by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Across the country, many OHV success stories can be traced back to the actions of a very few people. In Maryland, Ken Kyler stepped up to the plate along with some additional riders. And while his success cannot yet be measured in trail miles, it can be measured in building a coalition of riders working to create a positive future for OHV recreation.
“Two years ago, the state essentially closed all the OHV trails,” said Kyler. “We were down to a nice trail of 18 miles. After the DNR closed that, we banded together. But instead of forming a specific club, because there are many motorcycle, ATV and truck clubs around, we formed an alliance of all the clubs. The Maryland OHV Alliance (MDOHVA) is truly a single voice for all the clubs in the state of Maryland.”
MDOHVA was organized in March of 2013 by Kyler, secretary/treasurer, and Mike Twigg, owner of Twigg Cycles in Hagerstown, MD and president of the Alliance. It is a 501(c)(3); has a board of directors representing many OHV user groups; and voting members from 18 OHV clubs, associations, and local businesses. “Even though Mike is a dealer and I'm a motorcycle rider, we think about all the user groups in everything we do. We are the grease to make things happen. We facilitate success, providing solutions and activities that make things happen for the clubs,” said Kyler.
Even before the OHV trails closed, Kyler was using his skills and experience as a dirt bike rider, retired military officer, and chess player; working quietly and effectively to create partnerships between riders and agencies. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asked him to be part of the state's first OHV Stakeholders Working Group. He is also a member of the MD DNR Land Preservation and Recreation Plan review committee, working with the state to open new areas to OHV recreation. And he is working with Allegany County to develop reclaimed coal mines for OHV recreation.
“We have two OHV initiatives,” explains Kyler. “One is a private land initiative, because in western Maryland there are many reclaimed coal mines. It's in a great area to ride, and truly emulates what's in the Hatfield-McCoy Trails (in West Virginia). The second initiative is to educate the state to create a state-owned OHV park. There are many sand and gravel pits in eastern and southern Maryland. We can't work like West Virginia, because we don't have a central organization. Our goal is to get it started, then get the counties to come together and lease all the land and run it the same way.”
Thanks to the efforts of MDOHVA and its broad-based executive team, the state has a short trail system on the drawing board, reports Kyler. It includes single track and two-track trails, with the potential for 40 trail miles in the future. The Alliance is working with the state legislature on liability issues, but is unsure if they will succeed on their first attempt, given the political climate in Maryland. However, Kyler is optimistic that success is coming. “We formed just last March, and we're pretty happy with what we have been able to accomplish. The word is getting out, people are seeing our success, and are encouraged.”
To see the complete list of MDOHVA member clubs and associations, and follow their progress to rebuild an OHV trail system in Maryland, visit their web site at: http://mdohvalliance.org/.
Ken Kyler is a new Associate State Partner with NOHVCC, and is putting NOHVCC resources to work through the efforts of MDOHVA. To see a list of who is a NOHVCC Partner in your State, go to our State Contacts page. Each State can have one Partner and several Associate State Partners. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to become a NOHVCC partner.
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