Dnr Guy Posts On Board - Maryland/pa/va Riders: Please Read!

Greetings,

As you can see I’m a ‘newbie’ to this forum. I’m also a high level DNR employee in Maryland. However, I’m not coming on here to lecture you about the problems associated with riding. Rather, I love to ride. I have owned and ridden dirt bikes my entire life and now my 9-year-old rides with me (working on getting his older sister interested too).

I have a 96 XR 200 and my son rides the 70; we also have a Polaris Magnum for hunting, fishing and hauling. We even own jet-skis and a powerboat and love to fish on our beloved Chesapeake Bay. We also hike and explore on mountain bike and foot too. Bottom-line: we play outside a lot and want to see more opportunities for others like us.

My reason for the post, is to get an understanding of how folks might respond to a statewide fee to underwrite the cost of purchasing/maintaining land for legal riding.

I’ve ridden at some of public areas and have plans to take my son to the private places nearby. However, as all of you know, each of these places has its limitations: the state forests are too crowded and don’t do much for the track/MX rider; and the private facilities are too far away and/or too expensive for the average guy; etc. If you live in central Maryland and want to ride you either ride illegally, travel great distances and/or pay big bucks to ride legally. Too be certain, I rode illegally as a young man and personally/professionally think it’s the worst thing a rider could do now that I’ve seen the impacts of illegal riding. However, I think the riding community is huge and growing . . . and deserves a place to participate.

My agency manages nearly 300,000 acres to allow hunters, fishermen, birders, and kayakers a place to recreate ---- but none of these areas permit orv’s. Why? Mostly because of legislation or regulations forbidding the use of motorized vehicles on these areas and the fact that it’s in incompatible use on many of these more ‘sensitive’ natural areas (I’m not going to debate this issue; that’s not the purpose of my post).

BUT, there are hundreds of thousands of other acres that are sitting idle and are not attractive to natural resource agencies or developers because of their past use and current conditions. I’m thinking of the old gravel mines, coal mines, strip mines, etc. --- Ugly places unless you’re on the back of a fossil-fuel powered ‘horse’ :naughty:

I’d like to think that there are enough riders in the region/state who would be willing to pay a fee to register their orv with the State, in exchange for the promise (language in law) that the money would go to acquire and/or maintain legal places to ride in MD. The problem is that the legislature has approached this topic the last two legislative sessions and each time the proposal dies. In my opinion, the bill dies because of a lack of data on the potential fiscal impact (no one knows how many users are involved) and a lack of participation from the ORV riders in the legislative process.

The issue:

Maryland doesn’t require registration of ORV’s so bureaucrats (like me) and lawmakers have no idea how many participants are ‘out there’. In addition, because there’s no registration requirement there’s no way to contact all of the potential participants to get their input.

I’m wondering if any of you know a source that has a reliable estimate of ORV owners in Maryland and if there is a formal organization in MD. that represents the collective interests of ORV riders in MD or the region. I’m somewhat tech savvy and have been scanning the various forums for months and decided to post here first. I’ll likely copy this post and put it elsewhere. In addition, I’m not opposed to others copying it or forwarding it to others who might be helpful in the discussion.

To give you an idea of how this might work:

There are 5 million or so citizens in MD. Let’s say that 10% own an ORV (quad or bike) – that’s 500,000 ORV riders in the State. If each rider paid a $50 annual registration fee; that’s $25 million in annual revenue to acquire and/or maintain trails/tracks. Before you go nuts over a $50 annual fee, I want you to think about how much it costs you to ride ONE time at any of the private places ($50 per year plus $50 per ride); not to mention the cost of race entry fees, or even the $15 bucks per year some of you pay to ride the DNR forest sites.

To give you some perspective, there are approximately 100,000 licensed hunters in Md. They pay an average of $40 per year for hunting privileges; plus the US Fish and Wildlife Service essentially matches that money so the end result is an $11-12 million dollar annual revenue stream that goes to the maintenance and development of Wildlife management areas that are essentially exclusive to the hunting community and other ‘wildlife-dependent’ activities.

I love to hunt but I’m pretty certain that there are more ORV riders in the state of Md. than there are hunters. The model for hunters in Maryland is a great one and the hunting community has nothing to complain about here. Now, imagine the potential if you took that same model and applied it to the orv community?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of big hurdles to get over before something like this could work. Not the least of which is finding a government agency willing to take on the burden of collecting the funds, administering the funds, acquiring the lands, managing them, etc. But, I’m a career government employee who never says “NO”. I see this is an opportunity and now I’m coming to you, the users, for your input and assistance.

Finally, I’m pretty thick-skinned so don’t be shy with your feedback. However, my goal is to get some constructive input to a real issue with the goal of solving a problem and/or supporting the user community. No real value in beating me up about the details here…that is, let’s not debate the condition of the existing trails, the problems with enforcement in Md., the $50 fee I’ve proposed, etc. It’s all just background noise that will cloud our ability to get to the bigger issue here.

