David Lien: Sportsmen applaud OHV program reforms | SummitDaily.com

David Lien: Sportsmen applaud OHV program reforms

David Lien
Chairman, CO Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Colorado Springs

Recently the Colorado State Parks Board made long overdue changes to the state’s OHV Grant Program, which will result in more funds being allocated to OHV law enforcement and habitat protection activities. It’s common knowledge among hunters and others that OHV overuse and abuse is rampant on Colorado’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 OHV riders and found that 23 percent always or sometimes ride cross-country.

As BHA 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 OHV Grant Program reforms adopted by the State Parks Board, OHV’ers will now be contributing funds to their own law enforcement. As an OHV user myself, I understand the attraction of these vehicles, but their misuse is widespread, and these reforms are long overdue.

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