Coalition says 'Stay the Trail'

OHV users invited to discuss motorized forest access

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— As the Rainbow Gathering comes to an end, another group of nature-lovers will be assembling in North Routt County this weekend to discuss responsible forest use.

The Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition is convening with other national off highway vehicle (OHV) user organizations and various state and federal land management agencies for a series of management workshops that will run through Sunday. The event is based at Steamboat Lake Outfitters in Hahn's Peak Village.

Routt National Forest spokesperson Diann Ritschard said there were no reported conflicts of interest between OHV users and the non-motorized participants occupying the Rainbow Gathering site near Big Red Park. The groups sixth annual meeting, titled "Working Together Toward Route Designation," is geared to address one concern shared by all national forest visitors -- the minimization of public land resource damage.

"The focus of the workshop is education, safety, and responsible use," Bureau of Land Management Colorado spokesperson Jamie Gardner said. "It also offers a networking opportunity to meet other OHV users."

Today's scheduled events include outdoor field exercises, education programs and training on topics such as creating maps and collecting data for trail inventories. There are morning classes on the regional implementation of the Forest Service's 2005 Travel Management Rule. The rule "requires each national forest and grassland to designate those roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use," and identify those areas and roads on a map.

"Implementation of the rule is a challenge, because if it isn't a designated route, you shouldn't be on it, so determining routes is important," said workshop coordinator Corey Corbett.

Although the issues around trail designation will be the workshop's main topic, Gardner urged OHV enthusiasts to visit the coalition's websites, www.cohvco.org and www.staythetrail.org, for quality lists and printable maps of existent designated trails on Colorado's federal and state lands.

Sunday's workshop, titled "OHV Rule Implementation and Route Inventory Training" is designed with the recreational OHV user in mind, providing route designation rule information in the morning and field training in the afternoon.

"The future of our sport is in positive, collaborative efforts like these between enthusiasts and land managers," Corbett said.

Corbett invited local OHV enthusiasts to this weekend's free workshops. Registration for today and Sunday's workshops is from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Steamboat Lake State Park Visitor's Center.

Today's event runs until 5 p.m. and Sunday's runs until 2 p.m. Guided location rides will then follow Sunday's workshop until 5 p.m. For more information, e-mail Corbett at corbett@cohvco.org or call him at Steamboat Lake Outfitters, 879-4404.

-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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