Region 3 - Washington Land Matters Report
On Saturday, January 10th, there was a Washington State Land Matters meeting held in Pacific, Washington - this meeting is a gathering of all WA Land Matters Representatives in the Pacific Northwest 4-Wheel Drive Association. Invited guests from the Department of Natural Resources and other forest agencies were also in attendance at this meeting.
Following is the report submitted by Bill Manbeck, Washington Land Matter Chairperson for Region 3 (SW WA) of the Pacific Northwest 4-Wheel Drive Association.
WASHINGTON LAND MATTERS
REGION 3 REPORT
January 10, 2009
1. Yacolt Burn DNR Planning Process: The planning process started in November 2007 and the final meeting will be in February 2009. This committee consists of an 11 member panel representing various motorized and non-motorized user groups: 4WD (2), Motorcycle (1), ATV (1), Hikers (1), Neighbors of the Forest (3), Mountain Bike (1), Equestrian (1), Fish Enhancement (1) selected from DNR staff by invitation only from participants at the August 2007 Kick-Off meeting. The Planning Process is an effort designed to enhance the recreation opportunities in the Yacolt Burn forest for all user groups. The 4-Wheel Drive user group has been locked out of the Yacolt Burn forest since 1999, based on recommendations from the last Forest Assessment process. Although it has been a daunting challenge, we have managed to change the image of 4-Wheel Drive enthusiasts not only in the minds of the DNR staff associated with the planning process, but also of the minds of other user groups in the forest. This occurred from consistent and persistent demonstration and education of what the PNW4WDA is all about. A final collaborative recommendation from the 3 motorized groups has been submitted to DNR staff and the planning committee and has been very well received. We are optimistic that DNR will come back with approval to move forward with our recommendation in Spring 2009. (See attachment A)
2. Education: With much perseverance, we were able to get approval from DNR to be able to print and distribute 2 “mudding” brochures (created by Crystal Crowder of Piston’s Wild Motorsports), talking about the unacceptable practice of mudding in the Yacolt Burn. One is the PC version and proudly displays the DNR logo and the PNW4WDA logo; the other is a more “intense” message with only the PNW4WDA logo. It is important to note that although only one brochure meets the strict government requirements to display the DNR logo – both messages are fully supported by the DNR staff. In addition, we are also working in cooperation with DNR to create another brochure to specifically address the 4x4 damage occurring on Bob’s Mountain in the eastern section of the Yacolt Burn.
3. Forest Damage Mitigation: At the request of the DNR, we assisted with an emergency restoration of a wetland area in Dole Valley, suffering from damage caused by illegal 4x4 activities. DNR submitted a plan for the restoration that included, ultimately changing the direction of the streambed. Upon review of DNR’s plan by Darel Crowder of Piston’s Wild Motorsports, he determined that this plan would have placed a large area of vegetation and wild life at serious risk. Thanks to Darel Crowder and his knowledge of wet-land restoration, Piston’s Wild presented an alternate plan to DNR that was less labor intensive, more nature friendly and better preserved the vegetation and wild life of the area. The Pistons Wild plan was adopted and implemented with many thanks from the DNR Forester in charge of the mitigation. Subsequently, Piston’s Wild Motorsports members have been asked to contribute ideas on how to mitigate damage in other areas managed by DNR (Siouxon, and Bob’s Mountain). PNW4WDA members from Mud Puppies and Piston’s Wild Motorsports completed Phase 1 of the Dole Valley project on July 13th and will return in early 2009 for replanting.
4. Forest Watch Program: We have been successful in reviving the Forest Watch Program in the Yacolt Burn Forest. We have worked extensively with DNR staff in setting an example for other user groups about the true intent of forest watch patrol and the vision that DNR has for this program. Piston’s Wild Motorsports has spent over 1,000 hours patrolling the surface roads and 4x4 problem areas, educating forest users, supporting Law Enforcement, retrieving abandoned vehicles, and reporting illegal or destructive activities in the forest.
5. Pick Up the Burn: PUB is an annual event to clean up the Yacolt Burn Forest. In prior years, PNW4WDA and other user groups had only marginally supported this event. In 2007, the 4x4 community was barely represented with 6 members of Pistons Wild and 1 member of Our Gang Off-Road. In 2008, 10 members of Pistons Wild, 2 members of Vancouver 4-Wheelers and a handful of individual PNW4WDA members attended the PUB. Even with the lack of support we had hoped for from the PNW4WDA, we were able to generate, through use of the Internet ads (thanks to Piston’s Wild newest member Dave Huttula) and placement of flyers at local establishments, the support of 50 off road vehicles and 85 unaffiliated 4x4 enthusiasts to help clean up the forest. We also used the event as a means to generate 100 planning surveys, (used in the planning process), explain the DNR Planning Process to other users and hand out the educational mudding brochures. We would like to thank the delegates of PNW4WDA - Region 3 for providing funds to help sponsor an appreciation lunch for all of the participants of the clean-up. We served an outdoor feast to over 100 volunteers and DNR staff.
