Steve Carr is now heading up the state's ORV trails program. A far as I know, Paul is still running this Stakeholders committee. He has promised a summary and that there would be a meeting in September. He was saying a site visit may be the game plan.
They actually are looking at a 6 mile trail on Green Ridge. It really does not sound like much for four wheel drive, though.
They are investigating Wolf's Den. It is hung up in Bankruptcy. Wolf's Den is in Garrett County close to Kitzmiller, Md. and is an old coal mine site. It is 3000 acres and from what I have seen by Googling it, I can see potential for everyone. Currently it is an ATV park/club. They do have a bit of a drinking problem on that land. That can be a show stopper if something bad were to happen and that was linked to the problem. Still, that place could be a win-win for all. Kitzmiller is a very depressed little town. Their one gas station recently closed. They could use our help and it could pan out to be some great P.R. for the Off Highway community if this happens.
There are suppose to be like 5 or 6 sites that are in the running. I personnally feel that if they only open that one 6 mile track up, within a year or so, it will get so torn up, it will put an end to further openings. I hope I am completely wrong.
I want to try to keep a positive outlook on this. But, with the attitude that the Stafford and East Valley Roads are also closed to licensed vehicles really raises a lot of red flags, in my opinion. They said it was not sustainable to use them for ATV use. Okay, probably so, since there was so little law enforcement there. The rather low volume of licensed vehicle traffic use is certainly sustainable. If an 18 mile loop was over used and unfortunately, abused. How is a 6 mile route going to be better? Well, I was too, not at that meeting, so maybe I missed something.
Unless the Feds kill the Recreational Trails Fund Program, there is a lot of money available for a good motorized recreational trails program. Very little of the Motorized proportion is ever tapped. Ironcially, it is motorized recreation that drives that program, via 1/2 of 1% of the Federal Gas Tax receipts and it was Motorized Recreation, through the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations that pushed that legislation through.
Currently, Congress is struggling with a new Transportation Bill. I do not know what it contains. So, I do not know if we will make the cut.
1) Overview and General Discussion Points
a) Introductions and ‘ground rules’. Noted excellent attendance in that all members were present except two had prior unavoidable conflicts.
b) Discussion as to what the ‘limitations’ are? I.E. are trail options available on existing State Forests, Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, private land, former coal property, etc?
i) DNR clarified that all areas and options are available. Current regulations preclude ORV trails on WMA’s and Fish Management Areas but ORV trail contact with these areas will not be a bar to creating a trail. In addition, to the extent funding is available, leasing and/or fee-simple acquisition of private lands is an option. Legislature-designated Wildlands are non-starters.
ii) Further clarification that legislation and/or lengthy regulatory processes are not necessary for most of the potential sites.
c) Former Trails (Green Ridge, Poplar Lick, Chandler Trail)
i) Clarified that it is unlikely these will ever be reopened so our time and energy is better focused on fresh, new and improved opportunities at other locations.
d) Diversity of opportunities
i) Group discussed and concurred with the premise that there are multiple users with a stake in the process and therefore the trails need to account for those unique users and/or stakeholders.
(1) Consideration must be given to the ecological conflicts with a potential site and the non-rider users of a potential site.
(2) Equally important is consideration for the variety of riders – rock-climbers, enduro bikes, atv, hare scramble, hill-climb, motocross, mud-bogging, et al. It will be difficult to accommodate all at any given site but the group agreed to build in the potential to review sites for all of the various opportunities.
(1) Group agreed that enforcement will be a key component to future success and sustainability of any new trails. Also discussed need for creation of volunteer corps of riders and/or retired or reserve officers to fill enforcement gaps.
(2) General agreement that an increase in fees (presuming new and improved trail opportunities would be part of the outcome) is not unreasonable. Likewise with a potential registration ‘plate’ to assist in enforcement and management of users.
(3) Liability was raised as a potential issue but state-owned or managed lands avoid this issue -- thus the motivation for private landowners to partner with DNR on ORV trails.
2) Potential Trail Site Reviews – each site was ‘graded’ as Category 1, 2 or 3.
a) Category 1 – Worth revisiting, short-term potential, pursue immediately.
b) Category 2 – Worth revisiting, long-term potential but do not pursue immediately.
c) Category 3 – Significant potential impediments – hold for future consideration.
i) Town Hill – graded Category 2 (for dirt and snow riders)
(1) Only a six mile section that includes some potential ‘problem areas’ due to High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) and a very steep section that precludes switchback and/or ‘creative’ sections.
(2) Group felt it was worth keeping this one on the list but recognized limited opportunities and potential impediments to opening.
ii) “Bosley-Beeman” Site – Graded Category 1 (for dirt and snow riders)
(1) Mix or private and public land near Dan’s Mt and incorporates Buffalo Coal property. Existing 16 mile loop with ‘pit’ section for added ‘features’.
