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A rider's successful quest to increase riding opportunities and work towards a career in off-highway vehicle recreation

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Soon after the officer told the group how to get the job done, he announced he didn’t have the time to help and asked for a volunteer. Russ says, “No one said a word. Then I was the sucker who said ‘I’ll do it.’ Besides, this is what I wanted to get involved with, right?

“We soon formed a club with help from the NOHVCC and their club starter kit. Then we proceeded to try to get base leadership behind the idea. We met with some key leaders who thought it would be a great idea and the planning started. This is where the Marshall OHV classes really came in handy! The information I gained in those classes gave me the ability to speak to the environmental officers with the confidence and expertise that I did, in fact, know what I was talking about.

“After a few months of planning we opened the first phase of the OHV park. With guidance from my Marshall University instructor (Dr. Raymond Busbee) I led the OHV club, operated the current OHV area and am currently in the process of planning, constructing and managing the second phase of the park.

“Unfortunately I was running into some resistance from the base environmental agency as the OHV park was something they were not completely on board with and were a bit apprehensive to the entire idea. Dr. Busbee told me I should contact the NOHVCC to see if they could be of assistance with this unique situation. He told me to contact Russ Ehnes, the Executive Director of the NOHVCC. I thought this name sounded familiar. I put two and two together realizing that the NOHVCC was headquartered in Great Falls; this must be the same Russ I worked with 14 years earlier with the ATV club! I called him up and sure enough it was him and he remembered me.

“After some planning the NOHVCC held an informative two-day OHV workshop here on base with Russ and several staff members and advisors in attendance. I felt this workshop would be just the thing to convince the bases’ environmentalist that an OHV park could be constructed and managed responsibly. It did just that. After the seminar, my primary biologist told me that the information provided convinced her that an OHV park could, in fact, be environmentally friendly. This workshop made me a better planner and manager also!

“We are now almost ready to start construction of the second phase after many months of planning. This park is a first of its kind on a military installation with all the amenities of a complete park such as a motocross track, kids play area, Jeep obstacle course, OHV trails and hill climbs. The facility will be opened exclusively to Vandenberg AFB employees and of course active duty military.”

One more issue popped up and Hanson once again turned to the NOHVCC for help. “Some people I work with felt that hunting and OHV recreation on the same land could not be compatible. NOHVCC Senior Coordinator Jack Terrell sent me an e-mail saying he could have a Forest Service representative send me a letter outlining some facts on the issue so that I could provide it as testimony that the OHV trails and hunting are compatible. A few weeks later I get this letter addressing my issues, and to my surprise it’s from Max Reid of the Utah Forest Service. This was the very same person who advised me years ago on how I could get into a career with OHV management!”

Hanson sums up this incredible story as nears the finish line with his ultimate goal, the same one he had many years ago as a teenager trail riding his ATV in the northwest woods. “This military installation OHV park is certainly a great success story, but the real success will come full circle when I get my degree in Recreation Management, retire from the Air Force, and get the career I have always dreamed about; working OHV issues in the great Utah trail system. Because of organizations like the NOHVCC, Forest Service, the BLM, Northern Arizona University and Marshall University I am prepared to do that very thing.”

The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, as a national body of OHV recreation enthusiasts, develops and provides a wide spectrum of programs, materials and information, or "tools", to individuals, clubs, associations and agencies in order to further a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.

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