6. Piston’s Wild Motorsports Cruise-In @ Woody’s 4x4: On October 12th, 2008, Piston’s Wild Motorsports hosted a cruise-in at Woody’s 4x4 in Vancouver, Washington. This was a 4x4 event to generate funds to assist with the process of building 4x4 trails in the Yacolt Burn (approval pending). We also used this event as a “friendly” forum to generate open discussion about the DNR Planning Process as well as educating 4x4 users about the consequences of illegal off-roading. We completed an additional 100 surveys and handed out more mudding brochures. Even though the event was put together in just 30 days – the turnout was phenomenal – 60 registered vehicles with over 200 people in attendance. Needless to say, the public wants 4x4 trails in SW Washington. We gave away over 100 raffle prizes and raised $1200 for the cause.
7. GPOHVA Rally: On December 5th, 2008 the Gifford Pinchot Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance hosted a Rally at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters in Vancouver, WA. Piston’s Wild and Vancouver 4-Wheelers were in attendance as well as many local ATV and Motorcycle Clubs. PNW4WDA Region 3 provided funds to Piston’s Wild to create rally signs and media for the event. Although the event was somewhat disorganized and lacked focus, it was an excellent starting block to get the organized clubs together and start communication moving in the right direction. (see attachment B)
One of the biggest challenges we had this past year was educating the DNR staff about the “real” 4x4 community and what we are all about. They maintained a deep seated belief that all 4x4 operators were wide eyed, foot to the floor, mud slinging, 90 MPH with their hair on fire crazy people, whose sole intent was to destroy the forest and make more work for the DNR staff. I am happy to report that, at least in the Yacolt Burn Forest, we have some 4x4 allies within the DNR. One staff member is also a 4x4 owner now. Consistent education, action, and a willingness to help are what got us to this point.
A field trip to the Tillamook Forest, in Jeeps, with the Piston’s Wild Motorsports members at the wheel, on a beautiful Sunday in June was just what they needed. All four of the DNR staff who attended that day had no idea what responsible 4-wheeling was all about – they were quite amazed (and impressed) that it’s all about the low gears and crawling through the forest. The highlight of the day was exiting off of a trail and seeing a young black-tail deer standing there just watching the activity on “Little Rubicon”.
The most frustrating challenge, by far, came in the beginning of the Planning Process as we were trying to convince the club delegates of Region 3 that the planning process was a viable project and worthy of our best efforts. Many of the members actually instigated angry arguments with DNR staff at the Kick-Off meeting. Most delegates were convinced that it was a waste of time and energy. They told us that any dialogs with DNR staff were not to be trusted, and assured us that another 10 years would be wasted with no results. These interactions were by far the most draining on the motivation of the members who were working so hard to make 4x4 trails in SW Washington a reality.
Goals for next year:
- Implementation of the DNR 10-year plan (upon approval), finding funding and volunteer support to build 20 or more miles of 4x4 trails in the Yacolt burn.
- Complete Phase 2 of the Dole Valley wetland restoration project in early 2009.
- Working with DNR law enforcement to expand on the success of the Forest Watch Program and help reduce the overall lawlessness in the forest.
- Continue to educate other 4x4 users about proper 4-wheeling etiquette in the forest and work with DNR staff to mitigate resource damage caused by illegal off-roading
- Open a dialog with Gifford Pinchot and DNR regarding the possibility of creating 4x4 trails connecting the Yacolt Burn and the Gifford Pinchot
- Continued 4x4 user education through events and interaction in the forest.
Overall this has been a very good year for the 4x4 enthusiasts in SW Washington. The time and effort expended with the DNR, educating the public and aiding law enforcement has generated goodwill on both sides. I truly believe that we will get at least 25 miles of 4x4 trails in the Yacolt Burn over the next ten years, with the possibility of 20 more miles in the future for a total of 45 trail miles. The present financial climate at all government levels will be the biggest challenge to overcome for the expansion of trail systems in all of our forests. The estimated 6 million dollar cost of trail expansion in the Yacolt Burn may be the largest objection to a trail system. We, the 4x4 enthusiast, will need to volunteer more time and effort to accomplish the ends we desire. I encourage you all to reach out to the unaffiliated clubs and Internet groups and invite them to participate in the programs you are working on. We have found the Internet to be a great way to reach the largest numbers of “active” 4x4 volunteers. Some want to get involved, some don’t – we need to respect that. In the end, they will all get some form of education even if they simply read the postings and talk to their friends.
