Joined: 05 Dec 2007
|Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:24 am Post subject: Feds say OHV use on public lands is 'out of control'
Feds say OHV use on public lands is out of control'
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 12/11/2007 08:46:56 PM MST
Posted: 8:46 PM- WASHINGTON - The federal agents charged with monitoring off-highway vehicle use on public land feel overwhelmed.
This finding comes from a survey of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management rangers sponsored by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group that has advocated for more restrictions to OHV use.
"The situation on public lands is out of control on off-road vehicles," said Daniel Patterson, southwest director for the public employees group, at a press conference Tuesday held in a Capitol office building.
But the OHV advocacy group Blue Ribbon Coalition calls the survey an attempt to "demonize."
"It really does nothing to promote collaboration and cooperation among trail users," said Brian Hawthorne, the Pocatello-based group's public lands policy director.
PEER mailed surveys to all of the field rangers in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and southern California, about 300 people. A little less than 70 responded.
Slightly more than half of the respondents labeled OHV problems as "out of control," though three-fourths said the abuses are worse than they were five years ago.
PEER and other groups complain that irresponsible OHV users have damaged public lands by forging trails where they shouldn't. OHV use has risen dramatically in the past decade. So has the tension between environmental groups and OHV enthusiasts.
PEER held the press conference in a House building hoping to get the attention of congressional staffers. They want Congress to hold hearing into what they consider "the No. 1 problem on public lands in the west."
They want to see new enforcement measures for those who engage in "reckless and illegal off-roading," such as the loss of hunting and fishing licenses or even the loss of the vehicle.
Hawthorne said PEER is really trying to "impact public opinion," as the BLM tries to create off-road travel plans. These plans would largely restrict off-road use to designated trails and roads only.
OHV groups point to these draft plans to show they are participating in responsible regulation. But groups like PEER say the BLM wants to open up more roads and trails to OHV use than federal rangers can possibly manage.