Having been an active participant in state and federal land-use politics for the last 30 years, I urge my fellow off-road enthusiasts to approach 2017 with both cautious optimism and a healthy respect for potential access challenges that await us.
Until the Trump administration’s cabinet level posts are confirmed, sub-cabinet positions are filled, and czars appointed, the OHV community has scant ability to ascertain just what policies will be implemented in areas that impact motorized recreation on public lands.
Some of those issues important to OHV include adequate appropriated funds that are dedicated to support managed recreation programs and services, transfer of federal lands to counties and states, continued efforts to consolidate federal lands in the West to provide long-term recreation opportunities, and OHV/land-use related regulatory reform.
Based on past experience, I expect that some of the more ardent anti-OHV environmental groups will feel the need to increase the number of legal challenges they raise to OHV-related programmatic and project level FS/BLM planning efforts. This will place an extra burden on OHV organizations with legal expertise to meet those challenges in court.
While we wait for the administration to take office, local and state OHV leadership should continue to build substantive and long-term relationships with their own Forest and BLM Area staff officers and recreation leads.
Regardless of what happens in D.C, I believe that OHV recreation is largely in-charge of its own destiny which often depends on land-use decisions made at the local level by agency staff.
Thanks to all of you who support your local, state, and national OHV groups and are also engaged with land agency staff.