Also, so you don’t think this is a ‘sting’ designed to catch folks riding illegally on our public lands, I’ll post my real contact info below. You can check our website or call my office to confirm that I’m “for real”.

Thank you in advance folks; I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Paul Peditto

Director – Maryland DNR

Wildlife Service

ppeditto@dnr.state.md.us

410-260-8540

I can give you some insite from the left coast, California. We have the Green Sticker registration. The last time I paid, it was $21. for two years. Sound good so far? Ha ha! Only about a third of that money goes back into anything OHV related. Part goes to the Motor Vehicles dept. to cover the cost of registerring the OHVs, and about a third goes to our state Highway Patrol dept.

The politicians see a guaranteed money income and pounce on it.

Next, we have and your state should also have, federal money coming from gas taxes. This is tax money that was determined to have been charged on gas that was used off road, not used on streets/highways. That can be a big chunk of change, $18,000,000.00 yearly here in California. The strong environmental influence here in Ca. side tracked about 65% of that money to Restoration and Law Enforcement. In the last couple of years, very little of the money was spent on new trails or trail repair.

To sum it up, if you do proceed with this, be ready to fight to keep and use the money for OHV use only.

Good Luck

Brewster

Fair point. I see a key element to this idea in the language of the law or regulation. Just as the law for hunting license dollars is very clear that it's illegal to divert hunter's dollars to other activities; this law would have to prescribe the same rules so it's crystal clear the intent of the monies and that other uses would be illegal. Thanks for the feedback.

Paul

Paul,

It's great to see someone in a position such as yours take a positive approach to our common problem.

The AMA should be able to help you estimate the number of off-road riders in your area. I wouldn't just count on riders from MA either. A good riding area will draw people from several states. Myself, I'll drive 3 or 4 hours one way for a one day ride.

The type of system where the state collects specificaly tagged revenue from ORV is in place here in Indiana. The first area to open funded by this system is Redbird, http://www.redbirdsra.com/ . This is old coal mine property that had been seen as "unattractive" for other uses.

You've got an uphill battle ahead of you, but nothing worth having comes easy. Keep us posted on your progress. You might find something along you way that can help us in other states expand our legal riding opportunities.

Look at Hatfield-McCoy as well, for an example of government and private interests working to not only enable OHV trails, but literally create a new economy. www.trailsheaven.com is good starting point.

Thanks for posting, and welcome to TT!

Robert

Wow! That looks like an unreal place . . . can't believe I've never visited there (I will make a point of loading up and getting there as soon as kids are out of school). I've emailed them to start picking their brains about their program, no. of users, other data, etc. Thanks for the heads-up Robert.

Paul

Thank you, for joining TT!! In SC, if you are not shooting a deer or game bird, fishing or shrimping, then our DNR is not in the slightest bit concerned with your activity. SCDNR is totally anti OHV.

But, what would you expect from a state where horseback riding, ice and roller skating enjoy special dispensation from lawsuits simply because those activities have been deemed "inherently dangerous". South Carolina, the Vegetative State. 18.1 miles of trail on state owned land for OHV, almost 1000 for bicycle/hiking{that rarely see use, compared to the crowed OHV trail heads at the federal and state trails}

You, occupying a position within the DNR, have at least the inside shot at showing the powers that be that OHV activities are valid uses of public resources and can make a serious economic impact {certainly more than other "valid uses" such as bird watching}.

Flame you? Not hardly! Bring a bike to SC, we'll ride!!

Robert

Washington State is in the same or worse boat as Calif. The ORV fees recently

were Tripled (I think) to about $28/yr. But the Greenies and Bureaucrats control

the funds and virtually NO $$$$ gets to Multiple Use trails. It is now spent mostly

on Enforcement, Hiker Only trails -(yes its True) and Lawyers fighting the Greenies

everytime a Trail Project (even just maintenance) is proposed. The Northwest

Motorcycle Assoc (NMA) has filed a lawsuit against the State for essentially

diverting the OHV funds...

Washington State is in the same or worse boat as Calif. The ORV fees recently

were Tripled (I think) to about $28/yr. But the Greenies and Bureaucrats control

the funds and virtually NO $$$$ gets to Multiple Use trails. It is now spent mostly

on Enforcement, Hiker Only trails -(yes its True) and Lawyers fighting the Greenies

everytime a Trail Project (even just maintenance) is proposed. The Northwest

Motorcycle Assoc (NMA) has filed a lawsuit against the State for essentially

diverting the OHV funds...

Its about time we started making the hikers and mountain bikers pay an ORV fee to help maintain the trails.

