Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HQ is Closed Until June 30

The General is in the field and will be back at HQ on June 30.

Carl Gooch Wins New KTM 250

As many of you know, May 2009 was the KTM/FMF Protect Your Right to Ride Month. Members (or new members) of BRC and other land use groups had to show their membership card at a participating KTM dealership and they were given a chance to win a new KTM 250 XC-FW.

Photo at right is bike winner, Carl Gooch

Well – it was announced yesterday by KTM that Carl Gooch (a BRC and AMA member) from Olive Branch, Mississippi was the lucky winner. His local dealership was Shoals Outdoor Sports.

BRC News Release on Carl Winning the Bike

Carl has been active over the last few years working with other BRC supporters in his area by hosting a fundraiser for BRC and working on access issues on the Holly Springs
National Forest.

Helmets off to Carl and all those who support our efforts to champion responsible OHV use on public lands.

The General salutes you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Johnson Valley Update - New June 2009 Scoping Report

The General wanted to let the troops know that the USMC just issued their June 2009 Final Scoping Summary Report on the Proposed Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base Expansion Project.

See 24 Page June 2009 Report

I believe this report substantiates the importance of riders submitting written comments during the public scoping period of the NEPA process. The General commends all of you who took time to fill out comment cards, send an email, sign a petition, or submit formal written comments that included substantive ideas and concepts/tenets to be included in the development of action alternatives.

As I continue to review this report, one thing stands out and that is on page 19 where it talks about developing alternatives. One key concept that BRC and others proposed was that if the NEPA process continues, that the Marines look at “co-use” with the public or “joint use” or “joint training” with other members of the military on nearby federal facilities such as Fort Irwin. The General has long advocated the critical importance of users submitting “citizen’s alternatives” during the scoping process. I believe the scoping report supports that foundational axiom.

January 2009 BRC Comment Letter with Alternative Proposals

December 2008 BRC Comment Letter on BLM Withdrawal

A lot of political and economic "stuff " has occurred since this project was first day lighted to the public. The General believes that the final chapter on OHV use at Johnson Valley has not been written. Maybe it will be one of those books that are never finished?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sound Off About Riding Quiet

As you know, The General is …”The Quiet Warrior” and for many years has been on the forefront of promoting a “quiet trail ethic” for those of us who ride off-road.

Some of you may have seen me helping sound tech at Enduros as part of the BRC/FMF Sound Testing Program for OHVs or read some of my articles about how riding loud motorcycles (street or dirt) can impact our access to public lands.

As the sound saga continues, one pretty cool recent development is the creation of the SOUND OFF website. This will be a place where riders can go to find out about riding quiet and to get info about sound issues and other land-use topics.

I would encourage you to check it out and sign up to receive email alerts, etc.


One example of cool info is the instructional video on how to repack a 4-stroke muffler

Check it out and remember to ride at or below 96dBA while operating an OHV on public lands.

The Quiet Warrior

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Did Obama Make Right Choice in Nomination of Abbey for BLM Post

Is Obama’s nomination of Bob Abbey a good thing for OHV recreation or a harbinger of bad things to come regarding recreational access to public lands?

PEER website listing Abbey as a spokesman:
BRC's Don Amador riding on trails in the Pine Nut Mtns.,
a BLM recreation area in NV near Carson City

The BlueRibbon Coalition issued a news release today that states a concern about which Abbey will run the BLM. Will it be the pro-multiple use Abbey that worked with all sides of the environmental equation while he was the Nevada State Director of BLM?

BRC News Release today:

Or, will it be the Abbey who joined the anti-access cabal of PEER/CBD/Rangers for Responsible Recreation – a closure-oriented trifecta that opposed the new CA OHV Program in 2007.

