Trail Ambassador program
The 2007 Minnesota Legislature established an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Safety and Conservation Program and Advisory Council (MS 84.9011) to assist in safety and environmental education and monitoring trails on public lands. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel-drive trucks.
The "Minnesota DNR Volunteer Trail Ambassador Program" was established by the DNR Divisions of Enforcement, Trails & Waterways and Forestry. The program exists to promote safe, environmentally responsible operation of OHVs through informational, educational contacts and monitoring efforts. Oversight and management of the program is the responsibility of the DNR Division of Enforcement, Safety/Education section. The programs two-year initiative will provide $250,000 each year in grants to qualifying organizations to assist in safety and environmental education and monitoring trails on public lands.
Trail Ambassadors are specially trained volunteers, sponsored by qualifying organizations, who play a critical role in assisting land managers efforts to
provide a recognizable presence on the lands they enjoy while providing a positive and informative role model for fellow Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) and trail users. Volunteer ambassadors are responsible for greeting fellow outdoor enthusiasts, educating trail users, giving minor aid in emergencies, and providing useful information about responsible OHV use on public lands.
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Trail Ambassadors carry no law enforcement authority above that of a regular citizen.
Their influence lies in their knowledge, friendliness and willingness to help others. They are a vital part of the ambassador program and have a high degree of commitment to maintaining the environment and the responsible use of OHVs on public lands.
Pre-requisites for Becoming a Trail Ambassador
Individuals interested in volunteering for the Trail Ambassador program must meet the following requirements.
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be an active Certified MN DNR Volunteer Youth ATV Safety Training Instructor
- Submit to a thorough background investigation
- Possess a valid drivers license
- Complete the MN DNR ATV Safety Training CD (If you have previously completed the ATV CD, you do not need to complete it again. Present a copy of your ATV Certificate to the Training Officer when you attend the Instructor Clinic.)
- Be sponsored by a ‘Qualified Organization’
- Complete a ‘Trail Ambassador’ training session
Find information on becoming a Safety Training Instructor and Trail Ambassador training sessions.
What is a ‘Qualified Organization’?
At this time, qualified organizations, or sponsors, are the local OHV clubs that are committed to outdoor recreation, and OHV safety and education. Currently qualified organizations are required to be members in good standing of one of the following state associations:
- Amateur Riders Motorcycle Association (ARMCA);
- All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM);
- Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA)
- Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association (MN4WDA).
Qualifying organizations must be willing participants in the Trail Ambassador grant program. Grants issued under this program are issued through a formal agreement with the organization and must not be used as a substitute for traditional spending by the organization.
What is covered at a ‘Trail Ambassador’ Training Session?
Preparing individual volunteers for interacting with the public out on the trails is very important. We put prospective ‘Trail Ambassadors’ through a full days training. Each person in attendance receives a ‘Volunteer Trail Ambassador Manual’. The training agenda covers many topics including:
- Trail Ambassador Program Overview
- Policies and Guidelines
- Volunteer Expectations
- Program Paperwork
- Trail Monitoring
- Invasive Species Training
- GPS Training
- First Aid
- OHV Laws
- Public Trail User Contacts
When will trail ambassadors volunteer?
Over the years Off-Highway Vehicle activity data has consistently indicated that the majority of accidents and violations occur Thursdays thru Mondays between the hours of 11:00 am and 8:00 pm. This data is a good representative of ‘peak’ use days and times. These are the days of the week and times of the day that will be the ‘preferred’ scheduling for Trail Ambassadors. They must also schedule the dates and times of their volunteer trail work ahead of time through the sponsoring clubs grant manager.
Information on OHV ‘Intensive Use Areas’ was gathered from three DNR divisions. From that information, state forest lands and other public lands open to OHV use that experience high use or have environmental impact concerns were deemed priority. Other volunteering opportunities may include working the trails and public lands during special events.
How do I become involved?
Individuals and organizations interested in participating in the Trail Ambassador program can contact the DNR Enforcement Safety and Education office at 1-800-366-8917.