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By: Robert Janis

High Mountain ATV Association

Idaho ATV Group Promotes ATV Recreation, Gives Back to Community

ATV enthusiasts have been getting a bad rap from some elements of the media and environmentalist groups. If they are believed, ATV recreationists are self-centered reactionaries who don’t give a darn for the planet. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Time and again we have discussed ATV clubs and individual enthusiasts who have shown respect for the trails they use as well as their passion for helping people. Another example of this is shown by the High Mountain ATV Association of Wallace, Idaho.

According to Jim Shields, president of the group, the High Mountain ATV Association was founded in 1992. “Three guys who had a snowmobile association decided to switch to ATVs. They started the Association to promote the sport of ATV riding as well as the town of Wallace because, at the time, the area had about 600 miles of road and trails they wanted to get people to ride,” said Shields.

“Today Shoshone County where Wallace is located is 2600 square miles with 1,000 miles of roads and trails some belonging to the U.S. Forest Service, some belonging to the Bureau of Land Management and some private land,” added Shields. Some in the know say that it is one of the top 12 North American ATV towns. “The majority of the trails are very good,” said Shields. “Beginners and intermediate riders can manage them quite well. In addition, there are about 150 miles of trails for advanced riders.” The majority of trails are old logging roads and logging skid trails. In addition, some are fire access trails constructed by the Forest Service Firefighters and Idaho Parks or Idaho Department of Lands firefighters.

The mission of the group is to promote safety and the fun of the sport of ATV recreation. “We do it in a family atmosphere. We want the whole family to get involved,” said Shields. High Mountains slogan is "Ride with Family Ride with Pride".  So a major program of the group is promoting an ATV safety course for riders of all ages. The course is four and one-half hours long. “ The course teaches novice riders how to turn, stand up, maneuver over obstacles like logs and rocks and how to stop. Moreover, the philosophy of the group Tread Lightly! is emphasized in the class so riders can learn how important it is to leave as small a footprint on the land as possible.  The group also makes a major effort too give back to the community. “We try and do one or two rides a year to help a group in the community,” said Shields. “For example, we’ve done rides for the Women’s Resource Center who helps battered women. We also promote the sport with club rides every month to a different area of the county and we invite members and non-members to join us. It gives us an opportunity to show them the country.” The High Mountain ATV Association also holds a Jamboree for one week every July. This year marks its 17th festival which includes rides, a rodeo, a parade through downtown Wallace, an obstacle course and lots to eat from breakfasts and lunches to dinners. The Jamboree ends with a barbecue steak dinner during which trophies to the winners of the Jamboree events are given.

Moreover, members do volunteer work to maintain the trails. “They can go out on their own and do the work or every spring we set up groups to go out and cut trees and branches out of the way, we move debris like rocks and logs and we widen the trails if needed. Last year High Mountain ATV received a grant from the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department and we used the money to buy equipment like chainsaws and cross cutting equipment. So we have our own gear to help maintain the trails. We also have two small trailers we bought with a grant from Yamaha corp. to haul equipment behind the ATVs. We also show the BLM and U.S. Forest Service what we are doing to keep the trails open,” said Shields.

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