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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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I think its a great idea. Im guessing you work for green ridge? Theres many people there each year. I would contact the AMA and DNR for their riders per year in MD. Maybe send a bunch of letters explaining how many offroaders there are out there (including jeeps) the more people the better. I would pay $75 per year for a good local, legal riding spot. I drive 2+hours everytime I ride.

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Skip, I actually work in Annapolis headquarters. But I make a point of visiting all of the areas under our management on a regular basis. I know that we've registered approx. 2,000 orv's for Greenridge alone last year (up from 550 three years ago). However, that figure doesn't begin to capture the number of riders out there. I will try to track down the data from AMA and the Hatfield/Mccoy contact is a good idea too.

Thanks.

Paul

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:naughty: Thank you for your post. I'm glad to see we have people in the MD DNR looking out for us. $50 is peanuts compared to the amount of gas I spend trailering bikes around. I'm sure you could get AMA backing as well as support from local riding clubs. I couldn't tell you how to go about finding numbers of riders, but let us know what we can do to help when the time comes!!

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$50 is a little steep even after considering the costs for riding private areas.In the '80's we (street riders) gave in to a large increase in registration fees that were earmarked for rider courses.A few years later and ALL that money was taken and placed into the general fund and none was left for it's intended purpose.My tag fees are going up at a insane rate and no end in sight.Are you (DNR) prepared to fight for my money?Every year?The Maryland legislature is notorious for stealing funds for items they weren't intended for.Again,are you willing to fight for MY money?All considered it's a great idea but I do not trust the gub'ment in Maryland.I do understand how difficult your job is and recognise that the DNR is one state entity which has a decent history of doing the right thing.Just consider me skeptical where MD is concerned.

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Well, I am located in south VA so I might not be within your range but I certainly vote for it. I pay hundreds of dollars a year for private owned land to ride on so why should a place maintained by the state be free if there would be one to ride?

Hope you get somewhere with your plans :naughty::naughty:

Det

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Paul,

My friends and I would greatly welcome more legal riding areas within the state. We typically have to go out of state to ride or race, and spending additional funds for lodging, food, gas, etc when we do. Keeping us in-state to ride keeps the money in-state. Also, I drive 1.5 hours to ride in state at the only MX track that has regular practice (Landing in MX). there are no other options. To find legal trails, its over 2 hours to the state forests that have systems, or over 1.5 hours to a place near Budds creek, and none are too technical. That's all my options to ride legally in the state. Give me more options in state and you have my business.

Though I see your point about registration not being required, have you at least run the MVA records for off-road vehicles? I bought my bike in MD and paid to get a title. I'm sure there are thousands of people like me who did the same. Also, I believe you need a title in the state to get insurance on the vehicle. That would at least get you a "low-end" number. I would then suggest that you quiz out-of-state shops about how many dirts/atvs they sell to MD residents - tell them just a ballpark number, and you're not interested in shutting down that cash flow. That would help with the numbers a bit.

Honestly, I don't mind spending my money to ride. I'd gladly pay the $50 annual fee and $25 each day to ride if you had more riding areas that were closer to me.

BTW, I'm always looking for places to where they should put riding spots. The Landing in Easton is located next to a landfill and water treatment facility. Maybe these are the areas you should look at in every county to open spots. In Howard County, I'd love it if you opened one at the Alpha Landfill at Rt 70 and Marriotsville Rd. :naughty:

Darryl

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I'm skeptical that anything would ever pan out as described in the original post, especially in Maryland. Anytime the government is involved with something to do with off roading, all kinds of non riding type people get involved and the next thing you know we will be required to wear seat belts on our dirt bikes. I was in Idaho recently visiting relatives, and my brother in law was constantly pointing out trails managed by the state, or Bureau of Land Management. These were all trails leading off into the mountains and high desert surrounding Boise available for the general public to ride for free. Maybe you can get some information from somebody out there.

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A couple of responses to questions raised:

1. I am willing to fight for 'your' money. Again, I manage the hunting dollars in this state and the law is crystal clear as to the purpose of these funds. In nearly 100 years the gov't has yet to attempt an end run with those dollars. The same model could apply here.

2. The mva records won't help b/c they only capture those bikes sold and titled from the showroom. All three of the bikes/atv's I own were purchased used and out-of-state and none have titles with them (sold with bill of sale); likewise none are insured individually but covered as ORV's in my homeowner's policy against theft.

