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ORV Rally

A Strong Message Gets Delivered To Olympia

March 25, 2005, was a day few will forget in Olympia. Hundreds of off-road vehicle enthusiasts convened on the state capitol to send a message to legislators that our ORV parks and right to ride off-road in the state isn’t something we’re going to watch slip away.

It began several years ago when a vote of 2-to-1 shut down the Thurston County ORV Park. With only three people involved in the vote, off-road riders lost one of only two active ORV parks in the state with a full track setup.

Next up, Senator Karen Fraser decided she wanted to close the park permanently and use NOVA funds to do it. NOVA funds are a tiny part of the gas tax utilized to maintain ORV areas in the state – NOT CLOSE THEM DOWN.

ORV users are not about to let another park close without a fight, and they surely didn’t want to see it closed with NOVA funds!! This activity sparked an organized rally in Olympia with the support of hundreds of ORV users on hand.

The rally, one of the most organized and well-run to ever happen in Olympia, was put together by the Northwest Outdoor Coalition and mc'd by Tory Briggs of the Northwest Motorcycle Association. Briggs spoke of his dream to re-open closed roads, add more dirt tracks to the state, create a bouldering park for four wheelers and essentially bring our state up to the level of other states like Oregon and California. Without these things, private families attempt to create them on private property which creates more noise in private neighborhoods than most noise ordinances will tolerate. Briggs also made light of the fact that ORV users have always paid their way and not put a burden on the state to ever maintain trails and roads alone. He noted the thousands of hours that ORV users volunteer each year to maintain trails and roads in Washington.

Jim Boltz (right) of Cycle Barn spoke, reeling out numbers that brought to light how diverse the demographic of ORV users actually is. They are people from all walks of life who contribute to local area economies where ORV areas are in the state. ORV usage brings families together and creates recreational options that, if lost, can mean fewer opportunities for those families to play together.  Boltz also noted in a somewhat comical, but almost true sense "every time they close a road I lose another hair in my head" proceeding to remove his cap and bare his scalp.

Monte McGrath, a 15 year old rider, delivered a 700 word speech pointing out how important off-roading is to his development as a person, having learned much discipline by having to keep his gear and bike in top shape. He also noted it was a critical part of the fabric that keeps his family together and he would rather spend a weekend off-road than in the city getting into trouble.

"This is where the hard work of trail maintenance, cleaning your equipment, physical fitness and even learning physics become incredibly fun! This is a world where the skills of learning and self-improvement become a way of life and competition is icing on the cake… In the few short years I’ve been riding, numerous areas in our state have been closed to off-road vehicles. While the sport has grown incredibly popular, more and more users are squeezed into fewer and smaller areas. Senator Karen Fraser has proposed taking 1.6 million dollars from our ORV fund to permanently close the last remaining ORV Sports Park in Western Washington."

One of the most fluid speakers of the day was House Representative Cary Condotta (left), who represents the Wenatchee area. Condotta pledged his support of keeping ORV parks, trails and roads open and reopening many of the areas that have been shut down over the last few decades. Condotta was joined by three other house members including Senator Tim Sheldon who apologized publicly for formerly supporting language restricting ORV usage within 600 feet of any property line. That language has since been removed from the bill it was originally introduced into.

It was noted several times that the closure at Thurston County has put a huge burden on the nearby Tahuya area, which was recently host to 900 off-road users in one weekend. That creates a burden on the land and unsafe riding conditions.

At Sound RIDER! we support the re-opening of closed ORV parks, trails and roads to create open spaces where riders can enjoy their off-road vehicles whether they're on two wheels or four, and this goes for mountain bikers and horse riders as well.

If you want to become more involved with the fight to keep these areas open and re-open closed areas, join one of the groups that work together with government in a positive way for your rights.

TM/Spring 05

Photos from the event are available upon request.  Call our offices at 206-329-7808 for details.


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