Region 3 Washington Land Matters
PROPOSED MOTORIZED 10-YEAR PLAN
- Western Portion of the Yacolt Burn Forest Area
Respectfully submitted by:
- Barbara Vertz of the Cougar Area Trail Seekers (CATS)
- Bill Manbeck of the Pacific Northwest 4-Wheel Drive Association
- Crystal Crowder of Piston’s Wild Motorsports
- Joe McLaughlin of the Jones Creek Trail Riders Association
At the October 2008 Planning Committee meeting - 3 scenarios were offered by DNR for facilities and trails in the Yacolt Burn. The largest offering of motorized trail miles at that time was for 45 additional miles plus a motorized trailhead at 4-corners. The motorized representatives were in agreement that 45 miles would not be enough to meet the needs of the growing motorized community. In response – DNR has asked the motorized representatives to put their heads together and come up with an alternative plan prior to the November 19th planning committee meeting.
DNR is presenting development and maintenance dollars restrictions as the reason for the 45-mile scenario limitation. They are saying that it will take $650,000 to build 45 miles of trails. We believe that 75-85 miles can easily be developed with $650,000 (especially since the majority of these trails already exist). Brian indicated that the $650k amount would provide a bridge for every 5 miles of trail. Other than Grouse Vista – we don’t see very many instances that can’t be resolved with culverts or hard rock crossings.
DNR is also saying that it will take $1.35 million dollars to maintain these 45 miles of trails for ten years - that’s $135,000 per year just for those 45 miles of trails - the current maintenance budget for the entire Yacolt Burn is $210,000 per year.
We also strongly believe that the DNR is drastically underestimating the volunteer power and generosity of the motorized clubs and their associates. One group alone has contributed over 3,500 hours in the last two years to the Yacolt Burn – and that is a group working on projects in a trail system that currently has no legal trails for their particular type of use (4x4). Another user group (JCTRA) has already successfully acquired a $65,000 grant for trail maintenance in the Yacolt Burn. These are just a sampling of what is possible…
In an effort to alleviate any concerns of the planning committee members that may arise from this proposal – we would propose a 3-stage progressive process for the 10-year plan:
Stage 1 – allow implementation of 45 new motorized miles immediately upon approval of the planning process & develop motorized trailhead only at 4-corners (parking + restroom) – we would also like to see a designated overnight volunteer camp host area for event coordinators or forest watch patrol – we also request that (10-20) motorized campsites be developed at Cold Creek on the opposite side of the Day Use Access Road that can be reserved for group camping.
Stage 2 – when the first 45 miles are developed under estimated budget and the system is functioning adequately – allow implementation of additional 20 miles & upgrade 4-corners trailhead to include overnight RV camping for at least 25 spaces.
Stage 3 – when all 65 miles are developed under estimated budget and the system is functioning adequately – allow implementation of additional 20 miles & increase 4-corners camping capacity to at least 50 spaces.
Proposed new motorized trail miles breakdown:
Proposed New Trails
Beginner Only (52”) 5 mi
Single Track Only 10 mi
Double Track (52”) 25 mi
SWB 4x4 / UTV Track (76”) 35 mi
Full-size 4x4 Track (86”) 10 mi
TOTAL NEW TRAILS 85 mi
Total Motorized Trails *
Beginner Only (52”) Total 5 mi
Single Track Total 93.75 mi
Double Track Total 83.75 mi
SWB 4x4 / UTV Track (76”) 45 mi
Full-size 4x4 Track (86”) Total 10 mi
TOTAL MOTORIZED TRAILS * 98.75 mi
* total motorized trails table includes existing 13.75 miles
It is important to note that although it appears that the single-track user gains the windfall of this proposal – the majority of these miles would not be their preferred design of choice. In addition, all of these trails would be true multi-use as they can be traveled by any user group including, horses, hikers & mountain-bikers.
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GIFFORD PINCHOTOFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE ALLIANCE
PO Box 243
Cougar, WA 98616
Gary Johnson, GPOHVA
August 27, 2008
We are the Gifford Pinchot Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance whose purpose is to promote ongoing stewardship of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation; work collaboratively with local land managers, both private and public, and OHV clubs to facilitate the securing of NOVA grant funding for OHV and mixed-use recreation; and respond to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Travel Management Plan. Our purpose is also to assure the Gifford Pinchot National Forest adheres to its Strategic Communication Plan requiring Public Hearings for public input into the Travel Management Plan and the Motor Vehicle Use Maps. Without public hearings, the Travel Management Plan is not legitimate.
