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By: Robert Janis

New Mexico OHV Alliance

New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance Partners to Improve Trails

he Rocky Mountain Youth Corps of Taos, New Mexico has been contracted to provide the labor.

Improvement of trails need not be a confrontational process between OHV associations and federal government agencies like the U.S. Forest Service. Witness the actions of the New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA). The group is working closely with the U.S. Forest Service and received funding from the federal government to improve trails and other facilities in the Cedro Peak area of the Cibola National Forest near Albuquerque, New Mexico. About 60 miles of trails are involved in the project which also includes trailhead improvements, trail entry control, and public information.

According to Mark Winscott, president of the NMOHVA, motorized vehicles, horseback riders, hikers, and mountain bikers have been sharing the trail network at Cedro Peak for over 40 years. Cedro Peak is part of the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Cedro Peak is less than an hour’s drive for most residents of Albuquerque. It is the only legal national forest riding area so close to the city. “Even though it’s only 60 miles of trail, there’s a lot of variety, its great riding, and a really important recreation resource,” said Winscott. ‘It’s also at higher elevation and gets you up out of the city heat in the summer.”

The signing and trailhead information will perform the critical task of telling the public what to expect on the trails. “You can’t take that for granted. Everyone has been sharing the Cedro trails for decades, and usually everyone gets along just fine”, said Winscott. “But there are no signs or maps saying that the motorized use is legal, and that everyone has to share the trails. Because there is no information about what is allowed, some of the non-motorized folks think we are riding illegally. The new information kiosks and maps will tell people that Cedro trails are multiple use and which trails are legal for us motorized folks. There is a huge designated wilderness area on the west side of the highway, which provides plenty of opportunity for bicyclers, equestrians or hikers who don’t want to share public trails.”

The ranger district made its travel management decision in 2008. The trails that were designated for motorized use need to be signed, improved, and maintained. Trailhead facilities (parking, restrooms, etc.) need to be expanded and improved. All this will be accomplished with the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant funding. RTP is a federal program that provides funds for trail work. Each state gets a share of the federal RTP money and administers its own RTP program. NMOHVA developed an RTP grant application for funds to complete the trail work needed at Cedro Peak.

NMOHVA worked with the Cibola National Forest and the Sandia Ranger District (of the CNF) to create the partnership required for the grant.  Winscott noted that NMOHVA had to work closely with the U.S. Forest Service in writing the grant application.

“We could not apply for the RTP grant until the ranger district completed its travel management plan (TMP) which designated which trails would be open to motorized vehicles.” said Winscott. “Once that was done, we offered to apply for a grant to implement the TMP decision. The national office of the USFS is requiring that all national forests make travel management decisions. However, they are not providing additional funding to local, national forests to put those decisions ‘on the ground.’ The RTP grant offered a way to make it happen. The project includes trail signs, restoration, maintenance, and the trailhead work. The Cibola National Forest was excited about being able to make the travel management decision really work.”

The first step was getting the approval of Nancy Rose, Cibola National Forest Supervisor. She directed Cid Morgan, the District Ranger of the Sandia District, to work with NMOHVA to develop the project and grant application. Throughout the process NMOHVA has been consulting with the District Ranger and her staff.

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