MDOHVA involved with WV?

Over the weekend on 11.13.22 we were invited to speak in front of the West Virginia Infrastructure Committee on the benefits of getting OHV recreation users into towns and the potential of adding right of ways along roads to increase connectivity. This increased connectivity is better for both riders and the towns that serve them. The average day trip user will buy food and fuel in town if given the chance, helping grow and support local businesses.

Our invitation is a testament to the impact and success we have had in our endeavors. Regionally, people are seeing a positive impact and looking to capitalize. We spent time speaking with several committee members, and representative elects after the meeting. These members have seen the results of the trails we have been advocating for, and knew of our organization’s work.

Of the many new friends we have made, it was nice to finally meet in person a long time supporter and advisor, Jeffery Lusk, the director of the world famous Hatfield McCoy Trails system. Jeffery has spent many hours helping advise us to ensure we stay on a path to success. We look forward to fostering these relationships to help guide OHV policy and continuing to blaze new ground.

Photos by Perry Bennett

More trails at WDRSP!

Some exciting news of things to come! We’ve been chatting with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and they sent us some photos of a new trail they have been working to clear. The trail is located on the North Hills and Potomac parcels and is gauged more towards larger full size vehicles and is approximately 8miles in length. It is expected to be open soon and park is open year round.

Huge thanks to Donnie and team on keeping us informed and helping to drive the initiative to bring more trails to Maryland.

We’ll provide more information as it becomes available!

https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/western/wolf-den-run.aspx

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

and this one makes a STATEMENT.

MDOHVA has helped change the way the State of Maryland, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources interact and view OHV recreation. The Office of Outdoor Recreation will work to capitalize on the economic befits of ALL recreational activities, which goes hand in hand with our community.

A recent economic study on the Great Allegheny Passage found hikers/bikes spend around $100.00 per day, and almost $500.00 on an over night trip. Data from the Hatfield McCoy Trail System in WV shows day trip users spending over $500.00 on a day trip, and $1,100.00 on an overnight night trip. Showing OHV tourism punches far above our weight on economic impacts. Making us one of the more ideal recreation groups for this new Office to capitalize on.

Photo of vehicle off-roading on rocks
St. John’s Rock Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) trail is one of two major off-road recreation areas recently opened in Western Maryland.

Legislation #3!

May 16th 2022 is the day we can officially lay claim to getting our 3rd piece of legislation passed! Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 1143, a Bill several years in the making.

A little background on this story. As many of you know, MDOHVA is Maryland’s leading advocate for Off-Highway Vehicles. We’ve spent years further developing Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance into a name with State wide recognition. Enriching our partnership with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, fostered relationships with Towns and local businesses in Western Maryland, as well as made relationships with state and local leaders.

Why? Because 10 years ago there were only a few miles of non-connected public trails in MD. Through years of hard work this organization and many others, this number grew in a few short years to over 65 miles and climbing. This is not solely due to MDOHVA, leaders and legislators before us helped pave the way. Our prior 2 pieces of legislation removed landowners liability for allowing OHV recreation for free, and gave DNR 50% of OHV Titling fees under the mandate of creating and maintaining trails.

This matters, not only because of the recreational opportunities riding provides, but the life style, freedom, family environment and economic growth it cultivates.So today HB1143 will be signed into law (signed without opposition!), allowing Off-Highway Motorcycles, ATV’s, SxS etc, the ability to ride on county roads in Allegany and Garrett Counties up to 5 miles, building upon previous legislation. This will lets riders go between trail heads on different properties, and ride into town to spend their money. Paving the way for other projects that others call a “pipe dream,” but are much closer to reality than ever thought possible. But that’s a story for another time.

The reason we do this is because riding is a HUGE part of our lives. A core value held by our board is the importance of making things better and passing down this sport from one generation to the next. Not just passing it down, but growing it!

A special thank you to MDOHVA’s Board of directors. They have laid the foundation for this success. We would also like to thank the Western Maryland Delegation. Among them, Delegate Jason Buckel (Lead sponsor of this Bill), Delegate Mike McKay (long time and continued supporter of OHV access and recreational tourism), and most importantly retiring Senator George Edwards. Without Senator Edwards work on the previous two pieces of legislation, this Bill, Wolf Den Run State Park, and Saint John’s Rock would not exist.

As we also like to say, support those who support us. That goes for businesses, communities, and the politicians who have secured and continue to fight for our access to recreate on public lands. It is primary season, so ask your candidates where they stand on OHV recreation, and consider supporting those who already do!

image.png
image.png
image.png

James Ratino, President

Saving the Daniel Boone Byway – Off-Road Business Magazine

Please take the time to check out this magazine, and their article about the Daniel Boone Byway. It is a very strong example why organizations like ours exist, and why we continue to need your support. If you have ever thought about becoming a board member, there is no better time than now. Getting involved now helps create a legacy of cooperation that is paramount to our success.

Please consider joining, renewing or making a donation!

HB1143 Testimony

On March 9th 2022, at about 5:30PM, 4.5 hours after the committee hearing was scheduled to start, HB 1143 was finally heard. Delegate Buckel introduced the Bill on behalf of the Allegany County and Garrett County Delegations and did a wonderful job expressing their and the counties unanimous support. There was no opposition to the Bill, and only 1 delegate had questions as she was unfamiliar with the original Bill and was seeking clarification on which roads are eligible for riding, and what type of people this law would cater to.

Several members of this committee came to Wolf Den Run State Park when it first opened and have experienced this on road law as intended. One of them, Delegate David Fraser-Hidalg (Montgomery County), helped further clarify the simple nature of this Bill in a very positive light to the rest of the committee members. If anyone is interested in watching the 10 minute hearing on this Bill.  We run from the 3Hr 13 min – 3Hr 25min mark.

