Podcast with Maryland Off Highway Vehicle Alliance President James Ratino

James Ratino, (MDOHVA President) was recently invited to sit down with Shane Eastman of Send It ATV to do a podcast interview. Shane is looking to fill a niche in the off-road podcast community. There are many podcasts about the latest gear, newest machines, and fastest guys (yes, he does that too) but in this Podcast, Shane focuses a lot of time talking to the movers and shakers keeping and growing OHV access throughout the country. In this episode we talk to Shane about who we are, what we are doing, where we hope to go, while letting you get to know our leadership a little better. So have a listen, learn something new, and let Shane know if you like it by hitting those buttons. You guys know the drill!

James Ratino Named President of MDOHVA

Organization’s new leader looks forward to expanding off-road riding opportunities in Maryland.

The Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance, Inc. (MDOHVA) is pleased to announce that James Ratino has been named president of the organization
effective January 1st, 2019. A board member for the past year, James is an experienced and effective advocate for motorized recreation of all kinds in Maryland. He has been riding dirt bikes with family and friends since age 10, has raced in many hare scrambles, and is a long-time member of a local motocross club.

“James has a strong drive to advocate for all enthusiasts of off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation, including those who enjoy riding on ATV trails, technical single-track motorcycle trails, full-size 4×4 rock crawls, and motocross tracks,” said Ken Kyler, organization president. 

James is a graduate of Frostburg State University, with a degree in Physics and Engineering, and brings to the post of MDOHVA president many years of experience in commercial construction management. Over the years, he has hosted rides on his family’s private property in western Maryland that were open to dirt bikes, ATVs, multi-passenger side-by-sides, and full-size 4×4 vehicles.

The Maryland OHV Alliance, Inc. is a state-wide body of OHV recreation enthusiasts. It advocates for responsible OHV recreation and resource protection by working in partnership with private and public land managers and recreation planners; provides and promotes best management practices for OHV recreation planning, development and management to policy makers; promotes a positive OHV recreation image to all publics; and emphasizes the benefits of responsible recreation behavior and raise awareness of the impacts from irresponsible recreation activity.

Since its founding, the MDOHVA has been successful at advocating for ORV recreation resulting in the MD DNR building the St. John’s ORV Trail and Campground in the Savage River State Forest, and more recently supporting DNR’s acquisition of land for the Wolf Den State Park near Kitzmiller which will be the State’s first ORV State Park.

Assisting DNR On New State-Acquired Property

Trail inventory is first step to creating
new recreational opportunities in western Maryland

Frederick, MD — April 10, 2018 — The Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance, Inc. (MDOHVA), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), completed the first phase of an assessment of property purchased by the DNR in western Maryland for a new State Park.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has acquired approximately 2,009 acres in Garrett County, near the town of Kitzmiller. The property will potentially provide a wide range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, camping and trail riding with off-road vehicles (ORVs). Two of the three parcels purchased are adjacent to the Potomac State Forest.

MDOHVA contracted with Applied Trails Research to do an assessment of the existing trails on the property, funded with grants from Polaris Industries, Rugged Ridge and DNR. The initial assessment is complete and the next phase is to analyze the data, create the inventory and final report.  The trail inventory will include GIS data and annotated maps, helping DNR create a strategic management plan for the property, including public access and trails that potentially could be opened in 2018. As this project moves forward, there will be opportunities for public comment and involvement throughout the planning process.

ORV Trails developed on the acquired property would add to the trail-riding opportunities now available in western Maryland. MDOHVA was instrumental in designing, building and signing the new St. John’s Rock ORV trail, located in the Savage River State forest. The  ribbon-cutting ceremony for that trail was held last July. “It was exciting and inspiring to see trail-riding enthusiasts, representatives of the Maryland DNR, and elected officials all celebrating the State’s new ORV opportunity,” said Ken Kyler, President of the MDOHVA. “Like St. John’s Rock, trails at this new State Park would be professionally designed to be fun and sustainable, both economically and environmentally.”

Applied Trails Research is a full-service outdoor recreation firm that specializes in sustainable trail development, and a member of the Professional Trail Builders Association. The Maryland OHV Alliance, Inc. is a State-wide body of off-highway vehicle recreation enthusiasts. It develops and provides a wide spectrum of programs, materials and information, or “tools,” to individuals, OHV clubs, associations and agencies in order to further a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.  For more information go to http://mdohvalliance.org/ or email info@mdohvalliance.org.

Daryl Anthony Joins Board Of Maryland OHV Alliance

For Immediate Release

For information, contact:
Ken Kyler, Maryland OHV Alliance
phone: 240-601-5705
email: President@MDOHVAlliance.org

Daryl Anthony Joins Board
Of Maryland OHV Alliance, Inc.