The 59th Washington State legislature found that OHVs provide opportunities for a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities. They also found that the limited amount of OHV recreation areas presents a challenge for OHV recreational users, natural resource land managers, and private landowners and that many non-highway roads provide opportunities for OHV use to reduce conflicts between users and facilitate responsible OHV recreation. This legislation was approved with the certification of Engrossed House Bill 1003 signed by the Governor of Washington State to amend chapter 46 of the Revised Code of Washington. Rural counties, towns, and communities depend on recreational opportunities to bring tourism and economic sustainability. The OHV industry is currently recording record sales and becoming a major contributor to the Nation’s economy. Of the 2,343 miles of roads in the GPNF, none are available for ATVs; and of the 1,496 miles of trails only 256 miles are available for motorized (motorcycle) use and 30 miles are available to ATVs. HB1003 provides the opportunity to bring parity with non-motorized user access to motorized use of public lands bringing economic stimulus to rural areas surrounding the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
We ask for immediate opening of public hearings for the Travel Management Plan to provide two to three hearings in each of the five counties connected to the Forest (Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, and Skamania). We will meet with and invite the Recreation Planners from each of the five counties to attend the public hearings. We also intend to organize an OHV rally at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Vancouver office in the fall with date to be determined.
We propose addition of a “Roads to Trails Conservation and Recreation Program/Policy” to the Travel Management Plan which would turn durable surface level 1, 2, and 3 roads into trails. This provides the opportunity to reclaim the forest for recreation and wildlife. Use and maintenance of the durable surface roads-to-trails also provides better opportunity to continue use of the roads for fire safety and catastrophic events evacuation routes.
Maintenance and stewardship of these roads, designated as trails for OHV and mixed-use, by private clubs and organizations will lessen the financial impact for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest would then spend their maintenance funding only on level 4 and 5 roads in the forest because the private clubs and organizations will be able to access the National Offhighway Vehicle Activities (NOVA) and National Recreation Trails Program (NRTP) grant funding for recreation maintenance on the level 1, 2, and 3 roads. Stewardship and grant funding could also improve campground maintenance which has been limited by the lack of direct funding. NOVA provides 30% of their grant funds for motorized vehicle recreation, 30% for non-motorized recreation, and 30% for education and enforcement. NOVA funding has been granted in the amount of $3.7 million plus over the entire state every year. NRTP provides 40% of their grant funds for mixed-use recreation, 30% for motorized vehicle recreation, and 30% for non-motorized recreation. Designating roads to mixed-use trails will have greater opportunity for NRTP funding and simply provide a broader range of recreation opportunity for all user groups. NRTP funding has been granted to non-profit organizations for the last 10 years and for the next 10 years will support private organizations to bring in grants, for reclamation work and long-standing environmental problems with the roads system, in the amount of $3.8 million plus over the entire state every year.
We have been working with Tom Savage to identify where to start with the ten areas he identified to be considered for mixed use to provide motorized vehicle recreation on the level 1, 2, and 3 roads. Jones Creek Trail Riders worked with Tom Savage and proposed expansion of the Blue Lake Area. In a meeting with Ron Freeman, and Tom Savage, we determined the Saturday Rock Area provided the most opportunity for OHV use that would also minimize unsanctioned off-road use due to the high ridges with minimal opportunity to leave the road bed. We encourage support for expansion of the Blue Lake Area OHV roads and development of the Saturday Rock Area for mixed-use, including OHVs, and encourage preparation to apply for funding as soon as possible.
We propose developing a Memorandum of Understanding to provide a foundation, which reduces the need for direct supervision of volunteer stewards provided by private clubs and organizations, to alleviate the time consuming and expensive direct supervision practices used by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest for volunteers.
We propose changing Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s policy to allow our suggested reclamation and stewardship program to create quality recreation and wildlife habitat. Private clubs and organizations may use grant funding to maintain and provide reclamation of the old logging roads to trails mitigating the erosion problems created by inadequate/inappropriate ditching and culvert use. Private timber companies are required to pull culverts on all secondary roads and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest could adhere to the same standard with grant funding and volunteer support from private clubs and organizations. We suggest removal of culverts and replacing with hard rock crossings returning stream beds to normal flow, creating environmental improvement by mitigating erosion through more natural water flow. Reclamation through hydro-seeding would also improve erosion and wildlife habitat. Connecting timber harvests to recreation, as part of the Timber Plan, would allow more immediate reclamation and quality recreation.
