||The public hearing was called to order by Co-Chairman Noh. He noted the
hearing is a follow-up to a hearing conducted by the Senate committee last year
attempting to gain publicity regarding the concerns expressed about serious
conflicts with ATV use, the state. Chairman Noh displayed a copy of the
magazine “Dirt Wheels” containing photographs depicting riders’ misuse of
lands. One picture has the statement “Instant gratification is not soon enough.”
Another picture, depicting numerous riders on a ridge, states “Only those who
will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” He noted
these do not represent the attitude of many people engaged in such activities.
On April 22, 2002, the lead story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,
“Off Road Vehicles Now Fly the Waters of SW Texas” noted large four-wheel
drive vehicles, not ATVs, had discovered that the beds of rivers and streams
belong to the public. He noted many dozens were gathering to course up and
down the river beds. Additionally, he noted an article in the Salt Lake City
newspaper about the Mayor of Salt Lake City on a helicopter tour trying to find
errant ATVs who were tearing up the front. The focus of the hearing is to try
and find ways to deal with the problems so that responsible people can
continue to enjoy their outdoor activities and recreation without damage to the
resources and without imposing unnecessarily on the other users of the
Co-chairman Noh specifically thanked Representative Butch Otter, 1st
Congressional District, and his staff for providing a copy of legislation (H
3808) introduced by Representative Scott McGinnis in the subcommittee on
Forest Health Committee. The proposed legislation endeavors to establish
uniform enforcement and penalty standards for all of the federal agencies
dealing with land management. The status and support of the legislation are
unknown at this time.
Co-chairman Stevenson expressed his concern of the abuses connected with
ATV users which effect the use by responsible ATV users. He noted the need
for better education as to the rules and regulations that apply to the respective
lands. The hearing will allow the agencies and public to express their ideas
Co-Chairman Noh noted the Department of Parks and Recreation and the
Board of Parks and Recreation have been accumulating constructive proposals
and ideas on how to improve this program. The Idaho Fish and Game
Department recently completed a pilot project and experiment in management
in connection with hunting. Additionally, there is representation from the U.
S. Forest Service Ogden Regional Office and Supervisors from National
Forests within the state. He noted the Supervisor for the Boise National Forest
is the liaison with the Legislature for forest issues. Additionally, the Bureau of
Land Management, Idaho office, is represented at the hearing, as well as
representations from state agencies. He noted various organizations and
individual interests are also represented.
Rick Collignon, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, remarked of the
significant growth in off road vehicle registration and ownerships in Idaho and
the nation. The issue of off road vehicles encompasses the Department in park
and recreation, land management and wildlife, as well as conservation issues.
The issue of off road vehicle use, because of the growth, has overwhelmed
management strategies. Additionally, there is an absence of a clear
understanding of the values of management of off road vehicles. The affected
agencies do not have a clear understanding of the activity and its use. There
are several types of users: hunters, recreationalist, private landowners, and
other multiple use recreational interests.
There are 68,521 registered ATVs and trail bikes in Idaho. In 1992, there were
14,383 registered. Sixty percent of the currently registered machines are ATVs
and forty percent are trail bikes. In 2001, the industry reported the sale of
10,817 ATVs and trail bikes in Idaho. New models of ATVs are too wide for
existing ATV trails and this could lead to pressure for major costs to widen
trails. In 2002, the industry reported 15,804 sold; representing a forty-four
percent increase in the state. Every region of the state has been impacted.
Collignon displayed a chart showing the variance of growth throughout the
state, noting a 121 percent growth in eastern Idaho in the last five years, the
highest region. Another chart displayed by Collignon showed the twenty-nine
year growth in registrations in the state. The land management agencies and
the recreation agencies have been unable to adjust to the growth. There is one
ATV registered for every ten households in the state. He noted there are more
ATVs sold in the United States than highway motorcycles and off highways
motorcycles combined. This is a significant recreational group looking for
opportunities to use these vehicles on public lands.
A survey of hunters conducted in Idaho by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land
Management, Department of Fish and Game, and the Department of Parks and
Recreation, indicated that 53 percent of all hunters own ATVs, 47 percent of
those are actively used in hunting. A similar survey conducted in 1988 showed
figures of 17 percent for deer hunters and 3 percent for elk hunters. Today
those figures are 47 percent of hunters. Another question in the survey asked
hunters, if they encountered an off highway motorized vehicle, was the
hunting experience diminished. Eighty-six percent of deer hunters said yes; 84
percent of elk hunters said yes. The same survey asked about encountering
other hunters, 71 percent of elk hunters said the hunting experience diminished
and 67 percent of deer hunters said their hunting experience was diminished.
