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Accountability for ATVs

Posted by Mitch Friedman at Jul 03, 2013 04:15 PM |
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Today we took a step closer to ending the epidemic of illegal and harmful use of off-road vehicles. Unethical ATV riders have created thousands of illegal and damaging trail miles on Washington state lands and cost ranchers and tree farmers millions in property damage. They can be a noisy disruption in a quiet backcountry for those who hike or hunt. HB 1632 will reduce abuse while expanding legitimate ATV recreation opportunities. Washington.

Accountability for ATVs

HB 1632 is a step in reining in the damage caused by irresponsible ATV users and creates a culture of accountability. Conservationists, responsible riders, farmers, landowners, and more are celebrating Governor Inslee's signing the bill today.

Today Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1632, which will change the way that people recreate on All Terrain Vehicles in Washington.

I couldn’t be happier, as Conservation Northwest has sought this new law for years, and I have spent countless hours working with conservationists, responsible ATV leaders, law enforcement, and others to get this point. Members of the State House are also thrilled, as they were no doubt sick of seeing the faces of my partners and me up in the gallery.

We need to end the epidemic of illegal and harmful use of off-road vehicles. Unethical ATV riders have created thousands of illegal and damaging trail miles on Washington's public lands and cost ranchers and tree farmers millions in property damage. They can be a noisy disruption in a quiet backcountry for those who hike, fish, or hunt. HB 1632 will reduce abuse while expanding legitimate ATV recreation opportunities.

The new law requires visible license plates on all ATVs. This makes breaking the law more costly for abusers and issuing citations for trespass and other crimes easier for law enforcement. And anyone who witnesses illegal ATV use will be empowered to provide evidence, like photos, to authorities who then can investigate crimes without an officer having been present.

These are exactly the accountability tools that experts say will discourage abuse. This video from Responsible Trails America drives the case home.

The bill also gave ATV recreationists something they want: the privilege to ride on certain types of low-speed roads, particularly in some rural communities. (The bill has no effect on the policies or access decisions for public lands.) While renegade ATV interests tried frantically to kill the bill, luckily for many interests that came together to find solutions, those who wanted to protect their ability to ride illegally and harmfully with anonymity lost the fight.

The bill was backed by a broad range of stakeholders--conservationists, sportsmen, rural communities, timberland owners, the Farm Bureau, and responsible ATV recreationists.

The bill’s stated purposes, drawn straight from principles agreed to at a stakeholder roundtable held last summer in Sultan, WA, are:

  • Increase the opportunities for safe, legal, and environmentally acceptable motorized recreation.
  • Decrease the amount of unlawful and/or environmentally harmful motorized recreation.
  • Generate funds for use in development, signage, education, and monitoring/enforcement of motorized recreation opportunity.
  • Advance a culture of self-policing and abuse intolerance among motorized recreationists, similar to the anti-poaching ethic among hunters.
  • Be neutral with regard to access policy on public lands.
  • Stimulate rural economies through increased recreational activity and opportunities throughout the state.

It’s not in my nature to recreate on a gas engine, but I needn’t judge others for it. (Did you know that an ATV gets about the same mileage as my Prius?)  If people enjoy riding ATVs, and they do so without harming the woods, waters, and wildlife, good on them! But today was a bad day for those who use ATVs to abuse our state's resources and lands!

Have questions? House Bill 1632 Q&A
Off-road policy principles for Washington


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Agreed

Posted by Red at Sep 03, 2013 02:32 PM
As someone who enjoys both hiking and ATV riding, I'm glad Washington is taking this step. I completely agree about responsible riders approving this bill. By opening a few forest service roads in certain counties, they could provide a much expanded riding area for ATV's, without opening new lands. For example, the Little Naches area would become an even more attractive area for ATV enthusiast if the Forest Service roads were open so that the trails could be interconnected. Oregon, Idaho, etc., other states already do this and it draws tourist from all over. Next year, me and a group of 11 people (6 driving up from Texas) are meeting in Oregon for riding. Hotels, food, fuel, etc., all going to Oregon tourism. Let's work to keep this money here.

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