Monday (Sept 3) I headed north again to catch up with Rob Gorczyk who is also on the board of PAOHV (among a host of other clubs) and another contact made through Dick Lepley. Catching up with Rob ain't exactly easy... I'm just sayin'. After meeting him, I can tell you that this guy is moving when he is standing still. I don't think I have met a more energetic and amiable advocate for our recreation.
I had kind of dropped a difficult task on Rob by asking to meet up with folks on the last day of the Labor Day weekend, as well as on the following Tuesday (Sept 4). As it turned out though, Rob put together a couple of very informative days.
I met up with Rob just north of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area in Dunmore, Pennsylvania at The New Lost Trails ATV Adventure Park. Rob thought it would be a good idea that I get a flavor of one of the types of opportunities ATV/UTV/Dirt Bike Riders have up here. The New Lost Trails ATV Adventure Park (http://www.ridelosttrails.com/) is a recreational off-road park situated on over 2000 acres. It is a family business owned and operated by Tony and Leslie Novack.
Not having really had much experience with this type of off-highway experience, I was most interested to see what they had put together. I was pleasantly surprised and understand the attraction. One guy I talked to in the parking lot told me he comes there because he knows what to expect and the trails give him the experience he wants. I had heard this same thing in previous meetings I have had along the way. Managed as private or managed by an agency, parks are growing in popularity.
After giving me the opportunity to talk with a few riders in the parking lot, Rob gave me a tour of just some of the trails in the park. Literally, there was something for everyone from kids, to easy trails, to some very challenging routes, including some pretty righteous single track. Rob and I were out there for over two hours and certainly didn't see everything. Tracking it on their map, I suspect that to experience all of the trails, you would need to spend at least a couple of days. It is also obvious from the trails they have developed that the Novacks are riders themselves.
Afterward, I had a chance to talk with Leslie at length about the history of the park, how they came to the business, how the park works, the work, and the types and numbers of people who come. Following that it was good sit down with Rob and his wife, along with Tony and local club leader Mike Guzzi and his fiance, to continue discussions over dinner. Rob put together a good first meeting for me. Mike gave me a good synopsis of the history of their club, and riding in the area, both public and private. Tony is a sharp guy and it was good that I had the opportunity to hear his perspective, both about the business and management of the park, and about OHV use in general.
If there is one thing I were to share that I took away from the conversations with Tony and Leslie it is that they--and others like them--face many of the same challenges that public land managing agencies face when managing for OHV recreation, albeit in a microcosm. The approaches they take to that management are proactive and rider based. I didn't see rogue trails because the trails provide the experience the riders want. They made discoverable destination areas of unique things on the park grounds for visitors, like a great lookout area and an old railroad tunnel. The way they do membership to the park gives people a sense of ownership and respect. And, perhaps most important, they work hard to make the trails sustainable. After all, they have a limited amount of acreage and they want to be able to provide riding opportunity into the future on that property--that is their livelihood. They are demonstrating in their little microcosm that it can be done if managed properly. And, they are bringing a lot to the local economy... hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, powersports shops, and other local business love the customers they bring.