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NOHVCC

OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE EXEC TELLS CONGRESS ACTIVE TRAIL MANAGEMENT IS WORKING

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The top executive at one of the nation’s leading off-highway vehicle recreation organizations told a Congressional panel today that active management of OHV use on federal lands is working and that the closure of public lands to the millions of Americans who enjoy motorized recreation would be “a step backward.”

Russ Ehnes, Executive Director of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), made his remarks during a hearing on the impact of off-road vehicles on federal lands. The Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands in the U.S. House of Representatives called the hearing.

Mr. Ehnes cited numerous examples where OHV management has been successful, including the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in West Virginia, the Paiute ATV Trail in Utah and the San Bernardino National Forest in California.

“The key to success in these areas – and many others – has been active management,” Mr. Ehnes said.

Mr. Ehnes pointed out that NOHVCC has worked hard over the years to emphasize the need for active OHV management in many ways, including through a series of multi-day workshops held across the country. These sessions have brought together OHV management experts, land managers, OHV enthusiasts and non-motorized recreationists to review the “four E’s” of management, the cornerstone of every successful trail system in the country, he said.

“Simply stated, trail systems can be successful by applying education, engineering, enforcement and evaluation,” Mr. Ehnes said. “The results are high quality, environmentally sustainable trail systems that meet the needs and desires of the public.”

When OHV management first became an issue in the 1960s and early 1970s, the federal agencies generally had an approach that amounted to “ignore it or close it”, Mr. Ehnes said. However, through work by OHV activists and groups like the Motorcycle Industry Council and the American Motorcyclist Association, partnerships were established with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service that have resulted in many well managed opportunities for OHV recreation.

“We will continue to work to implement successful management techniques across the nation, though it won’t be easy,” Mr. Ehnes said. “It will take the continued commitment of the OHV community through the hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work it performs each year. And it will take continued commitment from the agencies, which I believe, in part, lies in your hands. We are aware that budgets are extremely tight, but outdoor recreation and pride in our public lands define the American people and we believe recreation budgets deserve all necessary support to help maintain our public lands,” he told the Subcommittee.


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