by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Not many states include off-highway vehicle (OHV) ethics as part of their elementary and junior-high school curriculums. Montana stands out as one that does, and has for 9 years.

Each year since 2006, thousands of students have watched a 7-minute educational video titled “On The Right Trail.” It covers all the basics, educating students about riding OHVs safely, responsibly, and ethically.

New video adds ATVs and ROVs.

This school year, Montana students are watching a brand new version of “On The Right Trail.” It was created by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) in partnership with the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association (MTVRA) and Montana State Parks.

The sequel is about 2 minutes longer, with all-new video footage, new background music, updated information and a wider variety of OHVs. “When we made the first video in 1998, there were very few ATVs around and no side-by-sides, so it was all motorcycles. The main reason to do this new video was to add them,” said Mona Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Assistant. The new 9-minute video features dirt bikes, as well as ATVs, and ROVs (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles, or side-by-sides).

Like the original version -- created by the Great Falls Trail Bike Riders Association -- the new “On The Right Trail” video is part of the “OHV Ethics Program in Montana Schools.” Jim Dochnahl is in his 10th school year presenting the video to students at schools across Montana. Middle school teachers especially like that Jim’s presentation discusses environmental protection, including staying on the trail and stopping the spread of noxious weeds. “School is a place to learn about life and not just the 3 R’s,” said Dochnahl. “It’s a great video. I get a lot of good feedback from teachers. They love the program and what it gives the kids.”

Montana State Parks, the administrator of the state’s OHV grant program, recognized the importance of the trail ethics video, and provided the grant to produce the new one. The Polaris Foundation has also helped fund the school program. MTVRA uses the  video to educate families at outdoor sport shows and meetings of various civic groups.

Right up front, the narrator presents the video’s overriding message: “To preserve these backcountry opportunities, all trail users must act responsibly and recognize that common courtesy, ethical use of trails and good trail etiquette are the key to sharing trails and maintaining our ability to use public lands.

Topics covered by the video include OHV categories, Montana’s OHV rules and regulations, safety gear, properly preparing and planning for rides, staying on trails, correctly using OHVs while hunting, respecting other motorized and non-motorized trail users, protecting the environment, closing fences on grazing lands, and the importance of getting involved and joining an OHV club.

The video was filmed on the Bull Run Guest Ranch, south of Great Falls, providing scenic riding footage on single-track and ATV trails. You may recognize NOHVCC staffers Russ Ehnes, Heidi Annau, Karen Umphress and Mona Ehnes in the video.

Show the video at your youth OHV safety classes.

While the video has some information specific to Montana’s rules and regulations, much of the material is universal to OHV safety, ethics and responsible riding, and could be shown at OHV club meetings and youth safety classes across the country. You can get a free DVD of “On The Right Trail” by sending an email to NOHVCC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., calling 800-348-6487, or writing to NOHVCC, 427 Central Ave West, Great Falls, MT 59404.

You may also contact NOHVCC to have the video information customized for your state.

The video is also posted on YouTube. Check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5ipD78o6OM.

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