See BRC article on that Trifecta:

The General believes that Congress should try and find out which Abbey will be running the BLM. It is my hope that the old Abbey from his days as a fair and balanced state director will be in charge of managing our public lands.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Victory in CA OHV Budget Battle

The General wants to thank all the troops who contacted their legislators today regarding the potential attack on the OHV trust fund. I heard from club members throughout the state who faxed or called their legislators about protecting the OHV program. Some of those clubs who let The General know they had sent letters include, but are not limited to, the FWMC, MCMA, BARF, CERA, D36, CAL4WD, DVMC, EOMBs, etc.

I believe the professionalism and volume of your letters helped make the difference. Although the battle is not completely over, it looks at this time that the OHMVR program will remain whole.

The General watched the conference committee debate the issue (item #3790) on a live video feed. It appears the conference committee decided not to move OHV money to offset park costs. Instead, it has been proposed that there be a $15 increase to the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA) which, unlike the Vehicle License fee - a personal property tax - is an actual fee. Ultimately, if it is dropped into a trailer bill it will only require a majority vote.

The General salutes all of you who took the time to make your voices heard today.

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Broken Arrow – Broken Arrow – I repeat this is a Broken Arrow/Code Red action alert. The CA Senate/Assembly Budget Conference Committee is meeting today and tomorrow in which the fate of the OHV program could be decided.

As you know, the legislature already “borrowed” $90 million dollars from the OHV Trust Fund. Now, they could decide to send more money to non-OHV parks, move OHV into regular state parks, or gut the entire program.

It is up to you to make sure your voice is heard. The General has already faxed in letters to the committee chairs and his local state representative using BRC’s Action Alert posted this am:


In there you will find a sample letter and also a link to find your state representative’s fax number.

Do it today! Don’t let them steal our program.

Thanks for your service.

The General

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Take BRC Online Membership Survey

I know everyone is busy going to graduations, taking a vacation, trying to hang on to a job, or attending travel management meetings. With that being said, The General respectfully asks the troops to take ten minutes to fill out the BlueRibbon Coalition’s online survey.

Your participation will help BRC more sharply hone its access message and build a stronger member services program. Even though many things stay the same since BRC was founded in 1987, there are new challenges, venues, and issues that face the OHV community. Your participation in the survey will help BRC address those realities.

Also by taking the survey – you get a chance to win a new GPS.

Go to BRC online survey

Thanks for your service!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Rock the Trail" in 2009

I can’t tell you how many times The General has been at OHV meetings or sitting around the campfire at a trail ride talking with off-roaders about trying to get new blood (such as rockers, artists, musicians, actors) helping user groups keep riding areas open. The bad news is that over the years… that new blood and energy has not been forthcoming.

See Amador interview where he talks about getting race stars and other folks like rockers involved in land use (click on link below and scroll down to Amador interview)

However, that “Change” may be coming with the help of an alternative rock band based in Reno, Nevada. Joey Vegas, the lead singer for the Peace Mafia (they also like to ride dirt-bikes), called me several weeks ago and said they wanted to help the BlueRibbon Coalition by donating a percentage of the sales of their CDs while at the Mammoth Motocross this year.

Peace Mafia info/songs

There are a lot of artists who ride dirt-bikes or drive off-road vehicles. Besides the Peace Mafia, I am pretty sure that members of Green Day, Motley Crue, Beastie Boys, etc. also ride. Other celebrities and actors that ride include Lance Armstrong, Fabio, Matt LeBlanc, etc.

One of those celebrities who stepped up to the plate to champion access to public lands is Perry King. I first met him several years ago at a local Forest Service/users group meeting on the Eldorado National Forest. He was there as a concerned member of the public. Today, he serves on the Board of Directors at the AMA.

You have heard me articulate the need for the OHV community to grow our numbers. I believe getting rockers/celebrities/actors more involved and supportive of our efforts to keep trails open could be a very important factor in the land-use equation. I think they could help us reach an entirely new segment (i.e. young people) of the public who are not aware of the attacks on their right to ride.

Some of you may remember the Rock the Vote effort in the last several elections. I think it is time for us to start our own “Rock the Trail” in 2009 to “get out the rocker-rider” to help us fight for their/our collective access rights.