3. The Idaho model is nice one but it won't work in MD. We have 300 acres of BLM land in Maryland. Idaho (or Az., Co, et al) has 300 acres of BLM land on every 'street corner' and half the human population density that we have. In fact, the census data really demonstrate the difference between our eastern states and the western states:

Maryland has 5.5 million residents living on 9,000 square miles of space;

Idaho has 1.3 million residents spread out over 82,000 square miles of space;

and a slightly different look . . . Arizona actually has a similar size human population as Md. (just over 5 mill.) but they have a land area that exceeds 100,000 square miles.

So, we'll never be able to say "let's just open up a bunch of existing public lands for orv's" since those places are already jammed with other users or are restricted by existing law. The trick is to acquire and maintain new areas for riding . . . but, again, you have to be willing to pay and willing to be counted so the dreaded 'gubment' can justify taking on the project.

I've dropped a note to the District 7 AMA rep in the hope that he will have access to data. Other thoughts and ideas are welcome.

Thank you for the input thus far.

Paul

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Paul,

Don't let anyone discourage your efforts. I think what you suggest is a great idea. Turning marginal land into legal riding land would be good for everyone if it was done in a systematic and practical manner.

There's no question that there are plenty of riders out there who are willing to pay a nominal fee to ride legally. I just spent $8k on a KTM and another $3k on goodies for it, and I must keep riding as it's the only real therapy I get these days. Yes, riding is addictive which makes the kind of money your talking about trivial in comparison to the needed stress relieving fun value added.

Listen folks, if it were to cost $100/year and only $25 of it made it into maintaining the trails, who cares as long as you secure MORE riding rights and get to keep feeding your riding habit in a state sanctioned legal manner. In today's world I can't think of any more valuable fun for your dollar activity than riding local trails.

I notice a lot of clear-cut property off of Rt301 going into VA. These clear-cut properties look like hell from the road, and I'd be willing to pay an annual fee or help clean up these eye-sore-from-the-road properties for a little riding consideration..

- Brad

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I didnt read every reply so maybe this was said already but Ill state my opinion. I would have no problem paying $50 a year if I knew it would result in more riding areas. I just dont trust that I would see any real payoff from the $50 my fellow riders and I would pay. When the politics start standing behind us, Ill stand behind them. The only political involvement Ive seen in motocross is them taking riding areas and putting houses, or putting houses then taking riding areas because of noise.

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Your desire to lead an effort to bring more riding trails to Maryland is noble. I want to help. I have been riding for 25 plus years and have a family of five that I have introduced to the sport. This sport has helped me teach my kids some of life's most important lesssons; self control, the value of practice, self confidence and the care and maintenance of property. Just to name some.

MD's DNR staff and political opportunist have had a tradition of ignoring their responsibility to bring accessible riding trails to the residents that employ them. Consequently, many riders (including myself) have resorted to ignoring trespassing signs and have tempted dangerous riding areas. Unfortunately, these habits have earned us the wrath of many property owners and a legislative branch that thinks they have an excuse to tax us into extinction rather than expanding riding trails.

Your average Maryland legislature is a liberal democrat that no more understands the potential benefits of providing more and safer riding trails than why a bear hunt was necessary in the western counties. It wasn't until the good folks in the western counties threaten to trap the bears and set them free the suburban counties did the Maryland legislature vote to approve the bear hunt. Hey, maybe we can threaten to trap some x-game riders and... never mine.

So, Paul my suggestion to you is to avoid the Maryland legislature until one successful riding area model has been established. Start some where like Greenridge's 18-mile loop. Get one of the local riding clubs to curve in some nice single-track beginner and intermediate trails, inside the loop area. Then sponsor a non-competitive, speed restrictive fund raising event that promotes family harmony and environmental awareness. Name the event the event after a nice guy that everyone liked that recently, suddenly died. Then invite the press and give them a free night a Rocky Gap Resort with a complimentary Swedish massage. Proclaim the event a remarkable success of unprecedented proportions. Give the money to guy's widow as a college fund for his kids. Keep the new trails open for all of us to enjoy rather than the crap the state offers us now.

In all seriousness, I think this scenario is much more plausible in becoming a reality than the Marland legislature ever doing anything to help us. I will help. Please lead the way.

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G'ville,

I'm hoping to avoid the legislature (as a bureacrat who likes to get things done quickly I've learned a few things about interperting law along the way that helps me overcome road-blocks).

