Our state parks may be strapped for cash in this down economy, but their leadership deserves recognition for its vision and hard work. Last summer, the State Parks Board unanimously approved changes to the OHV Grant Program that allowed applicants to seek funding for law enforcement and natural-resource restoration associated with off-highway vehicle use. We should applaud these common-sense changes. We already can see the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management taking advantage of the opportunity to efficiently repair public lands and prevent further damage.
From Norwood to Bayfield, land managers have submitted grant applications to address myriad law-enforcement, OHV management, trail signage and restoration needs. These grants get the necessary boots on the ground to address real concerns about our public lands. Both the State Parks Board for its leadership, and the Forest Service and BLM for acting on the opportunity, should be commended for taking this meaningful step to steward our land.
The feds can do more to match the bold vision the Parks Board has shown on the state level. The feds should discourage illegal behavior by increasing fines and penalties for reckless riders. OHV clubs recognized that a few bad apples can ruin the bunch, so they ought to back this proposal.
The state needs to require licenses for OHVs, as it does for motorcycles. Until then, the feds should require large, visible IDs on all OHVs. Such tags will be a boon to law-enforcement officers who need to identify riders from far away while also allowing peers to report bad behavior. Such citizen reporting will greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our law enforcement, helping us save money in these hard times.
Joe Griffith, Durango