Land Use, Grants & Legislation

The trails we enjoy and the future of off-road motorcycles hinge on pro-ORV legislation, cooperation and collaboration with land managers and the continual pursuit of project funding through grants. This is some of the most beneficial work that the NMA conducts on your behalf. We have a long history of tireless representatives at work in Olympia, at DNR and USFS meetings, trail use conferences, land use planning committees and on the IAC/RCO board advocating for us.

1973 – The Nonhighway and Offroad Vehicle Activities (NOVA) account was created. “The goal of the IAC in its administration and distribution of ATV Funds is to increase the available trails and areas for all-terrain vehicles by operating a program to provide funding assistance to local and state agencies for the planning, acquisition, development of land and facilities for ATV use.” The Legislature approved allocation of 1% of all state gasoline taxes collected to go to the NOVA fund.

1976 – Trail maps published by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources

1978 – First year of funding provided for the Thurston County Sports Park through IAC grants. Development of the park occurred in multiple phases over several years. Over the years, the facility has alternately been known as Straddleline ORV Park and Grays Harbor ORV Park.

1981 – A Comprehensive Plan was written for the Horn Rapids ORV Park. Development of the park occurred in multiple phases over several years beginning in 1982.

1982 – The DNR produced a film focusing on a family of dirt bikers and highlighting positive interaction between motorized and non-motorized trail users. Filming took place in Capitol Forest, the Mad River area and Mattawa. NMA members Ron Morgenthaler, Don Rhodes, David Rhodes and Joe Wernex were instrumental to the success of the film and represented our sport well.

Over the grant years 1982 to 1990, the Batey-Bould and Little Pend Oreille trail systems and trailheads were planned, surveyed and constructed with IAC grants.

1985 – The Non Highway Roads (NHR) program was created by the Legislature. This program diverted 20 percent of the NOVA account funds away from motorized users to non-motorized users, contrary to the original intent of the program, leaving us with 0.8% of gas tax dollars.

1985 – The Puget Sound Enduro Riders M/C were told that Simpson Timber would no longer allow motorcycles on their land. PSER member and NMA President Dave Bowers wrote an article in the NMA newsletter asking members to send a letter stating how great the club and their events were. The membership responded and were successful in retaining use of the Mason County timber lands for ORVs.

1988 and 1989 – An NMA volunteer representative attended monthly meetings in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We achieved a consensus agreement with all of the various trail user groups and the USFS, called the “Mile-for-Mile Agreement” that was formalized in the 1990 GPNF Forest Plan. It stated that no existing motorized trail opportunity in that Forest would be closed to motorized use until after an equal distance of trail was opened to motorized use elsewhere on that Forest. The actual user consensus of “equal experience” was not codified into the Forest Plan but the Administration personnel have pretty well followed that to date with very few exceptions. That agreement saved the Dark Divide area from closure to motorized use.

1989 – A brand new Goose Creek Campground near Lake Wenatchee opened for use. Planning for the project began in 1984, construction began in 1987. IAC grant dollars allocated to the project totaled $300,733.

1989 – The NMA hosted a Trailbike Trail Symposium for managers from the Olympic National Forest and the Washington State DNR. After some basics on motorcycle riding skills and an evening discussion of the land managers’ interests and concerns, the participants spent two days on the trail in the Chikamin, Mad Lake and Taneum areas. They saw and discussed motorcycle riders’ interests, looked at good and bad trail designs and reviewed in detail two recently constructed campgrounds.

During the 1990 session, the Legislature raised the fuel tax from 18 cents per gallon to 23 cents per gallon. This same legislation placed a cap on the NOVA funding and required that its portion to be based on only 18 cents per gallon instead of the actual 23 cents per gallon collected, further reducing gas tax funds available for motorized recreation.

1990 – The Wenatchee National Forest closed over 70 miles of trail to motorcycles. The closures were based on reported “user conflict” between motorcyclists and hikers.

1991 – The NMA, with support from the Mountain States Legal Foundation, filed suit against the Wenatchee National Forest in an effort to regain motorized singletrack access in the North Entiat and Pyramid Mountain areas which were closed to us after 30 years of use. We were not successful.

1991 – NOVA funding provided for the construction of several miles of new motorized singletrack in Washington State, including: 5 miles of the Pend Oreille Trail, 15 miles in the Chickamin area and 12 miles at Devil’s Gulch.

Summer of 1994 saw a large fire in the Entiat Valley that impacted several miles of motorized singletrack in the Lower Mad River area.

2000 – NOVA recommended to the IAC that a new fuel use study be conducted. The intent was to make sure fuel tax distribution was fairly conducted to meet the needs of all six user groups represented on the IAC-NOVA committee. This agreement was approved by 5 of the 6 groups (ATV, Equestrian, Four Wheel Drive, Mountain Bicyclists and ORV/Motorcycle). The Hiker group was the only group not approving the agreement.