The Greenridge idea actually appeals to me quite a bit. I'm wondering if there is such a thing as a "local riding club" up there to beginning working with us to rework the trail and provide some oversight/volunteer stewardship just as the mountain bike folks do on the Patapsco trails? If so, I'd be willing to shepherd the idea through the DNR leadership. Frankly, Greenridge is one of those places that will not survive without more feedback from the riders that use it . . . I'm wondering how many folks have even noticed that the Pocomoke trail on the lower e. shore is now closed (indefinitely).

Finally, if we need to go to the legislature I will work to manage that outcome. BUT, as I said in my original post, I need data and people standing behind me (like yourself) who can tell the story like you did in your post. Liberal/conservative/republican/dem . . . I can assure you if we bring a petition with data behind it that shows there are 10,000 - 20,000 or more users in this 'community' we won't be ignored. This much I can promise. But I need the data and support to make it work.

Let's keep the momentum going here and thanks thus far.

Paul

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get real.

If you truly were who you purport yourself to be, then the State of MD is as bad off as many believe. Your dribble and rhetoric are weak.

No executive of a serious organization would come to a place like this in hopes of obtaining meaningful data. Posting a name and number means nothing.

Legislation in Maryland that addresses this issue has failed in the past for several reasons...all of which are well documented. Proponents, opposers, and observers of the actions are familiar with the key people and voices involved. Matter of fact, the latest House Bill requiring registration for ORV's was hurt by "Unfavorable Report by Environmental Matters". Gee....wouldn't you think the DNR Director would know that?

too funny.

get back to your homework before your mother makes you stand in the corner again.

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I agree with some of the statements above. If were going to get some trails/tracks its not going to be through the government, it will require some private org's and other people. We have always gotten screwed by the government and will continue to do so, if it were as easy as presenting numbers it would have probably already been done. Our state would have more tracks/trails if they werent so strict on soil errosion with the small guy, now if a big developer came in and started building houses or whatever they would happen to turn the other way and allow mud to run down the roads like a river. My dad does construction (road work and such) and he had silt fence around 3/4s of the area he was workin on, the other 1/4 was uphill from where he was working and they demanded he put more silt fence at the top even though water does not run up hill last time I checked. He pointed out that the developer at the top of that hill had no storm water management, no curb and gutter, no nothing, just gutters pointing staight down the hill, the inspector got in his car and left. Im getting a little off topic but Im just trying to show you how that the state of Maryland is not concerned about dirt bike riders or fees to provide riding areas but developing the area even more and kissing the big $ peoples ass. To them we are dirtbike riding trash. Which brings me to my other point, Id give them some money AFTER I saw something being done. I refuse to give them more money to throw around just like all the other taxes and fees. One final note, to get tracks and trails its going to take alot of private funds and not include the government.

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Glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't welcome the idea of paying an annual tax or fee against my dirt bikes. Even though I don't live in MD anymore most of my riding buddies do. I can only see them getting shafted from such an idea. The state of MD couldn't care less about the interests of dirt bikers in my opinion.

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It always sounds good but I don't think it will work out the way you plan. The state of NH takes $45.oo for OHRV registrations, but does not provide enough land for those who ride to use. They have tried to extend the trail system but local governments always block this from happening. Those who are stubborn and resent paying for useless stickers run the risk of a$100.00 fine if they are caught without the sticker. It is frustrating paying for a registration that basically does not help our cause. There are some state senotors that are trying to help our cause, but they are few and far between. The snowmobile clubs walk ob water however, and get a lot of cooperation. What I find so laughable, is the notion of erosion being the primary weapon used to shutdown trail use by bikes. A hundred years ago the roads were al ldirt and washed out regularly. There is more forest than ever, since we are not agriculturaly based as a society any longer, and with the advent of asphalt, the road erosion has gone away. What diffeence does the track of a bike make to the ENVIRONMENT after all? To me it is just an excuse. I do realize the actions of a few rude, trespassing individuals DO make it hard for the rest of trail riders, but for the most part, the majority are law abiding. If you are a MX rider like my son and I, forget about having a placce to ride. Legal tracks are being shut down everywhere, as towns write laws to make then illegal. (sound ordinances) If you are lucky enough to have enough land yourslf, a cranky neighbor can shut you down with out any consideration of your landowner rights! All this makes no sense to me and quite frankly, there doesn't seem to be enough of us mad enough to do something about it. :naughty:

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