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