Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) 2017 End of Year Report

TPA 2017 End of Year Report

This report provides an overview of the TPA’s 2017 activities, accomplishments and events. For a more detailed review, please visit our “News” tab on the TPA website (http://www.coloradotpa.org).  2017 has been another very busy and productive year for the TPA and a year that we feel some positive progress is being made in working to keep our access to public lands open and available for multiple-use recreation.

2017 Success Stories

Bear Creek Motorcycle Trails reopened – The TPA and their partners, namely CMTRA, are proud to announce that the new single-track trail developed to replace lost opportunities in the Colorado Springs area is now open. The old trail network was lost as a result of concerns regarding cutthroat trout habitat on the Pikes Peak Ranger District. This project highlights the value of the OHV grant programs and diverse groups coming together on the issue and overcoming a range of various challenges.

COOP/Collaborative Efforts – The TPA has been one of several active participants in new efforts including the COOP group that was convened by the Governor to try and unite recreational and conservational interests in the state. Preserving multiple use opportunities is our major concern along with addressing challenges like poor forest health, declining budgets and increasing demands.

Bears Ears Monument Designation Review – The TPA was encouraged when Secretary Zinke announced significant reductions in the size of the Bears Ears National Monument that was designated in the waning days of the President Obama administration.

The TPA believes that the Bear Ears area and some selected other national monument designations may have overstepped the act’s provisions by including more than just the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” These reductions ensure opportunities for responsible off-highway recreation are continued. For additional information and a more in-depth discussion on the Bear Ears Designation, below is a web link to the “Year In Review” from our partners in Utah, Ride With Respect/Clif Koontz: http://www.coloradotpa.org/2017/12/28/ride-with-respect-2017-year-in-review/

The Colorado 600 is featured in Dirt Rider magazine – Dirt Rider magazine featured a daily report from the TPA’s annual Colorado 600 – Trails Symposium Workshop.  To read the daily reports:
https://www.dirtrider.com/2017-colorado-600-day-1-report
https://www.dirtrider.com/2017-colorado-600-day-2-report
https://www.dirtrider.com/2017-colorado-600-day-3-report
https://www.dirtrider.com/2017-colorado-600-day-4-5

Legislation Issues

Colorado State Legislation providing increased protections to clubs performing land stewardship activity on public lands –SB17-100 provides an increased level of negligence protection and removes several contracting requirements related to state grants for clubs performing land stewardship activities on public lands. Many clubs were not able to cost effectively obtain insurance required for OHV grants. This Legislation makes it easier for clubs to get insurance at reasonable rates.

BLM Planning 2.0 is withdrawn – The BLM recently developed a new planning process that governed how much of their local planning process (Field Office Resource Plans and similar) would proceed. The TPA along with our partner organizations expressed serious concerns regarding the lack of public input and about the imbalance of resource protection in the planning process. Congressman Tipton championed a resolution of non-support for the BLM Planning Rule in the US House and this resolution subsequently was passed into law.

HB 1030 allows expanded OHV usage of County Roads – COHVCO efforts (with support from the TPA) at the Capitol resulted in passage of Legislation (HB 1030) in Colorado expanding usage of OHV’s on county roads. County roads often provide important connectivity for trail networks and allow riders to come into cities and towns for fuel, supplies and lodging.

Local communities expand access under HB 1030 – The groundswell of local community support for HB 1030 has been overwhelming as more than two dozen municipalities have opened some or all public roads to OHV usage. Several communities have even chosen to reject proposals that would have closed public roads to OHV traffic.

Endangered Species Act reform – The TPA remains involved in a wide range of efforts to revise and improve the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. While we all support the goals of the Act, the Act has become a cottage industry for certain anti-access groups to sue land managers. Our efforts/comments have included: 

  1. The TPA was invited to recent efforts being undertaken by the Western Governors Association (WGA) regarding species conservation and reform of the Endangered Species act. We were pleased when our comments were adopted into the WGA resolution on ESA reform.
  2. The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently increased the threshold to be achieved in order to petition the Service to list a species.
  3. The US Fish and Wildlife service has been revising their internal handling of the ESA petitioning process, which should make it easier to protect species and avoid listing species where the scientific basis is questionable. Your TPA and COHVCO both vigorously supported these efforts.