In the same survey, 68 percent of all hunters felt that the hunting experience
was compromised when they saw another motorized vehicle on a road or trail.
He noted the population growth has doubled in the past twenty years in the
state. The 46,000,000 acre public land base now has twice as many people
using the same lands. Idaho struggles with a multiple use tolerance of other
users on our public lands.
The baby boomer generation is the largest portion of the population segment to
approach retirement age. This same group have been active recreationalist
their entire lives and financially comfortable. The recreation time is very
important to this age group. He noted this group also has more knee, neck, and
back surgeries. Because ATVs are considered environmentally friendly and a
method of transportation to continue their outdoor recreation , they are very
Collignon noted a year ago, BLM, US Forest Service, Department of Fish and
Game and Department of Parks and Recreation, discussed this issue. As a
result of that meeting, the concept of a single state wide management strategy
for off road vehicles on public lands was developed. The four agencies agreed
current ATV restrictions need to be adequately signed and enforced.
Enforcement by these four agencies is limited. Additionally, it was determined
more or newer restrictions needed to be developed through the public hearings.
The hearing process would provide further education and implement
restrictions. Developing trail systems to meet the legitimate user needs of the
growing number of citizens is also basic. There is a state-wide coordinating
work group to bring a uniform approach to the issue. He explained a
demonstration project in Custer, Butte and Lemhi counties to develop a
designated trail system, even in sensitive areas. In beginning their
demonstration project, they found thirteen of the twenty-three most popular
models of ATVs do not even meet the legal definition according to the Idaho
Code. The industry and manufacturing has changed significantly. Discussion
with a manufacturer in Florida centers on pounds per square inch under tires
and turning radius for a new machine designed to carry two riders. The
industry is going to a “friendly” recreation mode. A new definition in the
Idaho Code for ATVs will be in proposed legislation this session. He noted the
many federal and state agencies with some degree of enforcement
responsibilities in regard to ATVs needs to be coordinated for responsible use.
Chairman Noh acknowledged Senator Little for providing a specific area for
ATV usage on his lands.
Ernest Lombard, Chairman, Parks and Recreation Board, stated the good thing
about an ATV is that anyone can ride one and likewise, the bad thing about an
ATV is anyone can ride one. He noted the Paiute ATV trail system brochure
which he provided to the Committee. (Copy attached.) He noted originally the
trail area was in an economically depressed area. Local recreationalist at
Richfield, Utah developed a trail system for ATVs. Through negotiations with
federal, state, county and city entities, they developed trails connecting
communities. There are now eighteen towns connected by the trail system with
services such as gas, motels, and even a private ATV camping site. The initial
system was a 230 mile loop system, which is now 1200 to 1500 miles of trails
that all connect through the use of existing trails and roads. ATVs can be a
problem, but they can also be an opportunity for economic development in
rural areas within the state. He noted the roads and trails are available within
Idaho for such a system. An ATV trail project, attempted in the
Challis/Mackay area, is an excellent example of possible economic projects for
the rural areas of Idaho, as well as meeting the needs of the users.
Steve Huffaker, Director, Department of Fish and Game, stated the Department
and Commission’s interest and support to address the concerns. He stated the
Department would like to address the issue as a hunting issue. ATV usage was
a non-issue in the Department ten years ago, but is today the number one issue
from officers in the field. The jurisdictional questions need to be resolved. As
the frustrations have grown, the Commission has struggled for several years
trying to address the problem. He noted there has been success on the Targee
National Forest with joint patrols by the Forest Service and the Department of
Fish and Game. There has been success working with private landowners
during antler pickup in the spring. At the last Commission meeting, the
restriction was lifted on antler pickup. He noted the Commission has defined
some traditional weapons and prohibited the use of motor vehicles in those
kinds of hunts. The program was well accepted by the traditional weapon
hunters. Last year the Commission designated Unit 47 and prohibited ATV
usage for the entire hunting season. The acceptance by the hunters and private
land owners has been good and is working. He anticipates the Commission
will propose some additional areas with some restrictions on ATV use during
the hunting season.
Lin Hintze, Chairman, Custer County Commissioner, explained the
coordination between the counties of Butte, Custer and Lemhi and the cities
within the counties, along with federal and state agencies, agreeing on the
development of a trail system. He provided a copy of a map of Custer county
depicting the federal, state, county and private landowners. The area
encompasses over 3,000,000 acres with 96 percent owned by the federal
government. Ninety percent of the trail system is already in existence by the
use of mining roads and logging roads. He noted there are ghost towns and old
mill sites along the trail site. There could be significant benefit to the rural
economies through the trail system.
