Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State moves to clamp down on off-roaders

Just saw this on the wire.

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers voted to tighten the rules for off-road vehicles Tuesday despite objections that the state is taking away access to federal lands.

“This is not a privilege, this is a right to use your land, and it’s being turned into a privilege,” said Rep. Ray Rose, R-Montrose.

The measure (House Bill 1069) would prohibit motor vehicles from using public lands, trails, or roads unless it’s authorized by a sign or other means. A violation would be a misdemeanor with a $100 fine. People who violate the law while hunting, fishing, trapping would also have 10 suspension points applied to their licenses.

Violations in designated wilderness areas would carry a $200 fine and 15 license suspension points.

The bill passed on a voice vote and faces a third reading and a recorded vote before it goes to the Senate.


Teleken said...

Good move. Those who say it is a right to "use the lands" are correct but when that use turns into severe abuse it stops. The saying goes that your rights end at my nose apply. Their rights end at our right to enjoy trails that are not torn up by ATVs. The trails of Colorado and the West are turning into rutted sandy nightmares.

John said...

I am a responsible off-road motorcyclist. I spend hundreds of hours and dollars every year to participate in work parties in conjunction with the US Forest Service to improve and maintain single track trail systems throughout the state.

Unfortunately I cannot disagree that many ATV's choose (mostly during hunting season, and a few motorcyclists) to violate "the code" of stay the trail and tread lightly which results in villifying all off-road recreationalists.

I am fighting what seems to be a loosing battle to keep OUR (I am a Manitou native)precious trails in good condition and especially open. By-the-way I use these trails for mtn biking and hiking as well.

So instead of taking the easy way and jumping on the bandwagon to bash off-road uses and users, I believe it will be more productive to ask how we can work together to serve the public, the entire public not just YOUR interests! This attitude and action, further fragments the "cause" of creating and maintaining great trails and multiple outdoor recreation opportunities which brings non-energy related revenue to the state, much more than proposed fines will.

I don't see much good about this move as it sounds like an easy way for the state to collecct additional revenue, just like handing out parking tickets which won't stop the uneducated folks who abuse these trails from further abuse but instead encourage them to ride off of the trails as I would think it would be harder to get caught that way. Also, many remote trails will simply be lost as they become overgrown, use Idaho as an example. Can you hike 65 miles in a day? Quite a bike ride as well.

What we need is a comprehensive state travel plan that includes the input of all users. This should result a Colorado that everyone wants to recreate in. Please help me with the public process and hold government agencies to task when public input is ignored for the cheap and easy path of simple CLOSURE.

I would be happy to host telken or anyone else to a responsible local ride and invite you to a CMTRA meeting www.cmtrail.org to meet the families and individuals that will be locked out by this short sighted proposal.

Dena Rosenberry said...

It's my experience there's a small percentage of users who don't care for trails and then ruin the experience for others. And I think you're right, John, people who trash the wilderness on existing trails may see this ban as a reason to make their own.

If only people would assume personal responsibility.

Zen said...

Stay on signed trails & there won't be a problem. What's wrong with that? The number of miles of legally recognized, signed trails is huge, and though there will always be that vocal contingent for which enough is never enough, there is plenty of legal riding for all.

That being said I take offense to the (il)logic of Rep. Ray Rose. This is not a "right vs priviledge" debate, and frankly I am sick & tired of the attempts of right-wing whacks like Ray Rose attempting to spin sensible restrictions on ATV use into some kind of attack on American freedoms. It's garbage.

There is no law that grants Americans carte blanche right to use their public lands ANY way they want.

You can't cut your own trails, you can't shoot up trees, you can't fish with dynamite, you can't dump your household trash in the meadows, you can't ATV on trails not designated for ATV use.

As for me, I think they should confiscate the ATV of any rider who is within a signed wilderness boundary. And then burn it.

John said...

I must apologize and revise my comment. There's no excuse, I was reading the blog during a two day project scoping meeting (including those great working lunches) so I should have been more attentive to the details of the post...little brain fade.

I read and responded to the post as though House Bill 1096 was a defacto Wilderness Bill for ALL CO Federal land, restricting motor vehicles from existing trails, hence the rant, although all of the idealism I stand behind.

I despise off trail use and on trail abuse, I support punishment/fines to discourage such behavior. The tough part comes with how this bill will determine the inventory of legal/authorized and signed trails. It is hard to see sustainable trails that have been around for many decades, legally built with USFS partnership (each trail has it's story) recommended to be closed as part of proposed Travel Managemnt Plan that is likely related to this bill. Through a good public process that results in a trail system that serves the public then heck ya, good bill. I sincerly hope the govt agencies accuratly reflect the public input as in the past it has been less expensive to restrict access than to manage access.

Regardless, we're all responsible for access - responsible access!

Dave Philipps said...

The tough part, as John pointed out, will lie in deciding what constitutes a trail. However, you can't spend time in the Pike National Forest and not think something needs to be done to curtail off-road use.

John said...

I encourage everyone to participate in the Travel Management Planning for PNF to ensure your voice is heard and that all uses are planned for and managed.

Now if there was some way to help convince the mucky mucks that proper recreation managemnt requires a proper budget for the USFS we'd be on the way. Maybe there's a way to funnel OHV Registration dollars to a specific USFS use management accounting bucket. Might curtail raiding the OHV fund for various "other" uses that in some instances (CA) has been used to support closing trails, isn't it ironic.

Thanks to you all for your openness to discussion.

Zen said...

In my opinion there is little hope unless the riders themselves take an unprecedented level of interest in caring for their riding areas like a gardener cares for his flowerbeds.

By that I mean recognizing that if the riding community doesn't do all in its power to adopt & care for riding areas, promote responsible management & recreation, and be brutally honest with itself about the true level of resource damage in these areas and the great need for citizen involvement, citizen enforcement & education efforts, then the riding community could very well lose their priviledge. It is trending that way.

Now I agree that certain segments of the environmental community have been unduly harsh in their treatment of the offroad community. And I agree that setting aside certain areas for riding (such as the legal Rainbow Falls OHV Area) can be an acceptable use, just as setting aside lands for ski resorts is.

But as I have told senior members offroad advocacy group Blue Ribbon Coalition, the real enemy here is not the environmental community - they're just responding to what they see. The real enemy is the irresponsible, the ignorant, the just plain selfish riders who care for no one but themselves and their thrill ride. These are the guys who need to be pinned down, and the ones in the best position to reign them in is the offroad community itself.

When the public sees a tire track leading away from an illegal dump or a meadow completely destroyed, they don't care who did it. They only see the tracks. The offroad community has a big responsibility to show the public that they are as concerned about it as we are, and that not everyone laying tracks in the forest fits the stereotyped image of the offroad community (think Larry the cable guy), and that they are capable of making real progress on a problem that right now just seems to be out of control.