Utah Guv: ORV off-trail damage an 'abomination,' crackdown is coming

Utah’s Governor Huntsman wants a crackdown on ATV abuse-

Guv: ORV off-trail damage an ‘abomination,’ crackdown is coming. By Robert Gehrke. The Salt Lake Tribune

Although an off road vehicle spokesman condemned the governor, Huntsman is a dirt bike rider.

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Related. Oct. 7. ATV riders: Don’t be the bad apples who spoil it for all. Editorial by the Great Falls Tribune.



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  1. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Abomination is a pretty strong word. In this case, probably accurate. The Governor rides and I am sure he has seen a lot of damage, But this seems to be his first visit to Moab’s trail system. His reaction is pretty spectacular, So I would guess that the ORV users in that area had better get their act togther and do something spectacular, like restore some of the damage done to the land.


  2. BobCaesar Avatar

    How can we stop this madness of allowing motorized vehicles to destroy our public lands? The Forest Svc & BLM all over the country is working on new “Travel Plans” (has been for two years), but no where do they address any, repeat – ANY, enforcement! Making laws with no idea of how to enforce them is truly stupid!

    I live adjacent to the Forest in Jackson Hole and during this hunting season we now see twice as many ATV trailers as horse trailers. They ride any and everywhere they like. Seven or eight years ago we saw hardly any ATVs. It is a cancer growing on the lands! The FS says they will rely on signs and the good intentions of OHV rides! Yeah, sure!

  3. vicki Avatar

    You stop it by ending the legal use of the machines on public lands, except on predesignated roads which are designed for any vehicle.
    Then you add licenses to be required for use, period. After that you tax their registration, a lot, like you do with any other vehicle…only more. And usethose funds for forestry and conservation.

  4. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    First off, a disclaimer in that I strongly support Bob Springmeyer for Gov in Utah. But as a democrat he has a snowball chance in hell of winning, especially against Huntsman who may win with 80% of the vote.

    Huntsman, being a very popular gov in a one party state, can take two roads. The first would be to do simply what the Repub party and dominant religion tell him to do and go with the flow. Most Gov’s tend to do that. But Huntsman seems to be taking the opposite road may times and actually bucking the establishments. This OHV deal is one such issue as is his proposed continued liberalization of the liquor laws in the state. Good for him.

    This article points out a lot of the good traits that Huntsman has and I really applaud his anger and tenacity. But one comment in the very beginning got my eye. Elected officials like Huntsman treat enviro groups as if they are infectious lepers. No frigging way he gives a group like SUWA the time of day. But, on the other hand, he is willing to be shown the “truth” by a business venture capitalist crony:

    “”Huntsman said that he recently visited the area around Moab with David Bonderman, a prominent venture capitalist and major financier for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, to see the damage done by illegal off-road travel. “”

    I wish that we could move to useful, direct dialogue of state officials like Huntsman with enviro groups like SUWA and Sierra Club without having to use intermediaries like this. Good thing Bonderman was there otherwise Huntsman would still be clueless and not give a damn.

  5. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    It would appear that the users in Moab should start a rehab program to reclaim some of the damage before a new administration closes the whole area. The users should be made accountable for their (in)action.


  6. BobCaesar Avatar

    Vicki – By gosh you’re right! Wonder if the Feds have thought of that?:-)

  7. vicki Avatar

    Come on…it’s the feds. They do everything right.

  8. Wolfy Avatar

    Yes, making regulations and enforcing them would stop most of the ATV assault on our public lands. However, the regulations that are being set are woefully inadequate and lightly enforced, if at all. The land agencies are cutting both services and personnel. I don’t know about other agencies, but many in the Forest Service management do not want employees “harassing” ATVers by enforcing the regs. The off-road groups have a very, strong political lobby and usually get what they want. There is a lot of pressure from the top to “let the boys play”. There are also fewer agency employees out there trying to enforce the regs. Again, the land agencies are making drastic cuts to budgets and personnel. So, whatever regs are out there, are not getting enforced and there are fewer folks out there to enforce them. Sorry, the only answer that I see for this problem is to form citizen patrols, report ATVers who do wrong, and the damage they cause. Pressure the agencies to enforce the regs and to hire enough people to enforce them.

