Vail Daily letter: Long overdue off-road funding | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Long overdue off-road funding

David Lien
Vail, CO, Colorado

Recently the Colorado State Parks Board made long overdue changes to the state’s off-highway-vehicle grant program, which will result in more funds being allocated to off-highway-vehicle law enforcement and habitat-protection activities. It’s common knowledge among hunters and others that off-highway-vehicle overuse and abuse is rampant on Colorado’s and the nation’s public lands.

Although it’s possible this is the result of a few bad apples, a Utah Parks and Recreation survey found that 50 percent of dirt bikers and ATV riders prefer to ride “off established trails.” That’s half the crate, not just a few bad apples. More recently, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks surveyed off-road-vehicle riders and found that 23 percent always or sometimes ride cross-country.

As Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers member Joe Mirasole said recently, “My wife and I own ATVs. But that doesn’t mean I need to take ’em on public lands or that I deserve to if it affects other people and wildlife habitat.If the ATV crowd is right and it’s the one bad apple who spoils the bunch, I keep seeing that bad apple. I saw him in Alaska, I saw him in Wyoming. I see him all the time. If there’s really one bad apple ruining it for everyone else, he must have a hell of a gas bill.”

Hunters long ago accepted the fact that there were more than a few bad apples among our ranks, too, and as a result we voluntarily pay for our own law enforcement through license fees. Thanks to the off-highway-vehicle grant program reforms adopted by the State Parks Board, off-highway-vehicle users will now be contributing funds to their own law enforcement. As an off-highway-vehicle user myself, I understand the attraction of these vehicles, but their misuse is widespread, and these reforms are long overdue.

David Lien

Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers