Blue Ribbon Coalition: Preparing for the ‘Super Bowl of land-access issues’ – February 12, 2007

For most, the buzz of the Super Bowl has come and gone.
For those immersed in the industry’s critical land access struggles, however, their Super Bowl started a year ago and won’t end for at least another two years.
It’s all part of the U.S. Forest Service’s Travel Management Plan, a multi-year project that is so important to OHV users that Greg Mumm of the BlueRibbon Coalition refers to it as the “Super Bowl of land-access issues.”
The coalition is one of the nation’s high-profile groups that attempt to retain or increase recreational access through three equally important arenas: administrative, legislative and legal. The Forest Service’s ongoing Travel Management Plan figures to test all three of those arenas, especially the legal side in the coming year.
Mumm spoke recently with Powersports Business about the Travel Management Plan as well as other events concerning OHV use. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
PSB: With a few land-access victories, like Idaho’s reopening of some snowmobiling trails, and other ongoing OHV issues, like the Travel Management Plan, describe how 2006 went for the coalition.
Greg Mumm: It’s been a very busy year. We have been stretched in many ways. And of course a lot of what’s brought that on has been the Forest Service’s travel management rule and its route designation implementation that is going on right now and has been during the past year. Following along a parallel path, the (Bureau of Land Management) has been going through a similar type of management shift. So we’ve been very, very busy in a long list of states working with the grassroots (clubs) to get them involved in those processes … If anything has taken up the bulk of our year, our Public Lands Department has been just hugely busy trying to facilitate user involvement with the travel management rule implementation.
PSB: A look at the coalition’s Web site shows a lengthy membership list. You’ve been involved with access issues for a long time, would you say we’re at a point where the industry can breathe a sign of relief because of the amount of grassroots efforts now going on? Or is the current effort just not enough?
Mumm: It’s not enough, and of course that’s been our focused concern, and other industry organizations’ focused concern. I know we’ve been collaborating with a lot of those groups nationally. We’re all sharing the concern that our part of this has got to be enthusiast involvement. We’ve barely gotten to a point here where we’re hitting a stride with trying to get enthusiasts involved. It’s not enough. We still have to keep pushing on that. This year is going to hold a lot of effort in that regard. Certainly my hat is off to all the local groups that have stepped up to the plate and are working hard in many states to be involved in the processes. But, we still need to get to (more enthusiasts). That is going to make or break the success of the big initiatives, like the travel management implementation.
PSB: How will you try to get more enthusiasts involved in the coming year?
Mumm: We’re collaborating with other national groups, the United Four Wheel Association, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Coalition, Americans For Responsible Recreational Access, American Motorcycle Association …. We collaborate with them on a regular basis. … We’re all collaborating together to generate enthusiasm and attendance to those (Forest Service management) workshops as a basis to involve more enthusiasts. That’s a big thrust. You have to let people know about it, and you have to help them to understand what it’s all about, what it entails and where they can plug in. There has been a lot of tremendous output from that effort at a national level. Locally, we have a big thrust going on to help develop, within and outside of our ranks, more collaborative work at the local levels through getting groups to join together and put together alternatives for the various planning processes.
PSB: The election in November resulted in quite a change in Congress for the near future. Will that affect the coalition?
Mumm: Oh yeah, in a very big way. But the first thing I need to qualify here is that the anti-access group is having a tendency right now to crow that they had big success in the last election. I’m not so sure that’s true. I believe that would be a bit premature on their part because I don’t think that’s what this election was about. Even where the anti-access crowd was supporting folks or opposing in the election process, their environment issues and their extremism wasn’t the platform …
“Certainly we’ve lost key leaders and staff who had major influence over legislative issues that affect recreation. Those folks have now been replaced. That means we have a lot of work to do in building critical new relationships. It’s a pretty big task. But it’s imperative that we’re there, and we’re there early, to ensure recreation’s voice is heard.
“The other side of this is, and this can’t be overlooked, arguably the greater change took place at the state and local levels in this recent elections. There are a lot of issues that take place at the state level. Those are key partners in recreation and there have been changes there as well. … It isn’t just Washington I guess is my point.
PSB: Is there a single overriding issue in 2007?
Mumm: There are a couple big issues. This travel management rule … I know we keep beating this horse, but folks have to realize that this is a huge undertaking. We have four years to sustain a push with this. Of course, the (Forest Service) chief has identified that four-year process and we’re just now stepping into the second year of that. It’s starting to reach full stride with both the Forest Service and the BLM. So that process ends up being a top priority because it holds huge implications for recreational access.

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