Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping OHV Recreation Alive is Worth Effort at OR Dunes

STRD Leadership (L) with Don Amador (R)

On behalf of the BlueRibbon Coalition, I want to thank the Save the Riders Dunes’ leadership for hosting the 2011 CORDRAM Tour. The tour was a real educational experience for the Recreation HQ.

In a 3-day period, the tour covered much of the three main OHV riding areas in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA). On Sunday, Jerry Ingersoll, the Forest Supervisor for the Siuslaw National Forest, took personal time off and joined the group – in some “BBQ Diplomacy” (actually it was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) - to discuss various recreation and resource issues.

Rodney Roberts, a Coos County Deputy Sheriff, also joined the group to share his views on law enforcement on the dunes. Rodney also mans the Sheriff’s substation at the Riley Ranch ATV Park. The tour got to observe the Dunes Patrol (a volunteer group) in action when they rescued a stranded 4wd enthusiast that got stuck.

It was an eye opener to see the scores of OHV dealerships and OHV-related businesses along the 40 miles of Highway 101 that runs the length of ODNRA. It was clear the local economy is strongly tied to OHV recreation.

HQ believes the Forest Service offers the public one of the premier destination OHV recreation sites in the country. It has well-developed camping and staging areas. Also, there are many private OHV camping areas that provide more developed facilities (pull-throughs, lodges, group camps, etc.) often popular with today’s recreational community.

The owner of the Oregon Dunes KOA campground gave the group a guided tour of his facility. He said that most of his customers come from WA, CA, and OR. However, there are riders that come from all 50 states and from overseas. Also, OHV recreation is a popular activity enjoyed by military families when the service member is on leave.

There is a lot of hard work ahead for both the agency and user communities. However, after meeting federal, county, and local recreation leaders, I am optimistic that the future of the dunes can be secured if those interests find ways to increase communications and cooperation.
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