Like you, I am an avid OHV enthusiast. We are family, we love our chosen sport and we are environmentalist. The greenies could care less and are willing to put large sums of money to kill our recreation.
I want to get the word out through an educational effort that in the 1994 Forest Plan, the FS closed all but 36% of the ODNRA (Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area). Of that 36%; 15% is designated “routes only”. To use their language, they Zoned the dunes. Attached is the Zoning and history. 10A is closed, 10B is open riding and 10C is Designated Routes only. The rest of the zoning is self explanatory. Part of this plan is to create “Work Groups” to review the 10C and come up with recommendations to where the trails are going to be within the 10C. I am part of that work group.
Please go on line to see this information:
They just made it official that 15% (10C) will be closed with the exception of a very few connector trails that the work group is deciding upon now. Please understand that the workgroup is only an advisory group and the Forest Service is obligated to look at all options before they make the final decision. In other words, they will do what they want. They are anticipating a law suit from the greenies challenging their decision one way or the other. The greenies have already sued to stop the trail for Riley Ranch access. We have advanced notice through this law suit that we must step up with our written efforts and our pocket books to fight back. They want it all closed and designated Wilderness. Ignorance is not Bliss! We must educate ourselves to understand that this is not the end. They are going to do a new Forest plan in 2014 so we must band together.
California and Washington OHV groups have done a fairly good job of working together but the Oregon effort is poor and spotty at best. When I got involved with this work group I was very ignorant. I am not ignorant anymore, I am SCARED. If we do not get involved we will as a group lose what we have left and we all will be STUPID because we did not get involved.
What we have left to ride on is about 25% of the 28,930 acres of the ODNRA, only about 7,200 acres will be open to riding. We just went through the process at the Middle Dunes (Winchester) which does not have much 10C but Banshee Hill is in the mix. The North Riding Area (Florence) is scary at best with most of the plantation stands off the table. By the map, half of the Florence dunes are in play. The Southern Riding area (Coos Bay) is being looked at in the next month. The public is invited to these meetings so go on the Forest Service web page above to get the dates and locations.
Some lessons learned are the economic impact and the safety of riders is very low on the priority list. VERY LOW. The Forest Service charter is to manage “Resources” first and foremost. That means vegetation, wetlands, and Critical Habitat for plants and animals. We are indeed an endangered species in the ODNRA. I thought that any economic impact would be huge. If you look at what the FS and BLM did with the spotted owl, then you can clearly see that economics will not come into play. That killed an industry and left the Pacific Northwest without jobs and money. The way they are going to regulate safety is to limit the amount of riders that can enjoy the dunes on any given weekend. They have already studied how many riders the 25% of dunes available can hold without hurting ourselves. Restrictions are a given.
Hopefully you can see why I am SCARED. We do have one very important opportunity that I feel we need to legally pursue. That is the simple, well documented fact that the dunes are being choked off and are indeed dying. The European Beach Grass planted in the early 1910 is slowly but surly killing the dunes. It is also killing Snowy Plover Habitat. We are the only cost effective documented way of killing the beach grass. I will try and post several research papers documenting this fact. A brief explanation is the dunes were created with sand flowing out of the Umpqua River. The wind and surf would push and blew the sand inland and accumulate to the dunes we see today. The beach grass is building the walls you see on the beach and the sand has stopped moving inland. As the grass stabilizes flowing sand that allows other bad plants like scotch broom to grow and eventually trees and forest that do not belong there. It has also killed grasses and plants that are native to the dunes. The FS and the BLM simply do not know what to do so they just keep doing what they always have and manage this “new” vegetation like it was always there. Flowing Sand is not Forest. The greenies are pushing this view as they want nobody in the dunes. The other point we must make is the fact that the bad vegetation is not just standing still but growing exponentially faster. The longer they wait the worse it gets.
A Call to action
What I am proposing to do as the next step is to work together to build a war chest to start legal action against the Forest Service. They need to continue to move ahead with a trail access for Riley Ranch. We also need to start legal action against the Forest Service to allow OHV access to more areas to kill beach grass. We must understand that they do have to
manage the ODNRA for other users so let them have the 60% that is now closed for other uses. Those dunes will eventually die anyway and if that is what they want then let it happen. Seems stupid to me but… I propose to work with the Blue Ribbon Coalition (http://www.sharetrails.org) and have them set up a place on their web page for us to go in and donate money. We need a commitment from ourselves to the BRC to fund any legal action moving forward. Please visit the BRC and let them know you are willing to donate.
We do not need a bunch of money to start the legal action. If the 300,000 or so OHV folks that visit the ODNRA donated a buck we would have plenty. I also encourage folks to join the BRC as they have successfully stopped the greenies across the US from closures. I am a Lifetime Member and very proud of it.
One other point I must bring up that is very unpopular among OHVers is the noise we make. The legal noise limit on the ODNRA is 93 db. I will not argue whether this is right or wrong, it is just a fact. I have finally found a chamber muffler for my Raptor 700 that gives me plenty of power and still stays within legal limits. I am in no way advocating this brand but there are very few manufactures that are willing to give us good power and keep the noise to a legal limit. Repacking is a waste of time especially with the 450. That manufacture is Leo Vince. Ron Gray at Bay Area Yamaha has them and they are not that expensive. Hopefully American Manufactures will start making these chamber type mufflers available. You have no idea how much grief we are taking with the Work Group and we are killing ourselves with this single issue. Please ride in the ODNRA within legal limits. If you cannot, please stay away. I want to ride in the dunes, not make a point that my whanger is bigger than yours.
Thanks so much,
Oregon Dunes Information: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
BlueRibbon Coalition: http://www.sharetrails.org