Yamaha Working to Keep Trails Open

We join Yamaha for a day of trail maintenance

Story by Corry Weller, Photography by Adam Campbell, May. 05, 2010

In its ongoing effort to ensure that our public lands remain open to OHV use now and in the future, Yamaha Motor Corp, USA has taken initiative over the past few years in the form of several programs that are near and dear to this major OEM’s heart.  Programs such as the OHV Access Initiative have become widely popular with many states in the country, as enthusiasts take advantage of Yamaha’s grant program to make improvements to their riding areas and do what needs to be done in order to ensure future areas remain open to OHV access.

To help share these programs with the public, Yamaha recently invited its employees, families and members of the media up to Lake Arrowhead, Calif., located in the popular and beautiful San Bernardino National Forest. The SBNF is a playground to over 23 million Southern Californians, and there are over 15 million people who recreate annually in the beautiful forests located just hours from Los Angeles. For the second year in a row, almost 100 volunteers spent their weekend involved in two separate, but equally important efforts spearheaded by Yamaha and USFS (US Forest Service)/SBNF volunteers.

The group of volunteers gets ready for a busy day of trail maintenance.

Yamaha OHV Access Initiative Program

Volunteers had a variety of tools and machinery to work with – here a small but nimble bulldozer is used for grading at the Pinnacles staging area.
Cleaning out drainage ditches and allowing water to shed properly from the staging areas is an important part of area maintenance.

The Yamaha OHV Access Initiative program (Yamaha OHV Access Information) was developed as a proactive, grassroots effort that is supported by Yamaha dealers and their customers across the country, promoting safe, responsible riding and sustainable, open riding areas.

Throughout the development of this program, Yamaha has forged a strong partnership with the SBNF and the USFS, which has resulted in Yamaha not only participating in cleanups and other projects, but also adopting miles of trails and various staging area projects in the San Bernardino National Forest as well.

As members of the media, we were invited to come out and experience, first hand, exactly what is involved in a program like this. Working alongside SBNF volunteers and Yamaha employees, we spent an entire day clearing trails that had grown over, cleaning up adopted staging areas as well as ensuring that no new, un-approved trails were allowed to develop. Armed with clippers, shovels, rakes and assorted tools, different groups tackled a list of projects that the SBNF hoped we could get done before the end of the day. 

As we worked along some of the more popular trails, it was a good feeling to actually be doing something to support the areas that allow us to do what we love so much. Many riders we encountered on the trails throughout the day waved and thanked us for the job we were doing, and perhaps they went home with the idea to do their part at some point in the future.

It’s obvious that the forest service volunteers are passionate about what they do, and it’s also apparent that they appreciate Yamaha’s dedication and involvement in preserving their public lands. Thanks were given several times throughout the weekend with a final thank you resulting in an award presented to Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s general manager of ATV & SxS Operations, and everyone at Yamaha for their help throughout the years. It was apparent to everyone in attendance over the weekend that the partnership between Yamaha and the SBNF is something that is highly valued by both parties involved.

While the time and effort of Yamaha’s employees is valuable to the program, the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative also supports a number of other projects that directly and positively impact OHV access including maintaining trail signage and information kiosks in many areas, trail mapping and map production, “Adopt a Trail” OHV programs and land stewardship.

Steve Nessl, Yamaha’s Marketing Manager participates in a project to help prevent unauthorized trails from developing.  Called “slashing”, this entails using downed trees and brush to block off any newly developing trails appearing in the surrounding area.

Big Bear Tree Planting Effort

Yamaha employees and family members have planted over 3,400 seedlings over the past two years in an effort to help repair the burn areas located in the SBNF.

For the second year in a row, Yamaha employees and families were also invited to participate in the efforts to replant many of the burned out areas in the San Bernardino National Forest – particularly the forest areas located near the ever-popular Big Bear Lake.

Armed with the proper tools for planting the seedlings and having received personal instruction on how to care for the seedlings correctly, volunteers dispersed around the area near the Big Bear Discovery Center, looking for their assigned planting areas for the day. Small groups of families and co-workers dotted the burnt out hillsides in every direction, getting their hands dirty and doing their best to space their seedlings out effectively between the charred remains of what was once a beautiful forest.

Working in partnership with members of the TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based environmental non-profit group, and the SBNF, over 90 Yamaha employees and family members worked hard on Sunday to reach a record number of seedlings to be planted – a total of 2,250 trees in one day! Over the last two years, Yamaha employees and family members have planted over 3,400 seedlings in burned areas of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Do Your Part

As a valuable part of the OHV community, any rider or motorsports enthusiast can help keep public riding areas open in their area by riding responsibly and escalating their participation in their own state by taking advantage of programs like Yamaha’s OHV Access Initiative. By determining the particular needs in their own riding area and submitting a properly filled out, well thought out grant application for consideration, enthusiasts can take advantage of funding to help their own riding areas.

A great example of the type of projects these grants support can be found in the Astoria District in Oregon, where an application was submitted for $15,000 for a clear-cut project that would result in the building of eight bridges over fish-bearing streams to alleviate some of the serious resource damage, which had caused several area closures and restrictions in the area. The grant was awarded, and to date, two of the eight bridges have been completed and the project is serving as a case study for future trail management projects.

In addition to any of these programs that have been initiated and effectively utilized, every rider can do their part to contribute to the preservation of our riding areas on a regular basis by simply following the suggestions below, which can be found on Yamaha’s website at http://www.yamaha-motor.com/.

Getting involved and helping out is the best way to keep riding areas open and accessible for future generations.

Responsible Rider Checklist
- Learn and follow all of your local riding area and national forest laws and regulations including sound levels, safety gear requirements, age limits and safety course recommendations and requirements.
- Use up-to-date local travel and trail maps to assure you only ride in permitted areas and on designated open trails.
- Inspect and clean your vehicle before moving to a new location to remove seeds, weeds and other vegetation and prevent the transfer of non-native invasive species.
- Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and regularly check for any fluid leaks or problems that might negatively impact the environment or your vehicle’s performance.
- Set a positive example, especially when riding in the presence of younger or less experienced riders, and always leave your riding area in better shape than when you found it.
- Be aware of animal habitat including streams, food sources and nesting areas, and stay off sensitive terrain.
- Watch out for, and be considerate of, others in the area including private property owners, hunters, hikers, campers, horseback riders and other off-road vehicle riders.
- Never chase or harass animals from your off-road vehicle, and never hunt or shoot a firearm from your vehicle.

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More than 500 trail projects in Canada receive funding