(2) Potential impediments due to proximity of WMA, developed State Park and local conservation easements but more to learn there before drawing any conclusions.
(3) Unanimous support to pursue this option and task to Beeman, et al to seek input from local landowners and/or coal operator.
iii) Lupo Tana Trail – graded Category 1 (for dirt and snow riders)
(1) 600 acres (or more) with 18 miles of out-and-back trail system on high ridge above town of Shallmar. Includes hill-climb, straights, enduro/switchbacks, mud and small mx track. Former mine site and on top of ridge so no contact with aquatic resources.
(2) Existing hunting and riding club; crosses several small segments of private farm but long history of doing so seems surmountable; currently held in receivership as owner and company declared bankruptcy.
(3) Unanimous support to pursue this site as a lease, cooperative agreement area or fee purchase. DNR to follow-up with owners to consider the various options and report back to group.
iv) Meadow Mountain – graded Category 1 for snow riders, 3 for dirt riders – 50” maximum vehicle width
(1) 6 mile possible ‘extension’ to current east shale section of meadow mountain ORV trail. Would simply loop the current section that commences at New Germany road up to 68 and return on parallel path to New Germany rd.
(2) Significant biodiversity concerns on this area despite presence of current trail system. Current trail is essentially a straight-away with no real opportunity for switch-backs or other features due to boundaries with private in-holdings (including private campground hard against half the trail).
(3) Group generally agreed this was a poor option for dirt riding but during snow pack it could be considered as a possible extension to connect existing snow-based trails.
v) Pea-Patch/”Franz” Loop – graded Category 1 for snow-use only (Dec 15-Mar 15 with open/closures as required by conditions)
(1) Extensive private/public (including public hard road) section of theoretical trails for snowmobile use. Incorporates public roadside near Big Run State Park, Savage River State Forest (some HCVF) and wildlands.
(2) Will require snowmobile riding community to connect with local elected officials and private landowners to create the potential for access to the county roadsides and private lands.
vi) Negro Mountain – Savage River State Forest – graded Category 1 for snow and dirt vehicles under 50” wide during snow season only.
(1) An 8 mile section of trail that is currently open to snowmobiles – considered for potential year-round or seasonal use by all sub-50” ORVs.
(2) Some potential conflicts with HCVF, bog habitat and power company power-line ROW but unamimous support from group due to high ridge location and ability to work-around likely conflicts. Will require regulation change to add dirt riding to existing snowmobile regulatory language.
vii) Compartment 40 – Savage River State Forest – graded category 3
(1) Potential conflicts with HCVF and Savage River Lodge property
(2) Group agreed to hold this option as a lower priority
viii) St. John’s Rock
(1) A one-way trail out and back along Red Dog rd. Totals 14 miles but is not a loop.
(2) Significant rare species issues near rock outcrop.
(3) Power line ROW with potential wetlands conflicts and need to partner with power-line co.
(4) Group would like to pursue this with consideration for a shorter section to avoid conflicts with important habitats and allow for option of a loop.
3) Next Steps
a) DNR to put a finer point on some of the proposed sites - especially the private locations.
b) ORV stakeholder members to follow-up on additional details and contacts:
i) Snowmobile riders to initiate conversation with county on county-road access issue;
ii) Beeman/Bosley with coal operator on the proposed trail.
iii) Kyler/Washington Area Trail Riders to connect with local coal operator (JR) to determine potential for site visit.
iv) O’Neal/Mx council to identify additional motocross options – especially in W. MD.
c) Next meeting in late September with possible on-site visits at Cat 1 locations.
4) Meeting adjourned at 4 pm.
Note: I'll edit this when I get more time... I know it's kind of hard to read, but I'm on the iPad right now and wanted to get the info out
That sounds like good news. I live in hagerstown. If there is anything I can do to help let me know. I work in Tysons Corner, VA so I can't do much during the week but anything that can be done on weekends or the occasional day during the week(i can take off a few days a year) I would be more than willing to do it. Glad to see these talks aren't dead like I thought they were.
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I might have said this before, but I'm really worried it's going to end up like an area of GWNF I went to a few years back. All the good stuff was marked dirtbikes and four wheelers only, no Jeeps. The entire main trail was passable in 2wd, just like Green Ridge. If I just want to get dirty and drive on something other than pavement I will spin tires in my backyard and save a few hours and some gas.
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Jason.... are there any area's listed that they are looking at that will provide us "ROCKS" and 4x4 vehicle related to those rocks... I see what Tom is saying as I see 2 of them related to ATV's, but what would be cool is if the state gets them 2 or 3 area's where they can go to not conflict with 4x4's as it creates more risk injuries when we have both together...