||TPA highlighted in the November issue of NOHVCC (National Off-highway Vehicle Conservation Council) newsletter. This article is reprinted with permission. Read the rest of their newsletter at http://nohvcc.org
Colorado Trails Alliance “Pays It Forward” To Help Preserve OHV Recreation
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
The Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) has helped start many motorcycle clubs in Colorado, but has no members itself.
It donates many thousands of dollars to help off-highway vehicle (OHV) organizations preserve and protect their trail systems, yet it collects no dues.
How does it do it? Each September, TPA hosts the Colorado 600, a 5-day, rider-paid event that’s part trail symposium and part motorcycle trail ride. Riders are able to bring two or three bikes, giving them the option of riding single track, dual-sport or adventure trails.
“We’re a non-profit, advocacy corporation. We have one focus, and that’s to save the sport for future generations,” said Don Riggle, TPA Director. “The 600 is our biggest fund-raiser. In the morning, we have a meeting where we discuss issues specific to saving the sport in Colorado. Then we break into small groups and go for a trail ride. In the evening we have a nice dinner and discuss issues some more.”
“They get people from all over the country to come to the Colorado 600,” said Russ Ehnes, executive director of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). “These are riders who are interested in funding legal defense in states other than Colorado. It’s a unique model, the only one of its kind that I’m aware of.”
Over the course of 5 days, Riggle brings in a variety of people to talk with the serious trail riders who attend the 600. Discussing issues faced by riders in Colorado and surrounding states, they often include representatives of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), and senior-level people with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Past speakers have also included legendary motorcycle racer Malcolm Smith and Dirt Rider magazine editor Chris Denison.
Riggle limits the number of riders to 75. Each rider pays $1,500 to attend, which covers the cost of the motel, breakfasts, a banquet and a $1,000 donation to TPA. “It’s better to have a small group of selected people. It’s men and women riders who enjoy the sport and are serious about trying to save it,” he said. Then, on behalf of those riders, TPA takes a large amount of the registration fees and “pays it forward” to other OHV organizations. “We know where the money is needed. The majority is going to New Mexico, Utah and Colorado,” Riggle said.
In Colorado, the primary recipient of TPA assistance is the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition. “COHVCO represents everybody, all the riding groups,” said Riggle. “TPA responds to OHV-related issues, projects and travel management plans in Colorado, in lock-step with COHVCO. We do this in conjunction with local area clubs. And we use our in-house expertise to be a working partner with the federal land managers.”
The New Mexico OHV Alliance (NMOHVA) is another recipient of TPA’s generosity. For the past two years, TPA has sent NMOHVA the registration money from New Mexico riders who rode the 600. This year’s donation was $5,000, directed to its Access Defense Fund. “We thank TPA for their continued and generous support!” reads a post on the NMOHVA website. “I have a direct interest down there,” said Riggle. “I grew up in New Mexico. Everything they’re fighting to help keep open, I rode there back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
TPA also donates to Ride With Respect, a non-profit organization that maintains trails and educates OHV riders in Moab, Utah. “I do that because they are a great bunch of guys, hardworking guys that do all the trail work,” said Riggle. “Half of Colorado goes there in the winter, they ride and then leave. Ride With Respect is using the money for the maintenance of its trails. For most of the donations, it’s their call where to put the money.”
Riggle is proud of the fact that TPA also helps start new motorcycle clubs, providing seed money and legal assistance to become a state non-profit. Attracting the next generation of trail riders is an on-going challenge, but it’s critical for them to get involved, he adds. “I have to remind people that we’re all in this together and we have to work together. That includes motorcycles, ATVs, 4-wheel drive trucks and snowmobiles.
“I’d say 95% of our donors are over 60. They’re trying to save the sport for the future.”
In addition to the serious trail riders who participate each year, Riggle gives credit for the success of the Colorado 600 and the ability of TPA to pay its donations forward, to its board of directors, the Sidewinders Motorcycle Club out of Cibola, Texas, that serves as the 600’s administrative arm, and corporate sponsors including Tucker Rocky, KTM, Motion Pro, Spider Grips and Dunlop. For more information and to donate to TPA, go to http://coloradotpa.org/.