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motorized trail recreation

Colorado's Statewide Off-Highway Vehicle Program

The goal of the program is to "Protects Resources... Enhance Trail Opportunities for All Users."

By Jack Placchi, Colorado State Parks

Map of Colorado

The OHV program can benefit a variety of resource management activities including wildlife, wetlands, riparian areas, wilderness areas, and all trail users. While the emphasis of the program is on OHV management, there are numerous opportunities to work on projects that are mutually beneficial with other management activities. By taking a holistic approach to look at the concerns and issues that exist today, we can develop projects that protect natural resources and enhance trail opportunities at the same time. This will help identify areas of common ground and form partnerships with groups that usually do not work together.

There are many projects that the OHV Program can fund that can benefit both trails and other resources. For example, by rerouting trails out of wetlands or important wildlife habitat can give land managers opportunities to create trails that are better suited for a particular type of user. Rebuilding these trails with state of the art techniques will prevent erosion and other resource damage and at the same time can add more duration to the trail experience. In addition, closing and rehabilitating the old route can be done to prevent any further resource damage.

Other types of projects that can benefit all resources include:

-- Providing signs for clear direction for all users on roads as well as trails. This is important so trail users know where they can go and understand why there are restrictions. The vast majority of trail users want to stay on designated routes and not cause resource damage.

-- Developing interpretive signs along motorized routes that explain the importance of different types of natural or cultural resources.

-- Closing off unauthorized routes that start from trails that are being reconstructed.

-- Promote trail ethics utilizing programs like Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace. Distributing their materials and creating opportunities to educate a variety of people on natural resource management.

With increasing compliance of registration, our State OHV fund will soon have over $400,000 annually available for trail projects. While some of these funds will be reserved for our trail crew partnerships with the USDA Forest Service and BLM, the majority of these funds will be available for local trail projects. Both non-profit organizations and Federal agencies are eligible to apply for these funds through grants. Federal agency grants require a 50% match of funds and or in kind services, while nonprofit organizations can requests funds for up to 100% of the project costs.

By taking a holistic view and developing these kind of projects, we can create opportunities to work closely with local agencies, their internal staff and resource specialist as well as local governments, other user and environmental groups. By developing a dialog and finding common ground with these groups, we will go a long way resolve conflict, provide recreational opportunities and protect resources.

The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program is a user driven partnership with local, state and federal agencies. The intent of the enabling legislation is to establish a program to improve recreation opportunities for OHVs, to encourage safe and responsible OHV use, and promote respect for public lands.

For more information, contact the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Program Manager, Colorado State Parks, 1313 Sherman St., Room 618, Denver CO 80203; Phone: (303) 866-3203.

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Updated October 27, 2006

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