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). In fact,
it was NOHVCC and the American Motorcyclists
Association (AMA) that formed the RIOHVA and
Pacheco is a member of NOHVCC.
"We get ideas from NOHVCC, and we find out from
that organization what other state associations
are doing and how they are doing it," said
Pacheco. "They give us ideas all the time and
point us in the right direction. For example,
they helped us get insurance."
And, Pacheco also noted that the RIOHVA has been
in constant contact with other New England state
off-highway vehicle associations including
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and
Connecticut. These groups also provide ideas on
how to promote the group and the issue of OHV
recreation in Rhode Island.
Still, for Pacheco, the most urgent issue
plaguing the organization is getting off-highway
vehicle recreationists off their couches at home
and to participate. "We need more people to get
involved," he said. "Our board of directors
believes we need membership to become larger and
stronger so that we can reach legislators,
towns, and local governments to convince them
that we represent a legitimate form of
Finally, the organization has a website
(www.riohva.org). The site includes a
forum, photo gallery, events calendar, news,
articles from the AMA and NOHVCC, a newsletter,
links to motorcycle, 4x4 clubs and
organizations, ATV-related groups, other clubs
and organizations and links to Rhode Island
businesses that sponsor the group.
The events RIOHVA hosts include a weekend of
riding at the Stepping Stone Ranch, a
fund-raising affair for a member who was
severely injured at a motocross event.