ORV Park Closure

EQuin

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I realize this forum focuses on issues concerning access to the desert in the Southwestern U.S., but I thought I'd post the following since it is somewhat similar in relevance. It is also somewhat different, however, by virtue of a different political and property ownership framework unique to Texas and a few other states. This difference results in a severe lack of off roading venues for states such as Texas that lack significant public ownership of lands. It is also a phenomenon that rarely gets mentioned in the various land use forums I visit from time to time. Unlike states out West with huge tracts of publicly owned lands threatened with access closures, Texas is a state that is predominantly privately owned, and therefore off limits to the off-roading public. Texans don't take too kindly to trespassers, so most Texas off-roaders are forced to drive many long hours to a few, comparatively small, privately owned ORV parks. In the link provided below, the ORV park just happens to be owned by a small city, a rarity in this state.

Anyway, the following link is to an article posted on the Dallas Morning News' website. Apparently, one of the very few ORV parks open to motorcyle and ATV use (not open to trucks and Jeeps) in the North Texas area is threatened with closure by the city. The city wants to redevelop the ORV park into yet another golf course. Some of the snooty homeowners adjacent to the ORV park are apparently in favor of the golf course according to the article.

I realize the battle cry of "property rights" is often touted out West where the government owns a huge percentage of the land. But the opposite end of the spectrum is also not so appealing, at least not to multi-use recreationers. If I want to off-road my truck legally, I have to drive many hours and pay $15 to $30 at a small, privately owned ORV park. If I want to go deer hunting, instead of driving a short distance to a non-existent, state-owned wildlife management area, I have to drive many long hours and pay thousands of dollars for a deer lease on a fenced-up plot of land. According to a news broadcast on 1080 AM in Dallas, TX on May 28, 2002, even the Texas Cattleman's Association favors the establishment of wilderness areas to prevent developers from converting pasture land into urban sprawl housing subdivisions and shopping centers. Now, I'm not saying that private property ownership is a bad thing. Heck, I wish I could afford to buy a bunch of property myself! But I just thought I'd express my concern and frustration over the severe lack of land available for off-roading in a state where very little public land exists.

Unfortunately, I'm too ignorant to know how to make the link "clicky", so you may have to copy and paste:

http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/city/collin/stories/052902dnplaatv.a9b20.html



Ed Q.
 

EQuin

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One other thing which is different from the access closures out West. You'll notice that in this case the city is not necessarily restricting access or closing it to the public. It is merely proposing a change in land use from off-road recreation to golf. The article correctly notes the sheer lack of areas available for off-road recreation, which is where my frustration comes into play with this latest proposal. And I don't even own a motorcycle or ATV!


Ed Q.
 

BradM

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<A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/city/collin/stories/052902dnplaatv.a9b20.html>http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/city/collin/stories/052902dnplaatv.a9b20.html</A>
 

Paige

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Can you just re-post the story? The paper asks you to register with the paper to read it.

Thanks!

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
 

EQuin

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Thanks for making it "clicky", Brad.


Ed Q.
 

rdc

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Here you go Paige. I know all you want is to be on one more mailing list.... LOL..

City wants to close off-road park
Riders say they have few other places to go

05/29/2002

By CURTIS HOWELL / The Dallas Morning News


Dirt bike riders and people with four-wheel all-terrain vehicles stand to lose one of the few remaining areas where they can ride legally in the Dallas region, if the city of Lavon has its way.

City officials want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close a 70-acre off-road vehicle park that has been open near Lake Lavon for more than 25 years.

Officials say new residents in the area complain of noise, traffic and parking problems associated with the network of trails and jumps, creeks and curves that draw users in droves on weekends.

In its place, they want an 18-hole golf course.

Off-roaders contend that the move is about money, that noise isn't an issue because the park is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and that people knew before they moved there that the area had been set aside for all-terrain vehicles.

Meanwhile, the corps is informing people that they have until June 30 to make their opinions known; a decision is expected in July or August.

Matt Melott, 16, of Lavon said he has been using the park since he was 3. His buddy, A.J. Morris, 17, of Garland got started a little later – age 6.

"Yeah, we pretty much grew up here," A.J. said Tuesday.

Matt, between rounds of bouncing on a red trail bike, said the park caters as much to families as anyone.

"I'd rather they didn't close it," he said.

Tony Tucker of Garland was more direct.

"I think it's bull," he said, when he learned of the corps' possible action to close the area.

After he unloaded his Kawasaki four-wheeler Tuesday for a morning run on the trails, he turned and pointed as a train passed nearby.

"They need to close the train track down, too, then," he said.

Terry Sullivan, also of Garland, said the park was the only place in the area left to ride.

"Where else are we going to go? We have to have a place to ride," she said, watching Tony air up a tire.

Local dealers say off-road vehicles are big business – between 30 percent and 40 percent of their sales.

"All of these customers are being squeezed out of places to ride," said Larry O'Neal, owner of Plano Kawasaki-Suzuki,

Besides the Lavon area, off-road motorcycle and four-wheeler riders have few choices: A corps area near Grapevine Lake is the only other public access area in the region, Mr. O'Neal said.

Three others in Weatherford, Muenster and Decatur, Mr. O'Neal said, are on private land and charge a fee for use.

Lavon is popular, he said, because it is big enough to offer a variety of terrain. It's easy for parents to keep an eye on young riders, he said, it's free, and, most of all, it's close enough that people can use it conveniently for a half-day if they want to.