  9. cobra Avatar

    I have an atv and enjoy riding on desigated trails. I also own property and can’t believe what these guys will do. I’ve had gates torn out, signs ripped up and scattered all over. I cant get any vegitation to grow on old trails that they ave torn up because all it takes is one to tear up the ridges and then the erosion carries all the seed away. This year I’m calling the law. It’s my property and I don’t even ride on the trails that their tearing up. It always is the few that ruin it for the good guys and gals that obey the rules.

  10. JB Avatar

    “Again, the land agencies are making drastic cuts to budgets and personnel. ”

    Correction: The land management agencies have had their budgets cut by the Bush Administration.

  11. vicki Avatar

    How true that is.

    It usually is a minority of wrong-doers who ruin things. I have had a few bad experiences here in Colorado with ATVers. Mostly young guys wanting to show off. But I am even more concerned about the damages that are created by the ATVs.
    There is really no wayto prevent the damage, other than not to allow it, and enforce regulations. That being said, it differs very little from public land grazing. I can only hope itis dealt with soon. As you pointed out- the damage is long term if not permanent.
    I wonder what remedies you have under the law? Perhaps civil action against those who cause damage is an option for you. Or even lcriminal egal action for them, as it is trespassing, is it not?
    At any rate, it is good that some one higher up is recognizing there is a problem. But stating it ticks them off, and fixing the problem ar ewolrds apart.

  12. BobCaesar Avatar

    I have a friend who is an Off Highway Vehicle “enforcement Officer” for a Gov’t agency. When talking about OHV misuse, in particular riding off of designated trails/roads, I commented, “Too bad just a few are running it for so many”. His reply, “Bob, it isn’t just a few ruining it – it is virtually everyone”!

    Ok, he may be a tad bitter, but he is a smart fellow, who sees more destruction in a day than most of us see in years. He does concede the biggest violators are young men in particular children turned loose by their parents, who are relaxing in camp while the kids “shred”, as they call it, the country side.

  13. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Well, I ride, because it allows me access on approved roads and trails, that I can longer walk into because of injuries suffered in the past. I have heard a lot of this “It is virtually everybody” but I ride with a couple of different clubs and the clubs monitor those who get out of hand and turn them in as well to the authorities. There are several types of ORV’s around, and yes, the ATV’s are one of the big offenders..But I see quite a bit of damage done, especially in wetlands by the large trucks, those things with one small pass can wipe out generations of marsh.

    One thing that I recommend, is deal with shops and join clubs that follow the “Leave no trace” program, be willing to turn in those you see breaking the rules, we all carry stuff with us that allows us to document those riders who break the rules..and we regularly report them. I feel that everybody, both child and adult, that buys an ORV should be required to take a training course that not only includes safety, but environmental issues as well before they can be issued a license tag for their vehicle.

  14. vicki Avatar

    Save Bears,
    Good suggestions. They require you to take a hunting safety course in CO before getting liecenses to hunt, so why not to drive an ORV?

  15. BobCaesar Avatar

    Hi “Save The Bears” – I am sure my enforcement friend’s reaction is the same as if you’d ask a State Trooper who the speeders are. I appreciate groups such as yours who are responsible riders and good citizens. You all are just about the only enforcement people out there because the Gov’t. has so darn few. I just wish you all would spend some time in and around Jackson Hole cause we could sure use your help over here!

    I certainly have no problem with OHV riders who ride on Forest/BLM roads and approved trails. In fact one of these days, when my horse is just too tall, I’d like to join you!


  16. Monty Avatar

    Good discussion about a depressing subject. I like the idea about joining a ATV group and trying to be a positive influence. I live in west side Oregon in the Cascade mountains where the brush & steep terrain, fortunately, inhibits all terrain vehicle use. However, I have one example of the effort ATV users will go to in order to avoid hiking. A 3 mile road was closed with tank traps & water waterbars every 200 or so & within one one year of the road closure the ATV users “engineered” their way around the tank traps (there was no CFR closure) spending enough “human sweat” that they could have walked the road for 20 years with less energy. Those who recreate with their rear ends rather than shoe leather just don’t want to walk!

  17. timz Avatar

    “Again, the land agencies are making drastic cuts to budgets and personnel. ”
    “Correction: The land management agencies have had their budgets cut by the Bush Administration.”

    The Forest Service budget (I used to work there) has been hacked on for 3 decades. BTW, 6,588 Forest Service jobs were cut by the Clinton Administration.


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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