Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
BOISE A significant increase in registered Off-Highway
vehicles (OHV) specifically All Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
has left Idaho land and recreation management agencies
in a challenging position, according to the Idaho Department
of Parks and Recreation (IDPR).
State and federal agencies in Idaho are teaming up to meet
the increasing OHV demands and are turning to users in the
form of public meetings, to get their ideas on how to best
address the management needs.
All agencies are struggling with how to provide opportunities
and educate users as to where these opportunities exist,
said Dave Claycomb, OHV coordinator for IDPR. There
are many more ATVs out there now than just a couple of years
ago, and those users need to know where to ride and what they
can do to keep themselves safe.
Registrations for ATVs are up significantly in Idaho, going
from 24,207 in 1999 to at least 52,371in 2003, leaving agencies
like IDPR little time to expand management programs to provide
access, while also educating users on responsible use.
It seems evident to the state and federal agencies
charged with the responsibility to manage the land and recreation
opportunities for the public, that OHVs are and will forever
more, be a part of the landscape of Idaho, said IDPR
Director, Rick Collignon. The number of machines and
their users increase each year. The question is how do we
as public agencies work cooperatively to deal with this exponential
Late in 2003, the Idaho departments of Parks and Recreation,
Fish and Game, and Lands entered into a cooperative agreement
with the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land
Management to develop a strategy to address OHV growth and
the development of a coordinated statewide approach to improve
management of OHV use by identifying management issues, challenges
If we are going to be successful in managing the access
to our public lands for recreational OHV use, there is a need
for recreational users, conservation interests and all public
agencies to settle on clearly defined and easily described
expectations for travel on state and federal lands by the
general public said Collignon.
Proper OHV management begins with a clear definition
of travel expectations such as the eliminations of cross-country
travel without a permit, designated travel areas and routes
on state and federal lands supported with current, easily
accessible mapping, as well as uniform signage at trail intersections,
and uniform safety, vehicle, and operating restrictions, compliance
ensured with the development of a user incident reporting
program and coordinated enforcement efforts."
Public meetings and focus groups have been scheduled throughout
the state to involve recreational users, conservation interests
and all public agencies in the planning process for proactive
OHV management efforts.
There is a lot to take into consideration regarding
OHV management, access and education, said Chuck Wells,
IDPR Outdoor Recreation Program Coordinator. Our first
priority is to ask our constituents what their thoughts are
in regards to OHV regulatory needs."
The public meetings and focus group sessions will also be
followed up with a survey of the general population to provide
a broad range of input to the IDPR Board as they consider
creating administrative rules to address the need for more
management of OHV use in the state.
Under direction from the board, IDPR has developed a set
of proposed rules and has organized the proposed regulations
into three categories: OHV Education Initiatives, OHV Operator
Safety Initiatives and OHV Resource, Experience and Compliance
Included within these initiatives are: Minimum operation
and age requirements, education requirements for persons operating
registered OHVs, Helmet requirements for operators and passengers,
negligent operation regulations, incapacity of operator regulations,
light requirements, noise limitations, a proposed out
of Bounds rule that would define designated route and
area requirements and a proposed Three Strikes
rule where repeat violators convicted of three or more OHV
registration requirements would be subject to having their
OHV registrations revoked by the department.
IDPR is using three methods to gauge public opinion on the
proposed regulations. The first is the schedule of public
meetings where anyone may comment. Second, the agency will
conduct a series of focus group sessions with land managers,
law enforcement personnel, off highway recreationists and
"While these two methods offer general ideas and content,
they are not a scientific measurements of people's views and
depth of feeling on the issues," said IDPR Research Analyst
Francis Achana, PhD. "That's why a third effort, a randomized
survey will crown the information gathering process."
The public meetings will help the agency better understand
the issues involved with regulation, while the focus group
sessions will reveal areas of mutual agreement among interested
parties. The agency will then use what it has learned from
those efforts to refine questions for a survey, which will
be mailed to randomly selected households statewide in June.
Participants at the public meetings will be presented
with draft rule options and asked to provide comments and
recommendations on each, as well as alternative ideas,
said Claycomb. Public input is an integral part of meeting
the increased safety and management needs associated with
the increased OHV use.