"My fear is – these people are going to ride their stuff somewhere," Mr. O'Neal said.

Central Yamaha owner Dave Walters said he would rather see the corps charge a fee – something on the order of $10 a day if money is the issue – than close the area.

"There are dozens of places where people can play golf," Mr. Walters. said. "But this is the only off-road around in the Dallas area."

Another option, he said, might be to move the area to a more remote region of the lake that can't be used for anything else.

"The most godforsaken land on Earth is the best land for off-road riding," he said, "something that couldn't even be used for a golf course."

Lavon City Council member Brandon Wilson has been the council's main supporter of the golf course.

He said he could empathize with the off-roaders. "I've got a four-wheeler, and I ride it out there."

But many of the users abuse the privilege, he said, and have made the park a thorn in the city's side.

"The whole situation stems from complaints," he said. "After-hours riders – they put up a gate but [riders] still get in along the railroad. They ride outside the boundaries in environmentally sensitive areas."

The parking lot is small, he said, so people park on the narrow road leading to the area and create a hazard, even though the city writes tickets.

"And they ride their off-road vehicles on the street to get to the park," he said.

"This is not what the city wanted. It's the citizens wanting to correct illegal activity," Mr. Wilson said.

"If the users would have obeyed the law, this would never have come up," he said. But he added that the city also doesn't see any advantage to having the off-road area next door.

"Its time has come," he said. "Now we are developing and things change, and it's time for this to change, too."

He said there are developers willing to build the golf course, which would not provide any revenue to the city other than increased land values.

"We definitely want a golf course. It would be a plus," he said.

Lee Hunt, lake manager for the corps, said that at this point, he doesn't see a need for a public hearing but that one could be called if enough substantive issues are raised.

"Right now we are open," Mr. Hunt said. "We see good and bad on both sides," adding that off-road riding is a legitimate family activity.

"We want to put it out to the public and we want to know their feelings," he said. "We are trying to make an informed decision."

Those who have questions or are interested in commenting on the potential closure should write to Mr. Hunt at 3375 Skyview Drive, Wylie, TX 75098.

E-mail curthowell@dallasnews.com

or call 214-977-7472.








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Tony
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EQuin

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Tony beat me to it! I'll delete my post so as not to use up too much bandwidth. Thanks, Tony.


Ed Q.
 

Paige

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Thanks Tony...you're right on that one =-)

Well it does sound like a bunch of hooey - Is there like a state parks and rec through the Gov's office? I wonder if maybe there is a way for the state to buy some private land and build you guys a few parks to use. Maybe an inquiry into that is warranted. I'll pass along this info to some people that are in that part of the country and see if they know anything.

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
 

EQuin

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Good idea, Paige, on checking with the state parks department. It's worth a try to get them to provide us some off-roading venues. As big as Texas is, you'd think there would be plenty of places to go. Although there are some good trails at Big Bend National Park, the sheer size of Texas is also it's downfall. It takes about 12 to 14 hours to drive down there from the Dallas area, and even longer for those in the Houston area. El Paso is kind of close, but it's still a good 6 hour drive. Only other option besides the few, small privately owned ORV parks are the river beds and their adjoining shoreline. Unfortunately, access to such river beds (assuming they're dry enough) can be difficult to find because property abutting them is privately owned. I've read of several instances where private landowners have called law enforcement claiming that off-roaders have trespassed onto their property lining the "navigable waterway". There was a meeting in Austin concerning a proposal to limit navigation of rivers to boats and watercraft only, thereby prohibiting its navigation by use of motorized vehicles on wheels. Since that meeting, I haven't heard of anything else regarding the issue, but it is obviously of concern to off-roaders in Texas where the vast majority of land is privately owned and fewer and fewer venues are becoming available for off-roading recreation.

Thanks for the idea and take care,


Ed Q.
 

Paige

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I heard back from one of the reps at Blue Ribbon, he will be looking into this potential closure - I'll let you know what I hear back from him.


<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
 

Vtr_Racing

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Well, you can start with Ms.Hutchinson. I have emailed her on many occasions and will give you a response.....
Senator@hutchison.senate.gov
Mine is on its way. I live in Texas as well and we do need some riding areas. I am fortunate that I know people with alot of land and can ride pretty much all day with no problems. But, more people need access to be able to trail ride

Speed Safely
 

EQuin

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That's great news! Thanks, Paige!


Ed Q.
 

Paige

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Okay - Ask and ye shall receive - he we go =-) make sure everyone comments on this - esp those in Texas =-)

*** BLUERIBBON ALERT *** BLUERIBBON ALERT *** BLUERIBBON ALERT ***
<font color=yellow>KEEP TEXAS OHV RIDING AREA OPEN!</font color=yellow>
Comment Deadline is June 30, 2002

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Lavon near Dallas, Texas, has opened a public scoping process to take comments about the potential closure of its 70-acre OHV park.

With public land OHV areas in scarce supply in Texas, it is important for all recreationists to send a letter asking that the agency consider better management of the area to resolve sound and trespass issues.

Better management instead of closure is what we are asking for.

To send a letter on this important issue, go to;
<A target="_blank" HREF=http://capwiz.com/share/issues/alert/?alertid=198751>http://capwiz.com/share/issues/alert/?alertid=198751</A>

Thanks for your attention to this matter



<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
 

TRDshaunTRD

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Done

"Those who risk nothing are nothing."
 

rdc

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Done..

Tony
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EQuin

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Done! Thanks alot Paige!


Ed Q.
 
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