Early 2000s, SWWORA and KTM purchased several pallets of gridblocks and donated them to the USFS for use on motorized trails within the GPNF. KTM’s share of the cost was funded by a dealer ride the manufacturer hosted.

2002 – The DNR instituted a seasonal ban of all ORV use at Walker Valley. The study used to justify the closure were found to not support such a drastic decision. Skagit M/C and the NMA rallied hard, culminating in a meeting with Commissioner of Public Lands, Doug Sutherland, in Olympia who, after hearing our side of the story, demanded that the regional DNR office reopen Walker Valley immediately. A concerted effort between the NMA, SMC and the DNR, including opening of trails in stages, significant volunteer trail projects to improve drainage, the creation of a Forest Watch program and widespread user education resulted in no future closures of the trail system.

2005 – Washington State HB1003, a.k.a. The Hinkle Bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Hinkle and actively supported by the NMA with Legislative and Land Use Coordinator Dale Cooper taking the lead, was passed. This bill gave land managers the authority to permit (or prohibit) ORV operation on certain non-highway roads. Prior to its passage, only licensed, street legal motorcycles could be used on forest roads and all operators had to have a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license. Motorcycles and four-wheelers both benefited from passage of the Hinkle Bill.

2007 – The state changed the name of the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC) to Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). No changes in how the grants we are eligible for were handled.

2007 – Washington State SB5544 was introduced to limit ORV noise that could be heard on neighboring property. The bill would make it illegal to ride if your bike is either “plainly audible” or exceeds 45 decibels from inside of or within 10 feet of any residence. It would also be illegal to ride if your bike exceeds 55 decibels at the property line. The fine for this new crime was proposed be a minimum of $100 with a maximum of $800. The new limits would only apply to dirtbikes or quads, it would not apply to other sources of residential noise such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, stereos, playgrounds, ballfields, etc. The NMA stepped in and, with volunteers filling the Senate Galleries with people in off-road riding gear and a huge rally on the Capitol steps, the bill was defeated.

2010 – NMA charter clubs supporting the sport at Naches

2011 – An ORV rally was held on the steps of the capitol building in Olympia. The purpose was to raise awareness of the needs and numbers of off-road vehicle enthusiasts in the state.

2011 – Washington State introduced the Discover Pass, required for access to lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) as well as State Parks.

2011 – With great support from the NMA, the Washington State Senate passed a bill allowing conversion of motorcycles sold new “for off-road use only” to fully licensed, street legal machines.

2014 – Washington Conservation Corps trail crew at Reiter Trails

2016 – The State gas tax rate increased to 37.5 cents per gallon, but the cap on the portion to be refunded into the NOVA account has only been raised to 23 cents per gallon, negatively impacting the total dollars available for motorized recreation projects.

2018 – NMA was awarded two grants from RCO providing for completion of trail work in ten different riding areas between September 2019 and October 2021.

2018 – NMA entered into a statewide trail maintenance agreement with Washington DNR and USFS.

2019 – First ST240 trail machine was purchased by the NMA. The first use was in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, marking the beginning of the Heavy Maintenance Crew.

2020 – Marc Toenyan signing a volunteer agreement with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. This greatly improved our position and relationship with the DNR.

2020 – NMA was awarded a Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative grant. Funds from this program have supported creation and maintenance of the NMA’s tool trailers.

2020 – The NMA received a “Certificate of Merit” from the Cle Elum Ranger District recognizing the value of our partnership with the land manager. ORV Ranger Mikki Douglass has been a huge advocate for motorized use on her district.

2021 – NMA was awarded a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the Colville National Forest.

2021 – NMA was awarded a Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative grant.

2022 – NMA awarded four grants from RCO and with plans to work in 16 different land areas during the two year work cycle.

2022 NMA was awarded a trail work agreement with The Nature Conservancy for motorized trail maintenance in the Taneum watershed.

2022 – Funds from Rob’s Dirtbike Camp were donated to the NMA specifically for use in ORV trail projects at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

2022 – The NMA participated in the Recreate Responsibly movement, a coalition of government agencies, businesses and non-profit recreational groups throughout Washington State who provide guidance and best practices to users of our natural resources.

2022 – Former NMA president, vice president, secretary and IAC representative Rick Dahl elected Cowlitz County Commissioner. It’s good to have ORV advocates at any level of government!

2023 – Sign created cooperatively between the NMA and TreadLightly! Copies of these large signs are displayed on sign boards at many USFS trailheads throughout the state.

2023 – Skagit M/C conducting a sound check at a poker run. Less sound equals more ground. It’s important to keep the exhaust systems of our motorcycles well maintained and quiet.

2023 NMA was awarded a Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative grant