If you are an artist that wants to help (serve on a board, write a check, host a concert to raise money for trail access, be a spokesperson, etc.) – Give The General a shout.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Science As a Tool in OHV Recreation

Championing responsible OHV recreation on public lands takes many forms. Often today, those venues are related to the administrative process or legal challenges.
Photo is from 2006 field test on the Shasta-Trinity NF - Don Amador, BRC (left), Scott Sinclair, FWMC (center), and Clark Frentzen, CERA (right)

For many years, some of you have listened to me talk about my axiom of land use and heard the now famous quote ... “All land-use planning decisions are political decisions.” That quote is not meant to discount the importance of local involvement, volunteer efforts, offering public comments, advocacy, etc. Rather it is offered as a potent dose of reality to new land use leaders who are trying to figure out the federal land management decision-making process. And, to present an explanation of how/why that final decision is made. The confusion for many OHVers is often it appears that science, historic use, or common sense had little to do with the decision.

One important, yet often overlooked, effective strategy for championing OHV recreation is proactive support for new OHV-related science projects that may help to provide specific answers/solutions to how OHV recreation is managed on public lands.

One of those very few examples is the almost completed OHV/Northern Spotted Owl Noise Study. The study in its early form started in 2000 with support from BRC, the OHV community, federal agencies, and the CA OHV Program. BRC, AMA Dist. 36, and riders from the Redding Dirt Riders, AMA, Willows Scramblers, CERA, Richmond Ramblers, OMC, Valley Climbers, Hayward MC, Far West, and other clubs helped partner with the U. of Washington, FS, USFWS and others on this ground-breaking study to help offer management solutions regarding permitted OHV events (mostly Enduros) on forested lands inhabited by the Northern Spotted Owl in the Pacific NW (CA, OR, and WA).

Currently, the agencies use old or questionable non-OHV specific information to decide when to cancel an AMA sanctioned enduro (like they just did for the Fools Gold Enduro) or restrict events to the season of year when trails are hot and dusty if an owl nest is found along the trail. It is also expected the new owl science will be used in the Sierra Nevada where the NSO's genetically identical cousin lives… the CA Spotted Owl.

Field research on the OHV/Owl Study was completed in 2008. It is expected the final report will be out later this year. One important note on this project is that it was almost killed twice by anti-access interests who did not like the way the research might turn out.
The first form of the project was successfully stopped in 2003 when the credibility of the federal researcher's work was challenged by an environmental group. In 2007, those same critics almost defunded the current study (and the similar OHV/Goshawk study) during the CA OHV grants process.

Is science a silver bullet for OHV recreation? I think not. But having good science specific to motorized use of public lands is far better than no science or junk science. It should be noted that a similar study related more to general OHV recreation and its impact on the Goshawk should be out later this year as well.

OHV/Owl Study

Stone Soup – How the Owl Study Was Almost Killed in 2007
*special thanks to all who helped save the projects… I think Lisa overstated
my role.

Info on Goshawk Study
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day - A Time to Remember

As some of you know, I visited Normandy as part of the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in 2004. My wife took me there as a 50th birthday surprise. We were part of a two bus caravan that traced the footsteps of the allied forces from the landing at Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge.
Photo at right is of Don Amador with WW2 Vet, Wayne Brewster at the 60th Anniversary of D-Day - 2004
The track in the sand is from a restored WW2 jeep that
drove on Omaha Beach.

We were honored to have about 10 vets from WW2 on our tour. It was a privilege to visit with them as they recounted their stories. I have attached a photo of me with one of the veterans on our tour – Wayne Brewster. Also, notice the tire track in the sand. I took that photo after a restored WW2 Jeep drove past my wife and I while we were standing on Omaha Beach.

The Cemetery above Omaha Beach is a sacred place. A person is overcome with a deep sense that something of cosmic import happened there. I got that same feeling when visiting two other places – The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and Gettysburg.

As I write my D-Day Memorial Tribute I am reminded of the national prayer that was read to the American people on the evening of June 6, 1944 by President Roosevelt. Here is that prayer

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violence's of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest.

