I thought I'd give everyone a quick update on what's going on with the group.
As of right now we are in a bit of 'hibernation' for the winter. With the holidays approaching it is a time for us to regroup and hash out the info we have collected.
I would like to remind everyone that the group is made up of folks from all aspects of the 'outdoor vehicle' world; this includes Horseback folks, Snowmobilers, ATVer's, Mountain Bikers, and the OHV folks. That being said...
We were to have an onsite visit to one of the main areas Maryland is to be considering for purchase/ lease for the OHV community.
After that field meeting was canceled in Garrett County, all has been quiet. To be honest, with the upcoming holidays, that is probably good for all of us.
I would hope something will break loose in January. Besides, then the ground may be frozen and we can safely do some in the field type meetings.
To be honest, I am not too concerned about the quiet period, as much as making sure that when this does start back up, that going forward, there is a true balance of focus, as to where every use within our group is considered and provisions are made for. While some areas will lend themselves better for one use over another. Another group should not rule out a different group from any given site until the site is visited. I believe that each interest would be surprised as to what another can and would like to do.
With that being said, if we find a site that could accommodate yet and another group that is not represented on the work group, such as the horse back folks, we should reach out to them. Coalition building is a very powerful tool. Plus, right now, there are no cross county horse trails on Maryland State managed land. (note I said managed) We all own the land. They manage it. Plus, if we can make good solid friends with Timber and Mining folks, they have a rather powerful lobby, and often, awesome land, much of which already has several trails or routes cut through.
As for the October meeting we were going to have (but was cancelled due to a conflict of interest on that date). Ray Tie (Tri-Star) did the reclamation on the Barton (Garrett County) property we were looking at. These points were to be discussed at that meeting:
- how much reclamation would be needed to make the area suitable for
- conversely how much could be eliminated
- what rules/laws would need to be changed
- what is the incentive for mine & property owners to cooperate
Ray is aware of most of the mines in the area and the stages of their use/reclamation and can provide a chart for us to look at. He is a native to the area and well aware of abandoned properties and mines that could be linked in a smaller version of Hatfield/McCoy.
Jim Ratino was to discuss user loads and maintenance issues. This is something the group has not discussed but has alluded too. It takes a
lot of property to have a public riding area that is open every weekend
through the spring/summer/fall. Jim was to
- show the difference between his ATV area and his single track
- discuss how many users ride each
- how many trees were removed, etc.
The group was to have a meaningful discussion about user load, trail maintenance, designated riding areas, etc. Jim's property is about 500 acres and it wouldn't take long with unlimited use to destroy the place.
So, we are all waiting until after the new year to pick up where we left off. Hopefully, I can give you guys some better news in January. But we are moving forward and looking to see what we can open. Unfortunately, almost everything is out west. But this is also a 'test' property that we can get on immediately and use it a basis for data collection to see if it can work anywhere else.
Sorry for the long post, but you guys are now all up to speed with us.