A motorcyclist rides Sovereign Singletrack south of Klondike Bluffs Road. Ride with Respect is strengthening ties with land managers to improve OHV opportunities in the area. (Photo courtesy of Ride with Respect).

For nearly a decade, developing Sovereign Trail System was the primary focus of Ride with Respect, a non-profit organization that maintains trails and educates off-highway vehicle riders. Now, the group is strengthening ties with land managers to improve OHV opportunities further northwest of Moab.

This past winter, Ride with Respect extended Sovereign Singletrack by three miles to reach Klondike Bluffs Road. Access was made possible by an easement from Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. With fence supplies from SITLA, Ride with Respect established a staging area, which serves trail users and campers, alike. To construct the trail, the group secured a grant from the OHV Division of Utah State Parks. In addition to motorcycling, the extension could serve mountain bikers who want to ride singletrack from Klondike Bluffs Road back to Moab.

In the same vicinity, Ride with Respect also worked on a 14-mile loop of primitive roads. The group asked to name the route in honor of ranger Brody Young, who was ambushed and survived a gun battle while patrolling public lands in 2010. He recovered miraculously to again work for Utah State Parks. Although flattered, Brody preferred that the route recognize others who survived, plus those who did not. So the route is finally named Fallen Peace Officer Trail, and it will be commemorated by a plaque from the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial. Next year, the Utah Peace Officers Association aims to host a ceremony and ride on the trail.

This past spring, the Ride with Respect crew moved further northwest to work on motorcycle and ATV trails from Levi Well to White Wash. In two locations, through-going routes had been designated as dead ends by the Bureau of Land Management. Ride with Respect worked with the BLM to open the full length of trail, and yet ensure that OHV use would be sustainable. In three other locations, the BLM identified conflicts with cultural and wildlife resources. So Ride with Respect rerouted them to reduce impacts while improving the quantity and quality of trail. Finally, the crew marked Enduro Loop, a 30-mile singletrack that connects Levi Well to White Wash.

In each case, the BLM provided the planning and supplies, such as a cattle guard, fences, more than 100 signs and a half-dozen gates to define the width of a route. Ride with Respect performed the implementation, totaling 600 hours of skilled labor. The 2,000 miles of travel was covered by a grant from Grand County’s Recreation Special Service District #1. On a field trip to inspect the work, the Ride with Respect crew noticed that BLM staff were short on OHV safety gear. So Ride with Respect approached Arrowhead Motorsports of Moab and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC of Payson. The retailers donated a few sets of riding gear to keep BLM safe while monitoring trail conditions.

Ride with Respect’s executive director, Dale Parriott, is pleased with these partnerships.

“Strengthening ties with the land managers is key to the future of our sport,” he said. “After we offered assistance, the BLM and SITLA really stepped up to the plate.”

Likewise Ride with Respect’s program director, Clif Koontz, seems encouraged by recent progress.

“Virtually all our joint projects have been win-win,” he said. “Anytime you can enhance both recreation and conservation, it’s so darned gratifying.”

This summer, the Ride with Respect crew will head up to the La Sal and Abajo mountains. But by fall they’ll return to work on desert trails. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Clif at 435-259-8334 or visit RideWithRespect.org.