US House Natural Resources Committee has hearing on ORV damage on public lands

First, the Las Vegas Review Journal. OHV misuse criticized in U.S. House .Off-road fans, critics face off: Even riders see damages left by few.

House panel told public lands overrun by ORVs. Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT).

“. . . the 300 arrests and 37 injuries at a gathering of 1,000 ORV users at the Little Sahara Recreation Area in Utah last year to illustrate how bad things are getting.”

Experts: Off-road vehicles threat to public lands. By Noelle Straub. Missoulian D.C. Bureau

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New and related. Colorado wildlife officers can now ticket for illegal riding. Grand Junction Sentinel. This will be a great help to the too thinly spread Forest Service and BLM enforcement officers. 



  1. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    It is about time!! I am a former off-road racer and organizer. While racing is fairly well confined to a specific, approved course, there are still those riders who flat out try to cheat by shortcutting the course. We tried to combat this by having secret checkpoints along the course. Usually this worked, but sometimes some riders cheated anyway.

    Now that I have retired from off road riding, I am still working with the BLM to try to bring some sanity to off-roading. I get the “you are too old and out of touch” crud from some of the current users. While I may be old, I am not out of touch with resource damage and the consequences of that damage. I am also aware of the need for education of the users.

    Education can only go so far, before enforcement is needed. Then stiff fines are needed as incentives to keep the users on designated routes. Plus Congress really needs to fund many more capable rangers to be able enforce these regulations.


  2. Cowboy the Cat Avatar

    I agree with Rick, but again, the problem of enforcement is that there are so few people to enforce, and not enough money to hire more. I think that possibly any ATV used on any public land should have to have some sort of registration that goes directly to enforcement. I too, have seen the damage these irresponsible knuckleheads do. While I don’t think a blanket “no orv” law is in order, something has to be done. The tragedy of the commons strikes again.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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