State Level Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration for Off-Road Recreation
By Del Albright
How do off-road and backcountry recreation groups coordinate their efforts better at the State level? In states like California where there are probably two dozen or more “friends” type groups, two multiple use organizations, a couple hundred local clubs, and national representation from at least four associations, it would seem a daunting task. But there are solutions.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of STEPS:
1. Develop common communications.
2. Meet face to face.
3. Conduct leadership calls frequently.
4. Use Executive or Oversight Committees.
5. Publish results and actions.
In fact, it is being done at the national level, and that same model can be followed at the state level. The North American Motorized Recreation Council (NAMRC) has laid the framework for uniting efforts across the country. More can be done; but the model is solid. NAMRC is supplemented with National Leadership Calls on a regular basis, albeit not directly affiliated with NAMRC at this time.
It begins with STEP 1: a common communications network (email, forum, Skype, Go To Meeting, etc.). The critical part is getting everyone rounded up so they know there is a place to share ideas. Make sure every possible group is invited.
Continuing with the CA example, the California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC) was established to work on Johnson Valley in an unified voice. That can easily be expanded to all state level issues. This was attempted in 1997 with the first state level multiple use group called the Resource Education Network (REN). It was fueled by the Desert Protection Act and lasted several years before morphing into the Sierra Nevada Framework efforts. More on REN here:
Bringing multiple-use groups together is part of the process needed for state-level unification. One early example was set in 1997 with the Multiple-Use Shared Trail (MUST) Workshop that could be repeated, or blended into a Leadership Summit type meeting.
Then STEP 3: is to supplement the face-to-face meetings with leadership calls much like a non-profit would have Board meetings by phone calls or Skype or Go To Meetings (examples). Each call is facilitated and the agenda is announced beforehand.
For large states like CA, STEP 4 includes an oversight or executive level committee that can be established to make the working element a bit smaller and easier to work with, as long as they are working under the expectations of the entire group.
Finally, STEP 5: publish the results and actions so that every participant is informed and included, and the actions of the group are seen by others.
Some unwritten parts of the success of an effort like this include setting aside egos, minimizing club/turf boundaries, and finding ways to be positive and cooperative instead of self-protective. It can be done.