Do not sacrifice public OHV trails to mining!
Dear Fellow Riders,
On June 6th, 2015, members of Ohio Motorized Trails Association and Perry Forest Trail Maintenance Crew , as well as representatives of other OMTA member clubs and the American Motorcyclist Association attended the twice annual State Recreational Vehicle (SRV) Fund Advisory Board meeting. The meeting was a revelation on many levels.
It was held at Ohio’s Perry state forest. It is one of only 4 state riding areas. The area was “given” to us 45 years ago because it was an old strip mine. No one wanted it. It is the states only riding area that is classified as a scramble area. It has one of the most active clubs in the state on APV trail systems, Perry Forest Trail Maintenance Crew, whose total volunteer hours to make Perry what it is today are in the thousands.
There were about 18 items to talk about. Adding trails and marking standards were easy. There were and are points of contention in how ODNR wants to spend our money in the SRV fund.
Then the bomb shell. The state wants to lease all the Perry State forest riding area to the local coal company to re-strip-mine it. Then return it to rolling flat ground. Effectively wiping out 40 years of work and eliminating the only open riding area in the state.
There have been rumors of this for some time, but ODNR assured us it was not going to be mined. Until yesterday. This leaves MANY unanswered questions.
- When did the state start the discussion?
- Who knew about it and why didn’t we hear about it until this week?
-Will money from the SRV fund that has been spent on the trails be reimbursed to the fund?
Perhaps the biggest question weighing in the hearts of the dedicated volunteers is "why did you continue to pour in money and allow us to devote so many volunteer hours to this area only to destroy it?"
Even more troubling is that ODNR recently used money from the SRV Fund to purchase additional land for the area, and even mining that is not "off the table". Using dedicated trail fund money to purchase land and then allow it to be turned over for mining would be a gross breach of public trust. It would essentially equate to the riders footing the bill to acquire property for a private mining company.
Questions are also being raised about whether allowing mining of this land would violate the terms and conditions of any grants that have been used to fund the riding area to date.
There is another side to this issue though. Perry Forest is on land that was at one time a strip mine. Today there are very strict regulations on how former mine lands must be "reclaimed", which is the term for returning them to a natural state. Decades ago when mining stopped at Perry those modern regulations and techniques did not exist. The result is that today there are serious environmental issues in the area. Acid run off is a huge problem affecting water quality for the folks who live and work in the area. One of the reasons to allow new mining at Perry is that the mine operator would be responsible for doing the "reclamation" to modern standards. It is estimated that proper reclamation would reduce acid drainage into the surrounding water table by 50-75%. I don't think there is any person, rider or not, who would disagree that this is not a good thing for the folks who live near Perry and drink and bathe in that water.
The problem here is how this issue has been treated by the administration. Rather than having riders involved from the very beginning, we are being told about it when it seems all decisions have been made. This is sad because there is a tremendous opportunity here, which may have been missed, to involve the riders and volunteers in the planning process. Done right, with input from local riders, residents, and business owners this project COULD make Perry an even better destination. This is not uncommon where the seemingly conflicting interests of mining, public recreation, and protecting the environment meet. Land swaps, proper trail construction, and most importantly PLANNING that involves the local riders and residents have made this work in other areas. Once again though, ODNR chose to keep folks in the dark as long as possible.
Going forward it will be imperative that the OHV community of Ohio unites behind the local Perry club. Speak to you elected officials at the local, county, and state level. Start by signing this petition.
We the riders are strongly opposed to allowing the APV area of Perry State Forest to be leased for private mining and cause the loss of trails and recreation. Perry State Forest is Ohio's premier OHV recreation area, allowing families a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an outdoor sport. The rider community has paid the bill for this area, in both volunteer hours and money from our rider funded trail fund. Ignoring the commitments made to the riders, the hours they have volunteered, and the money, our money, that has been spent to date, and destroying this OHV destination is just plain WRONG.
To Governor John Kasich, ODNR Director James Zehringer, and ODNR Chief of Forestry Bob Boyles, DO NOT SACRIFICE RECREATIONAL TRAILS FOR MINING! Present the public with a "Zero Trail Loss Plan" that the riders can support!
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Turning over Perry State Forest APV Area, Ohio's premier OHV ride area, to private mining at the expense of public trails and recreation is wrong! Riders have volunteered THOUSANDS of hours, documented by ODNR. Dedicated OHV trail funds have been used, money that is paid EXCLUSIVELY by the riders. DO NOT SACRIFICE RECREATIONAL TRAILS FOR MINING! Present the public with a "Zero Trail Loss Plan" that the riders can support!
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