Federal Economic Legislation – The TPA, COHVCO and many of our other partners were pleased with the passage of federal legislation (Sponsored by Colorado Senator Gardner) requiring development of a report to Congress regarding the national economic contribution of outdoor recreation. This report should result in a more accurate calculation and avoid the undervaluation of recreation on federal lands

Pike & San Isabel (PSI) National Forest MVUM Challenge – The first lawsuit was filed on January 31, 2011 by anti-access plaintiffs including the Wilderness Society, the Quiet Use Coalition, Wildlands CPR, the Center for Native Ecosystems and the Great Old Broads for Wilderness regarding the Pike and San Isabel National Forests’ existing Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs). The TPA led the effort to intervene with the USFS to defend this lawsuit as it could impact every MVUM route. These defense expenses are being born solely by motorcycle advocacy groups/TPA up to this point. This case seeks to remove any trails and/or roads (possibly 30-50% of the existing routes) that predated NEPA and were grandfathered in during the development of the MVUMs on ALL 6 Ranger Districts of the PSI! Per the settlement, an EIS is now being completed that reviews the MVUM routes. (additional info below)

Rico West Delores (RWD) Travel Plan – The TPA and San Juan Trail Riders (SJTR) are challenging the Draft Record of Decision document issued regarding the West Delores/Rico area on the San Juan National Forest. This document simply fails to account for multiple-use recreation and closes some of the best single-track riding in the State, despite these trails being in use for almost a century. The TPA and SJTR is once again leading the effort to fight for multiple-use recreation, especially motorcycle single-track trail riding. Currently our appeal is in the administrative review stages. For the most up to date information on this issue can be found at: http://www.coloradotpa.org/news/

The TPA stays actively involved in all ongoing legal issues.

Other Activities

New Colorado Off-Road Motorcycle Clubs – The TPA continues to assist with the establishing of new or re-energized clubs to help advocate for multiple-use recreation and single-track motorcycle trails.  In Salida the Central Colorado Mountain Riders (CCMR, http://centralcoloradomountainriders.com/index.html) has done an outstanding job getting established and recruiting members and supporters.  This new club has set a high standard of building relationships and consensus with other trail users in this very popular area and partnering with their local land mangers.  In Sargents, the Tomichi Trail Riders launched their new club and promises to work closely with the Gunnison Ranger District along with their adjacent motorcycle clubs namely the G.O.A.T.S. and CCMR.  In Western Colorado, the TPA assisted the Westcore Club (Western Colorado Riders & Enthusiasts) to get started and establish itself as a 501c3 in the Montrose area.

Pike & San Isabel (PSI) National Forest planning efforts – The TPA remains involved in efforts to develop an alternative to satisfy the lawsuit settlement around existing road designations on the PSI. These efforts would include identifying that the OHV community has contributed almost $1 million in grants for the maintenance of OHV infrastructure on the PSI in the past year. Additionally, the TPA remains vigilant on asserting that re-designating a USFS road to a multiple-use “trail” would satisfy terms of the settlement. Given the fact that roads and the interpretation of the minimum road system (“MRS”) are clearly going to be major challenges in planning efforts on the PSI (and other forests) the TPA is very concerned that any recommended closures would disproportionately impact the larger size vehicles/user groups such as full size 4×4, UTVs and side by side users.

Gunnison Public Lands Proposal – The TPA and our local partners are involved in the discussions

concerning this Proposal. We are very troubled about the direction of the Proposal, even though Legislative support appears to be minimal. While several important recreational areas have been removed from possible Wilderness designation there has been no discussion regarding the designation of these areas in the legislation to protect and preserve these areas for multiple-use recreation, which is a protection that must exist for any areas found unsuitable for Wilderness designations. Many areas with motorized use and recreation remain at risk. This Proposal needs significant improvement, a better balance of uses and diversity of support similar to what was achieved in the Hermosa Watershed Legislation.

Rio Grande National (RGNF) Forest Plan Revision – The TPA has been very involved in all phases and aspects of the Rio Grande Forest Plan Revision efforts.  These efforts have resulted in a preferred alternative in the plan that proposes no reductions to motorized access moving forward and recognizes poor forest health is a larger challenge on the forest than multiple-use recreation ever could be. One alternative actually expands access by more than 20% on the Forest. The TPA is optimistic on this Forest Plan Revision and submitted extensive comments supporting the expanded opportunities and opposing development of corridors around the Continental Divide Trail.