Dick Smith, Supervisor, Boise National Forest, stated he is new to the position
and welcomes the opportunity to listen and learn.
Liz Close, Region 4, U.S. Forest Service, Deputy Regional Director of
Recreation for the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service, stated the
national recreation strategy contains strong wording about the management of
off road vehicle use. The use is a legitimate use of forest lands. The Forest
Service is working with the off road vehicle community to assure quality
motorized opportunities along with quality experiences while minimize
environmental impacts. The Forest Service will designate user trails and areas
on a site by site basis through the forest planning system. A monitoring
process will also be implemented. She compliment the efforts within the state
to address the ATV usage issue. She noted the issue must be worked through
all federal, state, county and city entities to involve and educate the public.
Enforcement issues must be clarified and implemented without boundaries
Jerry Rees, Supervisor, Caribou-Targee National Forest, stated the travel
access and noise were the issues to be clarified. He noted his forests have had
this under consideration for approximately seven years. There are more
complaints about irresponsible off trail, cross county, in meadows, uphill use
by ATVs. The forest has gone to a designated trail system and eliminated the
cross country, off trail use. He noted with a designated trail system there needs
to be enough trails for use. There are 2600 miles of trails in the Targee-Caribou Forest of which 55 percent are for motorized use. A significant
number of trails were not designed for the width required by ATVs. The
defining of an ATV trail system is highly debatable. The forest is working
with users to design a system, but he anticipates a lot of discussion, work and
investment. He noted the grant program in the State through the Department of
Parks and Recreation has helped significantly in this regard.
Rees noted education and enforcement are other issues. He stated common
brochures providing education to the public in proper and responsible use is
very important. He encouraged a statewide program with common standards.
The enforcement through joint patrols by state and counties has been most
Susan Giannettino, Deputy State Director, Resources and Planning Division,
Bureau of Land Management, stated she was representing K. Lynn Bennett, the
new State Director, who is unable to attend. She stated the growth has
exceeded expectations and they are unable to cope with the growth. She noted
BLM lands are ideal opportunities for ATV recreation, an appropriate
opportunity in proper places and in proper ways. She encourages the
coordinated enforcement that has been taking place. She acknowledged the
leadership provided by the Department of Parks and Recreation in this
program. Using existing roads and trails, a ATV trail system can be
implemented that provides a recreational opportunity for all interests. The
efforts in Custer, Lemhi and Butte counties are an excellent opportunity to
Additionally, access information needs to be available to ATV users. She
noted a web based site is under consideration to provide the ongoing changes
in information. Giannettino stated law enforcement issues also need to be
considered. Partnership with the user community and education/information
sharing is critical. She stated another aspect is land management planning.
The older BLM land management plans provide the public the opportunity to
go almost anywhere they want. It will take some time for BLM to bring these
plans up-to-date. BLM has been working with the Department of Fish and
Game to develop strategies regarding ATV usage during the hunting season.
She noted BLM has a new position, an off road vehicle coordinator, which will
coordinate agency participation and efforts. BLM is committed to providing
quality opportunities to off road vehicle users throughout the state. She again
noted that signing and enforcement are the biggest issues.
Wayne Weiner, Island Park/Twin Falls, stated his experiences in the Island
Park area over the past few years. Hikers, bikers, motorcycles and ATVs have
eroded the trails in that area to the point where they are no longer useable in
certain areas. With the speed and reckless use by ATV users, it has become
almost impossible for others to use the trails and area. He noted there is not an
ATV organization in that area to assist in solving this problem. Someone or
some agency needs to take on the responsibility. He suggested the
implementation of a state-wide sticker with the fees going to resolving the
problem. Idaho is a beautiful state and he hates to see it ruined by just a few.
Bill Jones, President, Idaho A.T.V. Association, Boise, speaking in behalf of
the organization, stated that with the increase in off road vehicles, along with
the increasing population within the state, it is inevitable to have irresponsible
and thoughtless riders. The association was established because of that
problem and the possibility of losing the opportunity to ride on open roads and
trails. He seeks to keep the roads and trails open for all to enjoy responsible.
