Alliance works to keep OHV trails open

A Big Horn County off-highway-vehicle club is working with the Bureau of Land Management to ensure that there are enough open trails in the new resource management plan.

Dana Sanders, president of Northwest Wyoming OHV Alliance, presented a report to the county commissioners, also seeking their support of the group and its goal of keeping current trails open. He said that when he noticed in the preferred alternative of the BLM’s resource management plan that many current trails are not included, he spoke to BLM officials and they encouraged him to form a group and get some data to present to the BLM. That’s what he did, and the NW OHV Alliance was born.

He said the values the alliance supports is that “OHV recreation is an accepted outdoor activity with quality outdoor opportunities that are readily available to all who wish to participate responsibly.”

The mission is to “work cohesively with local government and private land managers to protect, establish, maintain, educate and develop responsible OHV riding areas and trails in Northwest Wyoming to maintain the OHSV lifestyle for current and future generations.”

According to the BLM plan, Alternative A, which is supposed to include existing trails, shows just 1,300 acres of trails. But he added that the alliance’s data shows it should be much higher, except many of the trails currently used are not mapped by the BLM. He said the preferred alternative has just 6,000 acres of trails and the alliance would like to see at least 19,000 acres, which is what the group believes is currently available.

He said that 70 to 80 percent of OHV use is in open OHV areas within 10 miles of cities and shouldn’t affect wilderness or other BLM uses.

Sanders said that he has been able to obtain more than 700 handwritten comments in two months requesting to keep Alternative C for OHV use, and not Alternative D.

He said that there are many areas in the Cody, Powell, Lovell and Cowley areas, which are currently used by OHV users, that are not included in the preferred alternative.

Sanders said that if these trails are closed, about the only places to ride will be on gravel roads.

Karla Bird of the Worland BLM Office said at the meeting that there are trails that will be available.

“With your help we’ll keep these areas opened and keep the OHV lifestyle alive. I just want to keep riding and want my kids to be able to keep riding,” Sanders said.

He said one option is to have the county purchase or swap land with the BLM so that the land can continue to be used for OHV riding.

Bird said that while that is an option, it is not a fast option. She added that some of these issues can be handled when the BLM begins updating its travel management plan after the RMP is complete.

Sanders said one benefit of keeping current trails open is that they “provide a safe, diverse trail system and a solution to wilderness and environmental concerns that meet needs of the OHV community.”

By Karla Pomeroy