We propose use of private clubs and organizations for stewarding the forest by also providing education and peer pressure for self-policing. Right now the public is using and misusing the entire forest for everything and anything without oversight or enforcement of appropriate use of the forest because the Gifford Pinchot National Forest does not have adequate funding to support education and enforcement.
Our concerns for the way Gifford Pinchot National Forest lands are currently managed includes:
- Quads/ATVs are being excluded from use of existing motorized vehicle trails and non-highway roads.
- Use seasons should be considered for legitimate reasons such as elk calving or excessive snow depth but closing access to OHVs as an arbitrary categorical exclusion seems collaborative with extremist special interest groups.
- In The Columbian newspaper article, dated April 24, 2008 titled Gifford Pinchot Task Force Proposes 20-year Forest Restoration Plan, Acting Forest Supervisor Lynn Burditt stated “What Emily’s group (Gifford Pinchot Task Force) would like is that we not allow any ORVs, but that is a legitimate use and needs to be managed properly.” and we encourage lifting of the ATV categorical exclusion for use of non-highway roads.
- Requests for OHV access to these roads are frequently stopped or stalled due to the expectation that every request requires engineering/NEPA/SEPA studies even though these roads have already passed those considerations for logging use.
- We propose changing this policy to allow reclamation of level 1, 2, and 3 roads to trails, without additional expensive studies stalling or stopping recreation opportunities, to create quality family recreation and improved wildlife habitat.
- We have spent time meeting with Gifford Pinchot staff who express interest in our offers to work jointly with them on volunteer staffing, stewardship, trail maintenance, and grants to explore mutually acceptable riding opportunities yet fail to use the authority provided them in the Strategic Communication Plan to make decisions, specifically, “Designation decisions will be made by forest supervisors or district rangers working closely with local communities, motorized and non-motorized recreation groups, and other interested parties.” We have been told to wait until 2010 when the new Travel Management Plan is complete. Again, there seems to be no intent to involve the public in developing the Travel Management Plan and the current culture in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest seems to prefer specific exclusion of ATVs.
- Local ATV dealers report selling ATVs faster than they can stock them. This supports broader opportunities for appropriate ATV use areas before environmentally sensitive areas become devastated by those accessing the vast Gifford Pinchot forest without knowledge of or opportunity for places to ride.
In summary, the Gifford Pinchot Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance is dedicated to promoting and preserving OHV access in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to provide families opportunities for their individual pursuit of legitimate outdoor recreational happiness on our public lands. We look forward to working jointly with you to get some good outcomes.
Gary JohnsonGPOHVA Chairsurvar@ywave.com
Mike HaydenGPOHVA Co-Chairmbhayden@tds.net
Ron KatzerGPOHVA Co-Chairkatzkuntry@tds.net
Barbara VertzGPOHVA Secretarydogcreekcougar@tds.net
Sherie WeisserGPOHVA Treasurerdsweisser@gmail.com
Attachments: Letters of Support, Areas to Consider for Mixed Use Map
cc: Alliances:Bob Schlecht, Bob’s Sporting Goods Larry Smith, Cispus Basin ORV Mike Hayden, Cougar Area Trail Seekers- President Dan Caughlin, Jones Creek Trail Riders Association President Chad Hamel, Northwest Quadriders President Aaron Peterson, Outdoor Toy Store Scott McNew, Over The Bars Gang Crystal Crowder, Pistons Wild President Dave Lipinski, Power Sports Centralia, Mud Slingers President Joe Day, Rain City Power Sports Name, River City MC President Bill Hutchens, SW Washington All Terrain President Rick Dahl, Washington Off Highway Vehicles Association President Joseph Zarelli, Senator Dan Sweeker, Senator Brian Baird, Congressman Gary Alexander, State Representative Richard Debolt, State Representative Jamie Hererra, State Representative Ed Orcutt, State Representative Dan George, Mayor of Morton KGW Radio KXL Radio Marc Boldt, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, Clark County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris, Clark County Commissioner Kathleen Johnson, Cowlitz County Commissioner George Raiter, Cowlitz County Commissioner Axel Swanson, Cowlitz County Commissioner Cris McEwin, Executive Secretary to Klickitat County Commissioners Ron Averill, Lewis County Commissioner Richard Graham, Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose, Lewis County Commissioner Paul Pearce, Skamania County Commissioner JR Richardson, Skamania County Commissioner Jamie Tolfree, Skamania County Commissioner Karen Witherspoon, Skamania County Dept. of Planning & Community Development Buddy Rose, Devall Publishing Kathy Durbin, The Columbian Tom Paulu, The Daily NewsSports Desk Channel 2 NewsSports Desk Channel 6 NewsSports Desk Channel 8 NewsSports Desk Chanel 12 News
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