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest Plan Revision – Similar to the RGNF Forest Plan Revision above, the TPA has been very involved in the public meetings regarding the development of the GMUG Forest Plan Revision and have submitted extensive comments on the initial Assessment Reports. Our comments have centered around: 1.) The illegal nature of proposed exclusionary corridors around the Continental Divide Scenic Trail of up to 1/2 mile; 2.) The need to address the exceptionally poor forest health on the GMUG, which is a major challenge to all recreational usage; 3.) Addressing recreational opportunities on the forest to provide high quality experiences for a growing visitor base; 4.) The importance of the CPW OHV grant program in providing these opportunities; 5.) The lack of need for any new Wilderness areas; and 6.) The significant economic contribution of motorized recreation to the communities in and around the GMUG.  The TPA anticipates a draft GMUG Forest Plan Revision in the near future.

Uncompahgre Field Office BLM Resource Plan – The BLM Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) is developing a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Field Office. While the UFO has been providing balanced recreational opportunities in the past, the TPA prepared extensive comments regarding proposed major expansions of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and Wilderness Characteristics areas within the proposal. The TPA remains hopeful these concerns will be resolved and the UFO will continue to provide the high quality multiple-use recreational opportunities it has provided in the past.

White River BLM Resource/Travel Plan – The TPA submitted detailed comments opposing much of the proposed closures and restrictions in this plan, which resulted from major expansions of Wilderness Characteristics Areas (WCA) and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). This Proposal was moving forward under the BLM Planning 2.0 process, which was recently withdrawn. This Proposal was a very good example of our concerns under the new Planning 2.0 process. In 2004 a citizen inventory of ACEC and WCA was submitted, but the BLM never moved on this document. The BLM then chose to adopt the inventory as “objections” to a 2012 Oil and Gas Amendment to a 1990s Plan. Similarly these ACEC and WCA proposals were again included in the travel plan being developed for the local BLM Field Office without required notice to the public.

Efforts to ensure that grant funding is timely and easier for OHV clubs to use – In conjunction with SB17-100 development, the TPA and COHVCO worked with CPW to streamline the OHV grant process. This has resulted in grants funds being available to clubs months sooner than before.  CPW OHV grant funds remain a major funding source for multiple-use trail and route construction and maintenance on public lands within Colorado.

Wilderness Proposals – The TPA continues to be heavily involved in the numerous Wilderness proposals that threaten continued recreational access to large portions of the state, including Hidden Gem (and its variations), the San Juan Wilderness proposals and others. The TPA has developed a draft proposal opposing many of the site specific Wilderness Proposals and is seeking to affirmatively protect multiple-use recreation on several of these areas.

Site-specific fees – The TPA along with our other partner organizations has been committed to the future process that will be used to review site-specific fee increases for users of developed recreational sites in Colorado. This has included a significant public review and process being required before any fee increase could be implemented. The TPA has vigorously asserted that the imposition of any “fee for use” of facilities constructed, developed or maintained with OHV grant funding was completely unacceptable to the motorized community, as these programs are already providing approximately $1.25 to federal land managers for every resident of the state. It is unfair to ask the motorized community to increase support further when other user groups provide absolutely no funding at all.

Silver Thread Trail – As we reported last year, the BLM Gunnison Field Office has now taken over responsibility of the “Silver Thread” area around Silverton, Eureka, Animas Forks along with the associated high elevation passes.  The TPA continues our discussions with the Field Office to explore re-opening access of two historic single-track trails that were closed to motorized recreation during the late 1980’s.  The two routes are Minnie and Maggie Gulches, which are both 4wd roads that turn into single-track trails and could provide access into the Rio Grande National Forest’s Pole Creek area. The proposed plan being discussed is to re-open these trails for a single-track route out of the Animas Forks area back into the Pole Creek area.

NOHVCC Trails handbook – NOHVCC (A national partner of the TPA) has developed an exceptional reference for land managers, which is a 300-page color manual directed at the development and maintenance of motorized routes and trails. The TPA secured 100 copies of this handbook and is donating them to land managers throughout the State of Colorado. This document is available for download free of charge at: http://gt.nohvcc.org.

Taylor Pass closure to camping – The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest’s leaders are proposing to close the Irwin area, north of Crested Butte, and the Tincup area, southeast of Taylor Reservoir to dispersed camping from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Camping will still be allowed at the Lake Irwin and Mirror Lake campgrounds. The closures result from an increasing number of dispersed campers, expansion of user-created roads and spurs and successional occupation during the summer months. Additionally, increased use of motor vehicles off the designated roads, trailers and motorhomes with associated group camping are causing impacts. The TPA and others were vigorously opposed to this Proposal and recommend that alternatives to be developed to avoid closure.  In this same area, the TPA is also working diligently to mitigate closure of the road to the Alpine Tunnel and restore motorized access to this popular and historic landmark.