The State of Illinois awarded a $305,000 grant to the Clark County Park District to make improvements to our OHV facility this past week. The OHV stickers in Illinois cost $11 if the OHV is titled in Illinois, $18 if it's in another state. I had the pleasure of working with the guys from the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources on this grant, and can say only good things. I led the group on some of the trails in a Polaris 6x6, and the DNR guys were absolutely thrilled with our facility. So, an example of a WIN/WIN situation for everyone.

Paul, you might also want to contact your counteparts in the Michigan DNR, as Michigan has over 3000 miles of state ORV trails. ORV registrations here run $16/yr. In any number of areas, it is the ORV usage, along with the winter snowmobiling that is the backbone of the economy.

Oh, and BTW, definitely write the legislation to prevent the funds generated by ORV fees being redirected to other fiscal points.

Thanks Charlie and others; this is good info and I will make the appropriate contacts in other states.

Gotta go ride now; my son's yelling from the garage and it's not raining for a change. :)

sapidus,

You might check out economic impact studies done by CA, AZ and possibly CO. I know Arizona has one on line. The state parks dept there commissioned the study through a state university. It's a good model and includes trickle down effects. It breaks the economic impact up by county also (there are under 20 counties in Az). Search on yahoo for Arizona State Parks and look under the OHV heading.

Washington State is in the same or worse boat as Calif. The ORV fees recently

were Tripled (I think) to about $28/yr. But the Greenies and Bureaucrats control

the funds and virtually NO $$$$ gets to Multiple Use trails. It is now spent mostly

on Enforcement, Hiker Only trails -(yes its True) and Lawyers fighting the Greenies

everytime a Trail Project (even just maintenance) is proposed. The Northwest

Motorcycle Assoc (NMA) has filed a lawsuit against the State for essentially

diverting the OHV funds...

What are all these fees I keep hearing about? But then again I ride a Street legal DS and so if you can drive a truck there I can be there without a fee. I will never pay to ride, that's ridiculous. I am working with the DNR on the Peninsula to hopefully open up more gated areas.

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Hey this question goes out to the DNR guy at the beginning. Can you share any information about the guy that tried to jump a tank trap on DNR property and became a quadriplegic and sued the DNR for 2 million and won, and now the rumor is that at least here in WA the DNR is considering opening up every area and leaving all gates open. Wouldn't' that be cool. Because if they decided to close everything, being public land, the lawsuits from everyone would make the 2 mil look like the change I found in my couch cushions last night. Any thoughts?

Look at Hatfield-McCoy as well, for an example of government and private interests working to not only enable OHV trails, but literally create a new economy. www.trailsheaven.com is good starting point.

Thanks for posting, and welcome to TT!

Robert

DITTO on this one. I ride Hatfield and McCoy about every weekend. Over the past couple of years I've seen ghost towns in the southern coal fields turn back into nice tourist stops from the postive economic growth from the ORV group.

Will worth picking the brains of the managers of this system. Groups from Japan, Sweden and Norway have come here to copy our model of making a trail system.

i hope none of you actually believe an ohv registration law which would cost you $50 a year is in youre best interest . theres no way that any of that money would go in to purchasing land or building new trails, and the chance it would go toward maintaining current trails is very slim.

Hey this question goes out to the DNR guy at the beginning... Any thoughts?

Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply, he hasn't been on here in almost a year.

:thumbsup:

Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply, he hasn't been on here in almost a year.

:thumbsup:

His bosses probably told him to get with the program, or hit the highway.

Dave

I'm going to try to contact this guy tomorrow. I've talked with another DNR guy here in Maryland (a forest manager) and he confirmed that DNR has in fact been planning to address the area's riders for some time: riders who want to do more than ride down dirt roads. Since this is precisely what we at the Carroll County MX Council are currently doing I feel we at least have a shot at getting him (and his unused land:) involved. I'll keep you posted...

I'm going to try to contact this guy tomorrow. I've talked with another DNR guy here in Maryland (a forest manager) and he confirmed that DNR has in fact been planning to address the area's riders for some time: riders who want to do more than ride down dirt roads. Since this is precisely what we at the Carroll County MX Council are currently doing I feel we at least have a shot at getting him (and his unused land:) involved. I'll keep you posted...

Just to give you an update, I contacted him and he is the Wildlife Director of DNR. He gave me some great advice with how to proceed in starting our local riding area. This area is out of his jurisdiction (which is Wildlife) as far as helping OHVs but he is in a good position to have accurate information. I'm really not sure why he was fishing here on TT, other than to help. I listened to what he had to say and I hope this will turn into a new riding area in Carroll County. The Parks Department and the DNR both want it. The Maryland DNR has been waiting for years for this sort of thing so I don't think they mind if Wildlife Director Peditto has helped the cause. I'll keep you updated as our project progresses. For those in Carroll County who wish to help us, I can be contacted at mxcouncil@comcast.net. Thanks to whoever resurrected his post.