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Parks and Wildlife Commission extends OHV enforcement pilot program

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved $300,000 in funding to extend a pilot program designed to monitor compliance with off-highway vehicle regulations.

During 2011, State Trails Program Manager Tom Morrissey said teams of law enforcement officers from Colorado State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management contacted 10,000 individual riders in problem areas identified by environmental and quiet recreation groups.

Less than 5 percent were issued warnings or citations, Morrissey said, the majority for failure to comply with OHV registration requirements. Rangers spent about 90 percent of their time on or around designated OHV routes. Morrissey said they saw little evidence of off-trail damage, but did report a significant need for increased trail maintenance and better signage to identify designated routes.

Commissioner Jim Pribyl said the program had a successful first year. “We appreciate how the OHV community worked with us to create a program that increased education and compliance with both state and federal OHV regulations,” said Pribyl. “The project?has clearly shown that law-enforcement visibility deters illegal off-trail riding and increases compliance.”

Commissioners unanimously voted to fund the program for 2012, suggesting?rangers focus on new compliance check areas and use of remote sensing equipment like trail monitors and game cameras to monitor illegal or user-created trails. Several commissioners also suggested that the trail program tap the local knowledge possessed by district wildlife managers to identify new problem areas to target.?

Morrissey also briefed the commission on the progress of this year’s Recreational Trail Grant ?process. Fifty-seven motorized project applications totaling $6.8 million were submitted by the December 2011 deadline. About $4 million in funding is available for motorized OHV trail grants in 2012. Applications for non-motorized trail projects totaled $4.3 million, with about $1.6 million available to award. Commissioners will vote on grant awards at the April 12 commission meeting in Pueblo.

Colorado’s OHV Trails Program is funded through the sale of OHV registrations and use permits. Over 160,000 OHVs were registered or permitted for use in Colorado during the 2010-2011 registration years. Revenue generated by the annual $25.25 user permit are used to support the statewide OHV program, the OHV registration program and the OHV trail grant program, including OHV law enforcement.

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