Travel Management should be properly balanced with other issues facing land managers – The TPA was alarmed when several national groups, including some motorized user groups, took the position that completing travel management plans should remain a priority for land managers. The TPA opposed travel management being arbitrarily elevated above other management concerns, which have more significant impact that travel management could ever be. Land managers must be able to prioritize threats based on the scale of the threats rather than to conform to an arbitrary national objective.

An example of why elevating travel management above other concerns would be detrimental is the recent research showing the extremely poor forest health in Colorado (which found 9% of all trees in Colorado are dead!). The poor forest health greatly increases the risk of loss to recreational usage of these lands due to catastrophic wildfire. Managers should be allowed to look at threats to public lands in relation to the priority of threats and not illogically react to concerns of a particular user group(s).

Federal Legislation on permits GO ACT (HR 289) and RNR (HR3400) – The TPA along with other organizations has provided extensive comments on both the GO Act and the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (RNR). The TPA supported the GO act, which would greatly streamline the permitting process for events on federal lands and provide these permits in a more efficient and effective manner but had concerns on the RNR.  Concerns were reduced when the GO Act was merged into the RNR.

Milk Creek Trail Access Closure, Gunnison National Forest – A new landowner has closed a historic access (across private property) to the Milk Creek Trail on the Gunnison National Forest.  Lost access has shut out the public from some very popular and historic OHV trails. The three local motorcycle clubs in Salida, Sargents and Gunnison along with leadership by the TPA are all working in concert with the USFS to reestablish access to these important recreational (e.g., single-track) opportunities.

The TPA also continues to work with the Rio Grande National Forest in the ongoing effort to protect the Vietnam War Memorial on the top of Sargent’s Mesa.

Grand Junction Area Coordinator – The TPA has established an onsite representative for the TPA to work with the BLM Field Office and local clubs on a strategic multiple-use single-track and motorcycle recreational plan to help avoid development of other myopic master plans that only target single user groups.  This effort to develop a strategic plan was specifically requested from the TPA by the BLM Field Office.  This will be a unique partnership for the TPA and our local associates to provide our collective expertise to improve riding opportunities in the Grand Junction area.

Representing Motorcycle Trail Riding and OHV Recreation During 2017, TPA representatives have traveled to and attended hundreds of separate meetings to represent the interests of off-road motorcyclists and OHV recreation.  These meetings have included the USFS Federal, Regional, Forest and District Ranger offices, BLM State and Field Offices, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) staff, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Regional Outdoor Recreational Organizations (e.g., PPORA), local and state elected officials, City/Town staffs, County staffs, Regional Roundtables, Manufacturers, OHV clubs and local organizations, attended Outdoor Recreation Conferences and Symposiums.

Additionally, TPA representatives traveled to Washington DC twice this year and discussed a wide range of topics with the new administration and elected officials including the illegality of corridors around national trails; Wilderness study area releases and many other topics outlined in this document.

Governor’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation Council – The TPA continued to serve as a representative for OHV recreation on Governor Hickenlooper’s Outdoor Recreation Council.  This working group council seeks to leverage the value of the outdoor recreational community within the state of Colorado.

  • The TPA is the primary OHV rep for the entire state on this council.
  • The TPA is working directly with CPW and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to promote OHV recreation and increase opportunities and access for motorized recreation.
  • The TPA is shouldering the responsibility to represent all motorized and OHV recreational interests in campaigning for equal access, recognition and resources in response to the Statewide Trails Strategic Plan. The TPA fought diligently, but unsuccessfully, to include at least one OHV trail in the Governor’s 16 Highest Trail Projects.  Be assured the TPA will not give up and continues to fight for, and be your advocate for motorized recreation.

Various Other Activities and Projects:

  • The TPA actively supported many OHV organizations in their requests for Colorado Parks & Wildlife OHV grants and other funding.
  • The TPA advised and worked with the Mile-Hi Jeep Club as an advisor in the club’s project to re-open the Rollins Pass/Wagon Route to OHV recreation.
  • The TPA remains committed to efforts addressing routes in the Wildcat Canyon/Hayman fire area. Reopening of routes in this area has been deferred by the Pike San Isabel National Forest Travel Management Plan EIS. Completion of the EIS may allow the reopening of these important routes to move forward.
  • Support to the San Juan Trail Riders (SJTR) throughout the development of the Rico/West Dolores Ranger District’s Draft Record of Decision and Environmental Assessment.