Thank you everyone for your support and submitting testimony,

James

We have a Bill! HB1143

Right now we have a Bill working its way through the legislation that we need your help getting out of committee.

Currently, in Allegany and Garrett counties, you can purchase a permit from the county to ride on the road with your Snowmobile, ATV, or SxS on county roads, up to 2 miles. This means riders at Wolf Den Run State Park, or Saint John’s Rock ORV trail, must pull off of the road and re-enter to reach their final destinations. And off-highway motorcycles, unless they have a license plate, need to be trailered between locations. This created a potentially confusing law for multi-OHV type groups to navigate. But HB 1143 will change that.

HB1143 will add Off-Highway Motorcycles to the definition of ATV’s for the on road ATV law of Allegany and Garrett counties. HB 1143 will also increase the mileage of onroad travel up to 5 miles from the current limit. This is a large step in the right direction for creating better and easier OHV access. This will allow WDRSP to function as designed and allow WDRSP riders and SJR riders access to their respective towns of Kitzmiller and Lonaconing and bring their business with them.

So, how do you helpTestify! The Transportation Committee hearing is 3/9 at 1pm. You can submit written testimony, or provide oral testimony virtually via ZOOM. You will need to create a “MY MGA” account. To do this, click on this link that gives Bill details, https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/hb1143 and click on the “MY MGA” logo at the top right corner.

However, there is a limited window of opportunity to sign up to testify. You can create your account at any time, but you must sign up on Monday, March 7th between 8am and 3pm. Outside of that window, you will not be able to sign up.

Several members of this Committee have been to Wolf Den Run State Park, ridden the trails, and utilized this on road provision to access the different parcels, so they are familiar with how this law currently functions.

I want to thank everyone for their support to date, and thank you for your help on this legislation. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Sincerely,

James Ratino
President of Maryland OHV Alliance

Forestry Works Plan looking for Comments

Please take the time to share the following with any riders and groups you know. We would like you to read and provide comments to DNR’s 2023 forestry plans. https://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/workplans.aspx Take note Savage Forest’s St. John’s Rock will be receiving nearly 8% trail growth starting late spring with an additional mile of trail being added, which is huge. While Potomac-Garrett state forest will be receiving erosion repairs to their existing trails and bridges. With Green Ridge, and the Eastern Shore being left out for OHV use.
Compared to several years ago, before SB606 created specific funding for OHV trails, this is a massive improvement and there is still more to go. But in order for us to continue to get our money’s worth we need your help to demonstrate the user demand, and the direction in which it should go. And don’t think they do not read it, as comments end up in the final draft of their works plan.
Since we at MDOHVA have been working hard to advocate for OHV access, the State has added nearly 65 miles of trails with more growth slated and under review!

If you do not want to create your own email to Forestry, please copy the below and let them know where you are from.

“Thank you for investing in OHV trail development. SB606 was passed to not just maintain existing OHV trails, but to create new ones as well. Saint John’s Rock new trail development is exciting and will appeal to, and generate more users. This should be a trend to be continued at Savage Forest to further develop a desirable OHV trail system for its desired end users.

The repairs within Potomac-Garrett Forest to the bridges and erosion controls are important and necessary, but will be incomplete without expanding the OHV’s accessible to these existing trails, and growing them as well.

With trails returning to Western MD, it is time to create and reopen trails on the Eastern Shore as well. Please utilize SB 606 funding to fund a sustainability study for OHV recreation.
Thank you,”

2021 Coming To An End

With 2021 coming to an end, we would like to take the time to thank all our donors, members, and followers. It is your encouragement and support that helps fuel our fire to continue to advocate for OHV access. In 2021 we have continued to strengthen our partnership with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resource Parks and Forestry Divisions, we have also helped support the town and businesses of Kitzmiller who have been very supportive our work out at Wolf Den Run State Park. We have also worked to develop a network stakeholder outside of Maryland who may one day help realize the Southern Legislative Conference’s vision of an East Cost semi continuous trail system. This progress has led to sustained and long term growth of our access within the State.

All this work takes a dedicate board of volunteers, and over time these members come and go, each leaving a unique and lasting impact. However, sometimes these impacts are so grand they require special recognition when that person steps down for new leaders to come forward. On that note, we would like to give special recognition, and a lifetime achievement award, to retiring board member, Chris Borger.

Chris Borger has been a pivotal member for OHV advocacy in and around Maryland for nearly 20 years. Chris has helped organize and run enduros through the Green Marble Enduro Riders, secure access to lands for the Frederick R&T motorcycle club and ran an annual charity trail ride that has raised nearly One hundred thousand dollars for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. He has been a true statesman for the industry, helping change the way the public perceives our sport. We only hope his new home in the Sunshine State does not convince him to trade in his dirtbike for a golf cart.

Please join us in thanking Chris for his many years of service!

WDRSP and MDOHVA on MPT

Did you see us on Maryland Public Television?

That’s right. MPT had a segment on Maryland Department of Natural Resources only OHV catered park. We were there to help explain the benefits and the usage of the park that we have worked hard to assist in creating. Not only was the recreational opportunities explored, but the ecological habitat conservation for the native wood rat was highlighted as well.

This was an excellent opportunity to show how our community supports sustainable trails, environmental conversation, and habitat restoration.
And when out visiting, don’t forget to support the ATV friendly town that supports you by visiting The Coal Bucket Restaurant, The Miners Vault convenience store, or the towns atv repair shop – Off Road Repair.

The segment on WDRSP runs from minute mark 1:20-9:30

https://video.mpt.tv/video/episode-3303-fvanke/