Anthony brings 35 years of public service to the organization as it expands trail riding opportunities in Maryland 

Frederick, MD — February 15, 2018 — The Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance, Inc. (MDOHVA) is pleased to announce that Daryl Anthony has joined its board of directors. Daryl recently retired from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he served as Assistant Secretary of Land Resources.

“Daryl has been instrumental in bringing new opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation to Maryland and is a strong supporter of the Maryland OHV Alliance. We’re excited to have him join our 9-member board as we continue to expand trail-riding opportunities in the State,” said Ken Kyler, organization president.

Anthony served as Assistant Secretary of Land Resources, starting that role in July of 2015. He first joined the department in 1983, as a contractual seasonal ranger at Patapsco Valley State Park, while earning his Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Park Management at Frostburg State University. In 1995, he was promoted within the park service from sergeant and assistant park manager, and in 1999 to captain and southern region manager, and later served as regional manager in the central and western regions.

Daryl is an avid outdoorsman. He spends much of his free time mountain biking, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and most importantly exploring off-road trails throughout the country in his Jeep with his family and friends.

The Maryland OHV Alliance, Inc. is a State-wide body of off-highway vehicle recreation enthusiasts. It develops and provides a wide spectrum of programs, materials and information, or “tools,” to individuals, OHV clubs, associations and agencies in order to further a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.  For more information go to http://mdohvalliance.org/ or email info@mdohvalliance.org.

Paul Peditto on the St John’s Rock ORV Trail

Maryland OHV Alliance promotes safe, sustainable off road recreation in Maryland. The Alliance worked with the Dept of Natural Resources along with other State agencies and officials to open the first of its kind ORV Park in Maryland. Paul Peditto offers insight.

Please take advantage of the new riding opportunities at the St. John’s Rock ORV facility. Get the details here:

Trail Volunteers!

The AMA, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and the Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance have been working together in western Maryland to open an OHV park following trail closures at three of the state’s off-highway vehicle riding areas: the Green Ridge Trail at Green Ridge State Forest; Chandler Trail at Pocomoke State Forest; and Poplar Lick Trail at Savage River State Forest. All were permanently closed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and establishing a new trail at Savage River has been the cooperative focus to date. As we’ve all learned, no OHV effort succeeds overnight and significant enthusiast support is a critical element.

Though just in its fourth year, MDOHVA has been very effective reaching key players in the riding community – as well as state, county and local officials — to promote the opening of OHV parks. In September 2014, MDOHVA teamed with NOHVCC and AMA to introduce Maryland DNR staff to OHV trail construction and management concepts proven around the country. In July of 2015, MDOHVA and the AMA met with Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton and newly-appointed Assistant Secretary for Land Resources, Daryl Anthony. Sec. Belton understands the positive economic impact of OHV recreation and Daryl Anthony, a longtime off-road Jeeper, is a strong supporter of the concept. With their help and other connections in the Gov. Hogan’s administration, a 2017 Savage River OHV trail opening is planned.

The Savage River Trail System will include group and private camping with a tot-trail between the sites. A first for Maryland, the system will include a rock-crawl for ATVs and 4-wheelers. The trails themselves will have sections appropriate for motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs.

As the MDOHVA and the AMA have promoted the economic benefits of organized OHV recreation on state land in western Maryland, other communities have come forward looking for local parks of their own. We’re looking for volunteers to help maintain the trail system coming to Savage River as well as be an ambassador to riders on the trail, and spearhead efforts in other parts of the state to establish more public OHV recreation.

If you’re serious about seeing OHV trails come back to Maryland, whether on public land or private, please contact the AMA at grassroots@amacycle.org (or info@mdohvalliance.org). Let us know if you and your riding buddies have the time and energy to help maintain the momentum started at Savage River, or can help with the political and organizational hurdles at other locations where the MDOHVA and the AMA hope to open trials.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that you and your riding friends become members of the AMA to help us protect our riding freedoms. More members mean more clout against the opponents of motorcycling, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go towww.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join. To encourage your friends to join, tell them about the many AMA benefits you appreciate and forward the link to them.

2014 Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance Year in Review

Our second year was just as phenomenal as our first year! Again it was all due to your help, donations and a strong Board of Directors. We continue to make progress on opening the Savage River Trail System, and have been working hard with western civic and social leaders espousing the gospel of OHV recreational tourism. It was quite a year and you made it happen with your generous support! As Paul Harvey would have said, now for the rest of the story!