MAJOR PROJECTS FOR 2018

The following list of projects will be the emphasis and focus for the TPA in 2018.  Projects marked with the “*” are projects that the TPA considers to be critical to the future and sport of off-road motorcycle riding and OHV recreation is Colorado:

  • Welcome three new members to the TPA’s Board of Directors (BoD) and amend the individual responsibilities of the BoD. In 2018 each BoD member will have specific duties and responsibilities for helping to improve TPA operations and increase our fund reserves for ongoing and anticipated future legal actions.
  • Expand specilized consultant services to better achieve TPA’s mission and improve our collective expertise in saving the sport.
  • *Support to the San Juan Trail Riders (SJTR) for the Rico/West Dolores Ranger District’s Travel Management Draft Record of Decision (ROD)*
  • *Pike & San Isabel National Forest*
    • Implementation plan for the Pike San Isabel National Forest Travel Management Plan Environmental Impact Study (EIS)
    • Development of the subsequent Travel Management Plan (TMP)
  • *Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF), Forest Plan Revision*
    • Forest Plan Revision
    • Development of the subsequent Travel Management Plan (TMP)
  • *Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest, Forest Plan Revision*
    • Forest Plan Revision
    • Development of the subsequent Travel Management Plan (TMP)
  • Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium (9-14 September, 2018 – See the TPA website for additional information)
  • Increase TPA’s interaction and coordination with the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office to promote and increase opportunities for motorized recreation.
  • Continue to pursue opportunities to establish local clubs that build and foster relationships between local riders with each and every USFS District and BLM Field Office throughout Colorado.
  • Participation in Governor’s Office, Outdoor Recreation Council
  • Support to the South Fork Enduro

Donations

The TPA has continued to make donations to organizations working towards the same goals as the TPA. These organizations include:

  • Outdoor Recreation Business Association (ORBA) membership
  • Blue Ribbon Coalition Legal Fund
  • Chain saw purchases for local motorcycle clubs
  • Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO)
  • Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association (CMTRA)
  • Tomichi Trail Riders (TTR)
  • Rio Grande National Forest
  • Motorcycle Trail Riders Association
  • Ride With Respect (Moab, UT)
  • The Central Colorado Mountain Riders (CCMR), Salida

Summary

2017 was another successful and productive year for the TPA and our efforts to lead and represent off-road motorcycle recreation, multiple-use and OHV recreation. 2017 was our 13th year as an Organization and our 11th year as an IRS-approved 501c3 Organization. The TPA could not have done this on our own and we certainly owe our accomplishments in 2017 to our many sponsors and volunteers! The importance of the TPA’s effort cannot be overstated, as the results of our work will affect motorized access to our public lands for decades to come.  The TPA is especially grateful to all of the volunteer efforts provided by the Sidewinders Motorcycle Club of Texas in their support to the Colorado 600, to the local motorcycle club officers that lead and manage the collection of OHV clubs across the state, to the many local volunteers that advocate so passionately with their land managers, and to all of you for providing the donations that keep the TPA functioning.

The Colorado 600 Trails Awareness Symposium http://www.colorado600.org/Colorado_600_2017/Home.html) has been our most significant fund raising activity over the years and will continue in a similar format and program for 2018 (2018 event dates: 9-14 September).

The TPA appreciates our ongoing multi-year support agreement with KLIM (http://www.klim.com). Having the support of the #1 Off-Road apparel manufacturer has been a major endorsement of the TPA mission!

The TPA is very grateful for the sustained generous support provided by Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (https://www.rockymountainatvmc.com) who continues to be a major financial supporter of our work.

We are also extremely thankful to our corporate sponsors, KTM USA, Motion Pro, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires and Slavens Racing, along with all of the TPA donations provided by individuals, riders and other off-road businesses that have supported the TPA for years!

The TPA continues to be a volunteer led organization, putting a high percentage of all of our annual donations to direct use in saving our sport. The TPA Board of Directors thanks all of our supporters: individual, corporate and the clubs. Without their support and your donations we could not enjoy all of the accomplishments that we have achieved thus far. The future will undoubtedly continue to demand our collective teamwork, vigilance, resolve and dedication.

Please contact us for suggestions concerning how you can help with the ongoing work TPA is pursuing on your behalf to save our sport in the Rocky Mountain Region.

The TPA Board of Directors