The association has received several grants from DPR for the development of
brochures to provide education and information. Jones noted Senator Little has
allowed an ATV park in the Emmett area on fence land set aside for that
specific purpose. He noted the members of the Association use their own
equipment for the maintenance of roads and trails for ATV use in southern
Idaho. Additionally, trail signs were placed at every intersection on 86 miles
of the Idaho Centennial Trail from the Nevada state line to Glenns Ferry. He
displayed a sample of the sign erected throughout the trail. Volunteers from
several ATV organizations participated in the project. He informed the
Committee of the other volunteer efforts by many ATV organizations in the
southern Idaho area. He noted volunteer effort results in a feeling of ownership
and pride in the project or area. Riders must be better educated on the rules
and regulations. Likewise, they should have input on the enforcement. He
proposes all ATV, trail machine, mountain bike, and snow machines be
assessed an additional $2 per machine per year for a designated fund for law
enforcement and search and rescue for specified areas of the state.
Robert Nelson, Twin Falls, stated his comments are the same as previous
Ron Stricklin, Idaho ATV Assn., Past President, related his positive personal
experiences as a result ATV riding. He stated the complaints are caused by a
small number of people as with other sports. He questioned whether new laws
were needed or if better enforcement and better funding was necessary. He
stated cross country travel is not needed. The Mountain Home Ranger District
has created a demonstration project near Anderson Ranch Dam with a trail
system to help control abuses during hunting season. He noted the project is a
good example of what can be accomplished for recreation riders. He would
like to encourage and strive for the positive aspects of the activity.
Steve Gunderson, President, Idaho Trails Council, stated their organization is a
composite of all trail user groups to promote the protection and improvement
of Idaho trails. The council supports efforts to improve the ATV experience as
indicated in the brochures by the Department of Parks and Recreation. He
noted the council supports the proper use of ATVs.
Tom Judge, Idaho Bowhunters, provided a handout to the Committee
containing their recommendations to the outdoor recreation community,
legislative committees, state agencies, law enforcement and the courts and
possible legislation for the imposition of penalties, creation of an off road
vehicle account, funds of the account usage, and law enforcement
responsibilities. (A copy is attached.)
Brent Madron, President, Treasure Valley Trail Machine Association, urged
the development of a state wide trail system on public land. His two wheel off
road vehicle users support ATV usage for recreation, but would urge
consideration of a separate system for two wheel off road vehicles from ATVs.
He complimented the Department of Parks and Recreation for their efforts to
date, noting there is a definite public need for education and good information.
Brett Nelson, Ada County Green Party, urged the Committee to not overlook
the environmental impacts through ATV usage in deliberations of the issues.
Jack Fisher, President, Idaho Wildlife Federation, inquired why the issue was
of concern as ninety percent of ATV users are responsible. He noted the ten
percent causing the problems should be handled through enforcement of
existing rules and regulations. He stated his organization supports efforts to
resolve the issue.
Phil Homer, Boise, relinquished his time as his concerns had been spoken to by
Clark Collins, Blue Ribbon Coalition, Executive Director, Recreation Division,
urged the Committee to keep in mind national funding for off highway vehicle
recreational use. He noted the increased number of registered ATVs and the
number of well organized user groups who are all willing to assist in solving
Ted Howard, Shoshone-Paiute Tribe, Idaho Resources Advisory Council,
reminded the Committee people come to Idaho because of what Idaho has to
offer. He urged the Committee to remember any decisions and actions must
consider the environmental impacts and the legacy of the state. He urges
control of ATVs in designated areas and enforcement of rules and regulations
as the resource is not renewable and impacts can be irreversible.
Mike Ihli, Manager, Hewlett Farms, stated the Owyhee area has significant use
by off road vehicles and strict enforcement of rules and regulations is needed.
The damage to the Owyhee front is extensive.
Lauren McLean, Idaho Conservation League, noted their organization supports
the appropriate and responsible use of off road vehicles in designated areas.
She noted the destruction of vegetation and the spread of noxious weeds. She
urged the Committee to not convert single track trails to accommodate ATV
usage. ICL urges enforcement of regulations in the existing designated areas.
Russ Thurow stated he represents himself and other elk and deer hunters and is
concerned that unrestricted off road vehicle usage is destroying hunting. The
usage destroys habitat and drives game animals away from the hunting area.
He urged better management and enforcement of existing laws. He stated there
were too many existing trails affecting hunting.
Jim Juker said he was representing himself. He has been riding ATVs for a
number of years. He said ATV users can be and are the extra eyes and ears, as
responsible citizens, of public land usage. He urged better information on
designated area for usage.
There being no further matters to come before the joint committee; the meeting
was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.