Savage River State Forest OHV Trail & NOHVCC Workshop for DNR

It has been many years in the making and members of your Alliance Board have been working on this long before the Alliance was formed. Last year the State officially started the process to create an OHV trail system within Savage River State Forest. The initial engineering assessment was completed and the Alliance was invited to review the proposed trail layout. To put it mildly, we were underwhelmed. Fortunately we saw this coming and had been working with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) to conduct a 2-day workshop (at no cost to DNR) on trail design and maintenance.

We used your donations and split the cost with NOHVCC to conduct the workshop. It was money very, very well spent. NOHVCC sent one of their senior project managers, Jack Terrell, as well as Ron Potter who recently retired from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource. Ron spent 37 years as the MN DNR Recreation Systems Manager in the Parks & Trails Division. He is a nationally respected public trails manager and was very, very well received by the MD DNR members who attended. DNR sent two senior leaders and about 20 other employees who ranged from headquarters level planners to local land managers. The workshop was one-day of classroom followed by a day in the field. It was amazing and exciting to see their eyes opened by Jack and Ron over the two days of the workshop. We should also add that when we went to the field, the engineering firm DNR hired accompanied us.

By the end of the workshop, the original plan was totally scrapped and DNR proposed a dual-trail system paralleling the 7-miles of Red Dog Road with interconnecting loops. We went from 5-6 miles of trails to 30+ miles of trails and from 15 users per day to 30 users per day. We believe that a well designed trail monitoring system will show DNR that even more users per day can be achieved. This is a great start and will be a model for future OHV areas on public land.

DNR expects all the work to open the trail system to be completed by the end of 2015. You can be assured we will stay closely involved with DNR to ensure that happens!

Trail System Monitoring Initiative

Your Alliance was the instigator to start a trail monitoring working group with representatives from the Maryland DNR (Wade Dorsey, Savage River Land Manager), Garrett College (Kevin Dodge), Steve Storck (local volunteer and trail erosion expert) and the MD OHV Alliance (Ken Kyler). Steve has a PHD in Outdoor recreation Management and has done a lot of work on trail monitoring programs that is directly applicable to creating an OHV trail monitoring program. DNR has found seed money to fund some Garrett College students to do the monitoring under the supervision of Kevin.

You may ask why we should embrace trail monitoring. Trail monitoring is a proactive way to ensure trails are sustainable and thereby remain open! Green Ridge had no trail monitoring program and was shut down with little warning as an unsustainable trail. We view a well designed trail monitoring program as a defensive measure as well. By being proactive, we can bring volunteers to the trail and mitigate issues before they become problems—something we should have done at Green Ridge. Also, because Maryland manages all forests as “sustainable forests” a monitoring program is vital to their next evaluation. By being proactive and mitigating issues as they arise we can show that OHV recreation is compatible with sustainable forests.

Economic Benefit Meeting with Western Leaders

The Alliance had a social meeting with Senator Edwards, elected state and county leaders, as well as landowners and significant social leaders to continue last year’s discussions on the economic benefits of OHVs to the counties. This time we presented the economic impact that surrounding areas experience from OHV recreational tourism. The attendees seemed quite surprised by the economic benefit the counties could experience. This is a very slow process but we are making inroads. One result was an invitation to meet with Mike Koch who is the executive director of Garrett County’s Department of Planning and Economic Development. Mike thinks OHV recreational tourism can only be good for the county if done right. Our job is to show him it can be.

Future Initiatives

Your Alliance will continue to push forward on the issues above as well as undertake new initiatives.

New State leadership!

The election of Larry Hogan has changed the world and created vast opportunities for us. We believe Governor-elect Hogan will be a strong supporter of building OHV recreational tourism using State land as well as public/private partnerships. It appears that Hogan will appoint Charlie Evans Jr. (who worked as the assistant secretary at DNR during the Ehrlich administration) as the next DNR Secretary. We will be working to get on his calendar and discuss OHV recreation on DNR lands and we will push to reopen Green Ridge State Forest.

Updating Maryland’s Outdated OHV Noise Legislation

Maryland’s legislation on OHV noise is woefully outdated. With the help of AMA, we are drafting an update to use the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and AMA’s recommended noise standard and testing method. It will also address spark arrestors. We are drafting language to ensure this only applies to OHV use on public property and may be waived for races or events. We all follow these standards already so this won’t be any change for you. This is primarily a defensive move on our part. We would rather have standards passed that we all already adhere to versus having someone with an axe to grind push through a very onerous law. Noise is a major issue and has contributed to closing OHV parks and other riding areas.


Your Alliance will be pushing hard on the issues above. We are achieving results many long-time Marylanders though impossible. This is all because of your strong support. We are a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) organization and we have been achieving great results with your funds!