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OHV Rally at Olympia, WA
The Washington Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance (WOHVA), an organization working to protect and enhance safe and responsible motorized outdoor recreation in the state of Washington, convened on the capitol steps in Olympia on Friday, March 13th, 2009 to raise public awareness and to protect the future of off-highway vehicle use in Washington state.
Hours before the rally, participants gathered on the Capitol grounds, lining Angle Drive with recreational vehicles of all shapes and sizes. This colorful display became the backdrop for an informative morning of conversation, question and answer sessions, opportunities to interface with public officials and general enthusiasm for outdoor sports and recreation.
Several information-filled booths were installed at the roundabout between Angle Drive and the Capitol building, each staffed with club members and supporters prepared to share information and to answer questions as rally participants and spectators passed by.
Issues of concern to WOHVA this year include OHV fund misappropriation, land closure to off highway vehicles and restrictions on the sale and use of motorcycles designed for children under the age of twelve.
Through this event, hundreds of WOHVA members and their families were able to team with state Senators, Representatives, business owners and dignitaries from organizations across the state of Washington to assure that their message would be heard.
Angie Marek, WOHVA's current Treasurer, served as the rally's Master of Ceremonies, energizing the crowd between presentations as she queued and introduced the various speakers. Angie's message was clear, empowering and motivating as she stressed the importance of member participation, noting a history of significant accomplishments ranging from the reopening of the Straddleline ORV Park in Gray's Harbor in 2005 to the defeat of what many considered excessively restrictive noise legislation in 2007.
Speakers addressed the crowd assembled on the Capitol stairs with messages of appreciation and of support, committing to the defense of Washington State's citizens' right to access public land for motorized outdoor recreational use.
Many families turned out for this event together, representing multiple generations of related outdoor enthusiasts. Grand- parents, parents and children alike brought with them a rich history of off-highway recreational vehicle use and everyone in attendance anticipated as bright a future for the sport.
The next group of speakers emphasized the importance of family experience' through recreational vehicle use, demanded access to all individuals, including the disabled, to public land and insisted that state funds allocated to the use of recreational vehicles be spent on ORV land and facilities rather than consumed by groups pursuing other interests.
John Eaton, one of WOHVA's original board members, delivered an update on state issues pending, including the defeat of a recent bill that threatened the seizure of off-road vehicles from their owners, without due process, for "damaging vegetation."
John raised awareness regarding possible changes to the state capitol budget, which could threaten committees that currently protect citizens' rights to use public land and that provide grants which help keep motocross parks open in Washington State.
Finally, John called the crowd to action on the "Lead Law," a federal issue banning all lead' from toys designed for children under the age of twelve. Included among the toys' described in this issue, unfortunately, are small displacement motorcycles, a fact which has forced dealers across the country to remove them, as well as the parts to service and repair them, from their floors. In addition to having an obvious impact on the economics of our communities, state and even our country, John pointed out that the rights of our families as well as the quality of our family experiences are being affected by this issue. He encouraged rally participants to call, write and email Washington's U.S. Senators (Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell) to address this issue specifically.
The final group of speakers reinforced and confirmed our message, emphasizing awareness and action on behalf of WOHVA members and supporters. Efforts and success in states across the country (in repealing the lead law) were referenced and appreciation of the effectiveness WOHVA's umbrella concept' was expressed. Finally, WOHVA's Board Chair, Byron Stuck, thanked members and volunteers for their efforts, past present and future, encouraging everyone involved to make a contribution of time and/or expertise.
This year's rally, held under blue Washington skies, on a day when everyone in attendance could have spent the day enjoying the outdoors on their off-highway vehicles (but chose to attend this event instead,) was another huge success marked by the members of WOHVA, who shed light on issues threatening outdoor enthusiasts across the state and who successfully called their members and their community to action, the results of which will be felt throughout the coming year. For more information on WOHVA, visit their website at www.wohva.org or email WOHVA's communications Liaison, Megan E Cieplik
--Reprinted courtesy of The Northwest Rider. an online publication promoting year-round motorcycling in Washington, Oregon and Idaho (www.thenorthwestrider.com). The site's creator, Mike Gaffney, is an architect and photographer living in Sammamish Washington.