May 2008

Teaching Our Legislators: Group Releases Public Trail Education Video

In an increasingly crowded world, shrinking public lands are a precious natural treasure for men, women and families who love the outdoors.

Advocates for Access to Public Lands, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving public lands for sustainable, responsible multiple use, announces the release of a video designed to educate legislators. Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts can purchase the video and show local lawmakers, in order to educate them about the realities of our multiple use trail systems.

“National Forests-Our Trails are in Trouble” outlines today’s national situation regarding the current and future status of multiple-use trails, and the importance of providing opportunities for all outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

Many routes are currently maintained by groups of volunteers from the OHV community, providing a safe, sustainable trail that can be enjoyed by any user, including hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and any other outdoor enthusiast. Yet out of more than 192,000,000 acres of public lands in National Forests, only .04 percent is open to all users.

Now, large portions of this tiny fraction of available lands are facing closures. These closures could bring concentrated use, increased impact on remaining areas, increased maintenance costs, reduced user satisfaction and a reduction in volunteer efforts. In addition, the costs to decommission a trail range from $3,500 to $22,000 per mile. The cost of the currently proposed closures would total $400 million or more—an amount that could maintain the existing trails, rather than close them.

Showing elected officials the “National Forests: Our Trails are in Trouble” DVD helps OHV users to balance coverage of multiple use issues and present facts regarding responsible use. The video also outlines the need to keep existing roads and trails open to motorized use. Meeting with local officials to show the video & discuss trail issues only takes a few minutes of your time but is a powerful way to help keep trails open.

Remind lawmakers that you represent thousands of other voters who are off-highway vehicle enthusiasts. Too often, there is only one group presenting information on public land issues; this DVD will help bring balance into multiple-use trail discussions.

Off-highway vehicle use has grown tremendously throughout the United States in recent years. More than 23 percent of National Forest users enjoy OHV recreation, which includes not only motorcycle and all-terrain vehicles, but the vehicles families use to access camping, hunting, hiking, rock climbing, boating and fishing areas.

Facing limited funding for recreation, it is difficult for the United States Forest Service to keep pace with recreation opportunities for OHV users; there are currently no plans to construct new multiple-use trails in the foreseeable future. In fact, in some areas up to 60 percent of existing trails and roads—thousands of miles—may be scheduled for closure.

Although funding for multiple-use trails comes in part from fees paid by motorized users, all users are welcome to enjoy these trails. This funding accounts for up to 30 percent more funding for trail maintenance than all other non-motorized groups combined.

Please take action now and use this powerful video tool to help keep your trails open.

You can see the video at Proceeds go directly to offset production and shipping costs.

OHV clubs and organizations can get a free copy while supplies last by contacting NOHVCC at 406 454-9190.

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