They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

I think it is important for the subsequent generations to remember the sacrifices made by so many young men on June 6, 1944. Also, it is important for us to live our lives in a manner worthy of their sacrifice.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Dual-Sport Riders Win Big Victory in CA

I just wanted to congratulate the dual-sport community and their lobbyists, AMA, ABATE of California, and the California Motorcycle Dealers Assn. for their hard work in fighting the Pavley motorcycle smog bill. Earlier, SB435 (Pavley’s smog bill) was thankfully recognized by state senators with common sense as a proposal that punished the motorcycle recreation community and created another “tax.”

Here is quote from Capitol Weekly
Pavley was also forced to significantly weaken her motorcycle smog check bill, SB 435, because of objections from Wright and other moderate Democrats.
Full news article about SB435 at

I know many dual-sport riders were concerned that SB 435 would require smog checks on legal dual sport conversions (dual sport kits added to 2000-2003 green-sticker dirt-bikes such as XR650Rs, open class KTM 4-strokes, DRZ400s, WR426/450s, etc.) As it stands now, the bill’s focus was reduced to address catalytic converters.

The General feels that dual-sport recreation and related events are an important factor to rural communities in the current economy. Having ridden in, or helped tech at, a number of dual-sport rides in Northern California, I can attest to the fact that businesses (local hotels and restaurants) thrive when several hundred riders utilize their establishments.

There are a number of exciting and fun dual-sport rides coming up this summer and fall.

Check in Nor Cal Dual Sport for a list of rides

Also, ck. in with North Bay Motorcycle Club for their Lost Coast Dual Sport Ride in Oct.

I hope to see many of you at these events.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Celebrate OHV Green Sticker Money Going for Trails

Often you will hear The General remind riders to undertake the difficult task of searching for - and celebrating when found - good news in the midst of these gloomy economic and land-use times.

Just such good news exists in the form of the OHMVR Division releasing their Notice of Intent to Award various trail, restoration, law enforcement, and safety grants. As some of you know, the OHV commission had been taken over by an anti-access majority (circa 2000). That body then enacted their closure agenda by developing the early route designation process (circa 2002/2003) that not only birthed the National Travel Management Rule but defunded most OHV trail projects on FS and BLM lands for 7 years.

After a lot of work in 2007 by OHV leadership and the ecologically-balanced OHMVR Division with support from the Governor’s Office, a new OHV program was authorized in SB742. One part of the bill was development of a new grants program that had the majority of “Green Sticker” funds going to support trails and trail facilities.

Please review the OHV NOI to Award at:

I would urge you to review these proposals to see if your favorite riding area is recommended for funding. The General also thanks all of you who sent in letters during the public comment period for this grant cycle.

Please take a minute or two and celebrate this victory.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Good News - Combined Use as an Access Tool

While many users legitimately focus on the bad news of how travel management planning in California will impact OHV access on Forest Service roads and trails, The General believes that we should also look for breaking “good access news.”

Although many of us are concerned about Region 5’s interpretation (or misapplication) of the mixed-use/combined-use issue regarding OHV recreation on level 3 forest roads, the fact remains that California law has empowered local governments with the ability to designate appropriate public roads less than 3 miles in length as “combined-use” roads for both street legal and non-street legal motorized vehicles.

See CVC on Combined Use

For a long time the BlueRibbon Coalition has encouraged recreationists to work with their local county governments in a partnership or team effort to collectively champion
responsible motorized access to or through public lands.

A recent example of a local government taking advantage of this regulation occurred in Del Norte County. I commend the local users working with their county supervisors on this proposal.

See Del Norte County Info and Resolution on New Combined Use Roads

While OHVers are rightly focused on TMR in CA and trying to read through the growing number of NEPA documents being dumped on them by various Forests, the users should not forget to champion (with support and resolutions from county govt.) the “combined-use concept” as a parallel - yet separate – process related to federal travel planning.

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